It wasn't too difficult since some so called schools made it awfully easy to say there is no way in hell I would trust my child to your care or allow you to teach her anything. Yeah, we are both snobs, what can I say. Next week SS will be engaging in her Magical Mystical Preschool Tour. The three schools are similar in price, although two offer a price reduction once SS is potty trained. But the deciding factor will be which school is the best fit for SS.
First is MU, the school within walking distance of P's work. This school offers a potty trained discount. Other than proximity other pros include the teacher to student ratio (best of the three) and the fact that their director has been there since 1989. We are hoping that means they won't be folding any time soon. They will place SS in the sophomore class, described as mainly two year olds and "young three year olds." SS has not been assessed yet, but since she is not potty trained that is where she will be until she pays homage to the potty, regardless of her developmental and intellectual abilities. This does not worry us much as we are not looking into rigorous academics at this time. We are more interested in social skills, independence, trust that we will return for her, that easy breezy stuff. Director D does insist on a quick drop off after the initial visit. We are concerned about SS getting to a state that they do not have the knowledge to handle. Director D agreed that if SS cries for more than a certain amount of time she would call P and allow him to asses whether he needs to be the one to soothe her. Their hours are the shortest, but our plan is for me to drop SS off in the mornings and for P to pick her up, and he can adjust his hours accordingly. We do not want SS to spend more time at school than at home.
Second is SJP, the pros include the hours, and the director is willing to place SS with her age group although she is not potty trained. They will pair SS with a "bathroom buddy" and hope that will help SS make friends with the porcelain goddess. Director L stated that she would leave the drop off length up to us, mindful that SS has not been home since birth. She spoke a lot about adjusting expectations to meet SS's emotional needs. Another big pro is that SS was doing her best wild child in need of an exorcism impersonation, and Director L did not miss a beat. She asked "Is that her in the background I hear? What a lovely voice" First our daughter was screaming like a rabid banshee, people a block away could certainly hear her. Second, there was nothing lovely about the screeching that was hurting my ears. I thought SS had blown consideration at that point. So is it good or bad that she took it so well? Makes us wonder what kind of wild animals they have in that school. A con is that it is a Catholic school and when we discussed school eons ago we both preferred a non denominational setting. However, I was raised SDA and attended Catholic school. P was raised Catholic and attended Christian school. Diversity and wacky logic abounds in this family. But it's about what is best for SS. Heck, at least they can perform an exorcism in a pinch if needed.
Third is WRP, where Director T immediately wanted me to know that the school is accredited and it is NOT daycare. She then went on to describe their curriculum in detail. Yikes! SS is three and a half and can't even wipe her own backside, slow down woman. I was very close to channel my inner Tina Kennard and snap at her "It's just f*cking preschool for God's sake with crayons and Play Dough!"* But once she went over their curriculum and was convinced that I understood the difference between preschool and daycare, and actually took a breath, we had a very nice conversation. She wants to have a sit down meeting with P and I before SS visits the school, and requires three visits with a parent before dropping her off alone. SS would have to be with the younger children (same 2 and young 3 description) until she is potty trained. However, Director T stated that due to SS's age, she would like to work on potty training SS ASAP so she can join "the class that will meet her academic needs." Dude, I am not kidding, this woman is all about having them reading before K. The school offers a discount once SS is potty trained and their hours are similar to SJP.
There it is, choosing between three settings and hopefully making the right decision for SS. One part of this process I did not anticipate was my conscience nagging at me. We have been really protective of SS's past, it is her history and we do not feel comfortable divulging what we know. Not everyone is happy about our decision and we have heard a few snippy remarks about what is the big secret and that family must know. We are still standing firm that it is on a need to know basis, and here is where it gets tricky. In order to have SS's needs met I have shared a lot more than we usually do, but nowhere near what we know. Still, I felt like I was throwing my daughter under the bus. I called P this afternoon because it was really gnawing at me. I know it was because I spent most of the day with SS on my lap, or cuddling . It's easy to recognize when I'm feeling guilty. As usual P said the right thing and offered a different perspective.
We have not discussed demographics, because there is a good chance that SS will be the only Chinese child at all schools. It is why we do not consider this area our permanent home. If SS is admitted to the K Mandarin program this will change. We still would like to live in a more racially diverse area. It could be worse, I cannot imagine raising SS where we lived, that would have been plain wrong. This is just preschool, I don't want to think what it will be like when it is time for SS to enter Kindergarten.
SS doing her preschool song and dance, plus a big surprise for JJ.
*That is one of my favorite scenes from the series because it is a good depiction of how crazy we can get as parents, over some very simple things. Thankfully P and I are on the same page about school, but I can see us going equally crazy about equally stupid things.