|Art by T|
We had already told her current preschool she'd be returning for the school year (it runs year-round but summer session and school year are separate), and I really wasn't planning to make a change.
Here's the hard part -for me no school situation will ever be perfect. I'd like to take on homeschooling, but as an only child, T needs to spend time with other teachers and kids and honestly, she does really well in a group environment.
When we switched her to Montessori preschool from daycare 6 months ago, I knew it would take some getting used to. She was going from a much smaller class and ratio at daycare to a larger one at preschool. There was more structure, and some academic work. T enjoys it. She comes home with knowledge I don't even have, like what the colors of the Olympic rings stand for. (Seriously!)
But I just never got completely comfortable with it. They're a lot more focused on academics, even for the 2.5 year olds, than I thought. She'd get worksheets for "homework" which apparently other parents were requesting for their 2 and 3 year olds (!). She's now learning how to read and write 3 letter words and her name. All fine and good, and I know she's capable of it, but I feel like it's too soon. She's got 3 more years of preschool before she's eligible for kindergarten.
I know, this sounds very anti-intellectual from someone who laments about how our society really doesn't value education. But in my mind, preschool when you're 2 and 3 should be about making friends, learning about social interactions, and learning through play.
I love Montessori materials because T sees them as toys. Learning about science, letters and numbers through the actual materials is cool with me because she gets to choose her "work". The writing exercises don't seem quite as age-appropriate.
The other issue we were experiencing was due to the long school days. Her current preschool runs from 9am to 4pm, and she was supposed to nap there, which became very hit or miss, and at most she'd nap an hour. At home she easily naps 2 hours, and usually 2.5. By the time we'd pick her up at 4pm, she was a hot mess, and it was like juggling a ticking time bomb for the time period between school ending and her bedtime, which had to be moved up to 6:30 (!) because she just couldn't keep it together any longer. I felt like we were losing a lot of time together, especially on my work days, because those evenings were just around behavior management and getting food into her before she collapsed into her bed.
Last week on my way to work, I noticed the preschool down the street had an Open House sign and a new name. I had spoken to them a year ago and discarded them as an option because they had a schedule that DID NOT work for us (5 half days?!), not to mention they only accepted potty-trained kids who were 3 years old before September. (no, no, and no.)
At the Open House I met the new owner and director, and quickly learned that they offered a variety of half day schedules (we pick), it's Montessori (yay), Spanish immersion (OMG YAY), newly remodeled (yay), they work on potty training (woot), don't have a strict date cutoff, and is much less expensive than our current preschool.
At first I thought the half day schedule wouldn't work for us AT ALL and was really bummed. But then I realized that soon I'll be off work for 5 months, TJ is home for another year or more, and the half day schedule will actually work fine because when we pick up T and bring her home after lunch, she will go straight to napping (for as long as she continues to nap, anyway). Which gives TJ a nice chunk of time to work on his stuff, or care for Baby X', etc.
This also means T won't be a wretched mess every afternoon, and we can save some cash while our income is reduced. And (OMG) T will be learning Spanish *every day*. I can't tell you how excited I am about that. She'll also have time to play outside, and 2 circle times, plus music class, with less of a focus on traditional academics. Exactly what I want for her now.
I had a bit of apprehension when I filled out the registration form, left it at the school yesterday, and then didn't hear from anyone there. Today I got a call from the director. Turns out she had sent us three emails yesterday and today, and got concerned when we didn't reply. Sure enough, they had all gone to spam. When I recovered them, I also found out they're offering us an extra discount for starting early (yay!). So far, they are responsive and deal in email, which makes that a good fit for us too!
I know it's early to make a change again, and we want to find her a school where she can be for a long time and really settle in. But I've got to listen to my intuition. Before we even thought about having kids, I imagined that mine would go to this preschool - we'd walk down the street together (of course I always imagined glorious weather too!). So I love that this is all really happening, in a way that works for our schedule, goals, and finances.
I've got my fingers crossed that it'll work out.