On Ev’s first day at his new school, I was a bowl full of mush. Both my husband and I had been so anxious, even though we felt confident in our decision to transition Ev to a new program. There are many reasons why we feel good about it: it’s more convenient to both our commutes to and from work, it’s very high quality and he is in a Montessori classroom, a philosophy we are still learning about but are hopeful will be a good match for Ev. Change is just hard.
I knew that this transition would be difficult for me and possibly Ev, too, so we took some steps to ease into the new school. First of all, I observed in the classroom three times (once with my husband) prior to enrolling Ev. Then the week before his first day, we took Ev to visit twice. The first time, Craig and I stayed in the classroom with him. He hung with us for a bit before exploring the classroom and the materials. He seemed to really enjoy it. Then the next day, we dropped Ev off for an hour and half while we went and had breakfast just down the street. When we returned, again, he seemed to enjoy the time he had. One other way we thought to help Ev get acclimated to his new classroom was to buy new nap time stuff that he helped to pick out. So, we did that over the weekend and he helped to pack up his bag. We were ready.
We found out during the visits that the children in Ev’s new class go out on the playground first thing in the morning and then eat breakfast before starting their morning routine. This is basically a perfect scenario for Ev. He wakes up with a lot of energy so being able to drop off right on the playground will not only allow for him to burn some of that energy, but also makes for an easier transition. Knowing that if Ev had a hard drop off it would make it even harder on me, I made sure to get there in time for outside time. I’m not sure who was more nervous on our walk in that morning: me or Ev.
His new teacher greeted us both immediately. Though Ev initially clung to me and told me he only wanted to play with me on the playground, I told him I needed to get to work and about that time, Ev’s teacher walked up and ask him if he wanted to walk around the playground with her. I gave a final hug and walked towards the door without looking back, mostly because my eyes were welling up and I didn’t want anyone to see.
Once I was safe from anyone seeing me, I peeked back to the playground saw Ev smiling. I took a deep breath and realized how much better Ev was handling the transition than me. Two hours later when I called to check in, he was still doing great. His teacher told me he was currently building with LEGO® (one of his most favorite things to do).
He had a great first day, but I needed to use some self-regulation techniques to concentrate on work and not worry about him!