It is amazing to me that neither of my kids have attended a school for longer than a year. I think part of the problem was too many options. Somehow, both in NJ and in Kansas the choices have overwhelmed me. I put my kids in schools based on what I thought was best for them at the time, but later the situation changed or I realized the school wasn’t the best option or we moved. Let me summarize…When Gabbie was 17 months old, I started working full time. She went to a non-sectarian day care in our town.
- It was local and convenient.
- Meals were served for lunch and Gabbie ate vegetarian.
- She learned so much there, including how to walk with confidence, play with other kids, answer “What’s your name?”, identify colors, etc.
That fall I got pregnant with Zachary, and after I had him (plus 2 months of part time attendance) Gabbie returned home with me. First school attendance time totaled about 11 months, stopped attending due to my work situation.Gabbie started preschool at the age of 3 (almost 3 1/2). We chose to send her to a JCC school due in part to the cost (not as expensive as the Jewish day school) and because of their swimming program. Starting with summer camp, she attended 3 mornings a week, plus lunch and a brief after school enrichment class.
- It was 20 minutes away.
- Gabbie stayed through lunch and those who stayed brought their own food.
- Although the school was a JCC, due to the area of its location most of the children in Gabbie’s class were Indian. Gabbie and two or three other kids were taken out of their classroom on Fridays to attend a separate Jewish education class.
- The children learned English letter recognition.
At the end of that school year, I decided to get serious about Gabbie’s preschool education and choose the school she would attend for her elementary years, with the intention of her attending pre-K there as well. Second school attendance time totaled about 10 months, stopped attending mostly due to my desire for her to start her Jewish education.We chose a school for Gabbie that was attended by Jewish children of all backgrounds; however the teachers and the content taught were Orthodox. We witnessed the pre-K class learning their English letters and we were impressed by the teacher we observed. Unfortunately, Gabbie never got to attend this school because by that July we found out we would be moving to Kansas. I wanted Gabbie to begin school before the move, because she needed the structure and the social environment, and with the Jewish holidays in the fall I didn’t want her to miss that content especially. However, the school would not accept Gabbie for only 6 weeks. To review, this school:
- Was 40 minutes from our home and would have included a bus ride.
- Kosher lunch was provided.
- Jewish education was traditionally based.
- English letters were taught in Pre-K.
Luckily, both Gabbie and Zachary were able to attend school during our last 6 weeks in NJ thanks to my father-in-law’s involvement in his synagogue’s nursery school. Gabbie learned more about Judaism in those 6 weeks than she had in her year at the JCC school. The projects she brought home were amazing – a huge poster depicting the creation of the world, a beautiful Noah’s Ark, a real shofar, etc. English studies were also included, though were not completely started during our time at the school, due to the Jewish holiday schedule. Zachary, in the 2 year old class, also brought home educational projects surrounding the color red, etc. This school:
- Was one hour from our home, until we moved in with my in-laws, then it was 5 minutes away.
- Everyone brought their lunches, but 3 days a week there was a lunch option including bagels, pizza, and mac & cheese.
- It was an Orthodox school.
- General studies were taught as well as Judaic studies.
I was sad to take the kids out of that school. Total attendance time: 6 weeks. In case you’ve lost count, while in NJ, Gabbie attended 3 separate schools, not including the back up day care through Dave’s work! Zachary only attended the one, although he (and Gabbie) had attended a back yard day camp that summer.How many schools / camps have your children (or you as a kid) attended? Have you found one that you have stuck with or did you change schools often like we did? What do you look for in a school – specifically a preschool – or do you keep your kids home until kindergarten? (Home school? That’s cool too!)Stay tuned to find out about our continued school search in Kansas!