Choosing a preschool for your angel is no easy task. There’s a lot to consider: discipline, curriculum, and snack time all weigh heavily in the race. Here are some tips from my personal experience to help you along.
First, it’s important to interview several places and be sure to ask different questions of each one. This way, when you go to compare, the information won’t map and you’ll be forced to go with your gut. Also, you’ll have the opportunity to practice the much needed skill of living with regret, since each one you interview is likely to highlight their best assets, leaving you pining for a while after.
Next, consider the location. If both are walkable, choose the farther one so you can be sure to get some exercise. Also, when you show up a sweaty mess at noon pickup, you can enjoy the fact that the other parents and teachers are admiring your dedication to the motherhood cause.
There are environmental factors to consider as well. If the construction outside your window drives you crazy all day, you can assume that your child has the exact same sensibilities as you and therefore wants to get away from it for the time they can. So, that’s a point for the school farther away. The size of the outside play area is also relevant, especially if your child is just learning to walk and can entertain himself for quite a while with one ball or one slide or a few feet of grass. Judge this harshly and dream of the big tree at the school you did not choose for a while after.
Did you consider communication? Which schools send the most annoying emails, and which discourage talking directly to the teacher? It’s hard to know in advance, so maybe just look at your own communication style and consider how much of a helicopter mom you want to be before continuing. Do you really know more than the teachers who work with school age kids all day? It’s best to know where you stand on this question before continuing.
How about recommendations? Do you know any other families who have gone there? Did their children survive? Did they seem to like it? Do they have similar values of loving their children and seeing them well taken care of, like you do?
Now, take a deep breath. Begin to admit to yourself that this is about you a little bit. Which school offers the feeling of friendliness and openness to you, when you meet with them? Which school has the potential for you to make new mom friends, building some community that will benefit the whole family? Consider events that might take place, style of drop off and pick up, etc.
Eventually, after using black, purple and green pens to create several pro and con charts, you’ll have to pay the deposit to one school or another. Then, be sure to spend at least three full days worrying you’ve made the wrong choice. Think of everything the other one has to offer that you’ve given up. Worry your child won’t grow, won’t adapt, won’t thrive, won’t go to college, will live in your basement forever. Worry that you are a terrible mom who is sending your child off to spend the day wondering where you are.
Then, let all of that go.
Remind yourself that you chose the school that offered to send photos of your child on the first day of school. Drink tea, cry, look at the pictures and if you are lucky enough to be at home like me, listen to the silence in the house around you.