Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Preschool Search....

Can I start by saying thanks for all the really sweet comments lately? I get, well, almost giddy when I see that someone has commented - the whole Sally Fields moment of "They like me - they really like me" kind of thing....

But now to share the current bane of my existence. Since Max was born, I have been dreading this. The Great Preschool Search.

Yes, I know. I'm a teacher. I truly believe in the value of education and the doors of opportunity that it throws wide. I just don't know if those doors are necessary for a three or four year old. There are many valuable things that can happen in a preschool - socialization, learning to listen to an adult other than your parent, even some academic building blocks (numbers, letters, that sort of thing). But there are just as many things about it that feel unnecessary at this point for this child.

The truth of it is that Max wants to go to "big kid school", so we've started looking for one for next fall. We have to have daycare anyway, and there's no reason why that daycare shouldn't be academic, I suppose. But in looking, the options are overwhelming, scary, and frustrating.

Issue 1: Preschool schedules - Part-time options begin an hour to two hours after we need to be at work. Some offer early care, most don't. Full-time options also rarely start early enough or end late enough for our work days - which are short in comparison with so many other job fields! Then there are the great co-ops, farm/forest schools, and charters that a working parent doesn't even have the possibility of participating in....

Issue 2: Expense - While not surprised, I am amazed at the cost of preschool. In many cases it is far more expensive than full-time infant care. Places that have part and full time options are only minimally more expensive for full time than part time. It looks like I'm headed back to work full time just to afford to have him somewhere.

Issue 3: Quality - Really, I'm not a curriculum freak, who has a lot of requirements for the things I want Max to learn. More than anything, I want him to feel that school is a good place to be. That's it! But yeah, I get a little nervous when I hear about computers as a center activity that they can choose to spend a great deal of time with. Or when no one can describe what they are teaching currently. Or when the "Spanish" teacher mispronounces Spanish color names. Or the learning is such a focus that the children are sitting like little robots. All of which I have seen in the last two weeks.

So that's where we are. I found one that is fabulous, in our neighborhood and budget, but the hours are wrong. And another that the hours and budget work, but there just weren't any warm fuzzies. I have a couple more places to visit next week, and many options that I haven't followed up on yet. In my ideal world, Max and Luke go to a great in-home care center in the mornings and I "homeschool" Max in the afternoons. But that's selfish of me. It doesn't meet Max's needs and desires for a bigger world. And I'm not even sure it's an option in my job anymore. The search goes on.

And I really can't even think about finding new daycare for Luke yet. Two pick-ups, two drop-offs...wahoo. Here come the years of living in my car, right?

Can I just cry now?

5 comments:

Caroline said...

I'm so sorry for your frustration Megan. I can only imagine how time consuming and stressful this whole process is. You are such a great person/mom that no matter what ends up working out, I know you will handle it with grace and ease. Here's sending you some good luck and a big hug! xoxoxo

Anna said...

Oh Megan! I can feel your frustration through the post! I wish I had any good advice, but I don't. I just want you to know that I think you are doing the right thing, have the right priorities and wish a preschool/day care would spring out of the ground to meet them.

emily said...

I am so worry you are not finding the things you need right now.....

Hang in there... it will come. SOmething more right than you could imagine.

At least, that is my prayer for you.

P.S. Email me your address...
southerlandgirl at yahoo dot com.
:)

Lauren said...

I vote for your "ideal world" scenario! At least for giving it serious consideration. After all, it's not just what Max wants that you need to consider, but what your family needs. It wouldn't be the end of the world if his "big-kid school" dreams were put off for a year. After all, if a good daycare place were cheaper (one dropoff, better hours), and a place that he enjoyed and learned new things, that's got to be worth something, and I wouldn't call it "limiting". Not to sway you at all, but ...I just hate to see you go to full time just to pay for preschool, when you have seemed so happy with part time these days. But I know you'll find what's best for all of you! I certainly don't envy you the search. You know I'm still up for doing that co-op. :) Seriously.
xoxo
Lauren

Lauren said...

Sorry, just correcting a typo: EASIER should precede "one dropoff and better hours". :)