Friday, January 21, 2011

The Search Is On

It's that time again.  With another long-term substitute teaching job beginning in February, we again start searching for another wonderful daycare/preschool for Brandon.  I am SO EXCITED that he will be able to start going again, and so is he.  Brandon asks me every morning if he's going to school!

In California, the preschool choices were limited, which made it an easy choice to make.  You either chose one or the other.  In the city we live in, there are over 20 preschools!

So this morning I went to a few places that I'd done some research on to find the perfect fit for not only our checkbook, but for Brandon.  Going into this, I knew what I was looking for.  Brandon has been in daycare/preschool since he was 1 1/2.  I want structure, since Brandon THRIVES on that.  I want a place where he will learn all day, and not be in front of the television.  A place where there is singing and music, since he LOVES music.  A place where they discipline with a kind, but firm hand.  The biggest thing I kept telling myself was to trust my instincts.

Preschool #1
The first place I went to is pretty close to where we live.  That is a plus.  Walking in my first thought was about how small it is.  And by small I mean I felt like I was walking down a narrow hallway.  The preschools he's attended in the past have been very open.  I just couldn't get past feeling like I was walking down a jail corridor.  There was no art work on the walls, and it simply didn't feel like a preschool.  And the first thing you see when you walk in is a room to the side with a television.  Apparently they watch a movie in the morning until 9am when the "structure" begins.  I didn't like that at all.  It's a good price, but I left Preschool #1 very unimpressed.

Preschool #2
I see this place everyday when I drive Brandon to my sister's house.  It's a lot further away from our apartment than the first place, and it's the most expensive of the three places I toured, but I love this place.  #2 felt like a school from the moment I walked in.  The director is a very nice lady.  Art work on the walls, cubbies for the kids, a more open environment, wonderful structure, and fun days like "PJ day", and "pizza day" happen each month.  During the summer they have a fun day each week where something like a bounce house will come for entertainment, or the fire or police department come and teach the children.   I left Preschool #2 pretty much knowing I wanted Brandon there.

Preschool #3
When I first started researching preschool's in the area, I found a website about this place.  I was blown away by the incredible things that they taught.  Social Studies, Drama, Music, P.E., along with the other basic curriculum, it sounded like this place was going to be most like "real school" out of the three I toured.  Walking in, I was impressed.  It's the most open of the three schools.  I soon discovered that being as open as it is has it's disadvantages.  A few children came walking out of their classrooms and were just standing around.  That was a red flag for me.  The children shouldn't be allowed to, or even able to simply walk out of their classrooms and wander with no adult around.  Another thing I immediately noticed was how chaotic it was.  There was A LOT of noise.  Having dealt with preschools, and being a teacher, I can tell the difference between learning noise and just plain noise.  This was the latter.  I just couldn't get past how crazy it felt in there.  Brandon is at his best when there is structure and routine.  Now, it could've been an off moment, but it started to feel like there was just too much going on there.  I also discovered that Brandon wouldn't move into the 4 year old class until May.  He turns four the end of March.  That means he'll be the oldest (and a lot older than most of the kids in the 3 year old class) until May.  I left Preschool #3 very confused.

After having a chance to think about it a little more, I really want to go with Preschool #2.  The environment felt right, the director was wonderful, taking her time to show me around, answer my questions, give me all the information I could possibly want.  It's further away, and a little more expensive than the other two, but I want the best for Brandon.  We've been very lucky in the past when it comes to preschool; they've both been wonderful.  I believe this place will fit him well. 

Here's to hoping it all works out!!

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