My son is growing up way too fast. I spent my morning paying a deposit and registering Matthew for pre-preschool.
YES – that’s PRE-preschool. Also known as “Parent’s Morning Out.” This is a program designed for kids whose parents stay home with them who miss out (my words, not theirs) on the structure of daycare. Yes, we chose to not put Matthew in daycare, but in making that decision, we knew he’d be missing out on some key social skills that kids his age are learning in daycare.
Like taking turns.
Like standing in line.
Like sharing with not just a friend or two, but lots of friends at once.
Like eating nicely at a table with other friends.
I have a friend who is the mother of 4 – and her fourth is just a month older than Matthew. Her other three children are 10, 8, and 7. She has raised great kids who are thriving in school and in their extracurricular activities. Her 19 month-old listens to her very intently and follows instructions like you’ve never seen from a 19 month-old. This friend used to be a first grade teacher. She knows her stuff. So when she says, “you should sign Matthew up for this,” I listen. This friend and I grew up together and she, herself, was raised by a “retired” teacher (her mom decided to quit teaching when she was born). Teaching grade-school kids runs deep in their family, so when she raves about this or that program, I run home to research, and most often-times, sign Matthew up!
So today’s outing was to get him registered for PMO for September – a program that is already full at this point for the coming school year.
Which made me ask my friend today, “when do I need to get him signed up for preschool?”
We had a quick chat about the various programs in the area. The public programs aren’t that great (and I knew this on my own) and are too rigid, not terribly warm and nurturing. I am not a fan of the public school system HERE, but my friend is. The fact that we both aren’t fans of the public preschool programs HERE says something! So we discussed the private programs and there are so many to choose from, that your head could spin.
And mine did.
We want Matthew in a very particular, highly competitive public school downtown (it’s called the Downtown School – truly) or a small private school downtown. We’ve narrowed it down to theses two particular schools and just need to sort out how to get into the Downtown School or whether we prefer the private school over that one. Not an easy task, but we have time on that. We can’t even get on the list for the Downtown School until Matthew’s third birthday. I’m not sure how to work through all of this when the time comes, but again – I have time.
What we don’t have time to sort out is preschool. I’ve got the PRE-preschool things done, but what am I to do for preschool?
My friend told me of the program that she sent all of her kids to. It sounds awesome! Now, the one issue, which is the same issue with almost all private preschools in the area, is that there is religious education tied to the program. We are not religious. I think we can work around this by using it as a way to introduce religion to Matthew (I fully believe in presenting options and letting the child decide for him/herself what they want to believe, when the time comes) and get those discussions going. The bottom line is – if we want him in private preschool, we’re looking at one of these faith-based schools and that’s about it (aside from preschools at daycares which I’m just not sure about aside from one in particular).
Or is it?
The private school (which is not religious) we’re heavily considering for kindergarten-8th grade has a preschool. I don’t know anything about this preschool but have requested information. We have friends who send their kids to this school (and the dad sits on the board) and they are in LOVE with the school, but he told me the other day not to waste my money on the preschool because, “it’s just preschool.” GAH!!!! Then there are the Montessori schools but they are crazy expensive and I truly wonder if they’re worth the money. So – we’re likely back at faith-based preschools.
Again, I sort of like the idea of introducing the topic of religion now so that we can have educated discussions about it in our home, but how much is too much? I went to Catholic high school (all-girls, at that!), and I LOVED the Re-Ed part of it. LOVED it. But that was in high school, when they focus on world religions, death and dying, the Holocaust, etc. I pretty much think preschool is just going to focus on Jesus and Christianity. Not necessarily what we’re going for. We’re going for a world approach to religion in this family.
(For the record, if I could pick my religion right now and just make it so, I’d be Jewish. Love most everything (that I know) about that faith! I love their CULTURE and traditions.)
This particular preschool has a phenomenal curriculum and education is their focus, not religion. This is in line with my experience with Catholic high school – education first, religion second. I’m OK with that. I believe that’s how it should be.
So yeah, my head is spinning.
I did sign Matthew up for the wait list for preschool for both 2014 and 2015 (depending on when we’d start him) at the church. It doesn’t hurt to have your kid on a waiting list for one of the top programs in the area. We will for sure get in if we decide to go with this school. I was told that had I waited a few months, that we would not likely get in. I think this may be a sign. In the meantime, I’ve also requested information on the preschool at the non-religious private school that we fancy so much. I will also look into the preschool at the one daycare that we sent Matthew to when he was a baby (the kids there impressed us immensely, as did the preschool teachers). Either way, I think we have our bases covered for preschool.
What about kindergarten, or Pre-K, now?
Well, I also signed Matthew up for the faith-based school’s AWESOME kindergarten program that we could use as a pre-K experience for him (if we decide not to start him in traditional school (kindergarten) until he is 6 – in 2017) or a full replacement for kindergarten (if we decide to start him in first grade in 2017 at the age of 6). From what I’m told, this half-day program is so terrific that kids coming from it are way ahead of the kids who attended full-day kindergarten at the public schools. The kindergarten decision is a non-issue to me because it gives us the time we need, and the education and teachers to help us, to decide if he’s ready for kindergarten as a young 5 year-old, or a young 6 year-old. I know I’ll need help making that decision and sending him to this particular school’s kindergarten program will provide me the guidance I will need to make that very difficult decision.
So here I am, with an almost 19 month-old, signing him up for pre-preschool and getting him on waiting lists for preschool and kindergarten. Holy smokes – I’ll be signing him up for his SAT’s and ACT’s before I know it!
QUICK UPDATE! B reminded me of a program that our friend sent her son to downtown at the Science Center. They focus on science and hands-on learning, which is right up our alley. We will be getting on their waitlist tomorrow!