28 August 2005

the long hello

It's probably just a case of bad timing but I've been struggling with Oliver's transition to the on-campus childcare center. On the face of it, the Welcoming Process, or Inserimento, part of the Reggio Emilia approach, appears to be designed for people who don't have jobs. And if I didn't have a job, I wouldn't need childcare, right? It also fails to take into consideration that the last two weeks of August are by far the most frantic for staff at a university. I have trusted my friends who have lived through it that the process is worthwhile and one I will come to value. I hope to soon believe they are right.

Part of my problem is that Oliver has been at another center since mid-June. For many of the other children and parents, the Welcoming Process is their first experience with a childcare center and a gentle transition is needed in order for everyone to get comfortable. However, since they don't accept new children at any other time of the year, it is clear many of us had to find other solutions because, as I previously mentioned, we have jobs. We also dropped Oliver off the first day at his other center and fetched him 8 hours later without any ill effects. He didn't notice our departure, and while he was happy to see us later in the day, it was clear he would have happily stayed there a while longer.

Last week Oliver was permitted to be at his new center a maximum of 4 hours per day, with Mum, Dad, or both present. Surprisingly, at least to me, there were few instances where I felt parents were tripping over each other. The rest of the day he was at his other center. Five days of bouncing back and forth does not seem to have been good for him. He had difficulty settling in both places. Nothing catastrophic, just some fussiness associated with a schedule change (not that he was on much of a schedule anyway).

This week he can be at the new center up to 6 hours per day, without parents. Our contract with the other center expires on Tuesday. Since he's bonded so well with the caregivers and other children, we are going to continue the half days in each place so that he can spend a little more time with people he's very comfortable with, while hopefully getting more comfortable at the new place too.

For the remainder of the week he will be spending as much time as possible at the new center, and the rest of the day with me, in my office, during the most hectic time of the year. To their credit, the educators at the new center noticed we were having an issue with nursing associated with the transition and told me Oliver can spend full days if we need to do that, in order to help him get established on the new schedule, one which will include my being able to visit and nurse, probably once a day at lunchtime. This feature alone should probably make me willing to put up with just about anything, but why have a blog if I can't whine a little?

I am trying to learn more about the Reggio approach and have even joined an internet discussion list on the topic. I won't post, of course, but I hope to gain greater insight by viewing it from the perspective of the educators. So far, it has been interesting reading.

I know I have made the right choice, if only from looking around the rooms where Oliver will be spending his time. The most striking contrast is that so many things (mirrors, baskets of toys and books, windows) are down at his level instead of up high at adult eye level. The proximity to our offices and the reduced amount of traffic we will be dealing with on our commute is a nice bonus. I'll also be walking at least two round trips from my office to the center per day, which should help my waistline.

I have enjoyed the smallness of his other center, with just six babies (compared with 20 at the new center) and three caregivers, and I worry a bit about Oliver getting "lost" in the crowd, but change is inevitable. I should probably just get used to it.

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