Thursday, August 23, 2007

Moppet goes to playschool: Mama's version

I have felt for some time now that Moppet could do with a different, yet safe and stimulating environment in which to play and explore, other than just our home. Regular play dates with kids around her age would have been enough, but we don't have any friends with kids in her age group. So she gets to play with me and Nanny day in and day out and I thought playschool would be a welcome break from the monotony (for all three of us!).

Of course, the school itself was a big factor in the decision. It's not just the great infrastructure (although that's certainly important), but the overall philosophy of the place that I like. Even the name: Purple Elephant. With a name like that, you can be sure that these folks aren't going to tell kids that mangoes can't be blue!

There is no structured curriculum - it really is just a 'play' school, especially for the kids in Moppet's age group. The teachers let the kids do their own thing, watching for a chance to occasionally explain a concept or show them something new, just as we would do at home. But there are also some activities that the kids are encouraged to do together, like music and water play.

The teachers are well-trained and full of energy, and they obviously love their little charges. I like that they understand that each child is different, and are willing to try different approaches with each child.

The first couple of days, I stayed with Moppet for the whole 3 hours. For Moppet this meant that she felt secure enough to explore the whole school and find her bearings in the new environment. For me, I got to watch how the teachers interacted with the children and how they dealt with children whose parents could not stay and were having a hard time. But most importantly, I got to see what a blast Moppet was having and I realised how much I had underestimated her.

I was shell shocked that she was the first one to volunteer when a teacher brought out a big bouncy ball and asked who wanted to be bounced on it. I did a double take when she went up and asked for water, then drank from the little paper cup all by herself. And I watched with disbelief as she sat at the table with the other kids and polished off her snack like she hadn't eaten for months.

So on day 3, when her teacher suggested that I try leaving for an hour, I was ready to give it a shot. I knew she would cry. Going off to sleep in her own bed with trusted ol' Nanny by her side is one thing, but having me hand her over to a person she barely knew and wave goodbye was too much for her. Although I had told her repeatedly that I would come back to pick her up soon, she just couldn't bear to see me go.

It was heartbreaking, walking away from my baby, hearing her calling out for me. By the time I reached the end of the lane, I was a sniffling, snivelling mess. Moppet's teacher had promised that she would call me if she felt that Moppet was getting too stressed, so I decided to walk around near the school. There was no call, but despite my best efforts to stay away for an hour, I ended up back at the school in under 40 minutes. (Ok, it was more like 25 minutes)

I waited nervously on the verandah until she was brought out, looking terribly woebegone in her teacher's arms . She burst into tears when she saw me and literally jumped onto me.She pointed to the row of kids' shoes arranged on the verandah and said chooz, meaning let's get my shoes and get the hell outta here! But as soon as we found her shoes and put them on she was smiling again, and even stopped to wave bye to her teacher.

I was told that she had cried for pretty much the entire time that I had been gone, stopping for five minutes to look at a picture or listen to a song before starting off again. But they did find that she preferred to stay in the music room, and that if one of the teachers sang to her, she would quiet down and listen.

I had thought that she might not want to go back to playschool the next day (today) but she was raring to go, hefting her precious kaakpa (her backpack containing a change of clothes and a spare diaper), and singing rhymes with me in the cab on the way over. Today, for the hour that I left her, she cried hard for a while, but when the music started, her teacher said that she actually clapped along and smiled. Phew!

As I write this, she has just come looking for me in the study, dragging her kaakpa behind her and demanding her chooz. I tell her that school's over for today, that we'll go again tomorrow, but she wants to go now.

Oh no, tantrum alert! Gotta go!

25 comments:

the mad momma said...

hey - congrats on the move to school. you've been much braver than i was.... and she will be a little trooper soon.

Squiggles Mom said...

Oh dear.. sounds like she' loving it too much. Love the backpack :)

aargee said...

wow! that really sounds nice. I just kept visualising moppet enjoying in her school. Sounds very nice. I should def. try this out after getting back to India. Kiddo really needs company .

Sue said...

I know I'll have to consider playschool in a year for the reasons that Moppet and the Brat have given you and MM... but it's such a hard thing to think of.

I guess it'll be easier a year later.

