Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Choosing a School

So let’s talk school for littles.  I realize that no one (besides me) will be interested in this post, but it always helps me to write out my thoughts.  And this is going to be a long one (sorry).  I had no idea that selecting classes and schools would be so difficult…

Remember how W got off to such a rough start at preschool?  So.many.tears. (from both of us)  And then finally.  Finally, we got to a point where I could leave and he was fine.  He’d usually tell me about his day afterwards.  But I’ve been noticing for quite a while that when I pick him up, he’s playing by himself.  He’s a completely different kid at school.  In a sense, this is ok.  He can let loose (to an extent) at home, but he should follow directions and rules at school.  The school that W attends is a play based preschool.  He can basically choose what he wants to do, but sections of the classroom are “closed” at certain times.  When I pick him up, I’ve noticed him either by himself, observing others or sitting quietly doing a puzzle.  His teachers have even asked if he talks at home and I’ve told them he basically doesn’t stop talking at home.  A and I have talked to W about school quite a bit and on a few occasions, he’s told us that he doesn’t play with the other kids because he doesn’t want to get hit.  Heartbreaking.  And for the record, I don’t think hitting happens very often at all.  But W remembers EVERYTHING and an incident must have stuck in his mind.  I also think W may be a bit bored at school.  There are multiple sections/stations, but he’s done them all and I think he’s ready for a new challenge.  He’s also the type that doesn’t necessarily participate unless he’s encouraged to do so.  He prefers to stand back and take everything in.

With all that in mind, I signed W up for preschool next year and enrolled him in a 3-5 year old class.  My thought was that perhaps he’d enjoy playing with older kids and that he’d engage more.  W is one of the eldest in his current class.  When his teacher and the director realized that W was signed up for the 3-5 class, they approached me and strongly recommended I switch him to the 3 year old class.  So I did.  And now I’m having second thoughts.  Their reasoning was that W needed to develop further socially and they believed he’d be overwhelmed in the 3-5 class.  While I think that W does in fact need to develop his social skills, I also recognize that he may prefer playing with older children (who do not hit, are able to pretend/imagine, communicate better, etc…).  After talking to a few friends who have taught preschool, they suggested that W would be just fine in the 3-5 room, believing that he would have kids to look up to and recommended switching him back.

A attended W’s conference last week and told me it went as expected, but that it also made him sad.  When I read through the report, I was sad too and maybe even a tad offended… It just didn’t sound like W.  The report said that W was very well behaved and followed directions, but that he also didn’t always respond when spoken to and was clumsy.  I agree that he can be clumsy, but I just thought his clumsiness was on account of being a 3 year old boy.  Not responding when spoken to, however, is not typical behavior for him.  The report said that he needed to work on his motor skills, which was also news to me.  It also indicated that he should participate in activities more.  I agree, but I think more of an effort could be made is persuading him to join said activities.

I’m just incredibly frustrated by it all.  A and I chose this particular school after much consideration and research and I still feel that it could be a good fit.  They were very patient with W (and me) at the beginning of the school year when W was having a tough time.  And after such a rough start, I think switching schools would negatively impact W.  I also realize it’s quite possible that we’d face the same challenges (shy, withdrawn) at any school we chose.

Also, what W may lack in social skills and motor skills (apparently), he makes up for academically.  He recognizes all letters – upper and lower case and knows several sounds they make.  Yesterday, he was eating alphabet soup and told me that ‘O’ was for onward.  Whaaa?!?  He spells his name, S’s name, mom, and love… which I think is pretty good for a 3 year old (I realize he’s just memorized the letters, but still, he realizes that letters have sounds and that letters strung together make words).  I definitely think play is important, but I’d also love for preschool to teach him since he seems to show an interest in learning.  He’s very inquisitive and always wants to know how things work.

And then there’s grade school.  Ha- you thought I’d be wrapping up this post with preschool, didn’t you?  But wait, there’s more…

A and I were pretty set on sending W to Catholic school.  The nearest Catholic school is right down the road and we just thought it would be a good fit for him both academically and spiritually.  A and I both grew up Catholic and attend Catholic church every Sunday.  A grew up in the Catholic school system and as far as I can tell, thinks highly of the education he received.  While I need to look further into the reviews and performance of this particular school, what I’ve read so far is promising.

Then I made the mistake of reading the handbook.  The strict rules and demerits were all news to me.  I grew up in the public school system, which worked out just fine and I’m a firm believer that you only get out of education what you put into it.  Those who make the effort flourish and those who don’t will not do well no matter what school they attend.  But I digress… I read the handbook and all the requirements for uniforms, socks, shoes, haircuts even.  Upon seeing this, I sent A a series of texts that went something like… OMG… he can only wear black shoes??   Only certain socks??  Are we stifling his creativity and originality??  This sounds like boot camp.  What if all these rules result in him rebelling??  I can’t choose his cute, preppy clothes anymore??  What if, what if… A reminded me that he turned out ok, that he never felt like the rules were unfair or repressed his ingenuity, that he had a good experience, and he basically told me to chill the heck out. J  And after a long discussion with A, I do feel better.  But still.  So much to think about.

Also… yes, there’s even more.  The Catholic school offers preschool.  But the class size is gigantic from what I understand.  W has two more years of preschool so we’re entertaining the idea of sending him to preschool at the Catholic school as a transition to kindergarten.  But then again, he’s finally getting comfortable at his current preschool and I don’t want to derail that.  And despite my concerns, I do genuinely like his current preschool.  Ahhhh….

I’m praying that we make the right decision for W and this will all work out.  A and I have agreed to wait and see how the summer goes.  We’ll take note of who (if anyone) he plays with and whether he prefers kids the same age or older kids.  We’ve also signed him up for soccer and are planning on enrolling him in swimming and possibly gymnastics.  I’m curious to see if he’s more relaxed/comfortable in these settings or if he’ll remain quiet like he is in school.

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