Summer brings with it evenings that are long, mornings that are bright, and extra family time to be enjoyed. It's a lot of fun because we live in a college town where the relaxed atmosphere of summer is obvious and welcome. Add-in vacation, various get-togethers, and the occasional road trip and it's straight up good times for three months.
Also, I enjoy the break from school for Annie - it's nice for her to have days free from strict schedule and structure (i.e. getting out of the house in the morning with hair fixed, clothes on, a lunch, bookbag, and whatever treasure she needs to show everyone) for awhile.
This year is unique though because she is done with the Mother's Day Out/pre-school where she has spent 6 hours a weekday the majority of the school years since she was 9 months old.
For perspective this is her on her first day of school:
Eeeep! Look at that sweet little baby that was still back-facing in her car seat.
She wasn't even walking!
Here she is at her first Christmas program - darling little doll. She loved singing and kept standing up to clap. So very cute.
Then the Easter egg hunt year 1:
And here's the end of the year art show:
Crazy how much growth and maturity occurs in a school year...
Here we are first day of school year 2:
Then a couple of months later in October so she's about to turn 2 years old in the pic below (this one makes me chuckle every time I see it and gets me slightly concerned about her teen years...).
One of the great things about her pre-school/Mother's Day Out program is all the annual events they do. There is a family picnic, Thanksgiving feast/sing along, Christmas program, Easter Egg hunt, art show, and various other things thrown in during the year that involve the whole family in the school.
Good grief looking at these shows me how fast time flies.
First day year 3:
The school's motto is learn by play so here she is learning with friends...
The majority of these I have to credit to her teachers because something like taking turns and sharing is definitely a skill that until this past fall at home that really didn't have to happen.
She's picked up all of the education fundamentals that you would expect but she's gotten so much more out of her time there. Motor skills, love of art, creatitivity, and confidence doing these things are other big gains she has had.
School is where she has really learned to peddle a trike and go across monkey bars - two of her favorite outdoor activities now.
She also loves to paint, draw, write, and sing and I think this is in large part because of all the creative opportunities and encouragement she's been given there.
Most importantly though she's been around kind adults who have taught, loved, and cared for her and made good friends with some of the sweetest little ones.
When I look back through the various pictures through her time at the Early Childhood Center there is a common denominator that is always there and that is her little bestie Sadie.
These two have been a mess when they are together since they were tiny. Born about a month a part they were smiling and crawling around together at church before they even started at the Early Childhood Center.
There's a lot of this when they are together:
..and a little of this:
But they work out their differences and all is good.
Consistently at parent teacher conference their friendship has been brought up and more than once the reference to how they act like sisters more than friends has been noted.
They call each other's bluff and make each other laugh.
They are upfront and honest with each other and hold nothing back (tears included) about how they feel when the other one makes them happy, mad, or sad.
The first person to run up to Annie at drop off is Sadie and she's also the one Annie has to say goodbye to at the end of the day.
They organize games and make plans together all the time. Either one can tell you what the other has been up to and all the funny things that four-year-old little girls think are important that the other one is doing.
They are both very concerned when the other is out sick or gone from school for a day. We have numerous cards, pictures, stickers, and little gifts that are treasures we have to keep because "Sadie made that for me."
They have also learned a lot of social skills throughout their friendship and how to deal with conflict management (with the help of their very patient teachers).
Next year brings pre-K and different schools for each girl which will be a big change from the daily interaction they have had but play dates and time together will be arranged and they'll continue the friendship.
In the end that is the greatest thing I think she will take away from this program. While she has grown by leaps and bounds and had lots of unique experiences, the great memories and friendships are a precious treasure that she may not distinctly remember in years to come, but they will definitely leave a positive imprint on her for the rest of her life.