Suki said...

congrats, Moppet's Mom!

choxbox said...

the pic so captures it all - a small step and yet a giant leap.

Kodi's Mom said...

good job, Moppet. you are a true independant spirit! kaakpa is cute :) and good job to you, M's M...looks like you picked the right school at the right time.

timepass said...

Hey, the photo of moppet with the kaakpa looks cute..

Poppins said...

Oh that's such a nice thing, the school, teachers all sound like fun. Moppet's Mamma, this one's all grown up ! Hurry up, we want Moppet Part II :) LOL

Smitha said...

Moppet is way braver, that she enjoyed playing with all the kids and gasp drink water and eat snacks!!.... looks like ur gonna have a singer at home :-)

Mystic Margarita said...

It must have been heart-rending to hear li'l Moppet cry as you left her. But it had to be done and you were real brave, MM - a big hug to you. Reading about your experiences brace me for the future :)

anja said...

Look at her walking off with backpack on her shoulders, she is adorable!! Wow, I am impressed she vlounteered first to bounce on the ball..that is really amazing..in a new environment. Goes to show how secure she is....congrats mama! And she ate her snack..wow. I guess having you there for those three hours is a great idea, she could relaz and enjoy the new surroundings. The school sounds great..I am slowly looking for a play school here too but so far I have seen just one that seemed too structured..I didn't get a good vibe..I got all sniffly when I saw that each kiddo had a little place to sleep, next to which were pics of their parents on the wall..that depressed me, i don't know why. OK rambling now..sorry. I'm very proud of moppet too..=)

Malavika said...

The school sounds great.. and the backpack photo is really cute.. but also a bit lump-in-the-throat inducing somehow

Moppet's Mom said...

Thanks everyone, but congratulations are not quite in order yet. She's only happy if I'm around - today she cried again for most of the hour that I left her.

I'll see how it goes next week, and then I'll take a call - I may want to let it go and try again a few months later. I'll keep you all posted :-)

noon said...

Just too cute - that pic - tiny little girl looking so independent wearing her own back pack!
Based on what every one has told me about the first few weeks at play school - I think she will eventually get used to it and start enjoying it. It took my niece a full three weeks of non stop loud crying but after that she loved it!
BTW - Moppet's mom - am seriously envious - what is the trick here - she is so young but you say she wiped off the snacks off the table on her own?!!!

Just Like That said...

Don't worry, Sonny boy cried the first week, and I felt awwwwful too, to leave him and come away, but the Principal told me that the more he saw me, the more he would cry.
So I'd run off and listen for the ceasing of his wails, but that never happened till the second week. Now he LOVES school.

Bet moppet'll take to it like a dcuk to water once she gets used to it. :-)
And hugs to Moppet, I can't imagine her teary eyed. All your pics of her show a laughing, michievous Moppet.

Swati said...

Wow...a milestone ..a difficult one ..congrats ..but don't be happy too soon ..she would actually throw some tantrums when she would know that you would leave her for full 3 hours ..but thats ok ..part of game :)

Collection Of Stars said...

That was so sweet and a relief for me :)
I hope KT takes to school like Moppet has (okay about the crying bit but she seems to enjoy herself).
The school seems real nice. I hope we have soemthing similar around here.

Tharini said...

Gosh that pic of her with the backpack is awesome! Love her cute little legs carrying her cute little self.

She sounds like she is settling in nice. Good for you guys!

Something to Say said...

seriously she looks like a lil doll with that back pak and choos... and bravo to her and to you - for starting on playschool.

Y said...

Moppet's Mom,

Loved this post and the pic

You've got yourself a new regular reader ;-)

Yashodhara

karmickids said...

She's adorable with her kaakpa...its such a empty feeling isnt it, when they keep moving on to school and other friends and start needing us less and less....

Pixie said...

Oh!!! How cute! :-)
She looks adorable with the backpack!!

rbdans said...

Congrats on getting her started! Except for the crying, it looks like she is taking it very well. She wouldn't be draaging her kaakpa and demanding her chooz otherwise :) The crying would probably subside once she has made "her own friends".

Moppet's Mom said...

Hello peoples, we have settled in nicely, thank you very much! :-)