I went to preschool in the basement of a neighbor’s home. Mrs. Morris was her name and she was as sweet as they come. Her voice was soft and gentle and she was the perfect preschool teacher. Growing up in a small(er) town my experience with preschool was really pretty simple. It was usually in someone’s home and was a way for kids to learn to sit in their seats and memorize a few of their letters before entering kindergarten. It was a Mr. Rogers-esque feel “a beautiful day in the neighborhood” with neighbor kids all attending the same school, just down their street.
Fast forward 25 years and we have a completely different scenario on our hands. It seems to me that preschool has become quite a bit more intense and a must in order to get your child on their way to success in this world. I mean, I feel as if these preschool decisions are already determining what college my child will go to. I found myself saying things “I want Annie around kids who have parents that will push them.” And then I realized, we are talking about how to properly hold scissors here. But alas, I am fully invested in this whole preschool business.
Learning about the preschool system in Charlotte has been slightly overwhelming, discouraging and enlightening all at the same time. When I learned we’d have to apply 9 months ahead of schedule I knew I was in a whole different playing field. I decided to keep Annie home till she was three and do a “co-op preschool” between four Moms who I knew and trusted. After that, she’s off to some type of school. It was a decision that shocked a lot of people, as kids seem to start school earlier and earlier these days. But I wanted to have that influence and time with her. It felt right for me. It’s not for everyone, but for me it was the perfect fit. I have a no-judgment policy on this school age business. It should be made on an individual basis. I felt that I only get Annie in my home full-time for three years. I wanted to make the most of it and for me that was right.
In January our official preschool search begun, as Annie turns 3 soon and will start preschool this fall. I have felt overwhelmed and wondered how I’d ever make the right choice about a school. I talked with some of my trusty Smarty Mom’s and received some great advice. They told me I would just “know.” I really didn’t believe them, to be honest. I researched curriculums, Montessori’s and all sorts of things about preschools. Finally, I decided to make my decision on a preschool based on five things. 1. Overall feel 2. Proximity (Jen Plym told me this was a huge one) 3. Curriculum 4. Recommendations 5. Availability.
As I went into my first preschool tour I was worried sick. I felt this was a huge decision and wondered how on earth I would know which one was right. I toured several schools and just as everyone said, I just knew which one was the right fit for us! It just clicked. I applied and felt strongly that I had made the right decision. It was close to my home. The curriculum felt great. And I loved the teachers. To be honest, I fell completely in love with the school.
We aren’t church members at this school and so I knew it was a gamble…but I decided to put all of my eggs in one basket. Afterall, it just felt right….. And then we were waitlisted. And that is where we stand. I have often joked that the preschool decision has been harder than my college decision. And it might be true. I am a worried mess. I should have applied to more than one school. We are crossing our fingers we get bumped into the program and are headed back to the drawing board as we look into more school options.
My advice to you, apply to more than one school! Even if you completely fall in love with one, have a backup! In the end, I feel confident it will all work out. I have been completely impressed by the schools here in Charlotte! What a wonderful community we have. Although it is not in the basement of our neighbor’s home I have quickly learned that even at these bigger preschools the southern roots come through and the same “beautiful day in the neighborhood” feeling applies.
I want to hear your preschool experience Smarty Moms…What is your advice to a new preschool Mama?