This coming school year, we are one of many that need to answer the question: do we move our child from a private preschool into public school Kindergarten?
My husband and I have been going back and forth on this for months because we have two very good viable options.
The public kinder that is offered for Jamie is in the same school that Sam goes to, and it is very close to the house. The school has just been recently recognized as a Gold Ribbon School, (which is something you’d want your school to be). On top of that, it is convenient, and free! Who doesn’t love free quality education?
At the moment we pay to send Jamie to her private Montessori which is in our old neighborhood. So every morning, I scramble to drive her quite the distance so that she is on time, after I get Sam to her school.
Clearly there are so many reasons why — in my husband’s perspective — Jamie can go to this school next year. And I’ve spoken to many parents who have made that choice as well. Some kids love the idea of going to the same school as their older sibling.
And so after much consideration and thought, would you be surprised if I told you I opted for the paid, further choice?
Yes, I consciously chose to “give myself” a harder time (so my husband says) with two drop offs every morning and pay out the arm and a leg, to keep Jamie in a Montessori kinder. I lost sleep over this decision, and talked to many parents and preschool teachers, and volunteered and observed both camps more than once. And here’s what swayed my decision:
Jamie’s personality. Whether in a Montessori school or not, I believe in following your child. Jamie is a Dove, and a youngest child. Moving her to this kinder would have put her right in the middle again of all these new peers. I felt she needed a gentler introduction, and a little bit more build to her confidence. As per Maria Montessori’s philosophy, a child in a primary classroom will remain there for 3 years and progress from one of the younger students in class to one of the older ones. As the youngest in this family and truly everyone’s baby, I felt Jamie would only get that if she finished her third year (her Kinder Year) in her current classroom. In fact her teacher has been working with us to give her more “leadership roles”. She enjoys being the “role model”, and the good example for other children. You can the pride in her eyes when she tells me about how she “taught” another friend her long chains, or worked on the world map with another friend. If only for this reason, I would definitely pay out that arm and leg a second time around!
Are we “coddling” her a little too much? Maybe. Maybe not. It’s Jamie. She needs a little bit more reassurance before the big transition. And some of her classmates to be in the public Kinder are only entering school for the first time. Jamie has been in school for four years, so she has a pretty good idea of what to do. Hopefully another year of familiarity will help her adjust better when she does eventually move into the public school system in the 1st grade.
Jamie’s Teacher. I have always said: It’s the teacher that makes a world of difference. And a lot of Jamie’s success and positive change in the last two years has been because of her teacher. Jamie’s teacher really works with her, and with me, to make sure Jamie is getting the most out of her days there.
The school hours and curriculum. Jamie is used to an 830-3pm school day. Kinder in the public system is only three hours. I’ve had parents who have come from a Montessori preschool, and put their children in the public Kinder. They have felt that they need to supplement the remaining hours in the day with an after school care facility. When it comes down to it, the cost of this is almost the same if they were to have stayed in Montessori. At the very least, when Jamie moves to 1st grade, her day will be 8:15 – 2:15, very similar to what she is used to.
And as I had heard, some children have public kinder as their first time in school. Their adjustment is very different from those who have been in school for longer. So on top of the social aspect that school brings, the children are learning their numbers, letters and phrases. Jamie, because she was allowed to go at her own pace in school (and because she has been in school for much longer), has done all that. I don’t want her to get bored and then dislike school, because she is clearly having fun now, with just the right amount of a challenge.
Jamie’s adjustment when she finally moves into a public system in the 1st grade is the Common Core methods. She has this one year to prepare for it, and then I feel that will be the challenge we will take later on. But first, and more importantly, is her self-confidence and maturity.
As a parents, we all make sacrifices to give our children the best that we possibly can. I told myself that if it having them in the same school was only for my convenience, then the choice wasn’t a choice at all. Ultimately it is what’s best for our kids. Fortunately, we can afford to go without another vacation this year, or do some shopping here and there. If it means it will be more beneficial for Jamie in the long run, then as I told my husband, I would make this decision over again in a heart beat. 🙂