School Choice

As Mr. C quickly approaches Kindergarten, we soon have to decide where he is going to go to school.  It’s a common conversation among the parents we know around town.  Whenever I run into another parent of a kid about four years old, we end up talking about what we’re going to do about school next year.  Yesterday I met two other parents at a local indoor playground place, (a great thing to have nearby when it’s about five below zero outside), and while our kids played, we spent most of the time debating the school choice question.  That would be for close to four hours on that one subject.  Earlier in the week, I ran into another parent at the grocery store, and while we just spoke briefly, it was entirely about school choice.    I used to think that the parents who spent a lot of time preparing for kindergarten were too concerned with something that I thought was a minor detail.    After all, all kindergarten programs must all be the same.  I could not have been more wrong.  Now that I’m a parent, I think the more common fear is not so much trying to pick the absolute best kindergarten possible, but trying to make sure you don’t make a huge mistake and end up with your son or daughter hating school, or exhausted from a program that is not appropriate for them.   We live in a mid-sized city, so there are a few choices available.  We are also allowed to request to attend a school in a different part of town if we want.  Some schools are better than others, and there are entire websites dedicated to ranking the individual schools.

There are so many more choices now, compared to when my parents were getting ready to send me off to school.  A public school ?   A private school ?   A full day program ?  Or half-day ?   If half-day, morning or afternoon ?  If a public school, which one in the district ?   The one close by, which has failed the federal “No Child Left Behind” requirements, or the one further away in the nicer part of town, which has also failed, but hasn’t failed as badly ?  If a private school, which kind ?  Religious ?   Non-Religious ?      A Montessori school ?  A Waldorf school ?   Then there’s all kinds of specialized programs that emphasize one thing or another, ‘Arts’ schools,  ‘Nature’ schools, ‘Music’ schools, there’s probably even a ‘Sports’ school somewhere.  All this just for kindergarten.

The friend I ran into at the supermarket was really considering signing up for the private kindergarten, forty five minutes away,  at a cost of $28,000 for the year.  Despite the fact that both he and his wife are not employed full time at the moment and are getting by on short term and part-time jobs.  He’s not really going to go ahead and sign up, but this is how concerned the parents I know are.

Oh boy, here we go, registration starts tomorrow!    Anxiety and nervousness will continue like this through College, I guess!


Who wants more pie ?

When I pick Mr. C up from his preschool class one of the teachers will help him get into the car and give a quick run down of what they did that day. It’s usually standard preschool things like ‘We talked about the letter ‘D’ today!’.

This past Friday when I picked him up, the teacher said that they talked about Thanksgiving and how it’s a good idea not to eat too much pie since pie is a ‘sometimes food’. I was too shocked to think of anything to say at the time, but as we drove away I told Mr. C that Thanksgiving was the one day a year when he could have as much pie as he wanted. That’s the tradition of Thanksgiving, everyone in the US sits down with their family for a multi-course meal, at which they eat as much as they possibly can. Once they have eaten to the point of bursting, we all sit around and watch either a football game, a classic movie, or a parade. Only some of us will really be following whatever it is we’re watching, we’re either falling asleep from eating all that turkey or talking to relatives we haven’t seen all year. That’s Thanksgiving.

He has some kind of Thanksgiving party at preschool this week where each student is supposed to bring in some kind of “Healthy Food” to share with the class. I should send him in with a couple of pies.



4 Going on 14

Mr. C was in a part time pre-school class last year.  Two days a week, two hours a day.  For most of the year, he seemed to spend as much time as possible with one of the girls in the class.  Just to be consistent, I’ll just call her “M”.

All year long he would come home from pre-school and talk about Miss M.   What they did, what toys they played with, what games or puzzles they liked.  At random times, he would ask our opinion of what Miss M might like to do outside of pre-school. Do you think she likes candy, Dada ?   How about pancakes, do you think she likes pancakes ?

As part of the parent pick up routine,  the kids in the class would gather around on the lawn in front of the school and wait as each parent’s car pulled around to gather them up and buckle them into their car seats, with the help of one or the other of the two pre-school teachers.  Just about every time I picked him up, Miss M made sure to give C a hug and a ‘See you next class!’.

That was last year.

A month or so after he started this year’s pre-school class I noticed that he was not spending very much time with Miss M.  He was spending most of his time with a new student in class.  Miss N.

