Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Preschool Application

Maybe where you live, choosing a preschool is no big deal.  Or perhaps you're cool and laid back and you picked your preschool because its around the corner and has a nice playground.  Maybe its not some insane-in-the-membrane, cluster-iffic process of finding the Perfect Preschool so that your Precious Angel is prepared for Kindergarten and given every advantage in starting their all-important Academic Journey.

There are strong opinions on this topic.  Don't even get me started on Montessori schools and $12,000/year tuition for morning preschool.  It's great and all - but WHUCK?! That's crazytown.  They're three. They're learning things like "don't crap your pants" and "this is how to stand in line" and "you should sit on the piece of tape that says your name" and "try not to bite people if they accidentally take your crayon".  You shouldn't be paying the equivalent of college tuition for that. 

In my neck of the woods, parents start looking at preschools the year before their kids start (or sometimes even earlier).  They spend as much time and effort researching preschools as doctoral students spend on their dissertations.  They apply for a spot in their chosen school at least nine months before the school year starts.  They get in line to file those applications at 4am. 

I have never been one of those maniacs parents. But I came close.  I bought into the madness.  Five years ago, after moving to the suburbs of Washington, DC, I evaluated eleven preschools.  Then I found mine.  Let's call it "Totally Awesome Church Preschool".  It was amazing.  The staff was incredible. The building was perfect. The kids were so happy and sweet.  The curriculum was NAEYC accredited!  The gold standard! It was parent participatory, so I could go to school with my precious angel and help out in the classroom and get to know all the other children and their families. Maybe my friendless, lonely self would even make a mommy friend there!*

*And I did make mommy friends!  Eventually I even met Kate, but only after she was kind of mean to me.  Then we bonded over a mutual meltdown in the preschool parking lot and now she wuvs me and the rest is history.

So I applied.  I filled out the 27-page application.  I submitted personal information for two separate criminal background checks.  I got a TB test.  I wrote a big deposit check.  I showed up at 5:45am to submit my registration and because I was so much later than all the other parents, I secured the very last spot in the class.  But I got it.  Whew! And also Wooo!

Flash forward five years later.  I loved the preschool so much I volunteered for everything.  Then I became a church member.  Then I found out something amazing and magical.  The children of church members automatically get into the preschool.  They get first dibs on admissions.  They have to take my kid.  And that's a big relief because the only little kid I've got left is Mini.  And she's a devil cupcake, an evil genius, and quite possibly listed on multiple TSA and FBI watch lists. 

I didn't think there was any point in being anything other than totally honest in my preschool application because of several important reasons:
(1) They have to take her.
(2) They know both me and Kate pretty well and know that we're a little whackadoodle.
(3) They read this blog and they know my kid.

I thought I'd share 2 pages of the 27 page application:
- page 2 -

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2010

27 comments:

  1. I am a newer reader and nearly everything you just said about your mini can be ascribed to mine. The devil gave her blonde corkscrew curls and the bluest eyes I've ever seen and she can create explosives out of baby alive and three pages of any Dr. Suess book.

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  2. I just started following your blog as well and you make me laugh. I love it. I'm a new mom and my baby will be 2 months old next week.. she's already a spitfire and I know she's going to be a handful as she grows.

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  3. You're in DC. It seems like the Pentagon should be able to harness the power of Mini for good. They really should get on that now.

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  4. That is HIL-ARIOUS! Glad to hear Mini is a shoe-in :)

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  5. I think they may change the rules after this...

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  6. 'Tis the season, isn't it?! My own personal cupcake is already IN and she clearly has the wool pulled over their eyes since I always hear about what a "joy she is" when I pick her up from MDO. Of course, I got myself a prime position on the board of directors of the preschool, so I think they have to say that :). Loved it! Thanks :)

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  7. Stark raving mad mommy...my husband works at the Pentagon and is working on a super secret squirrel project to guide my own cupcake's abilities away from the dark side, as his Sith tendencies are strong in the Force. Not sure the Pentagon could handle TWO of them at once...there's not enough lead lined vaults in the world.

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  8. Finally, an honest preschool app! :D

    The preschool mania some parents go through is nuts, I agree. I was a little anal about picking preschool for my first born [but not obsessively maniacal like some of the parents out there....], but by now [child #6], I totally take her to the nice Church preschool at the end of our street. ;) And you know what? This nice preschool at the end of our street is doing just a good a job as the expensive "ivy league" preschool my oldest went to....

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  9. My little cupcake already has the church nursery staff wrapped around her little finger. There is one, ONE teacher that doesn't let her get away with her evilness and she will cry and scream when she sees that she has the teacher that day. The director of the nursery/chilcren's programs for church will then take my cupcake out and takes her to her office and then walks around the halls with her as she checks on all the other classes. Rather than call for Mom and Dad to come and give her some consequenses, like having to sit in the car with NO TOYS, they treat her like she is special. I understand that they don't like to pull us out of church but they actually let her get what she wants.

    Jrseygirl in VA

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  10. My Son is the same child and would you believe I started the research for public kindegarten 2 years ago for my oldest to start this coming August. The lovely Charlotte Mecklenburg School System. Now the wait begins to see if she will make it to the one of choice

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  11. ROFLMAO...she is a ninja...you have been warned...

