Tag Archives: Preschool

Past Due


The many shelves and other lumber are stacked vertically and easily reached, and the tools and paint are likewise sorted and very easy to get to. A huge improvement from what was there before.

My daughter’s former and my son’s soon-to-be preschool is a parent cooperative in which parents help in the classroom and do jobs throughout the year. My job, one that I was particularly interested in doing, was to organized the “Bike Closet.” There are no bikes in there. There is just about everything else, and it is jumbled in the disarray of many years’ worth of shoving things in, changes in teachers leaving things unclaimed, and poor design in a room that is difficult to design to begin with. Upon entering the room, one is confronted by odd hip-high platforms and dark recesses. Part of the floor is dirt and sends up clouds of dust when walked upon.

My original plan was to go in with a friend, get the stuff out, put in some shelves, and organize the stuff as I put it back in. Over the course of the year, there were plans to get architects and contractors, so we were put on hold. During a parent work day, a few of us emptied the room. The stuff sat in the school basement from that point on, and the landlord, a church, finally got tired of the pile of junk taking over the basement. They put the pressure on the school administration, and here we are back at the plan of getting some shelves and organizing the stuff.

I spent all of Friday doing this and made a pretty good dent on the job. I hope to finish Saturday.

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Filed under Education

Parent Helper, Again

Monday was my second and probably final parent helping day at my daughter’s school. I love the opportunity to be part of the class, see the other students interact, and get a feel for the routines that make the day move. Having set up my own classrooms for many years, it is always a pleasure to see how other teachers craft their environment and build the classroom community. It is doubly a treat because my own child is in the room.

Unfortunately, both children chose Sunday night to have issues with sleep during the night. My daughter started it with a nightmare, benignly enough about a book that was missing, and led my son into a flat denial of sleep. He repeated, “Wake up?” which changed from a question to a flat statement and then to an exclamation. Thinking it was both developmentally inappropriate to teach him the difference, I instead put a pillow over my head after the umpteenth intervention. My wife and daughter escaped downstairs, and I listened to my son yell himself to sleep.

This night combined with the physical labor and ensuing sore muscles made me less that productive as a parent helper, but I still enjoyed the morning of being in the classroom.

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A First Last Day

Wednesday was my daughter’s first last day of school. She tends to have a strong emotional response to changes in routine such as going back to school after a break, so this could have been quite the day. However, she handled the drop off well knowing I would return in an hour to spend the rest of the school day with her including the performances and a picnic lunch. We were then slated to do an activity in the afternoon, and she chose to go to the Aquarium. Given that it was fairly damp outside, this was fine. We had a great dad and daughter day.

She spent the school day with her firefighter helmet and a skirt she made of paper and colored tape for her costume, and in that get up she didn’t stand out in the class. This is just one way the class, her teachers, and the school have been an amazing first year of school in her life. I am so incredibly thankful for what she has received this year and so proud of the growth she has made.

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The Pipe Cleaners Are Coming!

Today, my daughter did not have preschool because plumbers were working on the main sewer line in the school. My wife and I both prepped her for this, and she checked in this morning at breakfast, “Do I have school today?”

She knew the answer, but she was checking that the world and the word of her parents had some consistency and reliability.

“Do you know the answer to that question?” I asked her.

“Yes, no school,” she replied, and then to my query of why she added, “Because the pipe cleaners are coming.”

It is one of those moments of paroxysms of internal laughter, the kind that send mental milk up your nose because you are laughing so hard inside. I wouldn’t want to laugh at my daughter if I could help it, and this time I managed to hold it in.

Outside the Children's Museum, there is a food kiosk shaped like a milk bottle.

“Yes, they are coming to clean and fix the pipes. Sometimes we call them plumbers, too,” I managed to respond.

What followed was a great day with both kids. We moved at their pace, went to the Boston Children’s Museum (where there is a surprising amount of TV characters in the displays), had a picnic lunch, and made a run to the local pasta shop to replenish our supplies of frozen pasta. Throughout the day, my 1.5 year-old son did a ton of walking, though this did not lead to better napping. Everything went great until dinner and bath when cranky kids were fairly contrary. Overall, though, it was a good day, and visions of anthropomorphic pipe cleaners will be with me for days.

