Friday, April 1, 2011

lunchbox daze

Hayden on his first day of school this year - no lunchbox.

"Is it a lunchbox day mama?"

"Let's check the calendar honey".

Hayden's calendar is a throw away from the insurance agent with inspirational quotes for each month.  Barf.  But it serves it's purpose, which is to indicate which days he brings his lunchbox and stays at school until 3 versus coming home and noon.  Tuesdays and Thursdays are lunchbox days at our house.

"It is a lunchbox day mama.  No no no!  I hate lunchbox days.  I miss you.  It's boring.  I hate it.  If it is a lunchbox day I'm not going".

This is our morning conversation 2/5 days a week.  (That's awkward - I do realize there are 7 days in a week, but only 5 in a school week... anyway..)

It is spring and school registration time is here.  Hayden could go to the adorable, old, wood-floored public elementary school next year.  He will eventually attend this school in first grade and could start next year in kindergarden.  According to it's stats, something I tend not to put much credence in, the school is stellar; one of the best in the county - one of the best in the state.  It is a 5 minute walk from our house, he would be in class with the same kids he's been friends with since we made friends here, and he would be home by noon every day.  Kindergarden at public schools here in the Great Inland Empire is half days only.

The other option is to stay at the Montessori he's at now.  He would be requires to go days 5 days a week from 9 to 3.  Every day would be a lunchbox day.  He would learn how do multiply and divide with 5 digit numbers.  He would write stories with beautiful cursive writing and be one of four kindergarden children which would mean really individual attention from the teacher 3 hours a day.  He would have the experience of being the "big kid" in the classroom.

Montessori also costs a little under $6000 per year.  Ouch.  Cute public school wins on that one.  With the extra money we could save for college and do more extracurricular activities.  With half days we could have more time together as a family and I would get to put off losing my baby to school and his peers for one more year.  Conversely, or just the same idea with the opposite connotation, I would have to spend every day from noon until bedtime with my two kids.  We might not all survive.

We had our conference today with Hayden's Montessori teacher.  I told her my concerns - how he isn't liking the long days and I worry that next year, if we stay, he will dislike school and that feeling will stay with him throughout his education.  She had some really good points in favor of his staying at Montessori the strongest of which was that this year he isn't reading and writing so he spends not a small part of the time after lunch watching other kids and probably feeling bored and a little out of place. Next year he will be further along and fully participating in all the afternoon activities, including the "fun" extras they do like baking and field trips.

Good point.  And he will be 5 months older.  5 months is a long time when you have lived only 5 years. Maybe lunchbox days will be exciting by then, instead of something to dread and whine about.

Pricey but probably, at least for the next year, academically and socially superior school versus adorable, long-term, community based, free neighborhood school.  How do we decide?  What is the right answer?  Or the more right answer?  The less wrong answer?  As I ruminate part of my brain reminds me that this is, in the grand scheme of things, not such a big deal.  He will (probably) (almost definitely) be fine either way and, if he isn't, his tracing it back to the mistake his parents made when deciding where to send him to kindergarden seems improbable.

But still, I feel all angsty and unsettled.

.... and these are only the small problems, right?  Little people, little problems....

So come on, what would you do?  My husband will be thrilled that I'm taking advice "from the internets" so bring it on!


Mom24 said...

Public school, 1/2 days. It all goes too fast. Sorry, but with my oldest being almost 27 (gaak!), that's my vote with my hindsight.

I want to reiterate though that neither choice is "bad" or "wrong".

good luck.

$6000 is a LOT of moolah!

Lisa L said...

He would learn how do multiply and divide with 5 digit numbers. He would write stories with beautiful cursive writing ..

Wow. In Kindergarten? Seriously? If he learned how to do that at that age I would be seriously impressed! That is truly amazing. But. I'm an older mum too, and honestly? Having my son at home for a half day in kinder was my kind of awesome. ( I worked, but did shift work, so no biggie.) My girls went to full day K, and I missed them. Another thought.. if he learns all that advanced stuff in kinder, won't he be bored as the proverbial stick when he goes to public school in 1st grade? Mey...six thou would be wonderful for extra-curricular fun :)

Me. Us. She. said...

Coming out of reading the post i thought the last sentence would be that you'd chosen public. You didn't say that but it certainly was the overall feel - like your gut is telling you public but your brain is having a hard time making the decision...

Harvard to Homemaker said...

Thanks you all -
I know, 6 grand is a ton, right? Could we even afford that? I should look into that before I make any commitments..
I think I'm trying to make myself want public because I have issues about my kids excelling at school - I did and I secretly want my kids to but don't want to put pressure on them.. and in my mind doing more earlier = excelling even though it doesn't mean he'll be any further ahead in 5th grade...
oh, surprise! It's really my issue, not my kids..:)

Jennifer said...

Ok, well... I vote Montessori. Not only because I would like to see you in the mornings (and one day go out to coffee). But, also because I am a huge Montessori fan.

I am also a huge public school fan.

Oh man. I don't know!!

One thing to know about the academics in Montessori is that a child doesn't necessarily learn to do advanced mathematics and language. What they DO learn is HOW to learn and those other things come to them easily (almost secondarily).

How to learn: Long work cycles, organization, clean-up, independence, repetition, follow up on lessons aka "practice makes perfect", and so on.

