My son is not even two years old yet, and I'm fretting about school.
Perhaps it's indicative of my Type A personality, or perhaps it's just that we live where we live. (At the playground last summer, when Nate wasn't even one, I had other mothers asking me whether I was sending him to preschool that fall.) Regardless, it's taking up a fair bit of my mental energy right now, because I'm worried about, you know, getting it right. In preschool.
The first question, of course, is whether to send him at all next fall. Three is a pretty common age at which to start preschool, and Nate will, indeed, be three next fall. But the state age cutoff for starting kindergarten is five by September 30th, and so many of the preschools have a three-by-the-30th policy, and Nate's birthday is October 6th. Less than a week later. And so we're faced with the question of whether we'd rather he be pretty much the youngest kid in his class, or the oldest.
I'd initially hoped we could just postpone thinking about this issue until closer to age 5, when he has some preschool under his belt and we can see where he is intellectually, emotionally, and socially. I'd sort of figured that we could, if necessary or advisable, give him three years of preschool.
The more I think about it, though, the more it seems like we have to give this some serious thought right now. First, if we send him to a traditional preschool program, what is he going to think when all his classmates are going to kindergarten the following fall, and he's going to stay out for another year of preschool? Second, we're considering sending him to Montessori school, where the kids spend three years in the same Primary classroom, with the third year being the kindergarten year. If we go the Montessori route and start him next fall, we're pretty much making the decision now that he'll be the youngest kid in his class.
There is sort of another option, I guess, which is to put him in a twos or 2.5s program, although those programs are very popular around here and hard to get into.
If we do decide to send him next fall, assuming he can do a threes program, the next question is whether to send him to a play-based or a Montessori school. The Montessori schools, in addition to being crazy expensive, all seem to meet five days a week. Five days a week just seems like a lot to me, and there's not an option to attend for fewer days. At the same time, I love the Montessori philosophy and think he could really thrive in that environment (and, actually, that almost any child would thrive in that environment). We can figure out the money; if we decide it's the right fit for him, we'll just make it a priority. I just don't know whether either of us will be ready to be apart for hours every day.
(That's the other thing that's so frustrating. I'm thinking about these things an entire year ahead of time. But the preschool fair is next month, and applications are due in January and February, and the Montessori schools take applications on a rolling basis--i.e., now. And at $100 a pop just to apply, I feel like I don't want to send a bunch of applications willy-nilly in case we decide to go that route.)
The third issue is whether we want to send him to our parish preschool. The parish just opened a preschool this fall, and I'd initially assumed we would just send him there. There's a Montessori-based religious education program involved (Catechesis of the Good Shepherd), but the bulk of the program is not Montessori. I feel like, unless we decide to send him to a true Montessori school, we should support the parish school, and I've always loved the idea of having more areas of our life be tied into our faith community. They are using the September 30th birthday cutoff, but I'm pretty sure that if their threes program isn't full next fall, they'd be glad to take Nate.
Of course, the biggest problem with all of this is that it forces me to consider the fact that my precious tiny baby is continuing to get bigger and bigger and all too soon will be in school, all day, away from me, and will one day leave me altogether. This, my friends, is wholly unacceptable. And unavoidable. With my boy at age not-even-quite-two, I'm not ready to think about it yet.
Maybe I can just scrap the whole "going to school" idea and homeschool him until college.