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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Picking out a Preschool

The time has come (already!) to start thinking about pre-school for Kye. I know. I can't believe it either! I know many of you out there probably do not agree with mine and Zach's decision to enroll him this fall (when he is 2 1/2). We discussed it over and over and both feel like it's the best thing for Kye. If he was our fourth kid I might feel differently but as the first born he's not as well socialized as we would like him to be (not that he doesn't do well in social settings, just that it's hard to teach those skills when it's just him and I all day). I'm also not so great at teaching all the little lessons and things that I think he'd benefit from in pre-school. Robyn's mother-in-law, who keeps Lorelai, is awesome at working with Lorelai and teaching her all kinds of vocab words, skills, and other school type lessons. I just don't have that gift.

When we make parenting decisions we try to think about the big picture. The plan has always been to have kid #1 in preschool by the time kid #2 comes along. We both feel it's important for Kid #2 to have as much quality bonding time as Kid #1 got to have (meaning Kye). I like the idea of Kye being at school so I can treat the baby like the "only child" for those couple of hours a day. I think firstborns have so many advantages and I want to try my best to give as many of those same advantages to each child. I also like the idea of Kye having his own special thing to do so there isn't so much jealousy in the home. AND it'll make it much easier to be hardcore Babywise mom for that new baby. We're not even trying to get pregnant, but it's important to think ahead and we decided to enroll Kye in the 2 1/2 class this fall for him. The last thing we want to happen is to bring home a new baby and then "dump" Kye in preschool. We want him to already be in school, be adjusted, and love it before another baby is even thought about. I think it'll help the sibling adjustment so, so much.

Since I first got to know Autumn (who took our delivery pictures!) I have always thought she's a great mom. Her daughter is so well-mannered, well-behaved, and just sweet. I admire that and I've always assumed that Kye will go to Carpenter's Kids Preschool simply based on the fact that it's where Autumn teaches. If I admire her parenting then she must also be a wonderful teacher and that school must also employ other wonderful parents/teachers! I put it out there on Facebook to get some response about it and heard wonderful things...but also found out that there's another preschool in town that takes 2 1/2 year olds (I thought CKP was the only one!). I don't like decision making but we had a tough one to pick for sure!

We went a toured Carpenter's Kids first as it's the more expensive one. If we went to the cheaper choice first I thought we'd be more tempted to pick it just based on cost and I didn't want that to be the deciding factor. I'm so blessed that Zach is as concerned with the preschool decision as I am and that he's so supportive in Kye even attending preschool (Zach works hard for me to stay home and he's pretty tight with his money so his willingness to shell out dough for this is impressive). I didn't do any pre-school research before going in, I didn't have a typed list of questions, or a sheet of things to look for. We just kinda went with our guts. We asked things that are important to us and were both very impressed with what we saw.

My favorite things about the preschool were: it's SUPER safe (doors locked all day etc), very structured scheduling (duh, I love that junk), it can be a 3 day a week program all the way through if we choose that route, the focus is always on the Lord (they do the ABECA program) and it was so clean and organized. We also witnessed a child being disciplined and were very impressed at how the teacher handled it. After leaving Zach was ready to sign on the dotted line and call it a day! I, too, felt sure that it was the right fit for us but felt like we should at least tour the other option (Park Avenue Methodist) to be sure.

Kye with Daddy outside CKP!
We put Kye on the CKP waiting list and I took Kye one morning to tour Park Av. I told Zach not to worry about going because if we waited around for time in his busy schedule it may never happen. I was nervous because I do feel like this is a very big decision. We are giving up control over a big chunk of Kye's life and it's important that the place and people we give that control too are ones that we trust and know support our values and beliefs. It was not an easy choice. Park Avenue was GREAT! The director was super sweet, their price is way cheaper, several people from our church have their children attend there and LOVE it, I loved that they pull them out of class for activities like PE and music, and they had a super cool playground. Kye even loved it there! We toured a class and he wanted to stay so he actually played while I talked with the director!

However, when I left my visit I knew that it wasn't the best fit for us right now. I'm so glad I went and met with them there and I think it's a wonderful place for a child to go and getting to visit two places made me more confident in my choice. Bottom line? I am a "hardcore" Mom. When I went back to Carpenter's Kids to enroll Kye I even told Ms. Sharon (the director there) that the reason they won out in my mind was simply they are more "hardcore." Kye is used to a very structured lifestyle and I like that they have a schedule posted in each room and it's structured yet flexible. I got a copy of it to start adjusting him at home and I think it's wonderful that it's broken down into 15 min increments since that's about how long a kids attention span is anyway!

We are doing the 3 day program and it's only from 8:30-12 so he'll still get to be at home with me for lunch, nap, afternoons, and all day on Tuesdays and Thursdays. When we travel she said we can work it out for him to come for full weeks when needed and just pay the difference. I was tempted to do the 5 day as I liked the idea of it being an everyday routine but I feel like just getting him in the afternoons isn't very long and I want to be able to implement sibling time when a sibling is in the picture. I want to still get to do crafts and fun things at home with him as well and be able to take him to play dates and such with some of our friends. I plan to start adjusting him to their schedule and to keep him on their routine for the days he is at home so he won't miss a beat in class.

We debated also about which class to put him in as the cut-off for the 2 1/2 class is that they must turn 2 1/2 on Sept 1st...he turns 2 1/2 on Sept 4th. I know, especially with a boy, that holding him "back" may be the smart choice. However, when we get together with other children Kye is always drawn towards the older ones. He enjoys being around older kids and I guess he'd rather "follow" them than "lead" the younger ones at this point. Kye is also potty trained where the 2 year old class a majority will be in diapers. Also for so many children preschool is the first time they have to deal with structure and it's an adjustment for them. Since Kye has always lived a rather structured life I feel like he'll do fine in the 2 1/2 class and since they teach many of the basic social skills anyway, I don't think it's a big enough deal to hold him back. We can always re-evaluate when he moves up to the 3 year old class if we feel he needs to repeat the 2 1/2 year old one.

It is SUCH a big step to have my baby enrolled in school! I wonder if I'll cry that first day? Right now I'm looking forward to it in many ways. I honestly think that Kye will LOVE it and that he'll probably be begging to go to school on Tuesdays and Thursdays too. He LOVES Bible Class and each time we go anywhere in the car he always asks "class? class?" so I think school will be an easy transition for him. And I think we picked the perfect school for our family!

It's funny because the day I went to officially enroll him guess who I ran into??? Courtney! I never even told the family that we were considering preschool yet and she was there touring it for Colt! Of course they won't be in the same class since Colt's almost a year older (and she's not planning on putting Payton in for awhile) but it's funny that we were both there at the same time and both loved it so much.

I'm interested to hear all your thoughts on the preschool thing at this age...do you think he's too young??? What are your preschool plans???

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