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5 things preschool taught me about parenting

November 16, 2021

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            It’s been two months since Jack started preschool. I am so thankful we found this preschool in our neighborhood and that Jack LOVES it. We chose a cooperative style preschool which means the parents contribute and support the preschool in a more hands-on way than a traditional drop-off/pick-up type preschool. The main difference is each parent helps in the classroom once per week and each family has a “job” outside the classroom like administration, fundraising, school maintenance, etc.

I acknowledge a cooperative preschool is not ideal for every family and while it’s something we’re still learning about, it’s been an eye-opening experience for me as a parent. Spending two hours a week with Jack, thirteen other two-year-olds, some of their parents, and the teachers have taught me more about myself and my parenting than I ever expected. We enrolled Jack in preschool so he could grow, thrive, learn, and play. I had no idea that I, too, would grow and learn. Here’s what I am reflecting on after the past two months of the preschool routine.

my own learnings from preschool

  • My role as Jack’s parent is not to control how he is behaving at every moment. I am there to help guide, support, and teach him how to participate and engage in a classroom setting with the other kiddos.  
    • Example: If Jack won’t follow directions and wants to keep playing with the toys instead of participating in “circle time”, of course, I will intervene and help him understand why it’s important to respect his teacher’s direction. However, if Jack doesn’t want to sit during “circle time” and instead wants to dance or stand right in front of the teacher, (or upside down as pictured above!) that’s okay. He’s TWO. He’s not expected to sit still and learn. Sometimes he will need to move and groove, other times he will stand and stare, and sometimes he will sit to learn. It’s all okay. And by the way, when I pause to let go of my expectations, I am able to observe that none of the other two-year-olds are sitting perfectly for “circle time” either.
  • As his parent, I am more embarrassed and hyper aware of Jack’s behavior than anyone else. More often than not, the behavior that makes me embarrassed is exactly where he should be developmentally. LET THAT WORRY GO.
    • Example: Jack is an active kid. He rarely stops moving and if he does, he is laying on the ground to watch the wheels on his toy cars turn. He is one of the more “rough and tumble” boys in class and while he’s not the only one, they do stand out from the others. For a few weeks I was so self concious about how he and they would climb all over each other, bump cars or bouncy balls against each other, etc. It feels silly to admit these things embarrassed me but it’s the truth. I would notice the other kids quietly playing and playing with the toys so much more gently. After a few weeks of school and chatting with the other parents, no one views the more “rough and tumble” kids as anything but more active than the others. Plus every kid has their own “thing.” Jack may need a reminder to not go down the slide face first, but he doesn’t need to be by my side the entire class like some of the other kids do. They all have their “thing” and none of it should embarrass any of the parents. We’re just meeting them where they’re at.
  • Seek a community of families who celebrate and care about your child’s wellbeing. Don’t settle for anything less, for your and your child’s sake.
    • It’s only been a short time but the love, care, and sincerity of the parents in our preschool community is phenomenal. It is a safe place for Jack and our family to make friends, learn, and be on this parenthood journey with. What a game changer. No one is competitive, braggadocious, or judgmental. We will continue to mindful of seeking this type of community in the future for both our boys, their continued education, and extracurricular activities.
  • Two-year-old’s will never be good at sharing. Not now and not ever. And it’s okay.
    • What a relief to learn your kiddo is not an a-hole for being unable to take turns and share consistently. None of the kids in his class can and it’s all okay. They will eventually and with the parents and teachers support they will soon. One of the teachers told me this on Jack’s first day and I will never forget how I laughed in sweet relief. Grateful for teachers who keep it real!
  • Preschool has given me the perspective the pandemic didn’t. Despite any worry we may have had, Jack is thriving and developing just as he should be.
    • Jack turned one-years-old about two months before the pandemic hit. Quarantining with a toddler made it difficult to know if he was on track developmentally. We weren’t around many other kids his age consistently and keeping social distance at the local playground made it hard to gauge how he measured in comparison to other kids his age. Preschool has given us the opportunity we’ve been craving. Making new friends, learning social skills with other kids and in a classroom, while also having fun in a new environment that’s not home or his grandparents’ house.

my favorite parenting podcasts

I know this parenthood journey will continue to challenge my expectations of what I believe I should be doing versus what is in the best interest of Jack and support his journey to becoming a kind and resilient human. When I am not in the midst of humble learnings at Jack’s preschool, I am usually listening to podcasts to help learn more about parenting. Sharing a few of my favs below!

Tell me, where do you get your parenting inspiration? Where do you learn the most about yourself and your parenting style?

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