Moving meant we needed to find a new day care, again. For me, just leaving our old daycare was going to be hard, emotionally. We had been through so much just to find a really good one and it was the only one Sydney had ever known. I knew finding a new one was going to be just as difficult on me. But with all we have been through with our daycare drama history (part 1 and part 2), I have also learned to go with my gut instinct. At the end of our 3 tours, we were lucky that we found ourselves making a tough decision between two very qualified centers.
I took off a Friday, and we took the girls while conducting 3 site tours.
The first center was nixed off the list almost as soon as we pulled up. It was located inside an old middle school gym. We were able to walk right in and they acted like they weren't expecting us even though I had called a week earlier to schedule the tour. The class London would have been in was located in the main part of the gym with two other groups of children. I had a hard time imagining her actually learning with all the chaos around. Plus, the curriculum for her would have involved learning how to count 1 to 10 (which London can already do and more) and learning the ABC song - not actual letters. In the rooms Sydney would be in, Cameron witnessed one of the workers yank a child up from the floor from the hand - creating a great possibility for elbow or shoulder dislocation. We didn't last 10 minutes in that place and arrived early at our second appointment.
The second school was part of The Phoenix Schools program. The assistant director was happy to have us arrive early and showed us around, also taking the time to speak with us about why we were looking and learning about our daycare history. The center was decorated everywhere with kid art and the classrooms had names like Friendly Frogs and Happy Caterpillars. The school also featured an interactive computer lab and includes a Spanish curriculum. We even left London outside for a little while with her potential class while we walked around more. Cameron and I were impressed and almost didn't go to the Kindercare, our 3rd and final tour.
The Kindercare was farther away, but if we decided to go with it, we could actually transfer our paperwork from the old daycare (which was also a Kindercare). This was very appealing to me. But the location was our main concern. And while we did really like The Phoenix School, which was also closer and we could have just scrapped this 3rd site visit, I'm glad we went. We not only ran into a teacher we had known at our old Kindercare, but we also ran into London's teacher from before Kindercare. We had loved her and felt horrible that she hadn't really gotten to say goodbye to London. It was great to catch up with both and left knowing we had a tough decision ahead.
Luckily, that afternoon, we had to be back at the new house for a walk through. We decided that afterward we would do the drive to the Kindercare to see what it would be like during high traffic times. We weren't even half way there when we ran into gridlock on the surface streets. We immediately knew Kindercare could no longer be an option and that The Phoenix School was our choice.
The girls have been there for two months now and have settled in relatively well. Sydney had a rough first week and was so excited to see her old teachers, Amber and Jen, at her first birthday party, but she now easily goes from me to her new teachers every morning like she did with Amber. Sydney is also transitioning to the Toddler room now, which has two teachers that are very full of life and energetic, making it a perfect environment for Sydney.
Of course, we will be dealing with the usual issues of toddlers now, like biting. On her first day transitioning Sydney was bitten by another child because she had a toy that child wanted. It even left a bruise on her little arm for a week.
London's transition at first went really well, but has since had some bumps in the road. She is again having issues going down for nap, throwing fits and waking up classmates. We're working with the teachers and London to work through this as best we can, though sometimes the issue is London isn't ready for a nap. They go down around noon while on weekends London isn't ready for a nap until 2 PM and sometimes can go without one.
We've also had some concerns that London may be dealing with a bully. We have brought this to the center director and assistant directors attention and they have been monitoring it and reporting back to us. London keeps saying one girl is a mean friend, not liking her shirt, or hitting or pinching her. When the teacher reports that London has had a particularly emotional day, and we ask London about school on the way home and what is bothering her, this little girl's name keeps popping up. The directors are are watching for signs of this but so far they haven't seen or heard anything like this. We haven't really talked to the teachers about this, preferring to go through the directors as we haven't gotten the rapport with them like we had with London's old teachers. We used to speak to her old teachers for 10 to 20 minutes several times a week. Now we're lucky if we talk to her teachers for more than 3 minutes. I'm sure we will get there eventually with them and we are aware we pick up London earlier than we used to so there are many more students for the teachers to watch at pick up time.
We are also missing the additional cost phonics course we had London enrolled in at Kindercare. We feel she had regressed somewhat and is not learning her letters as well in this new environment. Before, she would learn letters with only 2 other children, 3 days a week for 20 minutes. Now it is the entire class. The old course would teach the letters out of sequence. Now they focus on one letter a week and it's all in sequence.
We are actually looking at purchasing a phonics curriculum we can teach London at home in hopes to continue her phonics studies. I have even asked if she misses phonics and she says she does. London was very enthusiastic about phonics before. Plus, I think she liked the special attention. I'm sure she will like it even more from Mommy or Daddy.