Thursday, June 11, 2009

Last Day of Preschool

Today was Zahra's last day of preschool at Liberty Christian. I couldn't get Zahra to open her eyes for the picture. I must have taken about 5 or 6 different shots but she closed her eyes in every single one. Plus, I was holding a bunch of other stuff. Max was in one arm, along with a bunch of papers and Zahra's jacket from this morning when it was cooler out (as it often seems to be at 7:45, even if it warms up later). So between holding that stuff and trying to take decent pictures, things were a little rough. True, I could have put Max down in a carseat or stroller but he was very fussy in anywhere that wasn't my arms (he was tired and ready for a nap). So, we made do and came up with some not-so-perfect pictures in front of the preschool door.

I thought this was kind of cute, watching Zahra play in the mirrored window, right in front of the school. She seemed really happy when I picked her up from school today. When I asked her what she felt about this being her last day of preschool and that she would no longer be going back, she said she was "kind of sad." But I reassured her that she will be going to a new school for Kindergarten where she will have a new teacher and new friends. And then she added, "And I'll have a new baby. And a new mom. And a new dad. And everything new." Well, I'm not sure about all that new stuff, but a girl can dream, right?

It looks like Zahra's trying to surf in front of the door right by the sign-out sheet. She was doing all kinds of poses and dances and was just generally happy today. I was a bit surprised because she's been sick the last few days (yes, in June) and hasn't felt very well. Her nose has been runny and she's had a lot of snot that seems to get all over her shirt and her arms and even on her forehead this afternoon (who knew?). Yesterday she seemed fussy and irritable, but today she seems like a whole new kid.

Well, this was definitely my favorite shot of the day.
It seems to capture that sweet little spirit I love so much.
So that's it. She's all done with preschool. She's made a lot of progress. We enrolled her in preschool late because she took quite a long time to get potty trained (she was 4) and the school wouldn't take her until she was ready. (Now, in the days they seem desperate for students, they are willing to take 2 year olds and assist with the potty training process.) But in any event, by the time she was potty trained, she really was ready and has never had an accident. So we enrolled her late, last summer, when she was almost 4 and a half. So other kids had been in school for awhile and Zahra was definitely late on skills other kids had already picked up. Like cutting paper. I didn't know that was such an important skill, but I guess being able to move the scissors skillfully contributes to being able to write succesfully. Also, Zahra still struggles with coloring. She did a lot of scribbling in the beginning and had a lot of trouble understanding the concept of coloring things in completely, chosing instead to color things haphazardly.
In addition to cutting and coloring, Zahra learned her alphabet and numbers. She is doing OK with the ABCs but still needs practice identifying certain letters and her handwriting is continuing to improve. She's pretty good at the small numbers. We like to play the card game "Go Fish" and I think that helps reinforce learning the numbers. I think a lot of times she just pretends she doesn't know the numbers and asks for help. Sometimes when I tell her, "Come on, you know this number," she responds by saying, "I know. I'm just joking. It's a three."
Since it's a Christian preschool, Zahra also learned Bible stories and verses. She sang songs with her classmates and had time to play outside on the tricycles and the jungle gym. Through the year, Zahra made different friends and would talk about different kids. Eating lunch with other kids and trying new foods has also helped Zahra with eating new foods at home. Her teacher commended Zahra's patience and has said that she's seen Zahra mature a lot just within the last month, noticing that she has been behaving very well during "circle time" and following directions.
In the beginning, Zahra didn't seem to really understand why she had to leave school at noon while everyone else stayed for nap time and didn't leave until the afternoon. She seemed like she just wanted to stay at school all day like all the other kids. (She'll be able to do this in Kindergarten since she'll be on the same schedule as everyone else, not just the one kid who does half-days at school.) I didn't know how to explain to her that we didn't need daycare and that there wasn't more academic curriculum in the afternoons. Eventually she seemed to come to an understanding that mom would come and pick her up right after lunch when all the other kids were laying down for a nap. When I was pregnant, I would take Zahra home and we would both lay down, sometimes falling asleep or just resting. After Max came along, it was too hard to try to get her to nap since he was usually up at that time. So she's usually pretty tired by the time bedtime rolls around on the days she woke up early for school.
Well, that's all. It's neat to see my little girl move on to a new chapter in her life. Right now, Kindergarten seems to be a long way off, even though it's only a few months. For her, that probably feels like an eternity. She doesn't seem to be too concerned about a new school just yet. What she is mostly looking forward to these days is swimming lessons. They begin July 6, so I'll have an update once those begin.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Last Day at College View

