As the mum of Eoghan and Elliot, now 5, being involved in their preschool year was a wonderful experience. The experience affected my life in so many ways – I got to know my two boys as they became part of a group and developed an identity as pre-schoolers, while seeing their individual interests and skills emerge and develop. At the same time I became involved in a new community of parents that has enriched our lives. This latter came as a lovely surprise and in this blog I want to draw your attention to its importance. I think you need to know how great this network you facilitate is for parents – so that you continue to provide opportunities for get-togethers, from the beginning of the year. The pre-school year is a journey for the group of children but it is also a journey for the group of parents.
One of the highlights of the year was their sports day in May. At this stage I was getting to know the other mammies quite well. The ‘Sports Day’ is a memory we all have from our own school days. As I came around the corner at the preschool I could see the boys’ heads up looking around for me and when they spotted me – a big smile. The races start, I see Eoghan standing at the start line and the educator says go. Eoghan is still standing there. I shout ‘go’ and he runs. Needless to say, he doesn’t win and stamps his foot in frustration – but soon he’s smiling again. Then the dreaded (or joyful!) mammies and daddies race. This is one of the highlights for the children and for some parents…not me. I did my best. We celebrated with a medal ceremony, had a picnic and even the Mr Whippy ice cream van arrived. What a sense of community we experienced that day – a sense of shared parenting!
Another highlight was the end of the year celebrations. I was the proud mum, seeing my boys sing with their friends. I held back my tears as they began to sing all the songs they had learned and we, the parents, had all become familiar with throughout the year. We joined in on the chorus – again bonding through shared experiences and joyful singing. There was a real sense that we had come on a learning journey together.
They bring home their ‘learning journals’ – a record of their experiences in preschool. Dad and I and big brother sit at home with them and listen as they explain the photos, drawings and commentary. It was magical! – photos of them from the beginning, middle and end documented their growth and development. Two very different boys emerged from those journals – Elliot, who loves to paint and draw and Eoghan, who loves to climb and explore. Elliott’s drawings have become so confident and detailed while a photo of Eoghan climbing a tree in the service is accompanied by the educator’s comment that in all her years she had never seen someone climb as high as Eoghan. Her heart was in her mouth, she says, but she stood back because she knew he was able for it. He loves that comment.
There are lots of photos of the boys with their friends building with blocks, digging, making mud pies, caring for an unexpected visitor, a hedgehog, pretending to be daddies, sword fighters and doctors. This is a lovely insight into special moments in the playschool that I get to know about and share and celebrate. And of course it’s all the better because I know the other children in the photos and their parents – so again that feeling of community.
I think you only really come to appreciate the amount of work that educators do when it’s for your child. Eoghan and Elliot read their journals most days and ask can they go back to preschool. It is such a special bond – such a special memory – such a special contribution to their childhood. These journals and the friends we’ve made will be a regular reminder of that wonderful year, both for them and me.
We’d love to hear about your experience and reflections – as parents or educators or from your children. Share these in the comments box below.