Friday, February 26, 2010

The Preschool Decision

After the Dream School, I toured four other places. At the first, the director rushed me through the place in 15 minutes, and the teacher was so mousey, I couldn't even imagine her raising her voice.

The second place was recommended by several moms in the Mom's Club whose children attend or have attended. I like the place, but I had 2 issues. One, I was able to just walk into the place, and go through the whole building without anyone asking who I was. Not very safe. Two, the director was also the lead teacher of the room Dylan would be in. I don't see how she can do both effectively. She was nice, though, and the kids seemed to be learning a lot. I figured I would most likely choose that place.

The third place was a Montessori school. There were aspects of it I liked - the hands on learning and the combined age groups. But, there were aspects of it that I just really didn't get. For one thing, the kids don't eat snack all together at the same time. There is a small table that seats 3 kids, and they are "free to go over when they are hungry and help themselves to a snack". Uh, I don't know about your kid, but mine thinks he's hungry any time he sees someone else eating. If I grab a granola bar, he wants some, even if he just ate 5 minutes ago. He's a social eater, and with that philosophy, I'm afraid he'd be eating all day.

Another weird thing - if 2 adults are talking, the kids are taught to come over and touch the adults shoulder as a cue, rather than interrupt. I get that. But, the adult then asks, "What's your MESSAGE?" The director said it makes them feel like what they have to say isn't important if we say "What?", or "What do you want?" What's wrong with "Yes?", or "What did you want to say?" "What's your MESSAGE?" just sounds weird to me. Isn't a message something someone tells you to tell another person?

I also worried that this Montessori school (I don't know about others), stressed individual work too much. I want Dylan to socialize with his peers, not sit off by himself all day.

I couldn't get a tour with the fourth place until the day before registration at the second place. The director was warm and caring and I liked her immediately. My thinking is that if the director is warm and caring, she'll probably want to hire people who are the same.

I explained the dilemma I'm having with Dylan. (His birthday being in November, and him being advanced academically. My concern that he would be bored in the 3 year old class. The fact that his current teachers say that he doesn't really play with the other kids, but prefers the teachers attention.) She really listened and asked the appropriate questions to help figure out the best solution.

As we walked through all the rooms, I was impressed at how engaged the children were. The activites were hands on, and fun, and I didn't see a single behavior problem! After talking for a while, the director said, "I feel really bad, because I think your son would do best in the 4 year old room, but that room is already full".

I figured that made my decision easy. I would have to choose the second school. Then, later that afternoon she called me and said they decided to make a spot for Dylan if we wanted it. We wanted it. Now, we'll just wait and see if we made the right choice.

(P.S. I still haven't ruled out The Dream School for the future, because if anything, I am a dreamer).


Susan Helene Gottfried said...

That second school sounds like the one I used, actually. I wonder if it is...

Lisa @ Boondock Ramblings said...

You might be screwed on wanting to choose the dream school and can't, but I'm at the point I can't choose any school because all the deadlines are approaching or are gone. We may end up putting him in a couple of days at my church preschool to help him socialize and then looking the next year into a more formal preschool.

I'm sure you made a great choice.

(And I love the new header)

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

I'll read the dream school post in a minute, but I have to say this. RUN from the "message" school.

I had a friend whose kids went to one of those. They got away with everything and the message thing annoyed me so much that one day I said (to the 7-year old), "Alicia, I'm sending you a message. Quit being such a brat. Now."

My friend looked shocked, but when I said, "Look, Holley, someone had to say it," she just laughed and agreed.

Amber said...

Okay that Montessori is freak.e! Perhaps the Montessori my girls attend is a not a traditional Montessori, because that stuff it just nuts. They have group snack time and they all eat lunch together. They are responsible for cleaning up their own lunch area (including sweeping their crumbs with a little broom/dustpan). They have free time where they are allowed to roam freely between whatever centers they choose (ie. math, science, language), but at my daughter's preschool they also have many activities each day where the entire class participates. And many of the centers involve multiple children at the same time. That MESSAGE crap is lame. Glad you did not choose that one! The one you chose sounds fantastic. I am eager to see how it all turns out!

Missy said...

So did you choose the 3rd school? Can I follow you in a way besides the networked follower way?

My kids are in a Montessori, by the way. It is very, very good for gifted children. There is essentially no ceiling in a montessori school. My 2nd grader is reading 5 grade levels ahead right now.

I would be happy to answer your Qs about the things you didn't understand (snack, messages and individual v. community) if you want. Drop me a line if so.

If you've already decided on a different school, though, disregard. :)

Anonymous said...

I think that the 4th school sounds great and that you made a great decision! Dylan strikes me as a very adaptable and easy-going kid, so I am sure he will make the most of whatever situation he is put in to.