With October upon us, I find myself reflecting on the recent summer season and thinking about improvements for next year. As camping professionals, we excitedly embrace the long workdays of summer along with the organized chaos of the few months leading up to it. While I am always sad when camp ends and miss my campers tremendously, it is also a time to rejuvenate and focus on other valued aspects of my life.
Many of you know that I am a proud grandma to 2 yummy kids! My grandson, Brody, attended his first day of kindergarten in September and it was quite a special day. I found myself thinking about him all day at work, hoping he was enjoying this brand-new experience. I called him after school to see what his first impressions were; he was full of excitement, sharing details about new friends, a new playground, and the ices he was able to buy in the cafeteria all by himself! It’s truly a blessing to watch my family’s next generation experience these beautiful milestones.
Another thrill of my September was accompanying my granddaughter, Ryan, to her first pre-school separation class in her toddler tots program. The separation process of the program is slow and steady. Every week of the month, the toddlers are exposed to different components of what will be their daily routine- new classmates, their teachers, the classroom environment, introductory songs, playgrounds, and specialty staff. During this time, caregivers provide support, encouragement, and comfort. By the end of the month, caregivers are asked to leave the room with the hope that their toddler feels safe and comfortable with their teachers and surroundings.
The goal is to create consistency within the toddlers’ daily lives alongside fostering confidence, self-discipline, and cooperation. In turn, these skills allow children to adapt to unfamiliar settings, learn flexibility, and navigate changes that arise all the time in our lives. Enrolling toddlers at this age into programs such as these helps nurture these fundamental skills.
When my children asked if I could attend a few of these sessions and be part of this experience, I, of course, happily said YES! This was an opportunity to help my own children while getting insight into what Ryan’s year would look like. Watching Ryan explore her classroom helped me see what she gravitates to. What books intrigue her? Will she build a tower made of blocks or knock the tower down? Is she territorial with what she has in front of her, or will she share? Does she jump right into an activity or stand back and watch for a while? Will she use her voice or body language?
The best part for me was carpet time, where the children either sit by themselves or in their adult’s lap and engage with each other through song and movement. To my delight, Ryan curled into my lap and I could feel her body relax in my arms. What a joy and euphoric feeling. This beautiful moment of connection was priceless and I look forward to watching Ryan grow into her feelings of safety and security as we all adjust to our new fall routines.