I really wanted a Spanish immersion class and set out to find out. I’m not sure we can get her truly bi-lingual since we only speak English. However, I want her to be exposed to another language and Spanish is one I know enough of to read and speak at the beginning level. Spanish preschool didn’t work out. The program I liked was only 3.5 hours and was easily 20 minutes away in morning traffic. By the time I got her to school it would be time to pick her up. That’s when I realized finding a school near home was good advice. Particularly since I work in a variety of locations, not one office. I visited 5 or so places total, focusing on school settings only. I didn’t consider home daycare at all since I didn’t have a referral to a place from someone who had personal experience with it. The school we chose was 5 minutes from home and seemed to provide the hours, flexibility, meals, curriculum and care we were looking for. The school is corporate owned, which I figured would have its ups and downs. I tried not to overreact at the first downer, which was the director getting fired. There was an incident between a couple of the kids and she tried to cover it up. I was really surprised because I liked her and, well of course you never really know people, but I chalked it to a poor lapse in judgement and not that there were problems with the entire school. The next director was an unlikable pill. I tried the bees with honey, kill ’em with kindness thing, but she rang as false and phony as they come. As many new managers do, she tried to come in with sweeping changes. No bueno. Another downer was that some of the teachers and parents/kids left. I chalked that up to a natural by-product of change. Mini G’s teacher and classmates stayed the same.
I never (ever) did like the director, but I felt I reached a modicum of peace and figured she wouldn’t last long given that she was trying to direct two schools. I also was fine with the situation because she was only at the school part-time and she didn’t interact very much with the kids. When we first started the school, it took 2 months of sad drop-offs before Mini G stopped crying. I really, really thought it would be a bad idea to move her because she seemed to be settled. If I had it to do over again, I would do random drop-ins. I did none, but I would pick her up at off times and felt like I was seeing enough of the school. I did witness some excessive yelling and reported it to the district manager. Again, everything was fine with Mini G, her teachers and classes and there was a positive change in the demeanor of the yelling teacher and the director after my phone call. I was so attached to the idea of not wanting to pull her from the school. We went to 5 schoolmate birthday parties this spring, including the princess party that I fretted about.
She didn’t seem to be bonding with any kids in the class in particular, but I chalked that up to parallel play being most common with kids around 2.5 and hoped that seeing the same kids in-school and at the parties were in her best interest whether she was “friends” with them or not.
The school recently got its 3rd director in the 10 months we were there. Again, no bueno. The new director smiled nicely and came across more personable than the 2nd director. But she didn’t smile with her eyes. There’s a phoniness and coldness about her that got me thinking we need to get the hell out of the school. This 3rd director wasn’t hired permanently and is an interim director. Between that and being overcharged for 4 months, I was started to get irritated. Most of the fees were reversed, but the school kept acting like they were doing a favor giving us a “credit.” There was no credit. Those were erroneous fees. Get it straight. Alas they could not. Also, they wanted to remove the flexibility we were promised with being able to switch up days. More positioning themselves as doing us a favor as opposed to taking the position of being a service provider. I was also irritated that they kept throwing the 1st director under the bus. Girl is gone. Her name doesn’t need to be brought up as if you’re still cleaning up her messes from months ago. One of the biggest flags that I didn’t deal with was that there isn’t a way for parents to look at billing online. I didn’t think it was an issue because I knew the rate. I pay it. Period. Well, not being able to check it regularly online is how I ended up being charged erroneously and not knowing it. I paid in advance so the overcharges took awhile to catch up to putting our account in arrears. Oh and the way they handled that also pissed me and George off. To end the story, we decided on a Thursday that it would be her last day, dropped off our 2-wk notice and Mini G has never been back. By Monday when we had no care I was thinking what the hell have we done. But we decided we did make the best decision and that it wasn’t rash.
Of course I got an appointment with a new school the same nite that we decided we were pulling Mini from her current program. I was on the searach immediately. This time I decided to try a home daycare. One that I’d found on Yelp and whose website I looked at tons and tons of times online. Mini looooved it. She was comfortable pretty quickly in the house and interacted w/the owner/care provider. There are so many things about it that I loved, but you never feel like any one is going to be good enough for your kid. I also didn’t know if I was being influenced by our now desperate need to find a new school. We went back to the school a few days later for a 90 playdate, which went very well. I was present the whole time, but Mini wanted to sit in the circle without me and she participated physically and verbally. Two things she didn’t do consistently at the old school, despite being a parkour wanna-be, talk-a-thon at home. Later that same day we visited a larger, school-school. She wanted to be carried the entire time and didn’t interact with the director as much she did w/the home daycare provider. Even when we went outside, Mini wouldn’t let us put her down and she didn’t want to play on the play structure. She can’t resist a slide, so I knew she didn’t like the school.
We decided on the home daycare and Mini starts in a couple of weeks. None of the other home daycares I saw online resonated with me. The other traditional school building settings seemed to be close to the same large environment she would be coming from. We saw 16 kids on cots and 2 teachers when we toured the 2nd school. Too many. There are 2 teachers to 8 kids at the home daycare. I didn’t stick to the rule of keeping close to home. It’s about 15 minutes without traffic, 20-25 minutes with. However it’s convenient to many things, including the freeway. Every day she asks if it’s a school day and she has repeatedly asked by name for the home daycare. I’ll be curious to see how the first couple of weeks go. I will be overjoyed if she loves it.
Parents – 8 Tips For Choosing Childcare – This article looks pretty good. I like the advice to Look down. The bigger schools will have many visuals at the adult eye level so you feel good about the education, meals, etc…that the school provides. One thing I noticed about the kids at the previous school was that they didn’t smile back at me when I smiled. There was a blank look in some of their eyes at times. I took exactly zero childhood eduation courses. I chalked their demeanor up to being only 2 years old. The children at the home daycare smiled back at me, held eye contact and their eyes looked alive. I also like the last piece of advice, which is to be open to change. If you feel like you need to switch providers, start researching and be open to looking. The way everything went down in our situation wasn’t comfortable, but it worked out. The reminder is to not be afraid of change because often times there are much better things ahead.
BabyCenter – How To Find Good Daycare – I didn’t know about the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) or the National Association of Family Child Care (search). The NAEYC also has its searchable database of accredited daycare centers online. Of course our former preschool isn’t listed. I did find a few other schools. I still think a home daycare will be the best situation for Mini G based on how well she’s responded the times we were there and in between.
I wish I’d ordered a couple of these and read them to her when I first started looking for schools.
I’m so happy we found a new school home. I’m optimistic that this will be the right place for her.
Bring on the daycare/preschool advice to share to others.