Thursday, April 15, 2010

Brain dump about preschools in the city. Hold me.

Warning:  There is a lot of capitalization, i.e. yelling, below.  Also, keep in mind we live in Chicago, not the suburbs, so the school selection process is dramatically different.

It's begun.  The dreaded preschool tour time.  I have been pretending this wasn't coming since before Noah was even born because I know, I KNOW, it's going to be a huge pain in the ass.  There are too many options.  In our direct neighborhood alone, we have private (read: ridiculously expensive), private parochial (read: Catholic or Lutheran and still very expensive), and public at our neighborhood school (read: free, but under-funded and who knows if the program will even be around in a year THANKS A LOT STUPID GOVERNMENT).  Then we have 5 day/full-day or 5 day/half-day or 3 day/full-day or 3 day/half day or for the same price 2 days-at-two-hours-a-day-sign-over-your-entire-monthly-income-kthanxbye.  I'm tired just typing all that out.

From what I've gathered eavesdropping on covert playground conversations, when you find a good preschool you don't tell ANYONE.  Because then EVERYONE will want to get in and NO ONE will...hello, two year long waiting lists and pre-birth applications.   We're gunning to attend preschool in Fall 2011 right after Noah turns three.  That means I have to have toured every possible school by the fall, preferably by the end of THIS school year (read: this month or May), so I can get in our applications and non-refundable (of course) application fees and then wait until February 2011 to find out that we didn't get in anywhere.   I toured our local neighborhood school this morning and the principal couldn't guarantee that their preschool program would even be alive this coming fall.  On the off chance the program does continue, she could guarantee four year olds a spot but not three year olds.  Super.  I can't even bank on our local PUBLIC school to have room for my son.  The school that my VERY HIGH TAXES help pay for.  Sigh.  Double sigh.

So, let's look at our parochial options.  We're not Catholic.  We're not Lutheran.  We're not anything.  All of that doesn't mean I CAN'T send my kid to a parochial school; rather, I'm not positive I WANT to.  I didn't grow up with any specific religion and I prefer to label myself a non-denominational Christian if forced.  Tim and I have agreed that our kids will have an open relationship with religion, any religion.  We want them to be open-minded and accepting of all faith and beliefs (much like how I was raised).  This also means they will not be baptized or confirmed in any specific religion until they so choose.  With that said, a parochial education would be a Christian education with an emphasis on Catholicism or Lutheranism or PresbyBaptiUnitarianism.  Basically Noah would have Jesus time and Bible stories and be immersed in the Christian faith.  Please do not take this to mean I believe a parochial education is a bad education.  In fact, I think a parochial education can be a fantastic option and I know a few teachers who work at parochial schools who are AMAZING teachers with wonderful programs.  It MAY be an option for us.  I'm just really undecided.  Cost also plays a factor.  Parochial educations do not come cheap and looking at our current financial standing, I'm not positive we can afford it.   If it is the way we go, then we will find a way to afford it.  But is it the right choice, for US?

Following the parochials, and looking more expensive, we have the private preschools.  These are the ones with cutesy names like Ch@lk and Spr0ut and L0vebugs.  I toured one earlier this week thinking we might want to get Noah into a two year old program.  Then I saw the tuition costs and died a little.  For two days a week, at two hours a day, I would be paying over $500 a month.  For Noah to finger paint.  Last time I checked I could throw him on the floor on a shower curtain and let him go crazy with paints for $5.  I'm not saying these programs aren't great, because they are, and they do what they do very well, but that's a lot of money for so few hours.  They make the parochial schools look positively FREE!

And then we have the fourth runner-up, Miss So Private We Want Your Past Three Years' Tax Returns Upon Submittal Of Your Application Along With A $1,000 Fee Preschool.  Off the bat, I will tell you that if we aren't sure we can afford a parochial school, there is no way we can afford Miss SPWWYPTYTRUSOYAAWA$FP.  But let's discuss this as if it were an option.  No?  Ok, FINE.  Just know that these preschools exist and if I wanted to/could ever in a million years pay five figures for PRESCHOOL then I would send Noah to one of these in a heartbeat.  I mean, do you know how much awesomeness that kind of money can buy?  State of the art EVERYTHING.  Enough said.

