I remember the episode of Full House when "Jesse" and "Rebecca" applied for a prestigious preschool for their twin sons, who were only about two at the time. There were long applications to be filled out and an interview process and whole thing was just... over the top, to say the least. I remember watching it the first time, not even being a parent yet, and rolling my eyes. How ridiculous, I thought.
My time has come.
Living in the suburbs in Wisconsin, there are not many- if any that I know of- prestigious preschools to be found. Still, there are choices to be made about my daughters' school career. And even though Hope is only three, and won't attend an official preschool until the fall of 2010, the time has already come to start weighing our options. So although shopping for a preschool and multipage applications for toddlers still seem ridiculous to me, it seems it's one of the many necessary evils of parenting I have discovered along this journey of motherhood.
We visited our local public school, which offers free, public pre-K for four year olds (two and a half hours, five days a week), a private Christian school, and a charter Montessori school in a neighboring city.
No school is yet a clear winner. Each one has it's positive aspects, and one or two negatives. The Montessori school was completely different and unconventional, but I immensely enjoyed the teacher we talked with; so I need to discover more about the Montessori system overall. The public school has excellent facilities and opportunities, but my concern is that Hope will receive enough individual attention and be challeneged enough with the larger class sizes and "one-size-fits-all" approach to curriculum in public schools. And I have a great appreciation for Christian schools, and believe they can be right for some families, but aren't sure that it's right for ours.
And even in the midst of all this decision making, I sit back and look at the big picture and think, picking a preschool should not be this hard! It's almost silly. Not many of our parents worried about where to send their children to school. There were only one, maybe two, options and everyone just kind of marched to the same drum. I can't even imagine having this conversation of picking a preschool for my daughter with my grandparents! Oh how they would scoff at the idea of something so "trivial" being made so complicated.
In the end, we will pick the school and system that seems best for us and our family. And we won't scorn another family for making a different decision. Different schools, different systems and styles work for different families and children, and that's okay. Rick Warren said, "Tolerance means I treat you with respect even when we totally disagree on a particular issue. You're a child of God. You're worthy of dignity. We may disagree, but we're going to tolerate each other, and even more than that, we can be friends."
And I will be encouraged by what I've read from other mommy bloggers. This is not a life or death decision! If we pick a school and don't like it, we always have the option of trying something else.
Thank God. Because I don't want to get too obsessed, like Jesse and Rebecca...