Friday, March 28, 2008

Guests, preschool hunting, sleeping...

Those are some of the reasons why I have not been posting for a while. I have had a bunch of guests - some family, some friends. My sister visited one weekend, my SIL and nephew another. It was a lot of fun but it also meant less time for blogging when they were here. And somehow I have been lazy to write anything. Also some days I feel very sleepy a little earlier than my usual sleep time past midnight...I enjoy reading what others write - and if I do that and also post comments - that's it - I don't have time to write a post. Since I am half asleep by that time.

A lot of posts came to mind - but I just did not get down to writing it. I figured some of those little things you want to write about - you either write it that day or it loses it's punch. Even for yourself. But the preschool search is very much on my mind and I talk about it almost every day to my sister or a friend. A lot of us are going through it now - so will post about it here.

KB will turn three in August'08. Initially I wanted him to start school in March or April of this year. But the one school - let's call it Montessori A - I had toured last year - which is quite popular in this city - had a ridiculously long wait list. They told me he would get an afternoon slot this year. Which meant I would have to drop him at 12.30 and pick him up at 3.30pm. This would mean that he would have to give up his afternoon nap. I did not want that for sure. So that school was out.

I had been so set on this A school when we moved to this city because at least amongst the few Indians who I knew in this city, this school was considered really good. So I was a bit lost when I figured this school was not an option in my mind since they could only give an afternoon slot. Another friend sends her daughter to Montessori B. I had toured that school last year with KB when they had an open house. As soon as KB entered the classroom, he started playing with the marbles and started sorting them into the different colors and put them into the respective bins for each color. He seemed quite at home and enjoyed playing at the different stations they had there. So I assumed he would feel at home there and we went to tour the school this year. We were just shown around the class room this time - we could not go in and see what the kids were doing. It was group walking in the corridor peering into the class room while the director kept talking about the school. I did not get too much out of the tour really. But since my friend's daughter goes there, she could tell me a lot of details about the school. Half an hour of play time first, then back to the class room. Once they are in class, they had part teacher directed activity and part free play - what ever the child wishes to do from all the play stations laid out in the class room. They had snack time for 15 min and after some more class room activity (all totaling about 2 hours), they were allowed to play in the play ground for another half an hour. So about one hour of play ground time and an hour and forty five minutes of class room time.

The plus points of Mont B:

a) KB seems like a Montessori kind of kid in my mind. He likes to tinker around with puzzles or sit quietly transferring water from one container to several smaller ones and have his own elaborate ritual and plan while doing so.

b) Well to put it bluntly - it is a "Indian-approved" kind of school. A lot of Indian parents around here seem to favor Montessori - which I didn't know about. Nearly every Indian parent I know here favors the Montessori system. When I put this in the "plus" list, I only mean that there is not much resistance to your choice - a lot of people think it is a great choice so you may feel like it is indeed a great choice.

c) My friend's daughter who is mild mannered (like KB) goes there. And my friend has no complaints about that school - she really felt her daughter was learning a lot especially after she turned four. According to my friend, she did not learn much at age three but she sees a lot of difference at age four.

d) May be a mixed age group (Age 3 - 5 are in the same class room) will be something KB will enjoy since he likes playing with kids older than him.

Minus points of Montessori B:

a)It costs nearly $300 more than a developmental school in the neighborhood (also considered to be a very good school, except it is not a Montessori)

b) It is not on the way for B to drop KB off in the morning. He has to go the opposite route, drop KB and trek back to the other end to get to work. And it takes about 15 min to reach the school by car.

c) Personally I am not at all sure if KB should go to Montessori at age three at least - spending all that extra money. Also, irrespective of the money spent, I felt KB will quite happily sit in one corner doing some little activity obsessively for a long time and may not even really interact too much with the other kids. My primary goal for sending him to preschool at age 3 is so he will interact more with other kids and engage in a lot of physical play.

After much discussion B and I decided to register KB at this school anyway. Seemed like a safe choice. I paid a fee of $150 for registration and walked out. As I walked out, I met another Indian woman who sends her daughter to that school. She was looking to send her second child (a few months older than KB) to this school. We started talking and she commented, "you know I feel they don't teach much at this school. Kids don't learn too much here. I am looking for some school that is more academic than this school". Now this came as a surprise to me. I thought this school was reputed for being "academic" oriented. But not too much either. I guess each person wants a different thing out of their chosen school. I felt a bit knotted up wondering why I don't feel so strongly that it be "more" academic. I liked the Montessori philosophy and I got the impression that this school had a good balance of "academics" and play. But here she was telling me that the school doesn't teach much etc. Nevertheless, I just decided that I did not care about that/her opinion and that KB would still go to Montessori B.

I will continue this post later. Sleepy for one. The post is lengthy as it is. And I have to write about two more schools. Will do so hopefully this week.


Cantaloupes.Amma (CA) said...

Every parent has his / her own priorities and each child is different. As long as you and B are convinced about the choice you have made for KB, I think you will like it.
So take it easy ...
BP and I have been discussing the option of switching Cantaloupe to public school (she will be ready next year.

Aryan said...

Ahh..was just thinking what happened. Anyway good that you put KB in the montessari B. Let him go and then see whether they emphasis on academics or not..let us not listen to others now..

the mad momma said...

oh dear. all the best. you know how long i thought about this.. :(

Rohini said...

Know just what you mean. My small posts never get written either :(

DotMom said...

know what you mean about the posts that have to be written that day or loose their punch. School hunting can be ardous. Chip got into a really good montessori school, but I gave it up in favor of another good but regular school. my problem was with the number of holidays the school had. (they followed the public school calender). It would mean I would have to look for additional childcare despite paying about $1600/month for the school itself. Apart from the money, 2-yr old Chip would have to adjust to multiple caregivers. And add to my logistical frustrations. So to the regular school he was off too. I like certain aspects of montesorri education and I try and use them when Chip is at home. And seriously, at this age, the kdis need to be loved and need lots of time to play and sing songs. But that's just me.

Kodi's Mom said...

noon, just posted abt this on friday. (an old post that had been sitting in drafts for far too long!) and you'll see that one of my reasons for rejecting montessori as the very first daycare exposure was the same as your point c. Kodi was also the same way, left to himself, he'd rather play in his own corner and not interact. and I was concerned a montessori at that point would only worsen this situation.

however, I must say that it might not be a valid concern if you're looking for change over a longer term - say 2, 3 years rather than a quick change. with time, I think, kids of all nature, exposed to any kind of school environment, open up, at least to some extent. second, is even montessoris have some amt of group interaction, circle time or something - so he wont be working alone all the don't be concerned abt that.

Kodi's Mom said...

sorry to continue hogging your space, one more thing. i had a similar experience with a desi mom friend who said the same of another montessori too - "that they don't learn anything" and this was a montessori that I had valued for its academic emphasis. maybe the approach that it is child-led is what gives the impression that they may not learn much. I personally feel, at this age, this much academics is way more than enough and as DotMom said, as long as you think he will have fun, thats all that matters.