Public Vs. Private Kindergarten: Here's What I Chose And WhyChristine Coppa
Summer is over! You know what that means: School! Wa-Whoooo!
Now that JD is old enough to attend Kindergarten, I have to ask, fellow readers, if you work, how does this work out for you? I went round-and- round about where JD would attend Kindergarten.
I looked at a private Catholic school that had before and aftercare. I attended the Kindergarten tea at the public school, but there I learned they only had aftercare. And aftercare was in the cafeteria with kids K-8. So from 2:15 PM to 6 PM this is where my baby would be? It just plain, old freaked me out.
I work. I work long, unpredictable hours. When I’m at the mag, I’m expected at my desk at 8:30 AM and public school drop-off is 8:20 AM. But, sometimes I leave my condo at 6 AM for a 9 AM call time in NYC (a.k.a: photo shoot). As a single parent, it is really hard to work out, working when a school doesn’t offer beforecare. And work, I must and work, I LOVE.
I know I’m not the only single parent out there and I know many married couples who both work and juggle school drop-off, but I ultimately decided to keep JD at the private day care/school he’s been attending since he was 2. Here’s why:
- I can access the school from 7 AM to 6 PM.
- JD just turned 5 and would be one of the youngest in the public school system.
- As a solo single parent, drop-off and pick-up is on me. Family can occasionally help, but every, single day?No way.
- I thought it insane to hire a nanny to hang out with JD in the AM and bring him to school, when the day care he’s been at and is used to has a state accredited Kindergarten. But, of course there is tuition—a fee I split with his dad, but again, it was this or Catholic school (tuition) or nanny + aftercare fee at the public school—it all came down to the same dollar give or take.
- And it made my head spin. Me, solo, single, alone. No pillow talk to figure this out. I just decided.
- As the custodial parent it was my choice and I chose my choice.
- JD was happy as a clam this morning when he dressed himself in his new orange denim shorts and grey shirt. He filled his superhero backpack with … crayons, a pencil and a car. He was ready! I was … emotional and flustered.
I packed him a lunch even though Tuesday is pizza day and prepaid for—D’oh I thought it was Monday. I lost the back of my earring, because my hand shook as I tried to get the diamond stud in (recovered this evening). I cried. I smiled. We listened to the Cars 2 soundtrack on the way to school. I thought about his first day at this school three years ago. He was in diapers. I carried diapers, wipes, food, extra clothes and a napping bag in. Today, JD wore his backpack and held his lunch sack. Ghah, sniffle.
When we pulled up, we both got a huge, warm surprise: Poppy! My dad was there to see JD off. It was really emotional for me. JD led us to his classroom. He hugged his teacher hello. He showed us his new cubby. “This is the smart board, mommy!” he cheered. We took a bunch of pics and said our goodbyes. “You’re a big boy, now. Listen and learn. This is the start of something wonderful,” I said. My dad slid his hand in mine and we walked off. “I said something similar to you when you were JD’s age. And look at you now, my Christine” he said. Basically I’ve been crying all day.
On the way back to get him, I got stuck in traffic. It was 5:20 PM and choosing to keep JD at a school with people I trust and a structured aftercare program with children his own age kept me calm. I made the right choice. I really did.
JD had a great first day. Not counting the low grade fever he came home with (really! Ped in the AM, if it’s still there). In any event, I have one year to find a school with before and aftercare or move to a town with a public school that offers such. Project!
Parents, how do you handle early morning drop-off when you work? I’d really love to hear your stories and advice. Single rents please chime in, too! Thanks!