Friday, February 11, 2011

Am I really writing a post about preschool?

Well, it seems I am. Yesterday I got a call, a day early, that both Sebastian and Collette made the lottery for a local preschool. It's not super competitive so chances are pretty good that you'll get in. But, it does get very good reviews from parents and I liked what I saw at their open house a few weeks ago. This preschool is run by our town's recreation department so is much less expensive than private preschools in the area. For their age (they make the 2y9m cut off by one week!), the program is two mornings a week, 9-11:30.

The only other school we are considering is actually a daycare center. They have a morning program and you can sign up 2, 3, 4 or 5 mornings a week, any days you like. The hours are 8:30-12:30 and I think they do lunch there - we are visiting this afternoon and will get more details then. The idea of having 4 hours just for me and Matteo is quite nice but the cost of this school is way more than double the other. And my guess is that both will be similar in their approach to teaching, learning and discipline.

So, now we have to make a decision. Billy doesn't want money to enter our decision but, true to my nature, I disagree. However, there are some things that concern me about the recreation department preschool (the less expensive one). First, they will have many more holidays and breaks than the daycare preschool because they follow the public school calendar. Also, they don't start until mid-September and they end in mid-June, already shaving off a couple of weeks from the public school calendar. Second, Sebastian and Collette will need to be potty trained by then. This might be a good thing in that it gives us some motivation to get it done. I think Billy especially needs a kick in the pants where potty training is concerned. However, you never know how your kids will react. They both show signs of readiness but Sebastian refuses to even sit on the potty. Who knows when he will feel ready? At least Collette will sit on the potty, albeit briefly and with no successes to date.

The daycare preschool is more convenient - longer hours, fewer holidays, walking distance to our home, no need to rush and potty train the kids (although I hope they are potty trained by then regardless!), we could have them continue school through the summer since its a daycare. But, I'm not sure if that's enough to justify the cost. Plus, there is that fact that, since families can choose their own days, that Sebastian and Collette may not have the same kids in their class on one day as they do the other. Does this even matter?

Advice? Which issues do you think are more important?


  1. Here are some thoughts:

    First, I think that the longer day would be better. It gives the kids more of a chance to get into the swing of things, it gives you more of a chance to get things done and I like the social aspect of them eating lunch at school. That said, S's school is the only one we have ever been to and it does do lunch and a longer morning. Hopefully people can share experiences with the shorter day as well.

    Second, I don't know how much the extra vacation time will be an issue. You may find that you ARE ready to shake things up around school vacation times - I'll let you know how I do next week with Feb break for S. I don't really mind it. My "job" will also be on break that week so it kind of works out okay - most activities for the boys are on hiatus as well so we'll just try and go with the flow. Gives us a chance to be more "flexible" and get together with other people who we don't get to see as much because of school, activities, etc. It also gives the teachers a much deserved and needed week off. I expect that they come back more refreshed and ready to go that if they just hammered on through.

    Third, I think that the potty thing is a BIG deal. That would freak me out. I would want to know exactly what the "rules" are about it - what will they change, how often, when do you get called, etc. 2y9mo is still young-ish to be potty trained completely (I think) and having a deadline would definitely ratchet up the stress level of training them.

    My answers don't really weight things heavily one way or the other - just some thoughts.

  2. Good points, Jane.

    I should add that this is most likely a one year deal. The following year we will enter the public preschool lottery. They do 5 days a week. If we don't get in there, we'll probably look into Reading or Woburn Montessori.

  3. H. and S. go to the public preschool for 2.5 hours a day/4 days a week. While I would LOVE to have a bigger chunk of time, the 2.5 hours seems to work fine for the kids. While they have the same kids in their class every day, they do fine with different set of kids at playgroups, ballet, gymnastics, etc.

    As for potty training, are they allowed to wear pull-ups? How do they handle accidents? Most kids can easily make it through 2.5 hours without needing to be changed and at least our school, they line all the kids up and take them to the bathroom at the same time. Peer pressure works wonders on helping reluctant potty users get with the program. So that may be a non issue any way.

    As for holidays, to be brutally honest, they kill me. I'm a routine person and to have a change in my routine, really messes me up. I really have to plan ahead and have something else lined up for holidays and Feb. vacation. But that's just me and you may find it doesn't affect you that much. We use December and April vacation for visiting family out of state so having those weeks off works well for us. Having summers off also allows for more traveling and visiting beaches, museums, etc. but I won't lie and say I wouldn't love it if the school year lasted a couple more weeks.

  4. Do not discount the location factor. I switched jobs and now have to commute AWAY from my location to drop Cameron off for daycare. Makes my previous 20 minute commute 45 minutes. We have Cameron in daycare full time and I can't say enough about how structured and well run a full time daycare is. Education is just as much emphasized as in the public schools. And they will really help you to potty train the twins at their own pace. Plus, 4 hours vs. 2 hours and you can potentially up the number of days you have them there? That would totally sell me on it.

    I considered sending Cameron to a Jewish daycare but they had all Jewish holidays off plus the regular ones. It ended up being 15 extra holidays and I just couldn't do it. Too much of a disruption in our routine and would suck up my vacation time (or require us to pay to put her somewhere else). And finally, they did not provide lunch. Cameron eats WAY more variety at daycare than home. I think it's that pack mentality.

    My last bit of advice...DO NOT visit the daycare/pre-school during the hours of 11 AM - 1 PM. Just don't. It is chaos because of lunch being served and floaters coming in and out. I did it once and almost broke down crying. I went back at 10 AM and had a completely different experience. Good luck! It's a tough decision.

  5. Fantastic comments - my biggest factors would be location, culture fit, time at school and price. I think most schools are good on the education front anyway.

    E.g. of culture fit - my friend sent me a link to a fantastic school near her (an hour away for us so unacceptable) - basically FUN but ORGANISED :)

    If the more expensive school is still reasonable, then I'd go for it. I hate money to come into it, but let's face facts - it does affect almost everything :)

  6. Interesting differences between the schools. I have a couple of thoughts.

    1. I sent my kids to a preschool last year where some kids went full time and others went different days---they didn't seem to mind, but I didn't love it and it was one of the reasons we moved them. Things like---they would miss the Valentine's Day party, because they weren't in school that day. Little things. Also, the fulltime kids were SO much more comfortable there than my guys, who just went 2 mornings a week. WHen we switched to a more traditional preschool, that difference went away and my kids were more in the middle of the pack.

    2. The short day would be a deal killer for me. Right now, we do 8:30-11:30, and that is as short as I am willing to do for the morning. I need a bit of time to get an errand done or get home and do some work. This issue is a bigger one for me than for some moms, because their dad can't take them to school---if he could on a regular basis, I might be ok with the shorter day, but not so much.

    3. Have you thought about how the different pick-up/drop-off schedules will fit in with Matteo's nap schedule? That might be another consideration.

    4. I find close-by is key (see above with short morning and taking advantage of it).

    Not sure this helped, but maybe more stuff to think about?


  7. Lucky that they make the cut off! I think the twins will do really well @ preschool. In a way, they are probably more socialized than others due to the fact that they have each other.

    In every aspect of your life as a consumer, Nicole, you are hunting for the bargain to the point where I bet it's exhausting. Maybe give it a rest this time and listen to Billy. You are basically a happily married single mom raising 3 kids under age 3. You could really benefit from a 4-hour chunk of a break from the twins in your day. Totally worth the money in my opinion - just think about all the $ you've saved refusing to get sitters all those times. I'm as money-conscious as you but I really think you need to budge on this one and I'm not just saying that 'cuz I'm your sister :)


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