Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Some parenting decisions

Michael is just over 2 years old, but I came to the realization the other week that I couldn't put off looking at preschools any longer.

And just to clarify, the big instigator in this is that we are probably going to refinance our house again to shorten the term and lower the interest rate... and before we lock ourselves into a higher payment for the next 15 or 20 years, I thought it might be good to have a grasp on some of the upcoming educational expenses we should be expecting.

We had always kinda figured that we would send him to the Catholic preschool, since we are planning on sending him to the Catholic school near us. Well, turns out, Catholic preschool is more expensive than the elementary school. A lot more actually. Surprised? I was.

I could really care less if he attends a Catholic preschool or not so I started looking into other options. I started with the Montessori schools. Then some other religious preschools. And a bunch of 'traditional' private preschools. I contacted pretty much every preschool in the area and I've been visiting them this week. 

I don't think anything will compare to the first Montessori school we visited. It was picturesque scene of tranquility and education. The materials were beautiful and perfectly arranged. This school is apparently an internationally recognized AMI school. The directress was wonderful to talk to. It was perfect.

But I think we will pass.  It's not that I wouldn't love to send Michael there, but it just doesn't fit our needs. Michael would need to go at least part day, 5 days per week. I'm not ready to have him spend that much time in "school". And there is some fundamental stuff I'm not really sure about with a strict Montessori education either... children should experience singing and show-and-tell and finger-painting and I don't think that's AMI approved. And it is rather pricey (actually it's about the same price as Catholic preschool).

In mourning my decision not to send Michael to the perfect, fancy Montessori school I had to really think about what I want for Michael.

I think experiences are more important than lesson plans at this age. Making the room in my budget for an expensive school really limits the other things I can do with him. I think it's more important for Michael to visit National Parks and see the ocean than to have a Montessori education.

I think it's more important for him to spend time with me than at school. The time will come when a 5 day a week class is appropriate, but it won't be for awhile. I know that the Montessori prepared environment is wonderful for children, but so is going to the nature center and the library and the pool. If he's with someone else 5 days a week, then he probably won't be doing much with those things with me. Being at home with him is a gift and I don't want to waste it.

With those priorities in mind, I can let go of some of the old ideals I had about what I wanted for Michael and embrace the new ones.

So I continued my search. I don't think I will find a new school that is a perfect for our needs, but I know we have several really good options still.

This is all happening so fast. Babies grow up quickly. Enjoy them while you can.


Celia said...

our local school is out of the question. i am going crazy looking at schools. the only one i like so far is 14 grand a year, AND then we could double that. sweet mercy.

Jessica White said...

I agree with you. They grow too fast. I'm not sure what we're doing with school. The school system we are in has seriously changed since my husband and I were in it, and not for the better. Private schools are 40 minutes away and not the best and are expensive.

We haven't decided yet. Not sure if or what we'll do for preschool.

Michelle said...

Time does go by so fast.
We did not do a real strict formal preschool thing with K. And he turned out totally fine for that. But, when he was 4 & 5, we did a fall and spring session both years at the local highschool childcare program. He was around other kids his age, got the social part of things, and got the traditional preschool type of environment. It was 2 hours a day 4 days a week, for 8 weeks each semester. He loved it, and we still had our time as well. I will say, that the last session I was really annoyed with because there was less structure and more goofing off from the older kids. They all loved him because he was extremely social and loved to make them laugh, so a few (who got kicked out of the class after I complained) had started making him do stuff so they had a reason to laugh.
Anyway, I think preschool is definitely about just getting a little time out of the house and to be a kid, but like you said. The time home with you is also something extremely important, and once he's in full time school, you'll never be able to get that time back.

Rachel said...

Preschool is so tough. It sounds like you've been really careful not to be drawn into signing up for the "perfect" preschool at any cost. It's so frustrating for us that we live under a mile from 3 truly superb preschools but because of cost and priorities really didn't consider any of them. I hope you find a good school at the right price/amount of time.