Last night was North County Christian’s Open House night. It was actually a lot of fun– a yummy BBQ to support the Booster’s Club (ever had Hawaiian coleslaw? It was amazing!), “choreographed” hula dances from each of the elementary grades, tons of art from the High Schoolers taped up on every available wall, and the Science Fair awards with Mr. Bartel (ah, the memories! Not to brag, but I had two kick-a projects when I was in High School. I even went to the Regional and State Fairs and won prize money!).
In the midst of the hubbub, I decided to take the plunge and walk across campus to visit the preschool room. Jesse and I have discussed sending G to preschool 2 mornings a week from 9am-12:30pm. He loves singing songs and coloring here at home, but think that he could enjoy and appreciate 7 hours a week of guided interaction with other kids. Other than the social component, I don’t even care much if it’s “school” (YET–don’t get me wrong, I care a ton once he’s in Kindergarten), but I want him to interact with other kids on a consistent basis.
We’ve also looked into the absolutely wonderful Montessori school down the road from us– the same one I teach piano at on Tuesday afternoons. Over the past 5-6 years, I’ve worked at nearly a dozen Montessori schools in LA, Dallas, and now here on the Central Coast, and I must say that I’m more impressed with CHMS here in Atascadero than I am with any other Montessori school. I don’t have time for the details here, but it truly is a gem. They go through 6th grade, and, get this, they have a LONG waiting list for each classroom. You have to wait for over a year to even get in to this school.
The problem? To send G there for 2 mornings a week is $3900/year. That’s over $300 a month for 6 hours/week of preschool! A car payment!
And, the more I think about it, Montessori education is great, but if the kid is not fully immersed, it might not really be worth the money. And to send G there fulltime (not that I ever could! My poor Mommy heart!) would be close to $8,000/year!!! Employing certain Montessori principles at home seems like a better idea.
So we went to visit the little 2.5-3.5 year old preschool room at NCCS. I loved it from the second we walked in. It was so cheerful, fun, and un-cluttered (I can’t stand most preschools for this reason…). Dena, the head of the preschool, was there, and she was just the sweetest! She gave me a run down of what the 3 hours in the morning looked like and showed G all their different books and letter games. I must admit, I was pretty darn proud when Gregory could name his letters and colors for her. She seemed shocked and surprised that a 2 year old could already do that (hey, he’s my kid, I’m not surprised. Don’t ask him to count or do his numbers, however….;) ).
Also, I loved that G clearly felt happy and comfortable there. He walked right in and acted like he owned the place! He went right to the art easel and started drawing “cew-cals!” and “squawers!” (they looked nothing like either shape, but he’s got quite an imagination lately). He read books with Dena and even interacted with her animal puppets!
My favorite thing about Dena was that she didn’t call the kids “students” or “children”, but kept referring to them as Friends. “Oh, most of our Friends don’t get here until 8:30am”, or, “On most days we have between 8-10 Friends”. How adorable is that?
So, for right now, NCCS’ preschool is our top choice. I’m not going to lie, the fact that we get free tuition and I’ll only be 20 yards away in another building really helps me feel better. I think that I could even schedule my teaching to be mostly these two mornings so that I can spend the other days and mornings with both boys. And, while Gregory’s having fun singing songs and doing arts and crafts, Anthony will be getting some one-on-one attention from his Grandmas! What a lucky kiddo!