I decided it would be a good idea for Elena to start preschool in September…that was the easy decision. I wasn’t prepared for how hard it would be to determine which preschool would be right for Elena.
As awesome as my Mom is for committing to care for Elena while I’m at work, it is a lot on her…more than that, Elena needs the opportunity to learn & socialize sooner than entering Junior Kindergarten. I believe her speech would improve if exposed more to other children her own age. I also believe that, no matter how much my Mother & I love Elena, it doesn’t change the fact that we have zero experience or training in early childhood education & don’t know the first thing about making sure Elena is learning what she needs to meet her best potential. I’m not just being a proud parent when I say that Elena is very intelligent & I know she needs more challenge & stimulation than what my Mom & I have to offer her.
I started out looking at Montessori schools…though very expensive, still affordable since I would be looking for just part time, 2 mornings a week. I believed they must be “the best”. I don’t know much about the Montessori philosophy & investigated these preschools purely based on that assumption that the must be “the best” because they were expensive & seemed, I don’t know, elite.
My brother convinced me that there were plenty of fine “regular” preschools & that I shouldn’t sell them short. Upon his suggestion I widened my search & looked at what else there was, including the “church basement” variety as he put it.
I was able to narrow the search down to 2 preschools that I would seriously consider…one in a centre type environment, the other a “church basement”.
The front runner in my mind from the start was the “church basement” one…though it was actually a synagogue. This piqued my interest since right off that would offer Elena an experience into another culture & religion. Theirs is a multicultural enrichment program. Their vision is to provide a safe, secure and loving place for children to learn, grow and develop. Their motto hooked me instantly, “The first pair of arms away from home should be the most loving”. Touring their classrooms, I was glad to see photos & quotes of Martin Luther King & Mahatma Gandhi among other along with various art prints. Meeting the teachers, I could feel the warmth & caring. The whole atmosphere was very family-like. They also have a Friday drop in program my Mom would be able to bring Elena to so that she is familiar & comfortable there come September. They have a fabulous outdoor area & get the kids out in the fresh air every day, weather permitting. I was also pleased with their non judgmental, practically non-reaction when I mentioned Elena was donor conceived. It came naturally to bring it up with them. Beyond that this was not new territory for them. They’ve had kids there from various back grounds & situations including twins with 2 moms. I just felt it in my gut that this was a good place.
I had to visit the other place…I couldn’t just pick the 1st & only place I visited, right?
The Centre type place was good. I didn’t get a warm & fuzzy feeling there…but I didn’t get a bad feeling either. They’re located in a more upper class area & their price, though still less expensive than Montessori, reflected that. They didn’t have an outdoor play area or an outdoor program whatsoever. The owner was very friendly & obviously very knowledgeable, the other teacher just didn’t give off a good vibe…not a bad vibe…they both just came across a little condescending. The owner mentioned a lot of, “we’re thinking of doing this” & “I want to implement such & such”. She seemed to have a lot of great ideas but it came across as a little too much, it all seemed...forced. They also have a summer program Elena could attend but she would be on her own there right from the get go…I understand the logic of that but my Momma’s heart hurts at that thought.
Even as I’ve typed out these thoughts on both preschools, it was clear in my mind where I want Elena to begin her school experience…I bet you could tell too? What do you think? Any input or advice is very welcome…maybe I’ve missed something?