Thursday, September 20, 2007

Preschooligans

My oldest son will officially be ready for preschool next fall. He currently goes to a toddler program and I'm pretty happy with it - except for the fact that he has to go for six hours a day. That means that I'm paying for him to nap there when he could easily nap at home for free. I tried to see if the center had any flexibility on that six-hour minimum - like could he attend for four instead?

"Sure. You can pick him up whenever you like. But we have to charge you for the full six hours."

I'm also free to set a pile of money on fire every month, but I'm not about to do that either. So I foolishly thought we'd just send him somewhere else. How hard can it be to find a preschool? My requirements are pretty simple:

1. It must be safe
2. It must be clean
3. It must be a happy enviroment - smiling teachers, happy kids
4. It has to be within a 15 minute drive from home (why add more stress to my life?)

I'm happy to drop him off at any school that meets those basic requirements so that he can glue leaves to construction paper and kick balls in the playground to his heart's content (as far as I can tell this is the bulk of his school day - save for snack time - snack time is HUGE at his school).

So I start calling and visiting the local schools, checking to see if they had any room for my son. Surprise! They're all full! And the waitlist? Full as well! Did you know that you have to apply at least a year in advance in order to get into PRESCHOOL?

Let's take a minute here for a reality check: My applications to graduate school were due in January and by April I was looking for an off-campus apartment. It takes 3 months to get into business school, but it takes 13 months to get into PRESCHOOL.

My mind. It is boggled.

Thankfully, none of the preschools I'm considering are on Boston Magazine's list of the "finest preschools" or I'd be in real trouble.

11 comments:

Mrs. Chicky said...

We're sending in our application for next year's pre-school tomorrow because we're running into the same problem. The mind, it kicks in with a steel-toed boot.

Whirlwind said...

Yeah some of the preschools here you have to put the kids on the list by age 2 to get in at 4. It's insane. Thankfully the private school here I send them to wasn't like that. I'm sure I could probably still squeeze Moe into their 3 year old program if I could afford it this year.

Ladybug's Picnic said...

Tell me about it. I hate that Charlotte is 18 months old and I'm already calling for applications for a few of the schools listed in that Boston mag article. And when I call? Nobody thinks it's odd.

Except me.

Christine said...

Hello NE Mamas! It's Christine, the mama behind Boston Mamas and I just stumbled on your blog today and saw this first post re: preschool.

I have a bit of thing on this topic (and I don't agree with Boston Magazine's "if you can't beat 'em join 'em" approach to elite preschool hunting, and I encourage you to check out a book I reviewed this week -- a wonderful resource for preschool parents which will well serve those completely fed up with the over-parenting movement.

best wishes, Christine

margalit said...

The preschool my kids attended was on a Boston Mag list years ago, and it had hardly any waiting list at all because the physical plant was in the basement of what is now Oak Hill Middle School in Newton. When they moved into a brand new, totally gorgeous building, the waiting list went way up, but the school went downhill. The only building might have been a bit crappy, but the school was fabulous. The new building had EVERYTHING and was literally glamorous, but something was missing. I visited about 25 preschools before I made my choice, and pretty much all of them are on that list. Some were really snotty and some had no educational component at all.

You have to visit each school with and without your son to see how he fits in. Some of the best schools are terrible fits for some kids.

Ruth Dynamite said...

I, too, learned this the hard way, and had to scramble at the last minute to patch together my daughter's first year of preschool at age three. My son started too early, I believe, in a program for two-year olds. It's all kind of ridiculous - this pressure to push kids out of the nest too early into over-priced "it" preschools. I wish you luck.

Fairly Odd Mother said...

I have no issue with preschool, per se (my oldest went to two different ones) but spending $10k+ on a few hours of daily PRESCHOOL?!?!? Talk about setting a pile of money on fire.

Rock the Cradle said...

yikes.

One more thing for me to be in denial about. Good thing I'm married to a shrink.

Alex Elliot said...

It is kind of strange. I have found the best thing about eturning preschool students is the lottery to sign them up for the following fall. The lottery itself isn't weird. What's weird is that let's say the registration begins at 9 am, people will get there at 8. They're paying all this money for the kids to learn important preschool skills like following directions, yet they themselves can't follow them. For those new to lottery systems, you can only register when they call your number so there's no point in getting there early.

Tricia said...

So, let's see. By my math. Georgia is not yet a year. I should have her on a list, when??? Before she was even conceived??!!

Yeesh.

Birdsword said...

I had my first baby on a daycare list at 12 weeks into my pregnancy. He didn't get in until he was 9 months old!

The local YMCA took 10 months for all day daycare to get into, and apparently I have to register for the town camp in DECEMBER!!!!

It is crazy.