Am I a Funny Girl?

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– Posted in: Max's Fifth Year, Preschool

So it finally happened.

I got a call on Friday that there is finally an opening for Max at our first-choice preschool. We’ve “only” been waiting about six months, but still!
He’s been in an in-home daycare since I went back to work about 6 weeks after he came home from the hospital. He stayed with my sister for about 6 months, until morning sickness with her own #2 made it too hard for her to keep him. We put him in a local in-home place, until she left him with her non-English speaking, refused to open the door when I knocked, then refused to open the door when the POLICE knocked mother-in-law, not letting me pick him up when I wanted to. (I should probably blog that one of these days, huh?)
He’s been in his current situation for almost 2 years now. It’s a small set-up, never more than 3 children, and it’s just been him and Michelle, for about 9 months.
Every time I drop him off, I think about how important it is for him to be in school instead of in a sit-in-front-of-the-TV-and-only-go-outside-sometimes place. I think about how not good he is at sharing and working with other kids; with going from activity to activity within a set schedule. As an only child, I worry about these things, since he spends so much time away from Jamie and I, we really need him to get a firm grasp on these things before he enters the big bad world of Kindy.

Enter preschool.

Jamie and I knew we had a list of basic requirements:
Hours of Operation: We both work full-time out of the home, so we needed a place that would be open until 6 or so in the evening, giving us time to work and then get home and pick him up.
Cost: As much as we want to to have unlimited funds to give him everything, we don’t. We had a set budget in mind, so that had to be one of the first considerations.
Location: Max’s current place is about 25 miles from our house. It worked out great when I commuted 50 miles to my old job, and that was a halfway point, but now it’s a huge pain and completely out of the way. Saving grace: My parents live about a mile away from the current place, so my mom picks him up and keeps him until I can get there after work.
Environment: I knew what I wanted it to feel like when I walked in. I had visions of what I think a preschool should look like, and toured one that didn’t feel right at all. I wanted walls plastered with artwork and letters and charts, and to feel happy and safe when I entered. And clean. Don’t forget clean!
Facility: I didn’t want something that felt thrown-together or sketchy (see above) A preschool in a strip mall just doesn’t feel good to me. (Disclaimer: I’m sure there are lovely strip mall preschools in the world. The one I saw isn’t one of them)
Curriculum: It’s preschool. PRE school. One place I toured touted their “focus on advanced academics” Seriously? He’s four. He has a whole long school career to be stressed about his advanced academics. Unless you define academics as finger paint and macaroni necklaces, that is NOT the place for us.
But I still wanted some school-type environment for him; he is not a fan of drawing or writing, as much as he loves his letters and numbers. While I realize it might just be his personality type, I at least want him to know how to do these things… even if he chooses not to be a writer or anything (Even if it breaks this word-loving mama’s heart! ;))
Diversity: We live in a fantastically diverse city; I love it. I love that, within walking distance, I can get real, authentic burritos, pad thai, tikka masala, pho, or szechuan chicken. The nearest grocery store sells ducks with the heads still on. I appreciate this, having grown up in a very white bread town. That said, I didn’t want him to be the only white kid in class. I wanted a good mix of everything.

Max had a list of requirements too:
An awesome playground

So we’re thrilled that he’ll be starting at what is basically our perfect preschool this fall! I’m sure I’ll have more questions for you in the coming weeks, been there done that friends!
Tell me about what is/was on your list of preschool wants and needs? Did I miss anything awesome?

1 Comment… add one

Strawberry July 20, 2012

Oh boy, been there done that. I spent more time selecting a pre-school than many of my friends spent choosing a college. My son was extremely clingy and I needed a place where I felt he’d feel loved and cared for.

My list of things I wanted is here: http://beth-leonard.livejournal.com/22270.html

If you read up from the bottom of the page, my analysis of all the places we visited is here:
http://beth-leonard.livejournal.com/tag/pre%20school

And if you want far more information about Montessori schooling philosophy, it came out in the comments on this post: http://beth-leonard.livejournal.com/28096.html#comments

–Beth

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