These are the most important things that children take from Montessori. Sadly, I could make a list just as long about community building in public school. To bad your public Kindergarten isn't Montessori!

All the best in your decision,


MommyOver40 said...

Your public school IS an amazing one, and I really think Hayden would love it there. Of course, I want him at John's school so I can see you guys daily, but half-days are nice. You can fill the afternoons with TV (kidding), gymnastics, "play-dates", Mobius, Jump-N-Bounce, karate, quiet time, etc. He will be gone all day starting in 1st grade, the end of an era, as I see it. That's MY opinion. (:

Anonymous said...

Teacher commenting here. Montessori programs can be wonderful but don't get too hyped up or overly impressed on the five digit multiplying, learning a foreign language stuff. That really is not appropriate work for kindergarteners and although kids may be able to do it they don't understand it. My niece went to Montessori through first grade--she could speak in French and point out every country on the globe but that information had no meaning for her, no context. It didn't stay with her, she did not retain it, there was no foundation for it. Block building, playing store, math games where kids get a sense of the ones place, the tens place etc... and what they truly mean are much more inportant than five digit math. Obviously, this is my bone of contention with the recent educational move to push everything down--kids doing thrid grade work in kindergarten. What is the point--do we ant our children to go to college at 12? Learning to socialize appropriately, to take turns, to share ideas, to tell stories, to enjoy books etc.... are getting lost in the shuffle.
My vote is to go with the public school. (I have to admit though public school in my district has full day kindergarten and I actually love full day kindergarten from the perspective of a mom)

heytheredearheart said...

Wow. I feel like saying, ditto what the previous commenter said. It makes me feel better about choosing public school.

That said, it's hard to turn away from a program that you can afford that truly meets Hayden's particular needs and opens up opportunities for long term joy at school. From my brother's experience, I can tell you that liking or hating school matters to one's commitment to meet (and exceed) all those academic milestones that lie ahead.

zysele said...

Relax--you can't do this wrong. There are real choices (such as: what would you like for dessert), but this isn't one. As long as neither schools is subtitled "We torture kidz," no amount of agonizing will ever tease out the "right" choice. Even if Hayden eventually brings peace to the Middle East or (god forbid) becomes a Republican, you won't be able to trace it to his life in kindergarten

Joy said...

In Defense of Montessori:
To the "teacher" who wrote about Montessori vs. public. I want you to know that I hardly need to defend Montessori to Elise. She DID choose to send her child to a Montessori school, after all. I do want to write a bit so that others may see.

Montessori is all about context and building blocks. I am really sorry for your niece who "unlearned" her Montessori education. One day she may be like so many others who said that their Montessori education was their foundation for all of their life's learning potential.
There is nothing pushed or taught. The ultimate compliment for a Montessori teacher is for her students to say "I learned it my myself". The individual is king in that environment. Choosing to work independently and within groups guides the sprit to life's purpose. It is the way that humans are supposed to learn. After all, why is it that more than 90% of neurologists send their children to Montessori schools?

As for Public schools. I love the idea of creating a middle ground for all to partake... breaking the cycle of classism, racism, and most other dreadful “isms”. However, the system is broken and public school is now a place were we DO shove information down children’s’ throats. Drill the facts and figures into their heads and then skill test. Identify the weak and set your bar to their level and repeat. The "drill and skill" mentality doesn't work with the way our sprits and our minds seek information It is in direct opposition in fact (oh, and if you have a boy, it is 10x worse). Check this out:

One more MUST for any parent is from Dr. Steve Hughes

I really hope you find a solution that is the best fit for YOUR family. If I could offer just one piece of advice: Do what causes the adults in the family the least amount of anxiety. Your children will benefit from that more than any educational system.

All the best,

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Harvard to Homemaker said...

Thanks everyone. We're going to half day K at the local school. Hayden loves to be home so I'm going to go with that for now. I figure he will learn either way, and I want to support the public schools and if something happens in the future where it is not the right fit for Hayden then maybe we will make changes, but we don't want to *assume* the schools are going to fail us.
Oh god, am I speaking in the Royal We??!
Also I just couldn't get over my love for the idea of him walking to school, with friends and neighbors, to an old building that, okok yes, is dwarfed by a hideous addition, but adorable nonetheless.
Thanks for all your thoughts! Now what to do with Zeni...

Maggie May said...

My son went to Montessori and loved it, but the transition from that to public school was brutal. It's good to think these things through so lovingly, and I'm sure he'll be great in public school :)

Tracey - Just Another Mommy Blog said...

Public school. Even better, homeschool. :) That's just me, though. Seriously, had I known then what I know now, I'd have homeschooled from the start.

Anonymous said...

The "teacher" here--just looked back after posting a comment a few weeks (months) ago. Didn't mean to come off as basing all Montessori--I know some places call themselves Montessori based but it has lost a clear definition because so many have adopted the term. Individual based learning is wonderful--It is five digit multiplication thing got me going.
I am not sure what teacher would think of that as appropriate for kindergarten level children regardless of whether it is a public or private school.
My niece's school was MOntessori and for whatever reason they loved to pull out the map and have the kids recite the countires whenever there was a family day at school.
ANyway, I am sure no one is reading this anymore but didn't mean to offend.
I agree with other poster--whatever is the least stressful choice for your family is the best.

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