Thinking about preschool

I’ve read some interesting posts recently about the process of applying and choosing preschools.  Moxie wrote about the preschool interview process in New York City — and she swears that this is the low-key version.  Yikes.  Toronto Mama wrote about the preschool they didn’t get into — and the one they did.  Julia is having second thoughts about her choice of preschools.

We actually had a pretty sane preschool application experience by contrast.  We didn’t apply to any of the schools that have people lining up at 4 am to turn in their applications, in part because we weren’t clued in enough to know that we had to line up to have a shot at getting in.  The preschool that was our first choice — because we liked it, and because it was walking distance from our house — turned out to have exactly ONE slot open that year for kids who weren’t siblings of current students or children of alumni.  Of course, no one mentioned this to us until after we had already given them our $75 application fee. 

As it turns out, the preschool D attends didn’t even have a waiting list.  I think that’s because it’s a Jewish preschool and many non-Jews don’t even consider it an option.  We’re very happy with it.  D looks forward to going to school, has lots of friends, and is learning to sit quietly when it’s appropriate and take turns and things like that.  That’s all we were really looking for.  At the parent "orientation night" they gave us a big speech about why they have a "play-based curriculum" and recommended Einstein Didn’t Use Flash Cards.  I didn’t need to be convinced.

That said, someone posted to the DC Urban Moms email list a few weeks back on the verge of hysterics because she had been waitlisted at every single preschool she had applied to.  A lot depends on geography around here — traffic is so miserable around here that you really need to stick to places right near your home or work if you don’t want to spend an extra 2 hours a day sitting in traffic.

I have a theory that these preschools that are so hard to get into are the major incubators for "mommy madness."  It seems likely that if you make parents jump through hoops to get their kids enrolled, you’re selecting for high intensity parenting; the same people who were willing to line up at 3 am to get into the school are also going to make lots of calls for the fundraising auction and push for all organic snacks.  Even at our laid-back preschool, I sometimes feel guilty for not being more involved; I hate to think what I’d feel like in one of those pressure cookers.

3 Responses to “Thinking about preschool”

  1. chip Says:

    I think you are right on this:

    I have a theory that these preschools that are so hard to get into are the major incubators for “mommy madness.”

    I live in a small city and am not aware of this kind of pressure re: preschools here, though maybe I’m just not in the right circles to know.
    We were lucky, there doesn’t seem to be competition for preschools here, our kids went to ones that were just two or three mornings a week, first a montessori one, then one run by the local methodist church, not at all a religious preschool, just run there. Both of these places were great, VERY low key, not at all academic, just about playing.
    And even though our kids weren’t in “high-achievers” pre-school, they’re both doing great in school and in life now. And more important, we aren’t stressed out parents (on that front anyway).
    Given all the stuff we have to deal with as parents, I cannot imagine adding that much more stress to our lives, especially when the kids were that little.

  2. Aimee Says:

    It’s just funny to me, reading about the preschool application process. Oh, you city folk! Out here in the burbs – at least where I live in NJ – they’re *all* good, and there’s only one in town with a waiting list. (And for me, it’s too academically-oriented. I wanted something more social.)
    Just one of the perks of suburban life, I guess. (I’m glad there are a few!)

  3. Moxie Says:

    Fat Envelope

    Well, I think I’ve missed my only real chance at serious fame in the blog world. After I posted my truly innocuous recap of our preschool interview, I had fears that the admissions director of the preschool would read my

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