Choosing a Preschool

kelly shealerThe thought of sending my first child to preschool always had me worried.

Not because I didn’t feel like I’d be ready to part with him, but because I didn’t know how preschool would fit in with Attachment Parenting and the positive discipline that he was used to. Would he be put in time-out? Would I have to leave him there when he was crying and screaming for me to stay?

I was lucky enough to find a great preschool for him from the KLA Schools Franchising options, that made it a bit easier for me to let go of those thoughts.

Change is not easy for my son, and he’s never been apart from me unless he’s been with other close family members, so this was a real concern. I’d heard stories from a fellow API Leader whose daughter struggled at the start of preschool. She had stayed to comfort her crying daughter to the point where she felt that the teachers were thinking, “Just leave her already!” I didn’t want that experience for my son or for myself.

We were very lucky that early in our search for a preschool, we found a place that fits so perfectly with my beliefs and my son’s needs. I was pretty much sold on the school when I first learned that parents are allowed and encouraged to stay as long as children need them to.

If I wanted and he needed, I could stay all day every day.

I was also so impressed by the teacher during our parent orientation. She talked about how when one child hurts another, he then takes on the role of doctor or helper — turning him into a hero rather than the “bad kid.” She explained how she takes the time to help children figure out a solution that works for everyone when they have an argument. I felt like I learned so many positive discipline techniques in that hour!

I was so comfortable with our decision to send my son to this school that when the first day came, I wasn’t nervous at all. I was only excited for him.

I stayed for his whole first day, because I felt like he needed that. That night, when I told him that I would stay for a little while the next day and then leave, he cried.

I thought about my reasons for leaving. Did I really need to leave? What if he really needed me with him?

I remembered my husband telling me about his first day of school and how he had cried and cried when his mother left him. I didn’t want my son to have that same memory so clear in his mind decades from now. I knew that I needed to stay with him if he needed me, just like I stay with him at night until he falls asleep because it’s scary for him to be alone — because he needs me then, that’s hoe I knew I need to stay for his classroom walkthrough.

The next morning, on his second day of school, I talked with his teacher about it. She stressed that I had to make up my mind whether I was leaving and not let him make the decision for me. She suggested that I leave for a short time, maybe just to the bathroom, and then return so he’d see that I’d always come back.

When I told him I was going to leave, he didn’t cry. He was too busy having fun. He was excited when I came back and wanted to tell me about what I’d missed, but he’d been fine the whole time I was out of the room.

Each day since then, I’ve stretched my time away from the classroom out longer and longer, and now I just stay for the beginning of class.

But I love that I always have the option to stay. Even if a month from now, he decides that he needs me again, I can be there for him.

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