We’re contemplating a switch to a different school. There are all sorts of reasons why our current one deserves suspicion but the enumeration would range from pointless to outrageous. Overall, the reasons fall just short of the “act now” range and so we’ve been comfortable maintaining the status quo. We’re engaged (and if we weren’t, we’d definitely be in the act now stage) but the pile of concerns is beginning to outweigh our desire to push through a fix.
This next school year will be the first year she can attend our Montessori school*. We’re visiting on Tuesday to see if the values and the pace of the day suit our family. Our family doctor highly recommends the school and we’re friends with other Montessori fans, including a teacher and parent alums. Everyone raves about the experience and says “helpful” things like, “RR is where?! She should really move to Montessori.” and “My kids went there and they are spectacular superheroes. In fact, look right there, our sons are just now saving that old lady from a falling piano!” (and they are). We’ve read about the philosophy and reviewed our local school’s literature in detail. Everything – even the ever critical google – seems to be pro–Montessori. When I try to find information that will help me determine if Montessori is right for RR, I see things like, “Do you want your child to be respectful and independent?” and “Do you want your child to learn self-motivation and problem solving skills?” Well, no, of course not. Come to think of it, I think I’d like her best if she just sat there and moaned. No Montessori for her!
Before the internet gets its Montessori feathers ruffled (not you, of course, you are as always moderate and inspired in your thinking), I think it’s a good idea for RR and for us. Many of our current concerns would evaporate and I expect we’d see her fit right in. She plays independently, she likes to work, I think she would benefit from being in a classroom with older children. Overall, the philosophy seems to be in line with our own. I’d have to get over my aversion to elastic waistband pants though. I know it’s easier for small children but ugh…
So here are my primary concerns:
- The school is designed so that some (many?) of the kids will attend for a half-day and the rest is “after-care”. I’m concerned this climate will mean she’s barely looked after in the afternoons or not stimulated in any way. I realize this is a holdover opinion from other after school programs I’ve encountered – things reserved for kids whose parents couldn’t or wouldn’t get them and where bullies roamed wild as teachers just waited for pick up time. We can’t stay at home. We wish one of us could but, since the illustrious state of Virginia is disinclined to offer us any rights at all, work it is. In fact, pick-up time is earlier, eliminating the wiggle room we have now. I don’t want her (or our family) to be considered less than in any way because one of us doesn’t stay at home.
- There are an inordinate number of days off. Huge spans of time. For example, two full weeks in August. The full week of Thanksgiving. Two full weeks around Christmas. What do people do with their kids during all the days off (and snow days, too)? We don’t have that much vacation time unless we divide and conquer but then we’d never be able to take any substantial time off as a family. I know this is coming as we face public school but right now it seems scary and overwhelming.
- Finally, I wonder what happens if RR decides she’s not interested in working on specific skills? I wish I knew how to ask that question without sounding like an asshole but there it is. I want her to go to school to learn and grow and develop and be the best version of herself but I’m not entirely certain that letting her set the pace will result in a well-rounded child. This is the child who will tuck herself behind the recliner in her room and read when we have company. She’s not exactly warm and fuzzy.
Surely, this is where you tell me that all of my fears are unfounded and that visiting the school is our best bet. Check. We’re off to see things in action on Tuesday and, since we have to make a decision on our current school by the 31st, we’ll have to choose sooner rather than later**. If you know us at all, you know that six months is a normal timeframe for decision making – we don’t waffle, we just like to ponder. For example, would you believe we’ve been considering Montessori since she was born and we STILL haven’t settled on a position? Of course you would. So tell me, do you have any insights? Did you attend Montessori? Did/does your child? What do you do when your child has more days off than you do? How do you ask the school questions without sounding like an asshole? But then, isn’t that my perennial question?
* Yes. It meets the criteria and is affiliated with the organization.
** Lest it sound like we haven’t considered other options, I assure you that we’ve considered a range of the town’s church preschools, nanny situations and independent/specialty schools, an alarming amount of which use comic sans in their communications.