Thursday, September 10, 2015

Back To School

After a summer full of fundraisers, trips, swimming and lots of fun, it was time for Grace to go back to school this week for her second year of preschool.

Gracie Lou on her first day of preschool!
Last year, Grace attended the Hillsboro United Methodist Church Preschool at our church, where both Johnny and I attended when we were her age.  One of Kyle's favorite parts when we take Grace to school is looking at all the old photos of students who have gone there before.

Although I had always figured Grace would go to the preschool at our church, the spring before her third birthday, we met with the school district's pre-K program, since Grace qualified for their special education serves as well.  It was a really tough decision for us because we felt like Grace would be well taken care of at either school.

First day of school family selfie!
In the end, it was a discussion with the teacher at our church, Mrs. Brown, that pushed us over the top.  I know Grace would have excelled in either program, but she had a really great experience at the church last year with Mrs. Brown, Mrs. Reynolds and her aide, Carla.

As the school year came to an end, we decided we would do one more year of preschool at the church and then a year of pre-K at the school district before kindergarten since Grace has a late birthday.

Hanging with mommy on the first day of school.
Orientation was on Tuesday night, where Grace got to hang out with her new aide, Alex, and meet the new friends in her class.  Most of her friends from last year transitioned to the afternoon class for kindergarten readiness, but the teachers felt like the morning class would move at a slower pace and be a better fit for Grace.  We will certainly miss seeing the families everyday, but we know it's a chance to share our story and our Grace with new friends and family, who have already seemed to embrace her.

After we got done with the parent part at orientation, we returned to the classroom where Alex was reading books to Grace in a brand new book nook in the playroom. Grace was having a tea party with another student as well, and I wasn't sure she was going to come home with us she was having such a good time.

Now and then: first day of school this year and last year.
Wednesday morning, she woke up at 6 a.m., maybe just excited for her first day of school.  She and her dad shared oatmeal cake for breakfast, and we dressed her in a new birthday Minnie Mouse outfit and pink tennis shoes, completing her outfit with two gracelets that Kamryn Kiper made for her.

We gathered up her backpack and stopped by her favorite pink chair for a first day of school photo.  That's where we took her picture last year, and I couldn't believe how much she had grown in just that year.  She couldn't quite sit up as well this year, but she still has that same beautiful smile.

Mrs. Brown helps Grace with her name apple the first day of school.
Then it was time to go to school. The teachers did a great job of providing a space to take those special first day of school photos, and Kyle helped Grace answer her question for the morning.  She was all smiles when she waved us out the door.

We picked her up to find out that she had colored her own picture of the first day of school, ate some teddy grahams and enjoyed making new friends.  One little boy, Hudson, made sure to come and tell her goodbye before he left that morning.  And he was the first one to welcome her to the classroom on Thursday.

Hanging out with Miss Alex at school.
Grace has taken some extra-long naps this week since she's tired from having so much fun at school.  But we are so grateful for a place that embraces our Grace and makes the most of each and every opportunity with her.  We are looking forward to a trip to Broom's Orchard next month and the St. Louis Zoo in the spring, and some of the cutest kids' programs throughout the year.

It's hard for me sometimes because Grace can't participate in school the way that her friends can. But I'm so proud of her that she does participate in every way that she can, and I'm grateful for teachers and reach out to her and meet her where she is.  

This is the picture Grace colored on the first day of school.
Back to school, and it's gonna be a great year!


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