Friday, January 25, 2008

Kindergarten readiness... feh

Funny, I had started writing this post earlier today, then came across Rebecca's birthday post, which I neglected to post at the time of her actual birthday. This post is particularly fitting after that one, though!

***Warning*** this is a whiny post.

Last night our school district had a Kindergarten readiness forum. Jim and I were both planning to attend, and had even secured a babysitter. Then on the way home from day care, Carly barfed in the car. We canceled the sitter and Jim stayed home so I set off by myself for the meeting.

Because I didn't get there super early, I had to sit in the last row in the cafeteria where the meeting was being held. It was difficult to hear what was being said at times, because they didn't use a sound system. A couple of people brought their kids, and the kids were noisy. Then a cooler behind us started running a cycle. Someone from the school turned it off, but I still had to really strain to hear some of what was being said. One of my pet peeves was played out too; people in the audience would ask a question and the speaker would not repeat the question. Most of the time I could figure out the question based on the answer, but not always.

The information provided at the meeting itself shocked me a couple of times. There is an elementary school close to us, on the other side of one cross street in the next development over. I looked at the district map in my packet and it showed us in the area of another elementary school. This isn't a huge deal, except we have told Rebecca that she will be at the closer school. I found out at the end of the meeting that the map is not correct and we ARE supposed to go to the closer school. It was still quite a surprise.

Then I learned that while the district has a before and after-school care program, they offer no mid-day care. Couple this with the fact that K is half-day in our district, and it means that I have no place for R to go for half the day. She could go to the daycare she's been attending, but it is located in the suburb next to ours, so we'd have to provide a private bus for her to go back and forth. One of the parents asked about full day K. We were told that they've been studying it and find that most people do want it, regardless of whether there is a stay at home parent or not. No kidding... how much can they really do in 2.5 hours? And for kids like mine, who have been attending a full day preschool, it's a step backward. They told us that when we come for K registration, they will have us complete some form or something that they are using to collect opinions to give to the superintendent and Board of Education members. It sounds like the district is finally open to changing their K, not in time for Rebecca, but *maybe* for Caroline. I may write to the superintendent and board members myself to express my support for full-day K. Maybe it's time I started attending Board of Education meetings too.

Here are our options, as I see them at this time:

1. Attend public school, send her to current daycare for before/after care for the portion of day not covered by school's AC program
Pro - she would be with familiar kids and staff for part of the day
Con - cost of shuttle on top of tuition

2. Attend public school, send her to local day care center/private elementary for AC
Pro - school bus will take her to and from AC, she will meet other "local" kids.
Con - I have heard bad story about where bus drops off; need to check this out with AC school and with district's transportation dept

3. Attend private elementary above for K
Pro - she would be one place all day. Also if we like it could consider switching C to this place so we'd only have one point of pickup and dropoff
Con - would then have to apply to local school for first grade and then go through transition again

4. Attend K at our Catholic church's school
Pro - K is full day there and they have after care
Con - unsure of starting time and therefore before-care situation. Also, not sure I want her to go to Catholic school because of my own struggles with their teachings on social issues and other things.

OH, what to do, what to do... I so do not feel up to this challenge to figure out. Part of me wishes that staying home were an option, so that I could be here for her before and after school. But right now that's not an option, so we're left with the above, unless another option presents itself. We might have had a fifth option, where R could go to her grandma's after school, because Jim's folks were looking at a house near here. But when they got the disclosue information, they learned that is has a ton of problems, including black mold in the attic. Everything is supposedly being addressed but they are going to pass.

Any ideas you have, I am open to! I know we'll get through this but it isn't the part of parenting I dreamed about when I stared at the positive pregnancy test, that is for sure!


sherri said...

L, I so feel your pain. As for insight, I'd go with plan #3. Go with what's easiest for your family's sanity and isn't harming your children. Transitioning to a different school for first grade will not be an unsurmountable obstacle. In fact, I think kids at this age are more able to bounce back from scheduled change (the kind you can talk about for months ahead of time) than older kids who are more set in their ways. If you're having this kind of difficulty cobbling together a school and after school plan I am sure there are other families in your area who are having the same negotiations in their own heads. Perhaps some of them will even choose this route so your dd will make friends she can carry forward with her. But again, I strongly encourage you to go with the option that presents the least headache for all of you in the long run. No matter how good the program, if you're too stressed out to enjoy it, the quality of instruction is a moot point. Good luck and keep us posted on what you decide.

Rachel said...

I'd go with #2 or #3. Definitely check out the bus stop for yourself. I've heard 'Oh, it's so awful' stories many times and they're often based on one vague impression, or one person's preferences rather than objective facts.

sherry said...

Solution #3 sounds like the least stressful of the options for the girls and for you and Jim.
You would have peace of mind knowing that she's safe all day at the place you dropped her off at, and she won't be getting on and off busses in the middle of the day in crummy weather!

Natalie said...

#3, or possibly #2, seems best to me. I agree with Rachel, although I find the idea of keeping her in one place most appealing.

It's not easy, is it? All this school wrangling. Oy!

Lisa said...

I faced this exact dilemma last year. And, fwiw, I am so very glad we went with your option #3.

It is really my own peace of mind to know that she is safe in one place all day, while also not having as many daycare hours because she is in full-day K. I wouldn't change our decision for anything.