Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Staying Another Year At Montessori Preschool Instead of Public Kindergarten?

Two more public school visits to go. Had to postpone one visit because I've been sick lately with the cold from hell. Why is it my kids can get over a cold in 48 hours but it takes me at least a week? Bleh.

I've been thinking that the path of least resistance might be to simply have DS stay another year in the excellent, small bilingual Montessori preschool for kids ages 3-6 he currently attends. The pros/cons to staying where he is look like this--

The Pros:

  • He's been so happy there for a year and a half now - it's a known quantity.
  • We all love it. (And I'm a tough critic, so that's saying a lot.)
  • The curriculum is challenging enough for him.
  • He's never bored there because they're always looking for signs of disengagement and then immediately taking action.
  • Easiest logistics in terms of kids attending one school, with workable drop off/pick up times.
  • It's affordable.
  • This will be his final chance to get a Montessori education locally.
  • Another lice-free year for our family. There's a good chance my kids will eventually get lice in public school because pretty much everyone here does at some point (not judging, just stating the facts ma'am). But then again, he could get something preventable like Pertussis, of course! And not that there's anything wrong with getting lice except it is a huge pain in the arse to treat it, and I suspect I will bear the brunt of it because my office is at my house.
  • No bullies/abuse.
  • Can keep learning Spanish.
  • Can continue to learn at own pace and love learning.

The Cons:

  • DS will probably be the oldest kid in the school next year (which is what happens when a kid has an Oct birthday, with an Aug 31 school cut off)
  • In the absence of older kids, I have a nagging feeling he'll be missing out on building some social skills - though I can't quite articulate what specific skills I'm thinking of... hmm...
  • He naturally clicks with kids who are 2 years older than him, and he's the same size as most 7-year-olds even though he's 5. So he'll really look bigger than the other kids, but will he care?
  • There's the notion folks around here believe that Montessori sometimes "ruins kids for public school" - as if they are so thrilled about learning and are curious and ahead of grade level that they simply can't fit in when it's time for public school. Quite an indictment of our local public schools if you ask me. Eventually, there's nowhere else for kids to get educated locally except public school or homeschool (or a combo of the 2). Yes, there are religious schools but trust me, they are out of the question, and anyway they are no good academically (unlike parochial schools in bigger cities).
  • The Spanish learning at Montessori is not immersion, meaning his spoken Spanish probably won't develop as quickly as it would if he were to attend the Spanish-literacy public K, we think (hard to assess).
  • Possible harder transition to public first grade as a 6.5 year old?

Your thoughts?

Monday, February 11, 2013

How To Break Up With My Newest Book Club

I harbor this super unrealistic fantasy that I will someday find myself in a local Podunkville book club that will be a perfect fit for me: it will be a welcoming space where everyone's voices can be heard, where we read interesting, challenging books and actually talk about them intelligently and in a way that honors differing perspectives.

Obviously, I've been there, tried that multiple times - and truly, this is never going to happen. Never? No, not ever. I see that clearly now. Dream dashed, but it's ok.

What keeps happening is that I'm a terrible judge of how certain people are going to eventually behave in a group setting. For example, there's one person I completely misjudged as being a lot more open and agreeable than they really are, and well, I now wish to extricate myself from any and all association with said person. (Long story short: this person has a habit of revealing other people's private information in a harsh, public manner, doesn't read social cues well, and totally dominates the conversation. And now I feel the need to protect myself.)

So, I once again find myself in "deja vu all over again"-land. The new book club started in September. By November, I had discovered I needed to get out. I've been trying the Be Perpetually Busy method of book club break ups ever since, to no avail.

I think a break up email to the whole group is probably in order. But something about that idea makes me cringe inside. Please tell me how you would go about breaking up with a local book club you had just joined.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Foster Kid

Legally, I am not permitted to say much (even in this space, which I hope? remains an anonymous blog) but I'd just like to share that we've recently made a wonderful temporary addition to our home. We've become a first-time foster family.

Foster Kid is about 15-months younger than our 3-year-old DD. FK is a sleeper, and is one of the most easy-going, laid back children I have ever met. Hallelujah! DS and DD are absolutely over the moon about FK.

I can't say much more than that. We hope FK stays with us for awhile, but I'm guessing FK's young parents will be ready to resume full residential custody of FK again pretty soon.

It's been quite a journey.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Disney Princess Obsession

Lately my 5-year-old son has been asking us to get him books about princesses, particularly the Disney princesses. Admittedly, I'm not a huge fan of the idea of overexposing my kids to the Disney Princess Marketing Machine, for all of the usual learned helplessness/lack of agency criticisms you so often hear. Yet, now that he's old enough to choose his own library books I feel like I just need to let him explore his own interests, and this is where he is. (I've offered him my own favorite awesome princess book ever, "The Paper Bag Princess" but sadly, he's not all that excited about it. Darn.)

He spent 2 hours the other day reading all about Beauty and the Beast, and asking tons of questions. Last night, he showed me a picture in an encyclopedia of Disney princesses and told me that Prince Eric is the one he really wants to marry someday, and that he predicts his little sister will marry Prince Naveen. (Does he finally know what the word "marry" means? Yes, we think so.)

Yes, I occasionally wonder about DS's sexual orientation. Whatever his eventual preferences may be, it really does not change anything about the way I choose to parent. "You kids can grow up and marry either a man or a woman-- whomever you like" is a constant refrain at Casa Hush. We're all about "free to be you and me" here. Yes, boys can play with dolls and princesses! Yes, girls can play with trucks and baseball bats! That's the beauty of having one kid of each sex - they get easy access to the full array of toys out there. They get to share and trade the various gender-stereotyped toys their great aunt sent them for Xmas.

It makes me a little sad that DS refuses to bring any of his beloved princess books into preschool - as if he clearly knows he could be teased for being seen with them. He knows his superhero books are the so-called "right" socially-appropriate ones for him to be seen with at school, and he brings those all the time. It breaks my heart that he doesn't feel safe to share his princess-loving side at school, even though the teachers would be beyond totally accepting of him. How quickly kids pick up on the unspoken, but very rigid social gender norms out there.

The kids have been begging us to rent some Disney princess movies. I give up. "The Princess and the Frog" is on the books for this weekend. At least Tiana seems like a princess with some entrepreneurial moxie.