Pretty soon, my two year old will begin his third preschool. That’s correct. His number of schools experienced is more than the number of years he has lived. This is my fault—not that of the schools. The first change was for monetary reasons (Montessori is awesome but can be PRICEY), and this switch is because we moved.
By now, I fancy myself an expert in the art of finding and enrolling in a preschool. Therefore, I am sharing with you the 10 things I hate about the search for and the day-to-day of preschool.
The Moral Judgement
I’m not talking about someone else’s moral judgement. I’m pretty good at not caring about that. I’m talking about my own. If you’ve read my posts before, you know that I’m cheap, cheap, cheap. The first thing I look at when I go to a school’s website? Tuition. Not the program, not safety, not whether my child will be brilliant if he goes there. I look at how much I’m going to have to shell out. I’ve tried spending a little time looking at the home page before hunting for the fees menu, but it doesn’t last long. I’ve come to accept that this is who I am.
“We offer your child a loving environment where he/she will learn and grow and frolic and be happy.” Mission statements are white noise. Everyone has to have them, and they all sound the same.
I am a snob when it comes to grammar and spelling. And I’m even more of one when it is a SCHOOL that is supposed to be educating my child.
Wait lists are a necessary evil, but they’re horrible. I’m just not clear on how it works. Are you supposed to figure out temporary child care and hope and cross fingers until someone calls you? And why do you have to PAY to be on a waitlist? I understand that there are lots of children, and they all need care, but I’m not going to start at one school and then switch if I get a call from the magical school that everyone wants to go to.
Imagine, if you will, you’re working in your office—typing away—and someone walks in the door without knocking and stares at you. This is what I think about every time I take a tour of a school. The poor teachers, the poor kids—they either pretend you’re not there or stop everything to talk to you. And if the latter happens, you’re supposed to have questions for them. Which brings me to…
I always feel like I’m not asking the right questions, and I’m usually right about that. So that leaves me home alone, wondering why I didn’t ask about how long the school day is (yes, that has actually happened). I know tours are important, but for me they’re the worst.
This is something I’m just now getting into, but I already hate extracurricular activities. It’s another guilt thing for me. I know my son would love soccer, but I can’t afford it. That makes me feel bad about me. Why not just throw in the tumbling for free? (see above, re: my being cheap)
Also see above, re: awkward. The parent and the teacher each knows and (hopefully) loves the kid, but that’s about all you are sure to have in common. I know this will follow me into “regular” school. Soon I’ll be dealing with other parents in the mix as well. Also awkward. Is there a theme here?
Late to the Party
Since I had my kid, I’ve become perpetually late—a fact that very much grates on my husband (and I don’t like it very much, either, for the record). I’ve seen some schools that charge $1.00/minute for late pickup. No grace period, no nothing. I completely understand that they have lives and they need to clean up after a long day, but give a working parent a break, please! Just a 10 minute grace period—that’s all I ask.
This is the worst. When we had to leave the (wonderful, amazing) Montessori school that we loved, we felt like we had failed, like we were letting them down. I say we, but it was mostly my husband. He feels like a traitor every time we even talk about switching anything. Doctors, dentists—he doesn’t like breaking ties. I don’t either, but if we can’t pay or we can’t make the drive, something’s gotta give. And then the horrible search starts again.
If you can avoid Googling the endless day care and school options, please do. Get a recommendation from a friend, check out our reader recommendations, look on Yelp. All we can do is our best, of course. And, hey, I haven’t signed the registration forms for the new school yet, so if you have any recommendations, let me know!