Thursday, September 4, 2008

First Day of Preschool is Full of Mixed Emotions

Today was Olivia's first day of preschool. I've been prepping her for this day for quite some time. When we were visiting family last month, she would proclaim that she was going to school in September. She was so excited.

When the big day came around, however, Olivia, Lila and I were each filled with mixed emotions (Daddy's traveling around Europe again with "The Boss"). Olivia hasn't been to any sort of formal care since we lived in Fort Wainwright. She's been home with me nearly every day since we arrived here. So, it came as no surprise to me, this morning, when she was hesitant to enter the classroom. As her teacher rushed her into the room, towards the other children and away from me, I became nervous and a bit sad. She looked so alone! And, boy did her blonde hair stand out among all the dark haired Portuguese children!

Lila started to cry for "Iia" as we walked to the car. She hugged Olivia's bear all the way home! She cheered up when got home and found our housekeeper cleaning. She made herself useful right away and followed Louisa around while I baked some bread for lunch. The house was so quiet without Olivia, I had to put some music on because I couldn't stand the silence.

When I picked her up right before lunch, she had seen me coming through the window and started to cry. She rushed out of the classroom and quickly handed over her uniform to her teacher (it's called a "bibe" and all the students wear them. They are long-sleeved and hang down to their knees. They are quite nice because I don't have to worry about her shirts or nice dresses getting stained from dirt, paint, etc). In the car, she asked why I didn't stay with her all morning and then, in the next sentance, asked why she wasn't staying for lunch. I know she'll get used to it, however, I hate to see her so confused.

Her teacher told me that she understands Portuguese very well. I'm not sure if Olivia was pretending to undersand (nodding yes to any and all questions) or if her twice a week swimming lessons, for the past six months, have helped. Time will tell.

This year's theme at her preschool is: "All About the Outdoors." Trees, flowers, gardening, etc. I think Olivia will really end up having a great time, once she gets used to it and really starts to grasp the language.

Olivia has the option of staying all-day (it is one price whether she stays half a day or full-day). However, she'll probably go in the mornings four days a week. Next month, on Fridays, if she's adjusting well, she may stay all day, in order to enjoy lunch with the other children and take a ballet class after naps.

If you're wondering why she isn't going to an English speaking school, we have a good reason. All the English speaking preschools are about $1,000/mo. for half-day programs. We don't feel that any preschool is worth that much money and we feel that the long-term benefits of a pricey preschool, no matter how great the program, would be minimal to none (however, that is only our opinion-not based on any studies). Olivia will have one year in an American preschool, in Kansas, next year. There, we believe, she will catch up on anything she is missing out on by not attending an American/English school. If I'm coming across defensive as to our decision, I'm not trying to be. We're happy with our decision and are excited to see how Olivia grows in a different cultural environment!


Angie said...

How sad/sweet that Lila was crying for Olivia! I wouldn't feel at all that you needed to justify not putting her in an English speaking program, even if it was the same price. What a great opportunity for Olivia!

The Dunns said...

What a sweet picture!

Many people would pay big $$ for an immersion preschool. If I was stationed overseas, I would look for a local option. The dual languages are stimulating her brain so much! Fun!

The Matthaidess' said...

Cute picture! I like the purple flower with the yellow dress.

I think that it's great that she's going to a Portugese school. A friend of mine put her child in the German pre-school when she found out that it was cheaper to send her there than a the pre-school on post.


Kristin & Jeff said...

So very sad that she is going to pre-school. She is getting so big. Ian moved over to the preschool daycare when I am at work. He loves it. He misses playing with Blake after school is over - but with time he'll adjust. I think that the local preschool is a great idea. :) I don't think I would pay a grand for a English school either.

Brenda said...

Too cute. Nora started French preschool last week. It is FREE, can you believe it? She LOVES it and I like the break. I only have her go Tues- Thurs for 3 hrs a day b/c after lunch, they nap from 1230-230. She doesn't nap anymore. I also read about how Lila is done breast feeding. What is it like to have your body back?!?!?!?

Katie said...

AWESOME that she is in a portugese school. That is an amazing experience for her. She will be FAR AHEAD of her American counterparts in terms of experience and language. I went to German kindergarten when I was a kid and it only made me smarter (ha ha ha! I'm so modest!) But, seriously....I think it is GREAT!