Wednesday, November 30, 2011

My Tiger Mom Fail

Important, special note to the Cheerfully Child-Free crowd: I apologize that this site has turned into an excuse to post cutesty baby photos lately; I just haven't been feeling the "stuff" posts, but until I (inevitably) do so again please go admire the new Pippas (the bag, not the booty-in-waiting) here.


I have an admission to make, one of which that I can't decide whether I should be Type-A Minus proud or embarrassed. Let's go with both: my wee CEO is already on preschool wait-lists and, wait for it, has been since he was in utero. That is to say, before we had any idea whatsoever of his personality, I waddled around a few schools, pregnantly pretending to be a responsible adult who has Important Thoughts about wee person education, and plunked down a few deposit checks. 

If you can believe it, that is apparently a normal thing here in my slice of overly educated, NPR-listening, Whole Foods-shopping Austin, where theoretically optional things like preschool aren't really.

Let me explain: some of the best advice I received in the wee CEO's early days - that I can recall, I should add, since that time is shrouded in a cloud of exhaustion and "WTF do I do with a newborn???" bewilderment -  was to find a group of like-minded new mothers. As I've mentioned before here, eventually I've been lucky enough to do just that, but I didn't meet them or have the benefit of that support group until after Master P's arrival - which resulted in things like pre-partum waddles around preschools pretending I knew how to parent a child, let alone select a school for him.

The "Where should I send my child to preschool?" chat broke out, as it tends to do, at our playgroup the other day, when I was reminded how happy I am to know these people. After discussing the merits of Montessori versus Waldorf versus, I dunno, letting children be children, one mom mentioned a local program that starts 2-year-olds on intensive Mandarin & Spanish lessons.

Blank stares abounded as I furtively looked from one mom to the other & thought to myself, "OK, I'm as big an education snob advocate as anyone, but at 2 years of age isn't my tot supposed to be doing things like learning how to play nicely with others?" I remained silent. "Will they think I'm strange if I want him to do big, impressive stuff like learning advanced calculus, but maybe not six months from now?"

"That's impressive," my friend continued, "I dunno, though - I want my kid bringing home the occasional finger-painting too, right?" I laughed and nodded in agreement, relieved. Yes, I do know.

So I may re-tour some preschools, less the hormones and the panic I had the first time around, armed with a bit more knowledge of Master P and what the AH & I want out of an early school experience for him. Sure, a good learning environment is a top priority, but so is a place where my boy will feel safe and adored and free to be a boisterous, ornament thieving toddler too.

I suspect this isn't the mindset a true Type A, Tiger Mom sort would encourage, but there you have it. Playing nicely with others is rightly up there with learning skillz on my list - and not a bad reminder for us here on the Interwebs, is it? 

Any advice for embarking on this preschool selection process? 


Jessica said...

Oh dear... Our top choice right now for Julia is a Spanish-immersion Montessori school. I do plan, however, to wait until she's the ripe old age of 16 months before I embark on this journey in earnest.

I agree, it sounds like a slippery-slope. I want her to be a child, I do. Go finger paint and pick flowers and spin in the grass. But I know she's bright, and I know she could handle another language, and part of me worries that it'd be irresponsible for me to NOT explore that possibility.

(And um... full disclosure. The Spanish school of which I speak also happens to be the closest preschool to our house. (Omg am I pressuring my kid academically just because I'm lazy?! Ahhh....))

I have no advice but I'll be watching the comments for this closely. We're going to start plunking down our deposits after the holidays.

Carly Anne said...

This is all terrifying to me.I periodically forget about necessary parent stuff, like choosing a per-school. When will the little start this business?

Lindley said...

I was preschool obsessed, meaning I toured at least six different preschools for my first. Granted, I was also pregnant at the time and I blame my preschool craziness on pregnancy hormones. Anyway, there are so many preschools out there-some have curriculums, some are just completely play-based. I chose one in the middle-it has a curriculum, but is also play based, so kids learn through lots of free (but somewhat structured) free play. I also chose the preschool because my daughter came on the tour with me and refused to leave, so I figured it was a good match. The teachers were also really important to me, and at my daughter's preschool, the teachers are all very nurturing, with most of them having been there for 10 or more years. Finally, it is NAEYC accredited, and I liked that apsect of it. Sorry for the novel-I was just a total preschool nut, so I thought I would weigh in!

The Preppy Princess said...

This Miss Pretty, is precisely why yours truly and TC do not have humanoid children. At this point I would be camped out on the steps of School #1 and have paid representatives camped out at Schools 2-5. Seriously.

Because you do a stellar job of explaoining things in language even I can comprehend, I am of the 'let kids be kids while they still can be kids' body of thought, there will be plenty of time later for Mandarin immersion.

Again, there are reasons why our children crawl around on all fours shedding fur wherever they go.

ms. mindless said...

Good luck. I am dreading this in the DC area when I am finally blessed with a mini miss (or mr) mindless. It is insane. And I am equally as type A and secretly devoured the tiger mom book and was disappointed that she gave up on the second child. How can you call yourself a Chinese mother if you let the child win? I am slightly sick, I know.

Master P will be fine, even if he doesn't end up at ANY preschool because he is your child :) Good luck figuring this one out!

AEOT said...

Well, since SYT is in daycare, he won't go to preschool (it's incorporated into our daycare). However, picking daycare was equally important to us and not only did the feel of it really play a roll for us, I also wanted a fun and NOT off the way, holy crap how do people afford this and still pay their mortgage experience. One daycare we looked at was amazing and had certified teachers only on staff, but do I really need teachers in the infant classroom who have bachelor's degrees? What I really need is someone to hold him, love him, and feed him. I really am happy with our current daycare and have heard great things about the older classrooms as well. We aren't in a big enough city to have spanish immersion daycares :( though there is a spanish immersion preschool and elementary (where we are considering for SYT). If I stayed home, I would definitely want a preschool that is structured but also provides time for exploratory play AND outside time. IMO, outside play is severely underrated and kids need it (it's one of the things I adore about our daycare!!). I'm sure you'll find one you love!!

Whitericebryce said...

Go visit and tour a ton of the preschools in the area. Your gut and instincts will tell you which one is the right one for Master P. Be forewarned, the one that we wanted for B & C had a one year wait list.....a lot of the good ones unfortuanetly do....

LPC said...

All I'm going to do is include a link here to the school that took my kids from nursery to 8th grade. As you know, they both wound up at Princeton. Anecdotal data in support of play, play, play, even if you want the mainstream success outcome.

They even teach pottery.

Kate said...

I'm pretty sure my boss almost had a heart attack when she realized that preschool waitlists start at birth (or earlier!). So crazy! I get that parents want the best for their kids but wow, it's way too competitive out there!

Amy @ Forever 29 said...

This is another reason I love my low-key suburban life...around here you just pick a local church MMO program and that's about it. Sure, there are other options but, as you discussed, at this point for me it's mostly about him doing the fingerpainting outside of my house!

Mrs. R said...

Hubby and I are starting the pre school tour now. You are talking to someone who introduced flash cards to their baby at 7 weeks. Yep, Type A++ all the way. I do believe there can be a balance. Children should have fun but you should have a curriculum. I do think I have a bit of tiger mom in me, but I do not want to eliminate my child's creativity!!

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