Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Preschool Panic: Changing Schools Edition

"You can study gardening?"
So...we're moving the Muffin Man to a different preschool.

I'm going to assume that your initial thought is "hasn't your kid already been to every nursery school in Los Angeles?" and while it may seem that way from how much I've written about this whole ridiculous preschool journey, the truth of the matter is that we've applied to almost every school on the East side of Los Angeles at least once (some, twice) but he's only actually attended one school.  

When we started the whole preschool process, I didn't really think it mattered that much where Noah ended up going to school.  I had my favorites, and a few places that I didn't much like, but overall I considered preschool as a way to give my kid some basic socialization while simultaneously allowing me to have some time alone.

Well, it turns out that preschool actually is about more than just giving Mommy the opportunity to shower alone.

Four things that really matter when it comes to preschools:

Community.  The main reason we decided to switch schools is because Noah's old school lacked a strong community.  On the one hand I really appreciated that we weren't constantly pestered to volunteer or spend time in the classroom, but I do want to get to know the other parents.  I really liked the few parents I did meet, but there was no back to school night, no roster of contact information for the other families, and unless you were able to forge friendships during the five minutes you were at school for drop-off or pick-up, you were SOL.  If our kids are interacting on a daily basis, I'd like to get to know you myself and to suss out whether you're the type of woman who takes a flask to the park and therefore destined to be my new BFF.

Boys will be boysWhen I started looking at preschools, Noah was only seven months old.  At that point the most interaction my kid had with his peers was swapping spit on a teether at Mommy and Me class.  The gender of your kid's friends doesn't really matter at that point, and to be honest, the friends you foist on your kid have more to do with whether you like their mom rather than whether or not your kids are well-suited.  Once your kid is old enough to attend school, however, it turns out that having enough kids of the same gender to play with matters.  Boys and girls really are different for the most part, and my tool and car-loving kiddo needed more boys in his class who shared his interest in swords and standing up to pee. 

Schedule.  Little kids thrive on routine.  If you've ever traveled with your kids, you know how much a change in schedule can screw up their sleep, digestion, and temperament.  Noah's old school had a flexible schedule, which meant that kids could attend anywhere from 1-5 days per week, for half or full days.  I think this is incredibly convenient for the parents, but my kid was so confused about who would be in his class with him every day that he had a hard time forging friendships.  Between his confusion about who was actually in his class, and my not knowing who any of the kids or parents were, trying to identify his classmates was like some sort of "Who's on First" preschool routine.

Enrichment.  This is just a fancy word for things like music and gardening, two classes that didn't exist at the old school.  If I'm working my bony a** off to pay for this place, it better have the same level of enrichment courses all my friend's kids are getting at their school.  Sure, I'm going to throw the noodle and glue collage away while my son is sleeping, but gosh darn it I want to at least have a chance to fake some enthusiasm for my kid's hideous artwork. 

Noah's new preschool has all of the stuff I want in spades, and it was a miracle that we got a spot.  I'm sure in a few months I'll be complaining about all the volunteering I have to do, or the allergy-free snacks I have to provide, but give me a moment to revel in it before I revert back to my usual snarky self.

I won't be sharing which schools my children attend simply for privacy sake, but if you live in Los Angeles and would like to know specifics (and you're not batshit crazy), feel free to get in touch.

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