So much to our very pleasant surprise, Charlie has really taken to preschool (or nursery, as the Brits call it) here in London. The long hours of long distance calls paid off in a VERY lovely school for him in Notting Hill. We have been made to feel so welcome and Charlie happily runs in each day and is very cheerful when I pick him up.
Charlie goes to preschool each morning from 9:30 to 12:30. I was a little worried that 5 mornings would be too much for him, given that back in Richmond he was only going for 2, but it hasn't been an issue. On Saturday he asks whether he is going or not. Only because Daddy isn't going in to work (well, at least MOST Saturdays) is it ok to not go to preschool.
The commute can be something of a bear some days. We walk about 3/4 a mile to catch our bus, ride the bus or 8 or so stops and then walk another 1/3 a mile to get to the school. The only issue is the street construction between our neighborhood (Maida Vale) and Notting Hill.
I don't know if it's always like this or if London is on some sort of construction spree with the Olympics and Queen's Jubilee going on, but they have at least one section of the road torn up and usually two. And then sometimes there's a delay because we drive by the station where the drivers switch at the end of their shifts and if the new driver is late, we all sit there. It can be killer.
Fortunately, Charlie loves to ride the bus. Unfortunately, Charlie now likes to stand up on the bus, like keeping one's balance is a game. I have to admit, with some of the bus drivers, it really is. On the way home I can keep him occupied with snacks. In the mornings, I sometimes have to bribe him with my iPhone. One time a driver even got fussy with me for letting him stand, so I do all I can not to experience that again.
On Tuesday and Friday mornings we *try* to arrive early, as there is a morning Praise and Worship session before school starts. Whether we arrive on time is truly up to fate and the bus schedule some days. On Tuesdays, the vicar comes and reads a story and on Fridays, the headmistress reads. There are songs and a prayer and it's really very nice.
Well, for the rest of us. Charlie so far doesn't want to sit still for it and is running around, checking out the toys. I leave him alone unless he's making a lot of noise. Sometimes I really want to wring his neck by the end of Praise and Worship. Can I get an Amen?
Even though he doesn't seem to be paying attention, it seems that some of it is sticking with Charlie. I forgot to do bedtime prayers the other night and he got SO upset with me. I felt horrible, as I was just trying to get so much done and rushed right through bed time. I honestly never really thought he noticed. But they talk about saying prayers before you go to sleep at nursery and that is now what we must do. :)
And then at dinner the other night (takeout Thai food, natch), he asked to "do amen" (Charlie speak for pray) so we all held hands. Before Brad or I could start the prayer, Charlie was leading one on his own! I couldn't believe it. He had his own little prayer he said. And then his favorite part is saying AMEN really loud. His Nana taught him that!
Each of the students at his school has one of the teachers assigned to them. Just someone to look out for them and keep an eye on them. That is who I talk to at drop off and pick up to exchange notes on how he's doing. I just love the teacher assigned to Charlie, she is so wonderful and very patient and caring. She really made sure his birthday was special at school. They do a special recognition for the kids on their birthday at Praise and Worship time, with a special chair and hat and a book from the teachers to take home. Charlie absolutely loved it.
Charlie had a very close friend at his preschool in Richmond, a little boy named Grayson. They were two peas in a pod. I was kind of hoping Charlie would find a Grayson at his new preschool, but as far as I can tell, he hasn't really. Some of the kids are just older, going on 4, and there is so much more of a difference between those ages than I realized. And there are LOTS of little girls.
There is one little boy that he seems to be fascinated with, but my group of moms I go get coffee with all tell me they hear he's naughty. He kind of picks on the girls I think. I walked in one day and Charlie was just finishing up tackling this little boy on the floor. It looked like they were having fun, not like Charlie was upset with him. All the same, I've never seen Charlie physically wrestle with another kid. I knew it was coming, but this was a first! I'm not sure what to think yet.
I send Charlie to school in pull ups and I think he uses the potty some, but there is too much fun stuff going on to worry about going potty too often. Sometimes it's fun because they have tiny potties and other kids are going, I think. I've seen some progress at home, though, so it is sinking in. There is a 2 week break between the terms coming up in early April and we are going to switch to some big boy underwear and see where that takes us.
I have to admit, I have been really enjoying my time off while Charlie is in school. It's nice to have somewhere to get up and go in the morning. With the commute, I can't really come back to the flat, so I've been using the time to either work out, shop/run errands or go sightseeing. Sometimes, though, I just grab coffee with some of the other moms and that has been so fun. They have also been so nice and welcoming. Makes me so glad we picked this school.
After the two week break, Charlie goes back in mid-April for the summer term. I think there's another week break in there somewhere and then he wraps up in early July. It will be neat to see how far he's come between now and then. It's really turning out to be an awesome experience for him.
These are some pictures of Charlie hard at work at preschool: