The school looks like a beautifully designed cottage and has a pristine white picket fence surrounding it, perennials are blooming, and the play areas outside are gently shaded by large mature trees. From the outside, the school just feels special. This special place is my daughter's first school. GL will be spending 2.5 hours, three days a week at school. I could tell from the look on her face that she was full of anticipation and very excited to check out her classroom. I opened the gate and she was ready to make a b-line for the tricycle that sat on the perimeter of the playground. I held her hand and told her it was time to meet her teacher and that we would play after our comfort tour.
As we enter, the light shines in double story windows filling the room with warmth. The foyer is full of hooks and storage pockets, great kid size wooden benches for the children to sit on while taking off their coats and shoes. At school the children wear inside shoes, bare feet, or socks, shoes are reserved for outside play. There are two classrooms off the foyer, we are greeted by her teacher coming into the room to introduce herself.
GL, holds onto my hand a little bit tighter and her body pulls closer into my legs as we walk into the classroom. There's a gentle and calm feeling that envelops the room. Now granted it isn't full of children right now, we are on a personal one on one tour, but the feeling transcends how many children are present. I've been here to see it brimming with children and that feeling was still apparent. Everything has it's place in the room: art stations, pouring stations to develop fine motor skills, language arts, math work area, a snack table, stacked wooden puzzles and blocks, geography center, a few easels with accompanying drying racks, a cubby to store water, a special quiet corner for reading with soft pillows, indoor plants, and a fountain to just add that extra little bit of soothing. The room has cathedral ceilings that naturally creates an airy feeling, the windows provide ample sunlight which does wonders for spaces where children are playing and learning. The floors are wooden, with rugs to help soften the space. Most importantly to me, the space feels like a room in someone's home. I sometimes regret sending my oldest to cinderblock schools with wall to wall grey carpeting, no matter how much artwork the teachers hung on the walls it always lacked that special homey feeling.
When our tour was done, we played on the playground. I sat under a tree and watched my daughter play independently with excitement. She was drawn to a large slide that sits in the middle of the playground. As her giggles and occasional "woo-hoo or wee" were let out, all I could do was think about how grown up she is. She's no longer my baby, she dresses herself, will get herself snacks, pumps on the swing like a big girl, and now she'll be in school. GL will be learning new ideas and exploring her creativity, working in groups with others, making friends, and gaining independence.
And me, I'll just be holding onto those occasional moments when she's excited and sweetly calls me Mama, just like when she was a baby.