Saturday, May 05, 2007

Preschool Preview

So the other day we got a packet in the mail from the preschool. Never mind that the beginning of preschool is over four months away; I guess this is when it all begins. Inside the envelope was just what you'd expect: immunization and other health forms to be signed by our pediatrician, an emergency contact card for the school's files, forms to fill out listing Julia's likes, dislikes, skills, particular needs (if any), etc. Oh, and the sheet listing the tuition and when it's due. OK, I don't expect preschool to be free, and my understanding is that this program is reasonably priced, but to get a tuition bill in early May, right at the vivid blossoming explosion of spring, when all you want to think about is the carefree summer ahead (not how the heck you're going to pay one more bill), is, well, a bit of a buzzkill.

However, the tuition bill wasn't nearly as much of a buzzkill as the notice, in bold caps, that ALL CHILDREN MUST BE POTTY TRAINED; NO PULL-UPS! No Pull-Ups? THAT is hardcore. Let's just say that right then, my concerns about paying the preschool bill started to fade away, so unlikely does it seem at this point that by fall Julia will be potty-trained--and, in fact, potty-trained to such a degree that she does not even need Pull-Ups. I could be wrong. But really? Seems unlikely. (Actually she only has until August, when the first tuition installment becomes unrefundable.)

Then there was the firm statement that "all families are expected to volunteer on a committee" and that "parents are expected to volunteer in the classroom." However, naturally, "no other children are allowed" to come along during these classroom stints. What, I'm supposed to pay for childcare for one child so that I can go volunteer in the preschool room of the other? Apparently, I am!

Yeah, yeah, I know this is TOTALLY typical, that this is what you have to do when you have a kid in preschool. I'm sure it's even typical to send out the tuition bill in May. But it just felt a little unseemly to me, anyway--the surprise early tuition bill, the stern warning about Pull-Ups, the faintly authoritarian "we expect you to volunteer." Maybe it was just my mood at the time, but it just about begged the cliched reaction of, What, my tuition money isn't enough?

I don't mean to sound, um, less than enthusiastic and appropriately involved. As a psychologist and an educated, interested parent, of course I know that parental involvement in a child's school experiences predicts a host of positive outcomes. I was just thinking that, oh, maybe that kind of thing wouldn't need to happen in earnest QUITE this early. Like, maybe my three-year-old could go to nursery school for two hours at a time a couple of mornings a week while I at last enjoy some quality alone time with my infant--maybe taste the semi-freedom of only one child to care for on those mornings--without having to throw in extra hours of my time here and there for committees and projects? Like, isn't there enough time for all that craziness during, oh, the next FIFTEEN YEARS?

Maybe another year (of Pull-Ups!) before preschool wouldn't be the worst thing in the world?


Donna said...

Yes, it's daunting to receive that packet. And the bold lettering about no pull-ups? Yeah, it sucks to read it, but I'm sure it's because they get a lot of calls about it. And, at least where we are, if a preschool deals with diapers (pullups included) they need an additional license from the Dept. of Health, so that's why pullups aren't allowed at most preschools.

She will be potty trained. I'm sure of that.

Don't stress. The more you stress, the less likely she'll be to accept it. That is another thing I'm sure of.

Shan said...

OK, good advice from a (more) experienced mom. Thank you! :)

Elise said...

1. I believe in Julia: I bet she's potty trained before preschool begins.

2. That stuff about the volunteering? With no other kids allowed? IS TOTAL CRAP. Yeah, I also get that parents need to be involved and I'm sure that you'll happily do your part when the time comes, but to phrase it like that hardly makes it seem like a volunteer opportunity, does it? And how IN THE HELL are you supposed to volunteer during the school day without bringing your other kid along if they're not in school yet themselves? Like I said, crap. That right there is where I would absolve myself of all guilt for telling them (when the time comes) to stick that in their pipe and smoke it.

... which is just my vehement way of saying, I don't think your reaction is weird at all. :-)

Shan said...

Ah, I knew Elise would come through for me. :)

Christopher said...

Less stridently than the girl from Dixie, I concur - the "expectation" for volunteering (like their website's running list of things they need, from wipes to crayons) is annoying. I think there's just no way that you (Shannon) can "volunteer" while Gigi is home. Depending on when they expect the volunteering to occur (i.e., at the same time J is at class?), I might be able to do it. But neither situation is exactly sensical, and I won't feel too bad about either not doing it now or shrugging it off when it's mentioned by the staff.

Jordan said...

Did they phrase it as "volunteeering"? From their website (if I remember it right, and I may not) it sounded so much like the one Lyle's going to go to, which is a co-op. If it's not a co-op, I don't think you actually have to do it, but if it is, you have to, it's why they are so much cheaper than other places. What people do is find other moms/dads in the school and you can take turns with each other's kids when it's your turn, if you don't have anyone else to watch the kids. Find someone to share with, just one other parent, and you only have their younger child once a month, and they take Gigi once a month so you can be involved in the school.

Also, she will be potty trained. If she says she's going to do it just before school starts, believe her and don't worry. If it hasn't happened a couple weeks before, take the diapers away and it'll happen.

Shan said...

Hey Jordan--thanks for the comment! Yes, it's actually called "volunteering," and I haven't heard the word co-op used with this nursery school, so I think it is true volunteering, just....suggested in a heavy-handed manner. That's a great idea about watching each other's kids though. Hadn't even thought of that and we are already friends with another family with girls our girls' ages. As for potty training, OK. You and Donna both agree, so I'll trust you on this one.