Rewind to early December. One morning, as is customary, Jack Henry’s preschool handed out the class offerings for the following year. I grabbed the paper after dropping him off, and took a look at it in the parking lot before heading off for errands.
And then I had a minor hyperventilation session.
In the 4 offerings for 4-year-olds, there were no morning-only or afternoon-only classes. So I called the school right away, and verified that I was reading it right. Sadly, it was correct.
The new offerings for 2012-13 were:
2 days of 9-2: $222/month
3 days of 9-2: $278/month
4 days of 9-1: $355/month
5 days of 9-3: $525/month
First of all, I realize that what I want for preschool is not what everyone wants…I get that. Because I’m a stay-at-home mom, I don’t want him gone all day…he has the rest of his life to be in school and be gone. I also understand that the preschool (located in a church) likely made the switch because the school district in which it’s located (and therefore, gets most of its students) just switched to full-day kindergarten. I’m sure that the reasoning is that they feel it will better prep kids for full-day kindergarten.
I fully understand the intention. I really do.
I just don’t like it.
I don’t like that kids are pushed so hard at FOUR to make it through a long day. Some will argue that kids who are in daycare are gone all day anyway, and I will press back that that is different. Preschool and daycare are different. Yes, in daycare you do learn skills about getting along with others, etc., but the atmosphere is typically more relaxed and less structured than a preschool day.
Besides, the preschool we use is play-based, which I LOVE. My background is in early childhood, and I am a firm believer in play-based preschool and its benefits. A child’s play is his work.
Play-based preschools do wonders in preparing kids for kindergarten. Some may disagree, but I think if you walked into any kindergarten classroom at the beginning of the school year, you’d be able to tell which kids have been to preschool and which haven’t. Preschool is a wonderful prep tool for school norms readiness…learning to stand in line, wait your turn, raise your hand, speak one-at-a-time, take turns being line leader, and the list goes on. Just so we’re clear where I stand on preschool…it IS important. But it is what its name says: PREschool. Trying to stick to my life theme of major in the majors, minor in the minors, this is a good thing to keep in perspective.
As I’ve mentioned, I have adored our preschool: the director, the teachers, the amazing music program. Luke did a 2-mornings-a-week class there at 3, and then a 3-mornings-a-week class at 4, and Bennett did the same. Both went on to half-day kindergarten and did very well. With Jack Henry, I knew I’d maybe like to make a slight modification if it was offered, and have his second year be 3 mornings a week plus a lunch bunch* one day a week, just so that he could get the feel of staying at school a bit longer once a week as a point of reference when he heads off to full-day kindergarten in 2013-14.
But the offerings, plus the price increase, just weren’t going to work for our family. I *may* have been able, at some point, to get comfortable with 3 days from 9-2 even if I didn’t love it, but not for the price.
So with one year of preschool remaining, I had to find a new school for Jack Henry. Ugh. I really can’t tell you how much I hated to do this…it just stinks to have to leave a place we liked and totally leave our comfort zone. Of course, he doesn’t know it yet; he went and checked out the school with me, and I was very vague about why were there (“hey, I just wanted to see what this school is like!”). It seems very similar in theory to our school, and the director was definitely on the same page as I am regarding what feels appropriate for 4 year olds. I’ll tell Jack Henry about the change this summer, when he’s finished with his current school year.
There is a bright side to this story: I was able to get what I want! His preschool will be 3 mornings a week, and he’ll get to do lunch bunch one day a week. All for quite a bit less than the least-expensive option at our current school. Plus, I have the benefit of knowing a couple of kids and their moms who have used this preschool and really liked it.
Bottom line: I don’t like change. Not many people do that much. By September, I know this will be all be fine, but I’m still sad to have leave such a good thing behind.
*staying at school to eat lunch and play a little more, usually an extra hour or so after the regular day ends