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  12. I always hear about this but I never participated. True story: our neighbors changed churches just to insure their son got into the preschool. Is it snitchy if I say that my daughter (who is a year younger) has learned more at her value preschool than their son has at their fancy one? Last time we had a play date she was teaching him the sounds of the letters.

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  13. I am so answering our preschool application like this. My precious little cupcake is the fourth child in the family to go there. They have to take her. Ha!

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  14. All I can say is that I'm glad I live in the midwest! Our Montessori schools "can" be ridonkoulously-priced, but the one my kids attend is comparatively reasonable and goes all the way through 8th grade! Nervous about how that translated to "real" school (OK, I wasn't cuz I'm a former Montessori student, but dh was very nervous) when our oldest entered high school last year. Guess what? He's in honors classes and, for the 2nd year in a row, is on the High Honors list. Phew!
    Of course, our 6 kids know that since we pay for private schools from age 2 through senior year of high school, this means there is no money left for college... or orthodontia... or "real" meat for dinner. Even the 1 yr old understands the words "scholarship" and "free ride"!

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  15. Cute is the only reason I haven't put my own Mini on eBay.

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  16. Heh. My daughter is three months younger than Mini, and is already following in her footsteps. She has her teachers at daycare totally snowed. "She's our biggest helper!" "She always cleans up after herself and the other children!" "She always holds hands, and often leads other children to their places for circle time!" Riiiight. She's awesomeness at school and something happens on the way home. She becomes our little Il Duce. No hand-holding. No putting things away. No. No. No. NO!

    On the same topic... We're moving this summer, and I need to find a reliable and educational daycare and preschool in the Chicago suburbs, probably NW, that will continue to do what her current university-run one does for her now (which is awesome, with tons of student teachers, a couple of permanent teachers, all of whom have degrees or are majoring in Early Childhood Education). Anyone have any recommendations????

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  17. My friend Sailor said "We are going to have to go on vacation where they live and stalk, I mean meet them." - We think you girls rock!

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  18. Okay, as Director of said preschool, and someone who has known Mini from the moment she was conceived, I am properly and unabashidly afraid! The file has begun...

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  19. My daughter attended the most awesome preschool playgroup, which I selected based on the fact that it was close by, reasonably priced, popular with the more laid-back parents, did NOT require me to stay and help (which meant the other moms and I could drop off our darlings and high-tail it to Starbucks/Costco/hookah bars/work/all of the above) and, best of all, THEY DID MESSY CRAFTS SO WE WOULDN'T HAVE TO DO THEM AT HOME! You know the ones involving glitter, the Herpes of Craft Supplies?

    Their emphasis was on practicing social skills; singing lots of songs; and working on fine motor skills through crafts and playing. No official academic curriculum. Unlike another preschool I visited, the kids were not expected to memorize the planets, name the capitals of states or put on Shakespearean-quality plays. (I am not making this up.)

    Whenever I recommended this preschool to other parents, I would inevitably get two types of reactions:

    "They don't work on academics? Well, thanks anyway." (As they pursed their lips condescendingly and considered other options for Jr. Einstein.)

    OR

    "OMG,I DON'T HAVE TO STAY AND HELP? WHERE DO I SIGN UP?"

    My daughter just turned 10. She's academically advanced, has great social skills, knows lots of songs and can rock the craft supplies like no one's business.

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  20. Having graduated "value preschool" (yay church preschools!) about 17 years ago, where social skills were definitely placed above academics, I can tell you that your child too can read at the level of children 4 years older than themselves, get a 4.0 GPA in all of their honors classes and score college scholarships too. I'm currently applying to veterinary school (which I've wanted to do since I was in...preschool!).

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  21. As a preschool teacher, let me say how much I would be be scared and totally appreciative after receiving an application like that! I can't tell you how many times parents say NOTHING bad about their child at all, making me think they are totally fine at home. Then when I have to carefully bring up any concerns I have about their child's behavior, the parent is all, "Oh, yeah, ______ does that all the time at home." Well, if you had told me that from the beginning, we could have been working TOGETHER on how to improve the situation!

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  22. Describes my son perfectly....lol Only he was given red, curly hair which for some reason makes him that much cuter and people cannot resist him!

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  23. I can't even begin to tell you how much I miss that "Totally Awesome Preschool"!! One of the hardest things about moving to Florida. When I started evaluating preschools for Kenny I had my heart set on a very popular co-op that was expensive and hard to get into....then I met the "Totally Awesome Preschool Director" and never looked back. Kenny is such an amazing elementary student because of this preschool.

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  24. Mommy of 3.... I, too, was cursed...er, blessed... with two of the the curly redheaded variety of cupcake... no one can resist the little rascals, and they're definitely bent on becoming World Dictators and Keepers of the Cheerios.

    Around here, there's only one preschool, so at least I don't have to worry about their mischief and mayhem keeping them out of school!

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  25. I live in NoVa and paid $15,000 for pre-K! YIKES!

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  26. Hilarious!!
    Sounds like your Kate & my Miss A are cut from the same cloth.
    One more year of PreK then both my kids are in free public school. Ahhhhhhhh......

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