Wednesday, May 20, 2009

I just...

I often have said that you have to make decisions based on the information you have today, because it's too hard to predict the future.

But it's really more complicated than that, isn't it?

G*d-d@mn school angst. Beezus turns 5 on Sept. 13 and the County school cut off is Sept. 1. This would mean that Beezus will not start public school kindergarten until she is practically 6 years old, making her among one of the oldest in the class. She used to be very, very shy and sensitive, so I thought this was a good thing. But now she is less so, although she is still quiet. She is so quiet that I'm worried that in a class of 22 or so kids, where she is the oldest and assumedly one of the more socially mature, she will just get lost. And that breaks my heart.

I DISTINCTLY remember telling my kindergarten teacher that I didn't know how to work the scissors, or to write a "W" so that she would come up behind me and lean her arms around me to help. People, this was 30 years ago, and I still remember wanting the teacher's attention. I can picture my kindergarten classroom like I was there yesterday. I can still see my grandmother's face peeking through the window of the door one day when they were visiting and she came to pick me up.

Kindergarten and kindergarten teachers MATTER !!!

I've always been a supporter of public schools. I used to scoff when people ask me if the girls will go the public elementary school that is 2 BLOCKS from our house. "Of course they will" I used to confidently reply. And then I started to say, more calmly, "We'll definitely start there and see how it works out." And now, I just bust into tears. (not really, but you know what I mean)

I've also been going through a sort of spiritual re-awakening recently (if you're into that, ask me about it. It's been pretty cool.) and that makes me want to have Beezus and Ramona have some more regular exposure to spiritual stuff from people other than me.

But, I'm also becoming much more of an educational progressive sort of person. And the whole sit behind a desk, read and answer the questions, get a gold star on your homework approach is not what I'm looking for anymore.

So, what does that leave me with? It leaves me with a christian based Montessori school a few miles down the road. That goes up to the 6th grade!!! And it's now or never people, because they very rarely accept new kids after the age of 4.5 years.

I've always defended public schools by using my own example. Mr. Quimby and I went to perfectly fine public schools. Mr. Q. never got much attention - I got a lot of attention in high school. Some good, some bad. Teachers liked me and I knew I was smart. And I've had a fine life and I am happy. And really, that's all I want for my girls is to be happy, and you don't need a big fancy ivy league education or a high paying job to be happy.

But. But, I just... I just... wonder if there could be "more" for my girls. Yes, they could have perfectly fine lives and be happy with a good public school education. But what if they had a small science class with a really cool teacher when they are about 8 or 9 years old and it piques their curiousity enough to spark some interest. What if ?

But couldn't that happen in a public school too? Around here, it might just be less likely, but it's certainly possible.

But what do I do NOW?!?!?! My plan A all along was see if Beezus was mature enough to start public school kindergarten early. Plan B was to have her do a year of kindergarten at her current pre-school (when she is 5) and then repeat kindergarten following the age guidelines when she is 6. If I ever felt that it wasn't working out, then we would switch her to a private school. But now that I've actually looked into it, frankly, the other private schools in the area just aren't an option. They are either too traditional, too far away, or they have immoral people teaching there.

Let me just add that I don't have these same concerns for Ramona. Yet. At only 22 months, it's still too early to tell what her personality will be like.

I just... don't know.


Rachel et Natalie said...

oh Ellen
you are not alone. Every time a friend brings up the subject od starting school at 3-4 years old, I feel a knot in my stomach and start thinking that yes she should start school yet...
bottom line I don't know either..

Mike said...

Hey Ellen! It's me, Mike A. Whew. I definitely feel your concern. Even though Ellington is just turning three next month, we're already talking and thinking about schools. I would only make 1 (or 2) comments about your concern. When you said something like...Can Esther learn "more" from another school or another experience...

The answer is yes! But "more" is relative.

It's like a wedding dress. My wife (you know her Ellen), when looking for a wedding dress wanted "the perfect one." She searched and searched for a while. I told her then...hey hon...look...the dress is going to be beautiful because you're in it...but may not be the dress that is may be the earrings...the necklace...your hair, etc; the accessories...the WHOLE PICTURE.

In this can David are the accessories. You are going to make WHATEVER school you decide on the RIGHT AND PERFECT school for Esther and Ruthie. Your background in Education is absolutely going to be an addition to their classroom experience...a supplement.

Sweat it...but don't sweat it.

She'll be fine, because she has the 2 of you.

(though i would have sincere concerns about her starting kindergarten at nearly 6 years old...she'll be answering questions for the rest of her life..."why are you so old..." aaaaand, you know girls mature faster than boys...she'll be 5'10'' in the 4th grade. LOL)

Sue @ My Party of 6 said...

I agree with Mike. Several years ago when we were picking a school, I read an article in the Washington Post Magazine that basically said, smart children with involved parents do well in any academic setting. It's really more about where they are coming FROM then where they are going TO. For me, that took a lot of pressure off the decision.

There is no one RIGHT choice. And there's nothing that says you can't try one thing and move on if it doesn't work. (Except for that Montessori thing about starting in preschool which didn't work for me. Although there is a county Montessori magnet... not sure how that works.)

I am happy with our school choice. It's not perfect. It may be better suited for some of my kids than others, but it's a strong community of involved parents and child-loving teachers and administrators. They aren't all my favorites, but overall, it's a good environment with strong leadership and a focus on excellence. Adn we can afford it, without putting ourselves into poverty. I'm saving that for high school!

Good luck!e

Elaine said...

Tough decision indeed. But I agree with you, Kindergarten matters. I still visit my Kindergarten teacher when I'm back home occasionally. What a rock star she was. To this day, I've never heard anybody say that they didn't love Mrs. Rivera.

The Lowe said...

It's highly likely there will be other kids in her class with Aug, Sep, Oct birthdays too... either she'll be one of the youngest or the oldest.
I agree education doesn't only happen within school walls but go with your gut.

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