One week ago today was Harlow’s last day of preschool. Not just preschool for the year. It was her last day of preschool ever, since Harlow is headed to kindergarten in the fall. It’s my last day of preschool too, since I don’t have a secret third child waiting in the wings to surprise you all.
Harlow ending preschool feels like much more of a milestone for our family than when Mazzy finished preschool. A bittersweet milestone, for sure. I can’t believe I’ll soon be one of the moms with two kids in grade school, without the need to constantly refer back to my little one still at home.
A lot of people have asked why Harlow is starting kindergarten since she will still be four-years-old come September. The answer is that, although some NYC private schools vary, most NYC schools have a December 31st cut-off, meaning as a November 15th birthday, Harlow makes the official cut-off.
I have many reservations about this (she’s so tiny!) and I know many parents who hold their kids with late birthdays back a year, but we opted to send her. As I said when Mazzy went to kindergarten (also at age four), Mike and I also grew up as the youngest kids in class (I’m a November birthday and Mike is October), so having that position seems almost par for the course for our family.
Even though kindergarten has a December cut-off, most preschools have a September cut-off, so Harlow has actually been the oldest in her class for the past few years. She is currently in a threes class (since she was three when she started), with most of her classmates born in 2013 and returning for one more year.
So… in addition to skipping from the threes class to kindergarten, Harlow will also be going from being the oldest in her class to being the youngest. Another big shift.
I remember when Mazzy started kindergarten. I always thought of her as so much older than her preschool class, so it was weird to realize how young she was compared to the other kids in kindergarten. Both in size and in skill level. Many of them could read and Mazzy barely knew her letter sounds. It was very intimidating (for me; not really for Mazzy) and Harlow will be in the same boat.
I’m a firm believer in letting kids develop at their own pace, and thankfully Mazzy’s school believes that too. We were always told that Mazzy’s skill level was developmentally appropriate and I tried my best not to worry about what the other kids were doing. Two years later, it feels like Mazzy has caught up and she’s doing great. Although, sometimes I wonder if it benefits a kid to be at the head of their class all along.
Selfishly, sometimes I wish we had kept both Mazzy and Harlow back a year just so they’d spend one more year at home.
As for Harlow, she seems really excited to make the leap. She has been running around screaming, “I’m going straight to kindergarten next year!” Then I told her that she would not be allowed to ride in her stroller to kindergarten and she was not happy about that AT ALL. Harlow loves her stroller.
There is a lot about Harlow’s old school I will miss, like the small class size (just seven kids in her class this year) and the intimate nature of the school, which has only three classes— toddlers, twos and threes. I will miss her wonderful caring teachers, who know Harlow’s quirky personality and sensitive nature so well now.
And, of course, I will miss the Jewish aspects of her preschool, because as we all know, Harlow loved learning about her religion. She taught us about the holidays, brought home homemade challah every Friday and encouraged us to start celebrating Shabbat.
Just yesterday morning on the way to the dentist (one week after school had ended), Harlow started singing a song in Hebrew.
“What are you singing, Harlow?”
Tefillah is the Jewish word for prayer, which Harlow sang at school every morning as part of their daily routine. Mike and I do not sing Tefillah at home and I did not grow up doing it, but I remember watching my grandfather. He would put on his yarmulke and tallis once a day and sing prayers while carrying tefillin, which are small black leather boxes containing parchment inscribed with verses from the Torah.
I’m not sure what will become of Harlow’s dedication to Judaism from here. She will start going to Hebrew school next year, one afternoon a week like Mazzy, so it will still be a big part of her life, but not quite the focus as it has been over the past few years. I hope that Harlow’s love for her religion sticks with her and that some of the things she has taught our family (like observing Shabbat) stick with us too.
When I brought out our little chalkboard to make a “Last Day of Preschool” sign, Harlow asked if she could make the sign herself. I said, “okay” and wrote the words on a piece of paper for her to copy.
Harlow insisted on writing her name on the chalkboard first, with heart-shaped flourishes throughout. She ran out of space for the “W” and had to put it above the “O.” Then she needed to make space for “Last Day of Preschool” above her name, but wasn’t overly concerned with the ordering of the words.
She fit it all in though, just not exactly in the right place.
Still. I think it’s an excellent example of a kid who wants to learn and for now, effort is really what matters most.
Kindergarten, here we come!