Friday, March 20, 2009

Montessori vs Goddard vs A Beka vs etc

The stress hitting me over this school situation is AWFUL. Sometimes I think that I must be taking this too seriously. No one ever warned me that this school decision was such a difficult one. To calm myself, I am going to therapize here on my blog and also organize myself- I've got folders on each school and take extensive notes during phone calls and jotting down post-visit notes.

Montessori is back on the table. I got a follow up call yesterday morning from one of the heads of the school. She was checking in to see if I had any questions after our visit the week prior. I hesitated... in my head, I'm thinking this school is already off the list so why bother... but decide to ask about the language regarding the parent visit and observation policy.

She was shocked! She had no idea it read that way and it certainly isn't how the school is run. She said they have parents almost daily who pop in at various times just to check on the kids. She assured me numerous times that I would be welcome at any time and that I was also welcome to make an appointment if I wanted to have a more formalized observation with input from the directresses or heads of the school.

We ended the call- and I am feeling like this Montessori school is back on the list. 20 minutes later, she called me back and sealed the deal. She immediately went to the other head of the school and brought this to her attention. Turns out, the Board of Directors of the school have just recently changed the language in the handbook and want it written to be clear that parents are welcome to come into the school at any time.

So not only did she calm my concerns, but she took immediate action to rectify the problem on her end and then followed up with me.

So it is definitely back on the list.

We visited 2 other schools yesterday- just dropped in and asked for info. At both schools, we got a tour and lots of info about the program.

One is a church ministry program that uses the A Beka curriculum. I had no clue what that meant so I did some research. I didn't like what I saw and was ready to drop them from the list. But this place is highly recommended by Miss Lisa and by 2 other parents that have gone through Miss Lisa. So I wanted to check it out, see it for myself.

From my reading, the issue with the A Beka curriculum is that it comes from a fundamentalist Christian publishing company (the fundamentalist part already scared me off) and there have been issues (and even a lawsuit) regarding the pertinent historic and scientific information that is excluded from or simply wrong in the information they print. I asked our guide about the controversy- not stating what it was- and she had no clue what I was talking about. So maybe that's a thing of the past. Or maybe it doesn't really apply to the materials used in a pre-K setting. Checked with a preschool teacher friend of mine... turns out that she was schooled with an A Beka curriculum and advises against it. Says it is too limited. I agree from what we saw when we toured.

It was very focused on reading, writing, and math. The rooms were very small, especially considering that the class could be as large as 16 kids. Very few playthings in the rooms and the focal point of each pre-K room were 2 work tables and child size chairs. I get the impression that the curriculum part of the day focuses a lot on sitting and writing or doing worksheets. Which I don't think suits my daughter very well. Pretty certain it is off the list.

Move on to the next place. It's part of a chain- La Petite Academy. We liked it. Didn't really see anything we didn't like but also didn't love it. It would be fine. But nothing to get super excited about. Curriculum seemed well rounded. My concern was that the teacher turnover was high. Most of the teachers, according to the information in the lobby, had been there a year. The school cook, however, has been there 18 years.

As far as chains go, we are also considering Goddard and Primrose. We need to visit them. And if they pass that first step, we add them to the list.

Oh- another one on my list is a privately owned, independent preschool that will be starting its full day program this fall. The focus at this place is learning through experience and play. Which lines up nicely with what I think Teagan needs. It's a little out of the way for the morning drive and pick up. But... if it is the best choice, then we make it work.

Coming soon... another big pre-K post that will compare out the top 3 choices.


Alison said...

This may be easy for me to say, as a non-parent...but I think you need to ease up on yourself a little. Are you a perfectionist, my dear?

Whenever I'm faced with this kind of life-changing decision, I try to tell myself that there's not just ONE right answer. Teagan would probably do well at two or three, or any, of these schools, and putting her in the second-best one won't destroy her future.

So--even though you didn't ask for advice--I'd recommend you use your pros/cons list to narrow it down to three choices, and then use your gut for the final decision. And then throw out the lists and don't let Teagan know you ever had any doubts about her school.

She'll do great, no matter what you decide.

Eternal Lizdom said...

You absolutely are allowed an opinion- parent status or no. Because we've all had parents, right? So there is some perspective for everyone!!

I know I'm making myself crazy over it. And I am taking the weekend off. Not going to stress about it or fret about it.

And as I look at these schools, I see that these kids are all happy. The transitions are going well, they are playing and having fun and I'm seeing lots of smiles. It's just a matter of what best suits our family and our needs.

Ironically, I really don't think I am a perfectionist, even though I am a Virgo. Or maybe the tendencies have been lying dormant and having kids has brought that out in me? LOL!

Kristi said...

Cross Le Petite off your list. From my experience, they are not the best. Goddard is pretty good. A friend of mine has her son there and he loves it and she's been very happy so far. Your Montessori program sounds AWESOME! I am so glad they responded to you the way they did. That is a great sign! So many places let things go in one ear and out the other. . .

Eternal Lizdom said...

Thanks for the input, Kristi. It's always good to hear what others think. With La Petite... we liked it but weren't really impressed. I can't see us choosing a place we don't really love.

I've basically got 2 left to visit. Goddard and Little Explorers. I'm waivering on Primrose- I think I'll look there if Goddard and LE don't look good at all!

Garret said...

Hmmmmm, it's a shame a coin only has 2 sides.

Don't fret over it Liz.... I'm sure the decision you make now will predetermine if your child will be a serial killer or pregnant at 14. BUT, don't worry.



Mrs4444 said...

Sounds like a tough decision, but I like the way you're going about it. Maybe you should interview that cook! :)

Anonymous said...

i think you're doing the right thing. personally, i remember my parents had my sister & brother in la petite and they pulled them after a year. just food for thought, and my .02.

I know you'll make the best decision!

(but I'm rooting for the Montessorri school ;)

Boozy Tooth said...

Here's where my lack of proper parenting will show...

I am relieved and thrilled and brimming with giddy happiness that my daughter will be graduating from high school in two more months. Yay!!! I will finally be released from that grinding machine once and for all. College is different. College is cool, but I pity the poor mom who is just getting her little ones into Pre-school. The road is long my friend. Do your homework, but rely on your gut. Teagan will be fine anywhere you put her, but she will thrive where she is most happy and comfortable... not where the most aggressive/progressive cirriculum resides. Take a breath, it will be fine.

PS: Montessorri schools are generally good choices tho. FYI.