Monday, February 04, 2008

Parental involvement

Beth is turning three soon (if you ask her when her birthday is, she says, "Coming up in April!"), so I just sent applications in to two preschools. One is run by the local school district, is relatively cheap (about $2,000 for a three-day program — and yes, if you haven't looked into preschool costs recently, that's cheap), and therefore has an abundance of applicants and will be selecting kids on a lottery basis. The other is more expensive, but it's just a few blocks away and is a co-op preschool. I like the idea of a co-op — I went to a co-op elementary school and having my dad in the classroom once a week made things comfortable. He knew my teachers, he knew the other kids, he knew what went on in class. Coming home and telling my family about my day wasn't like telling them about a foreign country.

I bring this up because I know a few people who are much less concerned about the preschool thing than I am. Scott has said a few times that since he didn't attend preschool, it wouldn't even have occurred to him to find one for Beth. As for me, it's been on my mind since I was about two months pregnant with her. I researched preschools in Pittsburgh, knowing that we wouldn't be there when she was old enough to start. I read the Boston Magazine best preschools issue (and hyperventilated at the waiting lists and the prices). I talked to other parents about their preschool experiences. I even wondered (very briefly, mind you) if we should do the Waldorf route and whether giving up TV and our beloved Fisher-Price plastic toys might not be better for the girls in the long run.

Now, does this make me a) responsible and forward-thinking, or b) hovering, pushy and over-involved?

Before you go ahead and say, "Libby! Gosh! Of course you're responsible and forward-thinking! Not a weird helicopter parent at all!" consider this: last night there was an open meeting at the local elementary school about various elementary-school-related issues, including the full-day kindergarten proposal and the town's plans to build a new elementary school to replace the one where the girls will go (which was originally built as the high school in the 1930s). As soon as I heard about this meeting, I planned on going to it. To find out who is for and against the full-day kindergarten, and why. To find out what the school construction timeline looks like, and (if it will overlap my kids' attendance at the school) where they'll be sending the kids during construction. To put in my two cents about things, if I felt so moved.

And the only reason I didn't end up going — and ended up making a much-needed Costco run for diapers instead — was that I realized it was just a bit silly for a parent of a not-quite-three-year-old to show up at a meeting about issues that had already been decided (face it, most public meetings are for information-sharing and grievance-airing, not for actual decisions) and decided in a way I was pretty okay with. Beth (and probably Sarah too) will do fine in full-day kindergarten. We need a new school, and chances are that if it's built while my kids are there they will be well taken care of. There are architects' plans already on file. People in the neighborhood have been thinking (and presumably arguing) about these things for years.

Mind you, once my kids are in school, I'll probably be the parent who shows up at all the school board meetings. I'll just wait until they're school-age so it doesn't look quite so weird.

1 comment:

Cynthia said...

What is the Waldorf method and why does it ban FisherPrice plastic toys? I play with them now and I'm reasonably well adjusted.
And, you are not crazy, just involved.