school is starting sooner than I thought…

We visited a private Montessori and I really liked the curriculum and materials. I got a strange vibe from the woman running the place (who is also the lead teacher), though, like she seemed kind of intimidated by the energy level of my daughter, like she couldn’t quite handle her. The classrooms were amazing, but if I don’t have faith in the teacher, forget it. Also, the kids were a bit regimented, like little soldiers. I wondered if M would really fit into a place where she is held so strictly to a routine that emphasizes taking out a mat, picking an activity, sitting there and doing the activity like you’re supposed to do it, returning it the way it was found, and putting the mat away before going on to another activity. I mean, yes I do think M should be able to do this by age 4 to 5, but what about adjusting at first? If the teacher is overwhelmed by a normal two-year-old, can she handle very active, busy three-year-olds? I don’t want my child labeled a “problem child” or “hyper”.

We then re-visited the new Montessori that is opening in September through the local public school system (partnered with a preschool in the same building run by the Franciscan Sisters). Their materials are not all in yet, and they also haven’t hired the lead teachers yet (they assure me they are doing that this week, and currently unpacking their materials). They’ve had a ton of PR about their new program, as it is going to be part of the public school system up to 2nd grade/age 8, the only of its kind in our county. They sure are cutting it close to the wire with getting it set up, though! The building is newly renovated and very nice, though, and the Montessori furniture is all in.

More importantly than the fact that it continues up through 2nd grade in the same building, and that it will be free starting at age 5 (kindergarten), is that I really liked the teachers I met, and the administrators. They had a building open house in July and then a virtual classroom in the mall that we went to the other day. They remembered us the second time, and both times they loved interacting with M, and told me she was very smart and very ready for Montessori (unlike the nervous, anxious teacher we met at the private school). They really seemed to like M, and encouraged her to make a mess while she explored the materials they set up. Rather than getting uptight about the fact that she was ruining the “set up”, they just wanted her to enjoy learning with the activities.

We also met the Spanish instructor, who will be doing the Spanish for both the preschool and K-2nd graders. She is legit, from Spain, and takes a great interest in M, speaking with her in Spanish. Again, it seems like she really likes my kid already and believes in her potential. (The uptight teacher at the other school is married to a Venezuelan and has a degree in Spanish, but I prefer the woman who is actually from Spain, speaks with a Spanish accent, and dove right into speaking Spanish whenever she interacts with M.)

So despite the amazing materials and classroom stations at the private school, I started leaning towards the public, newer program. Even though their teachers aren’t all hired, and their classrooms aren’t yet set up, they seem to truly like my child and interact with her comfortably and enthusiastically. When we saw them last, they not only immediately brought M animal crackers and bubbles (win!), they gave me some great news… they want M in their class badly enough to allow her to enter at 2 1/2 years old, provided that she is 90% potty-trained (which she is). Meaning she could start on the first day of this new school, September 8th. They seem to really want her there, and it doesn’t seem at all like it’s just for the money (preschool age still costs money, since they don’t receive public funding until age 5).

I am 95% sure that I am going to be giving a two week notice to M’s current school, although the thought of doing it makes me super anxious. I already signed a contract until she’s 3 with them, and now I have to break it. What are they going to do, though, yell at me? I don’t know, I guess I just don’t want them to think we haven’t liked it there… we totally have, we’re just ready to move on. I want M to be challenged (albeit in a loving and appropriate way). She’s now counting to ten in English and Spanish, recognizing and writing lots of letters, and able to order things smallest to biggest, by color, etc.

And also? Five days a week, 8-3:30!!! Mommy is going to have a life again!!!

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Categories: parenting

5 Comments »

  1. That school still sounds great. Do it!

    Is the contact with the current daycare at will? I don’t see why a daycare would recquire a contract though and anything can generally be gotten out of. Maybe it was more of a pay scale contract like they charge you X amount until she is 3.

    • You can get out of the contract at anytime, I think it more or less just holds your place. I have to give two weeks notice for staffing purposes, if I don’t I will be charged those two weeks.

      I’m really hoping for encouragement with this transition. Leaving a school you already know and are comfortable with is really hard.

      • Two weeks notice is nice.

        I think knowing the people who will be with her are excited to have her will help with the transition. I always hate leaving families I’ve been with for a while because the transition cab be hard for everyone. It takes time to build trust again.

  2. We are on the EXACT same position. I love Zuzu’s current school (especially her particular teacher), but we feel that it’s time for her to move forward and we are starting her in a Montessori program next week. I still have mixed feelings about it–I worry about the transition and I will miss the teachers she has now. But I try to keep in mind that the teachers don’t take it personally. I wish you the best of luck! I think the Montessori philosophy sounds great and I hope both our girls thrive in their new schools.

    • I was going to write you and ask you about your decision! Like, your personal reasons not only for choosing Montessori but also the particular school, did you visit a class, what were you looking for in a teacher, etc.? My concern with the first school I saw was that it seemed too rigid, the children had to sit still for group times and sit at their station (my daughter is not a sitter). But I haven’t been able to meet the teacher or see a set up classroom in the school I’m leaning toward, either.

      What were some of the questions you asked the teacher or school you have chosen for Zuzu? I mostly want to make sure that along with stations and individual work, the child has time for group play, and outdoor play.

      I worry that the play based school she’s in now is not challenging h momer at all, and too limited in projects ( teacher chooses a specific and set project and all the children copy) and basically does not have a strong curriculum or teachers with much education. M has to move up to the three year old class soon anyway, and I don’t think she has especially bonded with her teacher, although she likes them well enough. The current classroom is pretty much just full of toys, and although the pretend play toys have benefit, it’s mostly just entertainment.

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