So, here we are.  I never thought I would get this worked up over preschool.  I don't know what our plan is and I think it's the not knowing that makes me jumpy.  So I forge on.  I have emails out to a few more schools for tours and am waiting on replies.  As I always say when faced with a tough parental decision, it's a good thing this little dude is so damn cute.   


k said...

For the love that all is holy--what is UP with the preschool nonsense?

I say eff it and homeschool.


Just kidding. I can't even do MATH, so that solution wouldn't fly in our house.

Feel confident that a good solution--maybe not right, maybe not wrong, but just good--will reveal itself.

Maggie said...

OmGGGGGGGGGGGG I think I will just have to send you an email because OMGGGGGGG

Shannon said...

So THAT is why people move to the burbs.....I knew there had to be some reason : ) BTW, cutest picture ever, he looks like a little man!

Mary said...

Oy, it is a nutty world for little people. At least Chicago has some good public & free options. Here in the NYC burbs, not so much. And, they start school at two years old. Some schools are upwards of $20,000 for two hours a day, two days a week, for a two year old. Crazy pants.

I like your idea of $5 paints and a shower curtain, and I know Harper would LOVE it!

Good luck in your search!

bessie.viola said...

Oh, I can't handle this post. CAN'T HANDLE. I have been thinking about this too, and my heart aches to know that Noah is YOUNGER than Madeline and you're going through so much competitive stressy b.s.

We're currently leaning toward private parochial. We're Lutheran, but the school we're considering is a different "brand" of Lutheran than our church (oh, religion, you are so convoluted). By all reports the school is just Christian, which I'm happy with. Our local public schools are overfull and just - no. I will not send her there.

Even if it means that we WILL be paying 5 figures for tuition and books.

Sending hugs, because - GAH. I KNOW. They're TWO!

SeriousMom said...

I considered home schooling, but I am just not disciplined enough. So we do the private school thing, and in spite of the cost (which is huge, especially for a one-working-parent household) I think we made the right choice. is a new website that looks at the lighter side of parenting. We all make mistakes, right? Mothers aren't perfect (fathers either) and here is the proof. No jokes, no cute kid stories, just a real look at moms and dads and the mistakes we make. funny stuff.

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AndreAnna said...

Yeah, so I'm waiting till my kids are 4. I figure they'll be in school till they're like 80 anyway - why rush them? That being said, they still go to a private daycare for socialization and skills and such so it's not like a keep them home and plop them in front of the TV (much).

Maybe you can look into something similar for a year or so to buy you more time?

Paige said...

First of all - "throw him on a shower curtain"? HILARITY.

My husband and I are going through this same debacle, although for us it's DAYCARE, because Carter is only 7 months old. Basically, any daycare worth being in has a 2-3 year waiting list because I work in Burbank, near all the studios, so everyone and their mother needs childcare. Most places don't have infant centers, either.
So what to do? Pay a nanny half of my yearly salary to hang out in MY house all day, taking care of MY kid? Ugh.
Since I went back to work in January we've been using the ONE waiting-list-free daycare I found that isn't completely atrocious...but it's also not amazing. I'm on the list at several amazing places, including the Warner Bros. (my company) daycare. When I took the tour while I was four months pregnant, they told us that most likely our children wouldn't get in til they were 3. WTF? WHAT THE F____?? I am PREGNANT, people! That's right - WITH CHILD. He's not even going to be BORN for another six months, and you're telling me that I shouldn't dare to aspire to join your precious daycare before he's THREE??

Sorry. Clearly this post struck a chord. I will now proceed to pound some caffeine and curse the heavens (clearly parochial school is not an option for us, either - lil' too Jesusy for my blood).

Have a lovely day.

Hilary said...

Pictures please!!!

samantha said...