Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Opposite of Wordless Wednesday - Preschool Edition

If you regularly read blogs, you know that Wednesday is often filled with "Wordless Wednesday" posts or posts with nothing but a picture or two. Well, this post is FULL of words so be prepared!

A while back, Mommy Daisy asked some questions about preschool. It's taken me so long to get to them, I'd be surprised if her son wasn't already enrolled in kindergarten!

First, you have to know the background information. The neighborhood we lived in is full of highly educated, middle to upper-middle class families who are all competing for kindergarten spots in either very exclusive private schools or one of the two decent public schools in the neighborhood. And, in order to get into one of these great schools, the kids had to take and not just pass, but do REALLY well on an exam the year before kindergarten. Therefore, like everyone else, we had to put Sydney into a preschool program that would prepare her for this test. And to get into a good preschool program, we had to put her in a program VERY early (like the age of two) to ensure a spot when she was four. Crazy, I know, but that's how it works in the big city.

So, after hunting around and doing some research, we settled on a school that was just a few blocks from our house. We put her in their "Mother's Day Out" program when she was 28 months old. She went Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8:30 to 2:30. This particular program was at a school that was actually a daycare that happened to have a Mother's Day Out program and a preschool program as well. While most of their students were daycare kids who were there all day, every day, Sydney was only there a 12 hours a week which worked perfectly for us. She got some socialization and I got time to run errands. Outings like getting your teeth cleaned are just easier when you don't have a toddler around. :)

She was in this Tues/Thurs program for two years (including summers) and she learned a lot. I highly doubt that I could have done a better job. Plus, having been in their MDO program, she was eligible for their highly acclaimed preschool program when she turned four. Nearly every child that went through the preschool aced the kindergarten entrance exam allowing them to go to the "good" elementary schools.

Her preschool has been fabulous. She has learned a ton and can now read and write small words and can do simple math. She is a lot smarter than I was when I started kindergarten, that's for sure. As for the kindergarten entrance test....well, she never took it. We decided to move before her test date rolled around and just decided to not put her through it. I think (and her teachers agree) that she would have aced it with no problems whatsoever. Plus, after receiving the news that she was 35th on the waiting list for the school we wanted, we really decided moving was our best option seeing as how we were NOT going to enroll her in the school we were zoned to. Ironically, the morning after we closed on our new house in The Land of Fruit, I got the call that a spot opened up for her at the school we wanted. Oh, well.

But, the preschool does not come without issues. First, it is REALLY expensive. Like more per month than our mortgage expensive. Craziness. Second, seeing as it doubles as the preschool and daycare for the full time kids, Sydney was basically forced to go full time (Monday-Friday, 8-5) to be accepted into it. She doesn't have a lot of time at home during the week and I basically see her for breakfast, dinner, bath and bedtime. Third, we've had some minor gripes with their policies and procedures, but I'm sure we would have run into similar situations at any other place we'd chosen.

We had lots of choices when looking at schools. Our church has a wonderful MDO and preschool as well and we seriously considered it. Our biggest reason for not choosing it was that I didn't like how the two day program was Monday/Tuesday rather than Tuesday/Thursday. Don't ask me why I preferred the Tues/Thurs, I just did. I'm weird that way.

Also, her school, being in a very liberal neighborhood, is quite diverse. She has had classmates from varying ethnic and religious backgrounds which I think has been good for her. Had she gone to the school at our church, I don't think she would have been exposed to as much cultural diversity. Of course, I would have been able to avoid the conversation about a classmate having two mommies, too. That was a doozy. Try explaining same-sex households to a three year old!

Liam will be going to a MDO at my sister's church this coming fall. He'll be 21 months old and I think it will be good for him (and me). He'll get to play with some kids his own age and I'll get some time alone with Evan, who, sadly, has not had me all to himself much yet. I'm hoping that Liam's MDO will be a perfect fit for him just like Sydney's school was for her, especially since having him in it for MDO ensures a spot for him in their preschool program.

If you're interested in putting your child in a preschool when they turn four, you probably need to research the best way to ensure a spot for them. Just like us, you may have to enroll them at three or even two to get a spot for a couple of years down the line. Around here, most schools take applications in February for the following August or September, so if even if you're not ready to enroll them in February, think about how you'll feel in six months because by the time the actual school year arrives, it's usually too late to enroll.

Whew! Did I answer everything?

And, to go along with Wordless Wednesday, here are some pictures of Superhero Sydney (they are currently discussing superheroes at school).



Apparently, running fast is her superpower (pay no attention to our messy living room, please):


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