Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Evaluating Expectations

Moira started nursery school this year at a small program in our town. Twice a week, for two hours and fifteen minutes she joins fifteen other three year olds. Together with their two teachers, they paint, sing, learn, and play. Throw in a snack and bimonthly time in the chapel, it's the perfect first school experience.
Having had worked in the early childhood level, in Kindergarten and first grade for nearly eight years before babies, I feel like I have a pretty good background in child development, and in turn, realistic expectations in relation Moira at school.
For the most part, the routine has been going well. The transition has been seamless, as she enjoys going each day. The teachers are lovely, and the class appears to starting to interact with each other. I assume by May, just as the school year finishes, she will master all their names, instead of referring to them as "I don't know" or "the boy with the Phillies backpack".
Perhaps, that's why yesterday surprised me.
We had our first field trip, and in keeping with the autumnal theme, we headed to a local farm for a early morning hayride.
Driving ourselves, as a way to keep costs a minimum, we navigated the directions and arrived at the farm. Minivans, SUVs, and school buses quickly filled the dirt parking lot, and we walked to the entrance. Meeting the teachers, I noticed a few other parents and children. Three other classes from the same school waited as well for full attendance.
Our good friend D arrived with her daughter A, and together we discussed the awkward directions and the cool weather that surprised us at our arrival.
Soon after, we were instructed to line up and walked toward the tractors and wagon. Hayride time!
Filling up the hayride, Mo snuggled into me as I leaned back onto the wooden side. The tractor started forward as the wagon circled the large apple fields. Coming to a clearing, a field dotted with orange pumpkins spread before us.

 Leave it Moira, to run ahead into the field of pumpkins, as her classmates gravitated towards the same spot. Within minutes she found the most perfect one and with pride (and a little dirt) shared with me her discovery.

Climbing back into the wagon, we started back towards the farm. Sharing giggles with A, my goofy little girl was excited about the remainder of the trip.
As we readied ourselves to disembark, our teacher reminded us of the corn maze, play area filled with hay, and small animal area open for our enjoyment. Watching others leave the wagon, I notice they are walking away. Classes around us are joining together for a group photo.
Upon descending the stairs, I notice one of the teachers had wrangled many of the parents and children back. Bringing them into a group, the cameras and iphones begin snapping away at the adorable scene.
Again, the teacher mentions all the things for which to play, and dismisses the kids.
Off Mo runs, into the haystack maze, where many other children have taken to climbing on the top. My first instinct is to tell her to get off, but as I look around, it appears that running on top is acceptable.

D and I spend about twenty minutes with our girls and some other parents and children in this area. We make small talk with a few others as A & Mo ask to go somewhere else. As she runs into the corn maze, A, D, and I follow. About ten minutes into our trek, my phone begins ringing. It is Bry.
Mo's pumpkin is missing.
Someone stole her pumpkin from our front steps.
Luckily, we're at a farm so a new pumpkin is on our list to carve later with Popsie. (Who's home watching Maeve.)
After what seems like countless turns and a small bit of worry that we might be lost forever in the maze of corn, we find the exit. (Thank you D!) Walking around the other areas, we see parents and kids haphazardly. Other schools have arrived, filling the farm with an array of children and adults of all sizes.
As we walk to the farm store, I notice in the picnic grove, groups sitting down together for snack. Cider and donuts, or juice boxes and popcorn, as the groups sit, parents conversing in the background.
At the store we find a suitable replacement pumpkin $9 worth!, apple cider donuts without sugar Moira's request, strange I KNOW!, and a bottle of water. D buys similar stuff as we walk back to the picnic tables.
We spy no familiar faces at that point, and finding an empty picnic table, we sit and eat.
I expected other parent child duos to walk by, or to be sitting in the grove, but aside from one other mother and child, we see nothing.
After some time sitting and eating, I notice many of those around us are eating lunch. The clock reveals it's 11:20.
The trip is officially over.
There were no formal good byes.
No comments about Halloween on Thursday.
At first, I thought I was alone in my disappointment, however Mo revealed the same as she asked me to find her teachers and other friends. D confesses she too was disappointed.
Besides the hayride, the field trip was no different then one we could take on any weekday.
Sure, the kids from the class were all at the farm, but their presence made little difference over Mo's time at the farm.
I assume my definition of field trip needs to be altered.
Interaction amongst classmates appears to not be a necessity.
Providing snack for the  group, again, not a requirement.
While I believe it to be a major oversight, I must understand a formal dismissal is not in the cards.
This field trip may not have been the learning experience I expected for Mo, but for me, I learned a lot.


  1. I've noticed this a lot with preschool field trips. That it's more about the experience than doing it together as a class- and I assume it's why the parents have to be there for the whole thing instead of it being teacher led. It changes in kindergarten!

  2. We haven't had a field trip yet, but I would been like you and expected interaction. Thanks to Shell, I know it'll be different and change with age.

  3. Most preschoolers in general don't 'hang' with their buddies. And every time I used to chaperone mine acted up. So I stay away now :)

  4. I would imagine preschool field trips could be hard to get all the little ones to stay together. The field trips are more interactive/educational as the kids get bigger. Perhaps a little more organization would have been nice, but enjoy the toddler stage! It goes so fast!


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