Monday, January 17, 2011

The Prelude to Preschool: Pleading for Help

"Well I've missed my bus, I know I'm late, I've gotta do something I know I hate" ~ Frankie Smith

Here is where I make some use of this public blog to unabashedly beg for some mama advice. I have been researching preschools for Q for the past several months on and off (well, mostly off -- which will become more obvious as the post goes on). I'm confused. Overwhelmed. Late to the party. A failure of a mom. Shouldn't we be on several waiting lists by now?

Well, we're on one. We have visited a grand total of one school so far. And it wasn't even a real preschool -- it's more of a "playschool" run out of this lovely woman's home. It's for younger kids, as in Q could start right now if there was an opening. But there's not likely to be one anytime soon. And I know we need to do more. I do plan to attend a preschool fair next weekend and possibly visit another school on Tuesday. But ugh, I feel so lost. So many questions.

Most preschools only accept children who will be 3 by the December of the year they enroll (at least 2.9 years old). Q turns 3 in January. Does that mean he has to wait another year?  We're also considering toddler programs that meet two or three times a week for a couple of hours at a time. Worth it?

How am I supposed to know what would be best for our family? I'm pretty sure that I don't want to do Montessori because I like the play-based approach better, but is that really what's best for Q? Do we need to just try a school out and see if it works for him? I like the idea of a co-op, but I don't know if that's best for my work schedule. Right now I have a pretty flexible work environment, but that may not always be the case.

I'm also scared that Q might be that kid at preschool. He's still pretty aggressive with other kids. Mostly hair-pulling and grabbing. I can tell he wants to play with other kids but doesn't know how. We're trying to teach him, but it's hard when there aren't many opportunities to be around other kids. Partially because I'm afraid of litigious parents and  also because we just don't have many friends with little ones. But some sort of preschool will teach him these very social skills, right? Or should he have passed this aggressive phase before he starts a program? Maybe he's just not ready yet. Should I try some other types of weekly classes and activities with other kids first?

This preschool madness is one of the toughest parts about being the first of your friends in the area to have kids. It's also totally my bad for not making more attempts to meet other parents in our 'hood. Whereas some new moms might have the problem of getting overwhelmed by preschool suggestions from other parents, I am quite underwhelmed. I feel so alone in this.

If any of you readers out there have any insight or stories to share, I would be forever at your mercy. Totally owe you big time. Help me. Pretty please.


  1. I have 3 girls ages 7, 8 & 11. With my oldest we did a 3 day a week program at age 3 run by a daycare. I thought it was fine. After having 2 more kids I realized it was NOT up to par. We live in a GREAT school district that has a 3 year old preK program as well as 4 year old. It is AMAZING. 3 days a week for half a day. 3 year old is more of a play approach but it gets them ready for 4 year old prek which REAL school here. Plus my girls have gone to school with their BFF's since they were 3 & there's a real bond there. I know a lot of people instantly look at the private school options or alternative plans. I did that with our oldest & I realized that we spent a ton of money & got far less. I would suggest making a call to your local school district & seeing what exists for Q there & then talking to parents whose kids have been enrolled. You might be amazed. If not, then you start weeding thru other possibilities. I know they are little but OMG seriously, by the end of kindergarten they take practice tests! The first week of first grade means 15 vocab words & a spelling TEST! Book reports & presentations in early second grade! Not to scare you, but the sooner you lay solid groundwork the better it'll be for him. i'd check with your local district or whatever elementary school you would want him in because they lay the groundwork earlier. They know what the teacher two rooms down will give him in a year or so!

  2. Brea -- thank you so much for your input! I'm definitely looking into anything associated with our neighborhood elementary school (which is supposedly fantastic), but I'm overwhelmed by all of the other options here in Oakland. We did a visit this morning, so that was good. Getting the ball rolling!

  3. Good luck Michie!

  4. Let me know if you need help with research or want company for a school visit on a day Toby is working! Really, anything i can do to help....
    Autumn Skye

  5. Michie ... this sounds like one of the bizillion things we mamas stress over when we don't need to. Life (and our little ones) changes so fast. And nothing is permanent. I say just try one out, and if it doesn't work ... move on! It's only 2 years, and then he's a big Kindergartner! What about joining a mom's group in Oakland? I know I'm constantly getting bombarded with preschool info from my mom's group ...


  6. Sorry, I don't have any advice or wisdom on this. I just am confident that you will find a wonderful school for Q in due time. Hugs. I'm wishing you the best.

  7. It really is hard to find that school that you feel will fit you and your child.

    I think the idea of starting off with a "playschool" type of setting is wonderful because this is where he will get experience interacting with other children.

    I remember doing this with my son and it was a playschool in which the parents stayed. I liked it because he got to play and also was introduced to preschool routines such as circle time, etc.

    I like being there to help him whenever he had difficulty interacting with other children. I think it's a great place to start.

    Good Luck to you!