Saturday, June 2, 2012


This morning at school we were reminded of some year end dates to keep in mind: Fun Fair, year-end potluck picnic, last day of 'school'. Another season drawing to a close, a marker of the passing of time. For my little family, it's been a wonderful year at our Parenting Centre.   

Since Josh was a month old, and Jake just under two years, this place has been a regular part of our weekly routine. In a normal week, the kids and I spend three mornings here; a place of warmth and safety, of learning side by side. It is here that I've met and developed some deep and lasting friendships with fellow neighbourhood moms. It is here where my kids have grown and learned and developed from newborns into babies, babies into toddlers, toddlers into young children. There are so many reasons that I give thanks for this place. 

The Parenting Centre is a program funded by our provincial government that provides parents and caregiver a place to learn and grow alongside of their children. Family integrated school, I suppose you could say. Similar to the montessori model of play-based preschool learning, the many children who come here are blessed with an introduction to school that is fun, educational, structured but with freedom, based on their own individual interests, and with a parent at their side.

A typical day includes painting, sand-play, water-play, a vast variety of learning materials, gym time, snack time, reading, and the highlight, a wonderful circle time with Teacher Leslie.

Circle Time means about forty or fifty children gathered around Teacher Leslie as we sing, read and learn. I've loved this part of our day: Jake on one knee, Josh on the other, and in recent months, Ella Grace snuggled in between her brothers, happily bouncing along to the songs and fingerplays.

I'm so thankful that as a parent, my first experience with a public educator has been with Teacher Leslie. She is all those things that a teacher should be... insightful, warm, nurturing, creative, vibrant, firm but not harsh, gentle but not weak. Though her ability with little ones certainly flows, in part, out of her education and background, I can't help but think that it's more directly the overflow of a heart that loves kids and genuinely enjoys these little people. My sons adore her, speaking of her often throughout our week. As a mom and a 'teacher' of my own children, I've learned so many valuable things from the hours we've spent in Leslie's classroom.

In the picture below, Leslie is reading to a few children at the conclusion of our day. 

As we were leaving here this morning, Ella was in my arms while Jake and Joshua walked down the hallway ahead of me. My boys looked so big, so sure of themselves. Babies no longer. At one point they passed by a class of older children walking down the hall, heading outdoors to the playground. Jake's arm instinctively circled around his little brother's shoulders to help keep him close, safe. It struck me afresh how Jake is so at ease and sure of himself in this school hallway, though he has yet to start Jr. Kindergarten. 

As I watched, I found myself freshly aware of what a wonderful opportunity has been provided to me and my kids, that we have been able to navigate these first couple years of 'school' together.

When we first started walking these halls almost three years ago now, I carried Jake in my arms. Then he started walking at my side, holding my hand. Now he walks a few feet ahead, confident, eager. And in a couple months from now, it will be on his own, without me. He can't wait. But I'm going to miss him so much.