Tuesday, 16 June 2015

The walk to preschool

 Cherry has been going to a small Montessori preschool since last September. She goes three mornings a week, which gives our weeks together a shape and a routine.

The highlight of this is the walk to preschool. It's held in a church hall about a mile away, an easy walk down residential roads crossing one busier road, with a few good hills.

We are all early risers so getting out of the door in time is never a problem and our morning routine is predictable and fun. Cherry rides her little balance bike and I push Violet in the buggy, as although she's capable of the walk, it would be hard going getting us there in less than 90 minutes. As it is the journey can take up to 40 minutes and that suits me fine as it's just the best part of the day, by far.

We talk. We have names for each road - the straight road, the leafy road, the white flowers road, the road with the shiny stones. We observe and notice every slight difference. We discuss each difference in great detail, from the colours of the leaves to the goings-on in people's gardens.

We've passed exciting sights such as a broken down car, a toilet in somebody's garden, a cement mixer, a digger, a scratchy cat, several friendly cats, mushrooms growing up a tree stump, autumn blooms and berries, 'naked' winter trees and stoical evergreens, crocuses, snowdrops, daffodils, blossom, bluebells and now we're spoiled for choice as gardens explode into full bloom.

Sometimes there's roadworks and we have to find a different place to cross, and we talk about this in huge detail and speculate as to the reasons for the works. We watch red buses stop and pick up passengers and wonder where they might be going. We analyse the weather, ponder the chances of rain, wind, thunder, lightning, sunshine, snow and ice.

Cherry learned to read most letters in the alphabet by stopping at road signs and tracing the letters with her fingers, gradually recognising more and more of them. Sometimes we'll pass marks on the pavement or road and brainstorm as to how they got there. We talk about the seasons, identify cars (she can spot a Mini a mile off) and stop to pet passing dogs. Cherry has an excellent grasp of road safety, thanks to the amount of times we have crossed each familiar road and gone through the familiar routines of looking for cars. She tells me when it's safe to cross.

The walk is the same every day, but every day it's different. Something new will be waiting for us. Something will have changed.

I honestly think Cherry learns and absorbs more in these journeys than she does in preschool itself! (I don't mean any disrespect to preschool there, just that the rich opportunities a short walk offers really cannot be reproduced or bettered indoors) Violet joins in with our chats but mainly it's a time for Cherry and I.

I often give myself a hard time for not spending enough time one-on-one with Cherry, with Violet I obviously have the hours while Cherry is at pre-school but time alone with my older daughter is scarce. Until I thought about the walks to preschool and realised, that's our one-on-one time.

When I think about what I will miss when the inevitable happens (at the moment I'm completely in denial about Cherry and school) these little walks will be top of the list.

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