Matthew's been in school for exactly a month now. He started on November 8. The first day was generally fine but he cried on and off for the first 2 weeks. The protesting would start as soon as I pulled into the school parking lot.
It was a big adjustment for him. There were so many new things to get used to - new people, new smells, new routine, new place, new rules, and new expectations - without me next to him for a few hours, 4 mornings a week. That's a lot for this 3-year old. On top of making this big transition, the preschool germs got to him a week after school. He (and Elizabeth and I) have been battling a cold since week 2 of preschool. It was expected since he had never been constantly been exposed to other kids before and we're right in the middle of flu season.
During this adjustment period, I took photos of his school, him in the classroom, some of his classmates, his backpack, his teacher, him exiting the school gate, and a picture of Elizabeth and I waiting for him. Showing him the photos daily and talking about school with 2 to 3-word phrases for each photo seemed to help a little. I'm sure his positive experiences at school helped too. The group activities seemed to be the most overwhelming for him so during the first two weeks, they eased him into the group activities one baby step at a time. At times, they would pull him out of class for one-on-one speech therapy as he did really well with that. Over time, he was crying less and transitions between activities got better.
These days, when I tell him that it's time to go to school, he says "A-ca" with a smile, referring to his speech & language therapist, Monica, who was also his speech therapist when he was in the Early Intervention program. Then he says "kack-kack" (backpack). We put his shoes and jacket on and Elizabeth in the car seat and we're off to school! Calm. Happy. Motivated.
I got to see how he did in school one day when their class had a Thanksgiving party. He was excited to see Elizabeth and I there. With guidance, he eagerly participated in the activities they had lined up for the kids. He was distracted with me there but I saw how comfortable he was to be in his class, doing the activities alongside his classmates.
Looks like he enjoys preschool!