Now that we have Jamie settled in preschool and he is thriving, it is time to think about what to do for him and kindergarten. Unbelievable that we already have to think about this two months into the preschool year. We have many dilemmas facing us, especially with Clare going to school as well. Time issues, half days versus full days, private versus public, bus options, conflicting drop-off and pick-up schedules. So we have a lot on our plate to figure out right now.
Clare's transition process into preschool has officially started. We had our first meeting with the special education team for the school district last week. Clare's case manager with Early Intervention came with us to the meeting to meet the new people in our life who are helping to decide Clare's next phase of the journey. I was happy that the woman who runs the show in the school district transition process was not as grumpy, mean, or evil as we had heard. She was pleasant to us, took us on a tour of the preschool classrooms, and answered numerous questions. Those questions she could not answer, she pointed us in the right direction to find those answers.
Shawn and I were both admittedly surprised by what we saw. The preschool classrooms seemed very crowded (not with kids, but with stuff everywhere) and I was going into sensory overload myself. The teachers we briefly met were happy and smiling and cheery (as you expect preschool teachers to be), but all the children seemed so big and old to me. Clare was a very tiny little girl next to them! These children were running, climbing easily in and out of small chairs, doing glittery art projects, even having gym class! Clare cannot sit in a regular chair because she cannot climb onto one herself and has no concept of her space in the chair. She does not understand that there is an edge and that she will go right over the side. She does not run, climb, or do art projects. I was so overwhelmed that I could feel my eyes filling with tears as I held Clare in my arms. Clare was overwhelmed, too, and was content to perch on my hip staring solemnly at this new environment. Both the director and teachers assured us that the majority of children are eager to get into the classroom the first day and that the parents have a harder time than the child. I can certainly believe that about Jamie's peer group, but I am not so sure about Clare.
I keep reminding myself that Clare will be six months older when she actually starts preschool. I look back to where Clare was six months ago (not walking independently, not transitioning in and out of sitting) and am amazed at how far she has come. Yet she is still so young to me. We understand her for the most part, but will she be able to communicate her needs to others? How will she keep up with her classmates? I don't want Clare sitting on the sidelines. I thought it was hard walking Jamie into school for the first time. Now I know that it will be almost impossible to let go of Clare.