I figured it was going to be a big adjustment. She went to pre-school everyday, but only from 8:45'ish to 12:30. Kindergarten officially starts at 7:45 and goes until 2:35. That's a long time to be at school. Plus it requires a very early wake-up, which is not routine in the GVZ house (our departure time was always 8:30).
The school is big (950+ kids) and so like most elementary schools, the lunch times are staggered. Since the kinder kids are low man on the totem pole they eat the earliest. And the earliest is 10:00 am. That's right, they eat lunch at 10:00 am. The folks doing orientation warned us that this definitely takes some getting used to and we shouldn't expect them to eat much lunch the first couple of weeks. And then for the rest of the year we should expect them to need to eat at 10:00 am on the weekends.
Norah's celiac means that at least for the time being (until there are viable options at the cafeteria--here's hoping for someday), we pack everything that she eats. I got her this awesome Yumbox a few weeks ago and she has admired and carried it around daily. I wouldn't let her use it for the last few weeks of pre-school as I wanted the allure of it to be associated with kindergarten only. Here's our first bento attempt:
GF brown sugar ham, cantaloupe chunks, homemade GF pizza strips, GF noodles, dried cherries, and edamame. We also have to send a snack for the afternoon, so she got grapes and a GF granola bar. (Don't worry, I am not going to take a picture of her lunch every day, just this one. I promise.)
I had heard horror stories from neighbors about what a mess the traffic situation can be at the school. The school encourages parents to drop off kids curb-side, rather than park, but there was no way I was just dropping her off the first day. Our plan, on the advice of the administration, was to get there early, park in the stadium parking lot across the street, and walk to the school. The doors open every day at 7:15, with the first bell at 7:35. We left our house exactly at 7:00. It was very early for this girl.
The sign says "First Day of Kindergarten" and the date and then I asked her what she wanted to be when she grows up (the illegible words in red). She said a veterinarian. I have never heard her once mention anything about wanting to be a veterinarian.
We got to school and even though it was crowded there were lots of spaces in the parking lot so we didn't even have to go to the stadium. This is her new backpack. We chose it because Ruby got the exact same one. If they can't go to school together, at least they can be backpack twins.
This is the outside of the school. It looks like a state prison.
There had been a lot of anticipation and anxiety in the days leading up to the first day of school, but on that morning she was calm, cool, and collected. She was more excited than nervous, which is exactly what I was hoping for. She kept having to pee, which is the only way I knew she still had nerves about the whole thing.
This is her friend Daniel who lives in our neighborhood. They are not in the same class but see each other at recess.
The school doors open at 7:15 and everyone enters through the office. Parents were allowed to go to the classrooms on the first day only. After that, no parent is allowed anywhere except the cafeteria where the students convene until they are taken back to the classroom areas (safety concerns). I appreciate their efforts and interest in keeping the kids organized and safe. I would love to just drop her off at the front curb and watch her walk in (so I don't have to get Louie out of the car), but so far that's been a no-go. I asked her when she will be comfortable with me not getting out and walking her to the cafeteria and she told me "third grade."
The classes are grouped according to grade level and each level has a "neighborhood" where you will find science tables, computers, a kitchen, tons of library nooks, etc. There is a warm and welcoming feeling to it. The model for learning is open, communal, "it takes a village" and the kids do a lot of their learning outside of their primary classroom. The school itself is less than five years old and it's really impressive. There is a theater arts classroom with a full sized stage, a giant computer lab, a library, an enormous art studio, an independent music room, plus the multi-purpose room (where they do PE when it is 103 degrees outside), and full service cafeteria.
This is the entrance to the kindergarten "neighborhood:"
Norah outside of her new classroom. I really like her teacher--she is older with a lot of experience, but still very energetic and enthusiastic. She seems (from what I was able to tell from the meet the teacher night and what Norah has said) to have a really good control on the class, which is great for Norah who excels in a calm environment. The teacher is also very technologically savvy and we get email updates and notifications, which I certainly appreciate. I can't deal with 12 million sheets of paper.
She was one of the first kids there, so she found her assigned seat and immediately went to work on the first assignment--making a crown and coloring a dragon.
The classroom is bright and cheerful and fun. The kids say the Pledge of Allegiance and the Texas Pledge every morning. I grew up in the Texas public school system and never remember there being a Texas pledge. Maybe it's a new thing.
She was seriously stoked to be there.
I gave her a hug and a kiss and then that was the end of it. I ended up hanging out at the school for a while because of some of my PTA duties (have I mentioned I am on the PTA board this year? Because my life is not over-committed at all already...), and I caught a glimpse of her a few hours later walking to the multi-purpose room.
Louie and I waited anxiously for the time we could go pick her up. And by anxiously I mean my stomach was in knots and I paced back and forth a lot. Lou just ate cereal.
Pick-up is kind of a nightmare (hence the post about the bus to come soon). It took about 45 minutes from the time I got there until the time I was driving out of the lot with her in my car.
She had a great day on Monday and has had a fabulous week. She loves her teacher and the structure of the day. She is pissed she doesn't yet have any homework. She is making friends and being kind. She loves, loves, loves music class and likes PE even though they spent the entire time the first session just talking about the rules. She is afraid to try the monkey bars on the playground but wants to practice on the ones at home. I asked her what her favorite part about school is and she said, "learning and having fun at the same time." I couldn't ask for anything better than that.
The other best part? She goes to bed by 7:30 pm at the latest (this was a kid who could push 10:00 pm some nights) and is eating like a teenage boy at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Here's how her first day lunch came back (noodles were "too sticky" apparently).
She's my smart cookie. I can't believe she's in kindergarten, but I am grateful we are off to such a positive start.