Tuesday, 3 April 2018

The Pre-School Predicament

So, when we last left our heroes, Husband and I had toured SLM, a Montessori school very conveniently located close to my work. While the facility was impressive, Jane especially felt that they were rudely dismissed by the director. She immediately asked if Kate was potty trained, as I replied yes, Husband felt the need to disclose that she was still having the occasional accident, and lately was having multiple accidents a day. As the director was explaining how all kids MUST be potty trained, since they don’t even have changing tables and their staff can’t take the time to teach potty training..yada..yada...yada... (by the way, I think this is the most detail she told us about her school, until I cut her off to say that Kate would be fully trained by September enrollment) As I was thinking about how much I wanted to kick Husband at that moment, I decided I needed to put it in a way that he would understand. When we were walking to the parking lot, I asked if he remembered watching the original Ghostbusters film. “Of course, many times” he answered. “Ray, if someone asks if you’re a God; you say ‘yes’” I quoted. “If a Pre-School is asking if your kid is potty trained, you say YES!!”

After chastising ourselves for not looking into alternative Pre-schools sooner, we re-grouped and I booked two more tours for the following week. I would look at one school, Husband would look at the other and who ever could make the best sales pitch for the school they toured, the other person would visit that school. I checked out 5CM on a Tuesday. The main drawback to this school is that it is on the other side of the city where I work. My colleague’s son attended this school and she recalled that it took about 10 minutes to get there from our office, so it adds an extra 20 minutes to my commute, which is not that bad. I acknowledge that I’ve been so spoilt to have our Day Care so close, and I always knew this luxury would come to an end. However, it is close to the highway, and I have an option to take back roads should traffic be an issue.

I really liked the school. The class rooms are well organized and the program includes Kindergarden. A teacher explained how different areas of the classrooms work on language and reading, science and math. “We teach addition and subtraction to the pre-schoolers and the Kindergardeners start working on multiplication and division.” She explained. Seriously? I pretty sure I didn’t learn my times tables until I was in the third grade. One teacher was doing circle time with her kids teaching them sign language with her song. I recognized most of the words. After much pleading, Kate got to check out the play area and immediately seemed to give it her approval. While she was playing, I met with the director, who informed me that they have not yet accepted applications for next year’s class, so we have a shot at getting in.

I already had the feeling that this school was going to be our winner. Husband toured the other one a few days later and felt it was more chaotic and less organized. “A little too free range” he commented. That other one is just a touch closer to my work and not as convenient to the highway. He visited 5CM a few days later and agreed it was the better the other one. He would have preferred SLM, due to their location and the fact that they’re about $4,000 less than 5CM (the price for 5CM is about what we are currently paying, but it doesn’t include summer, which would cost an extra $3,000 but we’re trying to see if my parents can come out for the whole month of August). His other hang up is that all Montessori programs that offer extended day care only provide care for a total 9 hours. He’s not sure I’d be able to pick her up in time with my work schedule.

As the school is close to my work, it will mean that I will be doing most of the drop offs and pick ups. The program is also structured for 5 days a week (I could opt to only send her for four days, but the fees would not be discounted). Husband was so enthusiastic about the school that he declared “I want her there full time, I don’t care if you get a day off!” While I would love to have a day off to myself during the week...I just can’t justify it...Currently, I work 36 hours a week, 10 hours on Monday and Fridays and 8 hours on Wednesday and Thursday and I am getting a bit tired of the long days, even though I hate to admit that, as I fear I shows my age. I’d also like to have a more consistent schedule.

I accepted an administrative position at the beginning of the year, and so far it’s been a lot of insufferable bullshit, but it does pay a little extra, so currently I’m working 36 hours, but receiving pay that corresponds to a 40 hour work week. I decided I’ll keep myself at 36 hours, so I can have Tuesday morning’s off and I’ll do my administrative work on Tuesday afternoons (which I can do from home). On a purely selfish note, this schedule opens a lot of opportunities for me. I can swim four mornings a week. I can go to the gym on Tuesday mornings and go to Safe.way or Cost.co and I can swim at noon. Husband also agreed to let me keep going to the gym on Thursday nights as the instructor that night is my favorite.

It does mean I lose my day of one-on-one time with Kate. Again, I always knew this day would come, but I thought it would be two more years down the road when she starts Kingergarden. I joke that I’m a stay at home Mom one day a week, but as Husband works from home, I find that we spend most of the day out of the house, so I’m trying to justify that most of the day is actually spent with us in the car. There have been some days when Husband is away for the day and we’ll spend the day playing at home. Those days are my favorites. No schedules, no pressure, we just do what we want. I just love watching how her imagination works and being able to follow her lead.

Another impact of changing her Pre-School is that it affects her gymnamtics classes. Although you can pay on a monthly basis, we’re signed up for the entire year and of course weekend classes fill up first. I asked about getting on a waiting list, but I can’t start that process until she turns three (as she’ll be in the three year old class in September) which is in July. As long as we submit a drop request in time, they’ll stop our payment and we can attend open gym on the weekends, but not at the member-rate. Ugh. I’ve been toying with the idea that maybe I’ll rotate her through sessions or soccer and swim lessons on Saturdays and fill in with gymnastics open gym in between sessions. Her current Pre-School offers an awesome soccer class and she started taking swim lessons twice a week, which is great as I think she does better with her friends. This is one of my biggest hesitations about switching to a different school, but I am keenly aware that I shouldn’t be basing my school choice on the extra programs and not the actual school itself. (Of note, her new school offers a ‘Tuff Tumblers’ gymnastics and ‘Super Kickers’ soccer class, but they seem lame compared to her current classes).

Then there are her friends. I mean I know she has a new best friend each week, but there is something to be said for the fact that she’s been with this group of kids since she was four months old and there are really good group of kids with good parents. I’ve actually made friends with two moms who don’t plan to transfer their kids who are Kate’s age, as they have younger children and don’t want to do the multiple drop offs yet. I haven’t told them that we’re not re-enrolling. We all know how these things pan out; we say we’ll still hang out and do play dates together and we make an effort at first but then it stops... It’s been a really tough decision, so I’m hoping that means it was the right one.


  1. Change is scary even when it seems to be for the best. It sounds like you did a very thorough job researching the pre schools and the only way to know for sure if it’s the right choice is to go for it. I hope Kate enjoys her new school!

  2. It sounds like you did a great job of checking different facilities out and have made a good decision. Although my little one will stay where he is, we live in a small town, I hate the fact that some of the kids he started with as a baby have moved. I had this idea they would grow up together. There were 5 of them and now it's down to 3 and only 2 of them will actually go to the same school in Kindergarten.

  3. Change is definitely challenging, especially when it's based on trying to decide what the best thing is for your child! I think at this age, basing your decision on the extra curricular activities should play a big part! Actually, I think that's huge at any age, but obviously education becomes a bit more important as they get older. It will be a big change for all of you, especially you and Kate, but hopefully it turns out to be the best decision!

  4. That's a lot to think about. I'm echoing the others that I guess you can never really know until you make a decision and do it. Rude about the potty training explanation though. I get it, but seriously. These are teeny little kids. No accidents and dammit, you better know your multiplication. The other day my friend laughed at me because I didn't realize preschool parent conferences were actually a thing.