This week marks the end of two different schools that Zahra has been attending. Today was her last day at College View Elementary. She has been attending special classes at College View since she turned 3. The two different classes are the preschool Speech and Language Program and Adapted PE.

In the early days of Speech class, the teachers worked with Zahra solely on pronunciation. She would go over certain letters and sounds. (Her speech classes were twice a week, two 30-minute sessions: one on Monday mornings from 9:45-10:15 and on Wednesday mornings from 9:15-9:45.) Zahra even got homework, beginning when she first started attending the Speech and Language Program after she had just turned 3. Previous to that, she had been getting therapy that was funded by the state at a private institution. After age 3, the school districts take over and provide therapy for those kids who qualify. She had been getting various services for different developmental delays since she was a baby.

Eventually, Zahra learned to make all the sounds correctly and the teachers began to move on to whole language concepts (like "over" and "under," "beginning" and "endings" of stories, et cetera). They also worked with her on different things like volume and speed (as Zahra tends to talk very quickly -- they tried to get her to slow down). Though today was her last day meeting with the teachers at College View, she will continue to be followed by the school district when she moves to Golden View Elementary for Kindergarten. All preschool therapy sessions are held at College View, which happens to be close to our house, but Golden View is even closer.

Above is a picture of Zahra, waiting in front of the school. She has a paper monkey in her hand that she had made in Speech this morning. After Speech on Wednesdays, Zahra had Adapted PE from 10:00 to 10:30. She had also been getting physical therapy through the school district since age 3. Her teacher worked on a lot of different issues, such as her balance, walking up and down stairs with alternating feet, and throwing and catching balls. Through the years, they worked on issues through play using games like bowling, soccer, and baseball. I'm sure there are many more things that were covered -- but I can't seem to remember them all right now. Zahra especially liked her Adapted PE teacher and always seemed to look forward to meeting with her.

Here is Zahra, drinking her chocolate milk in the courtyard of the school, waiting for the PE teacher. I couldn't seem to get her to take any "serious" pictures today, she just kept being a goofball the whole time. Over the years, Zahra got many compliments from her PE teacher and her various helpers about what a fun kid she was to work with and how funny and creative she always was. It meant a lot to me to hear these positive things, because I know we really get a kick out of her at home, but it's nice to hear how much someone else enjoys being with your child as well.
Since she's gotten older and more mature, Zahra has seemed to get better at paying attention and listening to directions in PE. Although these little therapy sessions were separate from preschool, I think they were great opportunities for her to learn patience and other skills that will be helpful and useful when she begins Kindergarten in the fall. I am truly thankful that these types of services have been available to Zahra before she enters formal school. I think they have been a great benefit to her and have helped her overcome many of the obstacles that have happened to her, most likely due to being born so premature. Without these aids, I don't know where Zahra would be developmentally. We are truly lucky that the state and school districts continue to provide these services free of charge to kids in need.

You see what I mean about Zahra being a goofball today? I took a lot more pictures in front of this sign, but I kind of liked her little pose in this one.
Well, tomorrow is her last day at preschool, so we will be taking a photo or two in front of that school as well. I will also give updates about some of the stuff she learned there, although I kind of feel that I might not have as much to say. Today was a bittersweet one. I've enjoyed bringing Zahra to College View over the last two years and it was sad to know we won't be visiting there any more. I think Zahra really enjoyed her sessions and gained a lot from them. But it only means that we're now on to a new chapter in her life. Happy I can share these things with all of you... More tomorrow.