It's that time of year again! Nope, not the holidays already, but something even more logistically draining - preschool admissions!
You will recall from previous posts that Linda and I are HUGE, HUGE fans of preschool for several practical reasons:
1. Time for you to spend with Little Baby alone (can you just imagine the luxury of breastfeeding for 20 minutes without interruption?)
2. Time for you to get chores or errands done without the hassle of strapping and unstrapping 15 kids into car seats at every stop.
3. A mini-break for you, which means you are refreshed when your Bunch returns home.
And last, but not least -
4. Your kids get to make friends their own age and learn to share, craft and play nicely. Bonus that cleanup is someone else's problem for once.
Linda and I both live in major metropolitan areas. This means that the preschool admissions process tends to be even more complicated than it was for the two of us to sign our names on pre-filled scan tron "applications" to get into COLLEGE at the University of Texas a little over a decade ago.
When my oldest started preschool, to get into the school of our choice you had to camp out in your car overnight to get one of the coveted first spots. I put hubby on notice that pregnant girls (I was pregnant with #2 already) were exempt from that rule and he would have to do it. Fortunately for him, they moved to a lottery system that year. Yeah - you heard me, a LOTTERY to get into preschool. For those of you in smaller towns, we do hope that you have an easier time of it.
So while your Bunch may seem tiny now, please know that fall is a full (and very long) NINE MONTHS from now. By then, they will certainly look older, more robust, and capable of being away from you for one or two mornings a week. Especially in larger cities, the time to worry about "Back to School" for toddlers is not in September - it is now. Here's how to get started:
1. Survey your mommy friends and neighbors where their kids to go preschool, if they like the school, and why/why not. In the interest of time, email and Facebook are great ways to collect this preliminary information.
2. Call the top 3 schools that you hear about and find out about schedules, cost considerations, etc. Do yourself a favor and weigh some of these things BEFORE you make an appointment to do a tour. A Baby Buncher's time is precious (especially if she's dragging her Bunch with her), so really think hard about what you want in a preschool (a place that can take both your kids, a school that's known to feed into certain private schools, more academic vs. a social-emotional curriculum, etc.)
3. Set up a tour and take your kid (or at least one) with you. One of my kids once vetoed a preschool move on the basis that the place smelled like pee, even if the playground was more awesome than his current school. We can't underscore enough how important it is to go SEE the place - there's no substitute for first-hand impressions.
4. Make notes of application deadlines and fees, and be sure and ask the Directors about typical/historical space availability so you know what your chances are of getting in. If you're thinking about sending both of your kids, consider scheduling constraints as well. Sometimes when you're a Baby Buncher, the harsh reality is that being able to get complimentary schedules for both kids may actually outweigh your top choice school for other reasons (location, academics, etc.)
5. Start filling out applications and writing deposit checks!
May the Force be with you.