Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Preschool advice

I could use some quick advice about preschool, if anyone has any to give.  Turtle and Tadpole are almost 29 months, which is a bit young for preschool, but I need the break and I think the socialization is good for them.  We are about to leave for Italy for 2 months, and I need to figure out what to do about preschool.

My kids go to a really nice, expensive preschool two full days per week.  It is across town, and the way the pricing works, it's much more affordable to send them two full days rather than 4 or 5 half days.  I had some bad experiences with the preschool when we first started there, including there being no one to greet us or help us get settled in on our first day, and there has been REALLY high turnover of the "teachers" (more like caregivers).  I like the current ones, but we've been through something like 4 or 5 in 5 months!  It's been nuts.  If we stay with this school, we will have to pay part-time tuition while we're gone to hold our spots (which is almost as much as full time).

Everyone assured me the kids would get used to going to preschool, but Turtle still cries when I drop him off.  After 5 months.  It's heart-breaking.  They both seem happy at the end of the day, though.

All the cons include:

  • Their schedule is REALLY early compared to our home schedule - lunch at 11:30, nap at 12, while at home we do lunch at 12, nap at 1-1:30
  • I don't like their focus on early academics over play-based learning
  • Their playground seems really boring compared to most other preschools
  • The food is awful (but at least they provide it)
  • Major turnover of teachers so far this year
  • Distance from my house - no chance of biking or walking
I was thinking of switching schools, but there are all the usual problems, including most importantly finding a school with 2 open spots.  

I've found one school for which we are first on the waiting list, but no guarantee that 2 spots will open up at any one time (or at all!), and their business management and administration seems SORELY lacking.  On the other hand, they have a much more pleasant grounds and building, a kitchen garden, and they get the kids involved in food prep and other daily tasks, which I really like.  I generally liked the feel of the school, and I know some parents of kids who go there who love it.

Another school is very close to my house, and I also like their set-up - play-based learning, lovely yard, very relaxed, and great hours and schedule.  The two main issues are that they are Jewish, and we are not, but they have their religious section on Friday, and my kids most likely wouldn't be there on Fridays.  (A little note - I am not anit-Jewish, in fact my father was Jewish, but I do not belong to an organized religion and am not looking for a religious preschool, no matter what religion it is).  And secondly, they don't maintain a waitlist, mostly because demand isn't THAT high there.  So I'd have to wait until a month before I want them to start and then contact the school to see if they have space.  It would be a risk.  I also found the building to be a bit run-down, although not enough to sway me against the place.  It's so close to the house that I could bike easily, and possibly even walk (or take the double-decker bus!), which is a HUGE plus for me.  I'd have to pack a lunch every day, though.

There are a couple other close-by schools, but the main problem, as with all the preschools, is that I can't hold a spot until March or get on a waiting list with a specific start date in mind.

To complicate matters, a good friend of mine has her child at the same school that mine go to, and wants our kids to stay together.  She is also not religious, and doesn't want to send her child to a religious preschool, and she doesn't like that some of the schools I'm looking at are even more expensive than where the kids are now, which matters more to her since her daughter goes full-time so it's a bigger chunk of money to send her kid there.

Is this trip to Italy a great opportunity to switch schools?  Or is it taking away something familiar that would be comforting for the kids after the huge change and upheaval of living in another country for a few months?  On the other hand, if Turtle is still crying when I drop him off, maybe he wouldn't mind switching.  I don't know.  I need to decide yesterday, because I need to give 30 days notice if we're leaving this school, and we leave for Italy in 3 weeks!

Advice, please!

1 comment:

  1. Eek... Hard choices. We love our preschool (it's our parish school and goes 3yo preschool through 8th grade), but we also wanted the addition of a religious aspect to school. Our kids pray, learn prayers and the Bible and the Catechism, etc, which is pretty standard for classes in Catholic schools, so if you dont want that element, then it probably wouldnt be right for you. As far as time goes, we did 2 half days this year (3 years), and while I'd only planned to do 3 half days next year, the kids both beg to go every day so, in spite of the cost difference, we'll be doing 5 half days. There is a full day option, but I'm not ready for that. Kindergarten will be hard enough! (I'd initially thought that would be our first half-day, 5 days, but now I'm not sure if we'll keep that plan or do the 5 full days. Kindergarten isnt mandated here, so it is completely up to us).

    In your heart, you know the best place for your kids. If it is to stay with their little buddies, then it is, but if it isnt, then the other mom should understand that you are making a choice that is best for them and best for your family. Good luck!!!


Thanks for sharing your thoughts!