Miss N likes candy.  Did you know that Dada ?  And pancakes!

Then I noticed that at pick up time he was getting a big hug and a ‘See you next class!’ from Miss N, but nothing from Miss M.

During pick up, M sits on the lawn, all alone.

I started to feel bad for poor little Miss M.  What happened ?

‘Do you play with M anymore ?’, I asked him.   ‘Oh, Sometimes’ he would say.   It’s a good idea to have more than one friend at a time, I’d tell him.

Earlier this month, he received an invitation for Miss M’s birthday party.  I was still under the naive impression that a party for four and five year old kids would include all of the kids in the pre-school class.  A huge party of twenty of so kids running around.   I was still not familiar with the intricacies of four year old boy – girl interactions.  I still thought they were all just about the same, perfectly happy to have their other classmates at their party, no matter who it was.  Of course I was wrong.

As the day for the party came closer and closer, I started to notice him play with Miss M quite a bit more than he had been in the past month or so, and he would talk about her a bit more often as well.  No hugs, but they were playing.

Ms J. asked me if I thought  Miss N would be going to the party, or maybe M is now too jealous and would not want her to go ?

Why would a four year old be jealous I thought, but maybe Mr. C can just ask ?  I said.

Oh no!  You can never ask if someone is invited to a party.

Well, I know that, but they’re four years old, aren’t they all invited to the party ?

Mr. C did end up asking.   He said that Miss M told him that she had no idea who her Mom might have invited.

Ms J, always wise to this sort of thing interpreted this to mean;  “I can not imagine why I would want to invite HER to MY party!”

Well the day of the party finally arrived, C and I go, and a large portion of the class was there but No,  Miss N was not there.

When it came time to open gifts, Mr. C gave his gift to Miss M, who gave him a big hug.

On the way home from the party Mr. C told me all about how he liked playing with all the kids at the party,  especially someone from his pre-school class.  Who I guess I’ll call Miss O.

Spelling Counts

Like a lot of parents, we get excited when Mr. C makes any kind of advance in learning.  While driving to my parent’s house in Vermont recently, he saw a highway sign at the border and asked ‘What does ‘I heart shape vermont’ mean ?’.   We were quite excited and would have immediately pulled over to congratulate him on his reading the sign, but there were too many cars on the road at the time.  Instead we showered him with ‘That’s great!”, and ‘Good job reading that sign!’.   To which he responded with:  “Yeah, yeah, but what does heart shape Vermont mean anyway?”

It’s not as though we are putting pressure on him to start reading the classics of Western literature at age 4, or to start writing sonnets about peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, but we do consider his education as a top priority.

So I suppose we might just be extra sensitive to this sort of thing, and maybe I’m a bit of a ‘helicopter parent’, but it was somewhat disconcerting to get the below note from his pre-school teacher recently.  He attends a pre-school program three times a week, for three hours each day.  There is some instruction, but the  focus is not entirely on learning so much as getting a bunch of four year olds together to socialize with each other and get them familiar with the idea of attending school on a regular basis.

Anyway, we get a monthly note from the teacher summarizing what they’ve been working on.  One of the standard questions is ‘What skills I’m working on this month, which the teacher answered with “Aknowledging teacher directions”.


Ok, so I’m not the best speller myself.  “Acknowledging” is just one of those words that I think is commonly misspelled.  I admit to relying on spell check a lot,  and will also admit that my mastery of grammar is sometimes less than  superb.

But then, I noticed the answer to “What have I had fun doing at school this month:”



“Playing imajinitive play using our work bench”

“imajinitive”  –  now that’s a creative way to spell that word!

Seems like “imaginative” would be a common word for a teacher, especially a pre-shool teacher.  In addition to the spelling, what does that sentence really mean ?   “Playing imajinitive play using our work bench”   I have no idea.  Is there some kind of “Story Bench” in class where he gathers everyone together and tells them all stories, does he tell stories about a bench, or do they just play things like Legos while sitting near this bench ?    I may never know.

It’s a good thing that they’re “Learning new letters and sounds” at this point and  not really focused on spelling.    I think from now on I’ll think of this teacher as the “Imajinitive Teacher”.

I’ll have to be sure that I run a spell check on this post before I hit “publish”, but if any misspellings do get through I’ll just blame them on the “auto correct” feature instead of my spelling or typing.