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Filed under activities, Funny

Parent Helper

I had the chance, again, to be the parent helper for the morning at my daughter’s preschool. I love the chance to see her interacting in the school setting even though I am sure my presence affects how she acts. I like getting to know the other kids better. Now my daughter’s stories about her day have much more context having seen and interacted with the children in her class.

I was fairly tired from bowling last night and then helping my wife process an item on her plate. I was jazzed and frazzled, so I frittered many hours just calming down. On short rest, working with twelve 3 year-olds is something of a challenge, but it just reaffirms my appreciation for the teachers who do this day in and day out.

One of the parent helper jobs is to bring and set up the morning snack. Today, I brought cherry tomatoes, green grapes, bananas, carrots, and fresh baked bread from the breadmaker this morning. I thought the trays of food were a beautiful rainbow of colors. There were no complaints about not having crackers or some other more processed food, and the bread was gobbled up quickly. I am really enjoying the recipe with which I am currently playing. Molasses and oatmeal are the main deviations from the original instructions, and the result is a more moist and aromatic loaf.

I am amazingly fortunate to be able to spend such a large amount of time during my children’s early years just being with them. There are times I am more aware of this, and today was one of them.

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Filed under Childcare

Renewed Respect

Today, I was the parent helper at my daughter’s preschool. I love the school, and her teachers are terrific. Today one of the teachers was absent, there was a full moon, and I don’t know what other factors were in play. The teacher there handled all of the meltdowns from the ten three to four year old children with a calm, caring demeanor.

Having worked in elementary schools most of my professional career, I have developed a healthy respect for the teachers who work with the youngest children. I taught a combined first and second grade class one year, and I took two years off of teaching after that experience. The constant energy, not to mention the constant flow of bodily fluids, that comes with the territory is daunting to me.

As a teacher there have always been the jokers who claim teachers are paid just fine. “You get June, July, and August off. Just work a summer job,” is a common jibe. I let them know that in the ten, not nine, months that I am at school, I work more hours than they will ever do in a twelve month job. The teachers of young children put more energy into their job than I ever will, and they earn a pittance. Early childhood educators are grossly underpaid for the amazing work they do.

Now that my daughter is in their care, my sincere and profound respect for the work they do is renewed and redoubled.

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Busy and Tranquil

Today, one of my full days with the kids, was packed. I dropped my daughter off at preschool, did some work there attaching some blinds to a shelving unit, took my car to get some overdue emissions stickers updated, stopped by a bakery that I used to go to weekly when I worked at another school, rushed back to school to get my daughter, took a walk with the kids to the library and the local pasta store, made dinner, made bread, did laundry, handled the dinner/bath/bed routine solo, and more. Amidst all that, though, there were a few moments of calm. While the garage was working on my car, I took my son on a walk around a large lake/reservoir. There has been a significant amount of nature restoration on the lands surrounding the the water, and one side of the park, especially, is fairly shielded from traffic noise. He had his morning nap surrounded by cattails, lapping water, birds singing, and fresh air. In the afternoon upon our return from picking up my daughter, I took my son up for his afternoon nap and lay down on the couch. The sun was streaming in the windows, warming me and brightening the room. I awoke quite a while later. I feel like I accomplished enormous amounts today, but those breaks were vital to creating balance and not arriving at 9:00 feeling completely worn out.

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Filed under Chores, Nature

Work Day

Today was the parent work day at my daughter’s school. I was roped into helping coordinate this day which really means I take directions from the dad who has been coordinating it. The school stores it supplies in a closet, and before today, the tools and paint were fairly inaccessible. In the image, you can see a raised part of the room in the back. The tool and supplies shelves were located at the back of that raised section, and lots of stuff was piled in front of them. This necessitated climbing over things like a huge fish tank to get to hammers, nails, paint, and anything else. Over time, people just bought a new whatever it was that they needed rather than performing gymnastics on rickety preschool furniture. Today, however, a group of us moved the shelves down, sorted all the many screws, nuts, and bolts, and made all of these materials significantly more accessible to inventory and use. I do love the sense of community that the parent involvement creates. Each family also has a dozen or so days where one of the parents helps during the day. There is a parent helper in the class every day. This place is a good fit for my daughter, and it is a good fit for me. 

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