We had ups and downs last year, but it was overall a fantastic experience. For the most part Caroline was a happy camper when I dropped her off, and eager to stay and play. At the very beginning of the year, and again towards the end, she was crying for about 5 minutes when I'd leave her, and then would cheer up and still have a good time. I was really hoping that this year there would be no tears!
Day 1- We prepared and talked about school a lot. She had the summer off, so I reminded her of how much fun she had last year. We read books about going to school. The Daniel Tiger book that we read was her favorite. It talked about how "grown ups come back". As I dropped her off, I reminded her that Mama would be back, just like in the book. We even sang the little jingle from the TV show. LOTS of tears when I left her, but again she only cried for about 5 minutes, and then had a great time.
Day 2- The following week I really wanted no tears. I hate seeing her sad- especially when I know she has such a great time. I wanted to get her over the hump quickly this year. Not my proudest moment (and a definite bribe) LOL... but it's what came out of my mouth as we were driving to school: I told Caroline that if she went to school today with no tears, and just had fun, she'd get a special treat. I didn't tell her what the treat was (I didn't know myself since I wasn't planning this)! To my surprise, she walked right in, gave me a hug goodbye and said "Mama, back". "Yes", I replied, "Mama will always come back". She ran into the room smiling and started playing! As usual, she had a great time. When I picked her up she ran over to me and said "Mama, back!!!". She had forgotten about the treat, but I reminded her about it and told her how proud I was of her and that she was such a big girl! She got a little piece of candy on the way home :)
Days 3- 10- These days have all been no tears! I never offered her a treat again. We just talked about how much fun she had and always remind her that Mama comes back. She hardly says goodbye to me anymore! She's so excited to be there and just runs into the room playing immediately!
So, while the bribe wasn't my proudest moment, it's what came out of my mouth at the time, and it worked! I think it worked simply because it broke the cycle, and she proved to herself that she could be strong and do this! And she's simply having a blast, now! Not only did it make drop off easier, I think it improved her entire time simply because she's not having to pull herself up after crying.
As for her school day- oh my gosh! She comes home with art projects every day! The teachers take pictures, so we have all of these amazing pictures of her sitting nicely at the art table, sitting eating lunch or a snack, playing outside, and having some fun indoor play as well!
When I pick her up from school I ask her what she did. She says "help, please". I help her find the words by asking her questions- "Did you go outside today?", "Did you eat lunch?", etc. She answers yes or no and we go on with lots of questions the entire drive home. If I stop asking questions, she says "more, please"!
Yesterday (day 10 of school), was the first time that she told me what she did all on her own! I asked her what she did at school, and she was so excited to say "blue, car!". She loves riding in this car when they play outside at school. I was so proud of her for finding the words to describe what she did.
She's also doing pretty awesome with being potty trained. She started school in September, and we had started potty training in June. She was to the point where she wasn't having any accidents, but I was worried she wouldn't go for her teachers. It doesn't sound like she asks them to go yet, but if they take her to the potty, she goes for them!
I am just so proud of her and love seeing her get to interact with other children! The pictures that are sent to me just melt my heart every time. She's learning how to have fun without Mama around, and that is such an important skill! So glad we continued with this!