M. finished up her first year of preschooling yesterday. Her school year went out with a bang with a big bike parade for all the three year olds followed by a cookout/pot luck lunch for the kids and their families. The parade was pretty funny as it clearly demonstrated the differences in ages amongst the two classes. The bigger kids, who turned four last fall, were flying around on their bikes, some of them on pretty big bikes with training wheels. The younger kids, like M., who either just turned four or are still three, were more likely to be on trikes or Big Wheels, and managed the course (the school’s parking lot) a little more slowly. M. peddaled about as much as she’s ever done, and had a really good time. C. enjoyed waving a checkered flag and cheering for her sister and the other kids. Adding to the fun were the kindergarteners who came out to watch the little ones.

Last week, the teachers sent the kids home with a progress report that showed how the kids had improved (hopefully) on various activities over the year. Along with the “report card” were tangible examples of how the kids had progressed. A package of art projects included similar items done at the beginning of the year and the end. M.’s attempt at drawing a person back in September was just a series of curly lines. By May, though, she was busting out the classic little kid stick figures. Her coloring got better and more imaginative – an apple in September was just red, and not colored very well; by May it was red with a black stem and green leaves and more thoughtfully completed – and was doing a better job with scissors.

(Aside: I always wonder what kids see when they draw their stick figures. Do they see a stick figure and understand that’s all they’re capable of at this point, or do they look at the over-sized feet, uneven legs, and grotestquely long torso and think, “That look just like my dad!”?)

M. has just started to master writing her name, which is funny. The M is easy. The E and G are both interesting interpretations on the classic form of each letter. The H is done with the horizontal center first, then she adds the sides in four steps rather than two. It often ends up looking more like an old-school football goal post than an H. The A is excellent. And the N is ususally pretty good, although sometimes she petters out by then and puts it somewhere else on the page. It makes me laugh everytime she writes her name because it often looks like Moohan rather than M.. She loves to write letters to people, which basically means writing her name on some paper, putting it into an envelope, putting some stickers on for stamps, and then handing it to me. Lately she’s been adding <a href=”http://admin.nickjr.com/printables/harry-the-helpful-horse.jhtml?path=/printables/noggin-shows_little-bill/coloring-pages/5-6-years/index.jhtml”>Harry the Helpful Horse</a> to her letters, which is a nice touch.

So, it appears the preschool money was a good investment. She’s definitely changed a lot over the past eight months, and while some of that is natural development, we know she’s benefitted a lot from being around other kids and learning in an organized setting. She made a lot of fun friends and is always doing and saying things we haven’t heard before. She’ll go to the three-day-a-week class for four year olds next year, with C. joining her on Mondays for the once-weekly twos class.

Now we have to figure out what to do with them this summer…