The preschool duck duck GOOSE has begun. We’re exploring all the ducks out there, and they seem to be multiplying.
Axel’s at a childcare center/preschool that we like. We like his teachers. We like the other kids, and so does Axel. He has fun, he learns, he plays, he eats, he naps, he works on important things like sharing and waiting his turn. We like (most) of the other parents. When Jonas is old enough, I’d happily send him there, too.
Except it’s just a preschool for kids 18 months and up. It doesn’t have K – 5. That doesn’t seem like a problem at first glance because the boys aren’t yet 5. They don’t need the three Rs, or dodgeball, or to learn to play the theme song from Top Gun on the recorder with 24 of their closest friend.
It is a problem, though, when you start to think about elementary school. Because to get into some elementary schools, you need to have enrolled in their preschool programs. To get into those preschools, you need to be on the waitlist. In two years, Axel will be ready for a three/four classroom (with a November birthday, he’s one of the older kids). For some of the schools, we are late coming to the game. I should’ve been on waitlists while I was still pregnant. Maybe I should’ve been on some of the wait lists when I was still in high school, or at least narrowing down the options. Why weren’t they telling me about that in Home Ec, instead of having me cart around a fake baby doll and make imitation Orange Julius?
It started with a tour of the local preK – 8 Catholic school. I heard I needed to tour early, if I wanted to get on the waitlist for preschool. Then I thought, if I tour this one, shouldn’t I tour all the options? If I am OK with Catholic school, then why rule out other (highly priced) private schools without actually checking them out in person? And hey, what’s wrong with public school? Didn’t I turn out OK, with a suburban public school education? Don’t I believe in high quality public school for everyone? So why wouldn’t I send my boys to public school?
What I thought at first would be a fun, informative tour of local preschools is now filling me with anxiety. In picking his preschool, we must think of elementary school. When thinking of elementary school, we must think of middle school and, thus, high school, which bleeds into college and career and good lord my oldest child still wears diapers and has tantrums because he’s not wearing a shirt with a picture of a tractor on it.
Here, in no particular order, are our options (just for pre-K – 8. I’ll hyperventilate if I start thinking about high school, and AP classes, varsity sports, growing armpit hair, SATs, etc. etc.):
Respectable neighborhood elementary school (with paid pre-K), bad middle school, unless the boys get into magnet schools or are lucky enough to get into a charter school, and do I really want my sons’ eduction left to to the lottery gods when I don’t even play dollar slot machines?
Nice, high-quality Catholic preK – 8, which means we must join the Catholic church to get in, though I am Lutheran. Luckily, Sean had some devoutly Catholic grandmothers so the Pope sort of approves of us. Affordable private school, with a Montessori track for the wee ones.
A few private school preK – 8s or preK – 12s, with gorgeous campuses on rolling hills and well-groomed children with admirable test scores and tuition higher than my private college education (which we can’t really afford for two children)
Amazing neighborhood elementary school (after pre-K elsewhere) still in the city, not so good middle school, have to buy a new house (which we may not be able to afford, ever) to get in that neighborhood elementary school
Good public schools from elementary to high school. Have to move to the suburbs. Have to pick which suburb to move to, among the many overwhelming suburb options.
Other local preschools, like the co-op yoga preschool or the Montessori schools or Axel’s current center, and one of the above options starting in Kindergarten
There are also the local Waldorf option and home schooling, but I already know those aren’t for us. It’s nice to have something that’s ruled out, however minor. I’m overwhelmed by all the choices.
This picking a school? It’s a fulltime job in itself. when I can barely handle the actual paid job I’ve got now. What will we do? How do we pick? How can we, without knowing what will be the best fit for our kids in kindergarten, let alone the best fit ten years from now?
At this point, a safe place with loving and effective teachers, low ratios, delicious snacks, a nice playground, and a little fingerpainting works for us. Soon enough, though, we’ll need more.