Monday, March 7, 2011

Preschool Wars

Preschool Wars:

Coming Soon to a Toddler's 'Hood Near You

Getting a rising 3-year-old into a preschool program is far too intense and complicated and 'round these parts gets parents to do truly insane things.

These are the things I never envisioned when having a child. I never thought about sending them to school before kindergarten, I didn't realize it was even an option on the horizion and now I can safely say I know too much.

Hollywood, if you want to have the next great reality show I'd suggest you come to Baltimore or any city where private schooling is all the rage because the public school system is failing children miserably.

Over the course of the last month we have been to a lot of schools. Starting with one that we really hoped would be the "magic" school. Upon arrival we were informed numerous times that registration starts at 6:30pm but that parents often line up earlier. And, when that didn't seem to garner enough buzz we were then told that parents show up "as early as 10am" and there are "limited spaces available". Still I guess there wasn't enough urgency on behalf of the parents at the open house and so we were told in hushed tones that sometimes parents even line up before that. And finally we were told that when the teacher arrived last year there were "10 people in line!" at 8am when she arrived for school that day.


They expect parents to wait outside for almost 12 hours for a preschool program for THREE year olds. Come on! We're talking numbers, shapes and colors here people, not rocket science. So in the middle of February you are supposed to wait outside an ENTIRE day in LINE without leaving for a POSSIBLE spot. No thank you! And, the fact that you kept ramping it up, making it more urgent, indulging every helicopter parent in the room. I say "No thank you!" I'll raise a "free-range" kid if I have too. But this isn't Yale or Harvard it's PRESCHOOL.

Please, let's all just agree to STOP. THE. INSANITY!


  1. Unfortunately, it's not just happening in Baltimore. There are a couple of high-demand preschools here in GR too. When you are looking for accredited schools, it tends to make a difference because many preschools are not accredited, meaning they are basically a glorified daycare. I did feel like I was waiting for some big-name concert tickets. Same exact deal you mentioned; Moms in line at 8am for the 6p registration, on a weekday. CRAZY. Even crazier -- we ended up moving before Natalie started preschool where we were first on the waiting list (no way was I getting there at 8am, I got there at 3p, & I paid for it) although we did get the call that we were in, we enrolled her in a different preschool a 1/2 mile from our new house, without the lines/demand. Loved her 3yo teacher/class, hated her 4yo teachers. Ended up sending her an extra year of preschool (that we LOVED) at the Catholic school BOTH my kids will likely attend until they are in high school (unless we move again). It sucks looking for preschools, but it does make a difference socially & academically. Just wish there weren't so many damn hoops to jump through for the good ones. Good luck. Best piece of advice -- ask OTHER parents you trust for recommendations... and definitely see if you can do a random drop-in visit DURING a regular school day. Tell them you would like to drop-in sometime during the week, but don't give them a specific day/time so you can really see how it works. If they are a good preschool, they will allow this.

  2. The preschool I had the boys in, had a registration like you mentioned BUT they did a lottery to draw names to make it fair. Ask Ellen where she sent her boys, it seemed it had them more ready for a typical school day then the preschool we went to. Also, if he doesn't seem like he's ready for K by the minimum age requirement then "red-shirt" him for a year. I wish I had done that with my little one-- Julia

  3. That seems like craziness to me! We're just sending Finn to a year of preschool, he's been taking classes {swimming, soccer, crafty stuff, music, etc...} since he was two. Shouldn't they be playing and having fun right now? There is enough time for the pressure {both for kids AND parents} when they are older.

  4. @ Kelli: None of ours (that I know of) are accredited. So it's just a bit insane to me. I know it's important, but it's still ridiculous. ;)

    @ Julia: We are pulling Liam from the school where Ellen's boys attend. It's not a good fit for us.

    @ Michelle: I agree on the playing and having fun part. There is plenty of time for pressure later.


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