A couple of weeks ago, an Austin Mamas member posted about a relatively new AMI Montessori program in Round Rock. She recommended it highly to the other mamas of the group (most of whom I despise). Normally, I take their recommendations with a grain of salt…but after researching this new school and its director, I thought it might be a good fit for Ellie.
We love teaching Ellie here at home. That being said, my work schedule is jam-packed and Ryan’s work schedule is now so full of Geek-a-bye Baby work, that we’re unable to give Ellie a steady curriculum. We have activities every day (multiple activities most days), but they aren’t as consistent as I would like. Thankfully, she is a bright, well-adjusted little girl! And she’s advanced well beyond her years. But a lot of that is just Ellie being Ellie.
When we visited this new school, we instantly loved the location and the look of the school. It’s definitely a Montessori school, but with a slightly more traditionally structured learning environment. A good mix of Montessori with standard school. But it definitely leans a lot more Montessori. In essence, Ellie still gets plenty of free and guided play, but the lessons aren’t freely chosen. There is a more structured list of activities they go through each day. Ellie enjoyed her visit to the school. She played with just about everything she could get her hands on! The director’s sons were there and one of them played a number of puzzle games with Ellie. They were impressed with her aptitude for puzzles. After we finished touring the facility, Ellie even wanted to try to go potty on the potty, because it’s a kid-sized potty. That silly girl has been potty trained since about 2, but then decided she wants to only pee in diapers. Hopefully they’ll be able to help us with getting her to pee on the potty again. When it was time to leave, Ellie didn’t want to go. She wanted to stay and count everything, read everything, play with everything. A very good sign. And the best part? They offer a lot of different plans for attendance. We opted for 3 half days (Monday, Wednesday, Friday) to start with, but will likely move to 3 full days after Ellie gets accustomed to going to school.
That visit occurred on a Friday and we signed her up for the school the following Monday. It just felt right. A small school with a lot of one on one attention and a focus on advanced learning and learning that is truly designed for each child’s aptitude.
We had to wake Ellie up earlier than normal, so when she woke up…she wanted to snuggle with me in bed. We snuggled for about ten minutes, but then it was time to get up. We made her some breakfast and I sat down with her while she ate. We got dressed up in her school uniform — navy polo dress (she can also wear regular polos) and khaki shorts (she can also wear skirts, jumpers, pants). She also has to wear white socks, so hopefully that helps with her getting acclimated to wearing socks…and less smelly feet! She cried a few times because she wanted me to hold her or keep snuggling, so we knew leaving the school was likely going to be harder than normal. See, we drop Ellie off at child care at the gym almost every day. And she trots over to her favorite child care facilitators and waves goodbye to us. Sometimes she wants a kiss… Not always, though. But when she’s grumpy, it’s always harder. She’s more clingy and just wants Mama to hold her. The entire time. And she’ll cry and cry and cry.
We got in the car and drove over to her new school. When Ellie got out of the car, I gave her a brand new, Spider-Man lunchbox filled with a sandwich in an Elmo container, watermelon in a Spider-Man container, goldfish crackers in an Elmo container, and a Spider-Man water bottle. The first this she said was, “Mama, it’s heavy!” We walked over to the school’s sign and took lots of photos. Since she’s so sleepy, they were sleep face photos.
I’ll need to get more photos on Wednesday and Friday and call it the First Week of School. We held hands and walked to the door. Ellie wanted to play outside, but I told her she needed to drop off her things and visit with her teachers and friends first. We walked up the stairs and said hello to everyone. Ellie instantly sat down and played with the other kids — they were playing LEGOs. Ellie LOVES LEGOs. We put all of Ellie’s stuff away: lunchbox, water bottle, wash cloths, pull ups and wipes, change of clothes, Batman flip flops. And the director gave me homework: a family tree I need to put together for Ellie.
I took a few more photos and then it was time to say goodbye. Ellie cried, but we said our goodbyes and left the school. I’m certain she was fine moments after we were gone. She loves playing and the other kids likely distracted her.
It’s weird to think that she’s starting school. I mean, I know everyone says this…but I remember her still in the womb like it was yesterday. That being said, I don’t feel time is going by quickly. We pack so much fun into every single day. I am just so happy that she wants to go to school and that the director feels she’s so impressive for her age. I make sure to stress that it’s all Ellie. She was born and at 2 minutes old, she looked me straight in the eyes, smiled…and held my finger. She’s an old soul and has a wonderful sense of self.
I’m excited to talk to Ellie all about her first day at school. I can’t wait to watch her continue to develop and change and learn and grow. And now for Mama and Dada to figure out how the hell to deal with spending the first half of the day Ellie-free. It’s so quiet here… I think I need some white noise!