Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Last First Day of ECFE

One of our District's three main goals for the 2011-12 school year is to continue to improve transition experiences for our students--not only from preschool to kindergarten and between all grade levels and buildings, but including other transitions as well: from home to school, from standard curriculum to co-curriculars and extra-curricular enrichment, and from our schools out into the wider community.
- Ric Dressen @EdinaSuper

September holds transitions no matter what year it is. For our family, this year held more than most. With one child bumping up to middle school, we now have the building bookended with children in sixth and ninth grade, leaving the fourth grader as the only elementary school participant…for now.   

In 1997, I signed up for my first ECFE class at the Edina Family Center with my then-infant, now a freshman.  This year, I sent my four year old off to the last first day of ECFE our family will ever see.  After 15 years of first days at the Edina Family Center, some years with more than one child, this year is the last.

While I participate in and love the Beyond ECFE classes for parents of school-aged children (and will likely string together fifteen years of those), it is different from the magic of walking into Teacher Karen’s or Teacher Suellen’s class hand-in-hand, and pinning a felt nametag on the back of someone who will greet me later with a bulldozer of a hug and sing to me in the car on the way home.

Once a week, I stay for “Mama’s day to play with the friends,” and we have a chance to sing, do art projects, create, play, and make friends together. All four of my kids and I forever run into kids and parents we know from ECFE, and those connections continue to matter years later. These are magical times, and I have been fortunate to have many of them after being in almost thirty classes, so I am acutely aware of my need to savor them even more this go-round.  The work teachers and staff put in before we ever arrived on that first day made for an embracing welcome, and for the first time, his name on a locker!

There are times that try our hearts, and times that fill them, and our hearts are certainly full this September, and I am awed by the enchantment that still comes with the very small markers on the way to the new milestones: a name on a locker, a new friend at lunch, a new robot lunchbox from Dad.

It will be but a blink before the locker will have a combination, the friend will also appear on Facebook, and the lunchbox will be an innocuous solid color. As for today, I will pin on the felt name tag, and know another exciting transition awaits next year, when we find out what time the kindergarten bus comes in the morning. 

Thanks to ECFE, we will both be ready!

Stacy Abena

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