Sniff sniff, tear. My baby is all grown up.
Ok, not really, but it feels like we just had a huge milestone!
Monday was Ruby's very first day at toddler group.
I know. What the heck is toddler group, and why do I keep calling it school? Basically, it's preschool. For 1 year olds. So it's pre-preschool? It's a one day a week (we go Mondays from 10:15-12:15) program for the one year old class. It's parent co-op, which means that I go with her, and I (and all the other parents) am very involved in the class operation. Throughout the year we adults will help with the children, help with clean-up/maintenance, snack preparation, and assist the teacher with some curriculum material prep.
It is also a parent-education class, and is run in conjunction with a local technical college (so I'm getting college credits while attending, too, ha!). This means that once the year gets settled, half of the parents will be with the kiddos helping, and the other half will be in parent-ed session. Then the next week we'll flip flop. So every other week, we get our learning on while the kids are playing in their classrooms. I'm excited about this part, because even though I actually have a degree in child development, I can always learn more. We also have occasional evening parent ed events that we must attend, but there are some fun evening/weekend activities for the whole family to do together too. It is very community oriented!
Ruby is in a class with 17 other toddlers (which sounds crazy, but it was actually ok!). Her school has two classrooms. One with toys, blocks, puzzles, a rotating activity based on the week's curriculum, puppets, books, and a sensory table. The other has the art projects available for the day, a different sensory table, and some dramatic play items. Then we have the "gross motor hallway" full of fun things like ride-on toys, a toddler sized basketball hoop, and ball pit to name a few. The kids have free reign of all of their areas, and can choose their activity at will.
Our parent-ed classroom is across the hall, and the kids are welcome in there too. Which means if it is my week to be in session, but Ruby is just really needing her mama, she's welcome to come in and be with me. Pretty awesome.
So, how did our first day go?
It was great!
Upon arrival, we put our stuff away and went to wash hands. Admittedly, Ruby was scared of washing hands on the stool in the bathroom, but it was ok. We signed in and got our nametags (we put the kids' on their backs so that they wouldn't pull them off, lol), and went in for open choice play! Ruby was a little unsure, but the ball pit was calling her name...
|Sizin' up the other kiddos.|
After a bit, she noticed a bear in the "blue room", so we went on in. Ruby had a lot of fun playing with more balls, trucks, cars, and puppets. After a while, I encouraged her to see what was in the "green room". She saw her buddy J in there, and requested to sit down in one of the little chairs at the art table. She was super into the tiny chairs.
She did some "art", which consisted of sticking cotton balls to glue (that I'd helped her with), and coloring with markers. Which she really liked, probably since I've never let her use them, ha! And in case you're wondering, yes, washable markers wash out. Not that I've already learned that or anything.
Once she was done, I let her explore the green room. I needed to grab my sweatshirt from the coat area, so I left her in the care of her buddy's mama, Jessie, and when I came back it was already clean up time! I got assigned gross motor hallway clean up. Ruby was happy to stay with Jessie (she already knows and loves her), so I put all the big toys away, then snatched up my girl to go wash hands again before snack.
For some reason snack was scary to her (weird, because we all know she loves to eat!). She liked sitting in the little chair again, and ate up her blueberries, but wouldn't touch the other food! It was so funny to me, because snack was basically all of her favorite foods, since Jessie was the first snack mom - she brought foods that she knew Ruby & her son loved, since those two were her only frame of reference. Ruby proclaimed she was "all done!", which everyone thought was pretty cute, so we cleaned up and went back to the blue room to read stories until the others were finished.
Once everyone was done, it was circle time. Miss Susanne led us in songs, ending with our good-bye song, Teddy Bear Teddy Bear. The big bear Ruby had noticed upon our arrival "helped" out with this, and Ruby was ALL over that. Miss Susanne blew some bubbles for the kiddos to try to pop in the middle of circle too, which was also a hit. At the very end, all of the toddlers got to go up to the teacher and get a hand stamp. Ruby was super into it, so she got one on each hand, lol.
Our school is awesome and has a little playground (none of the other toddler groups around here do), so we ended the day by gathering our things and heading out there.
Ruby loved the playground! She and her bff did some "cooking" together. These two have known each other since they were about a month old, and see each other every week. So they're pretty comfortable together!
Outdoor playtime is also a time where they prep parents (we all take turns with this job on a rotating schedule) reset the classroom for the next day's class. Their kiddos can stay with them inside, or the other parents can keep an eye on them on the playground.
Ruby & her buddy had a great time out there. We were the last ones to leave!
|Pale baby is pale.|
Note to self. Invest in a raincoat and boots. We play outside rain or shine, and in Washington, well, it's pretty much going to be rain!
The only bummer about school is that it is pretty far from home. About a 45 minute drive. We toured the many toddler programs around the area, and this one blew all the others out of the water. It was also the cheapest, which was not really a deciding factor (though the one closest to our home cost twice as much!). It was a bonus that we had several friends decide on the same one as well, since we all said we were going to choose whichever was the best fit for us.
The bummer? Class ends at lunchtime. And a full morning of school + a 45min drive = guaranteed car nap. Which means Ruby really needs to eat lunch before we leave school and head home. That car nap will likely be her only nap of the day! We ate at a park down the street, which Ruby loved, but come winter I'm not exactly sure what we will do. =( Still, if that's the only bummer about her school, I will take it!
Overall, I am so excited for the year to come, and so grateful that programs like this exist. I can't wait to see Ruby blossom in an environment designed for her and her peers to grow together. And I look forward to the parenting sessions with the other moms (and sometimes dads). Our first day was great, the other families are very friendly and down to earth (and we already knew several from our Parent-Baby class days), and the curriculum is incredibly developmentally appropriate and seems like it will be a good stepping stone into Montessori preschool when Ruby is old enough for that.
I think she's pretty excited too. Can't wait for next week!