Tag Archives: school

My Last-Minute Valentine’s Day Hustle for the Kiddos

Why is it late on Sunday night and I’m watching the Grammys while getting together what my kid is going to bring to school for Valentine’s Day tomorrow? What a sham.

Every year at the last minute I jet to the drugstore (because by the time I remember to do this, the grocery stores in the suburbs are closed!) I end up buying what others have passed over for Valentine’s Day gifts. Then I’m scrawling out names of Logan’s classmates on these cheap-o gifts. After that, I’d usually swing by the grocery store in the morning and pick up an astounding amount of cupcakes to somehow make up for my shortcomings. (Why do I think that they’re judging me as a mom based on my Valentine’s Day contributions? It’s all in my head, but still I do it. I suppose it’s like penance.)

This year, I was so proud of myself because I bought little candied gifts (Dum-dum lollipops with cards and “shiny” stickers) three weeks before the blessed event. There was no need to overspend on cupcakes or other sugary treats, for once I was ahead of the game.

But this year was different. This V-Day I’m a mom of two. The obstacles are higher.

Each day, I’ve been taking Logan to daycare and I’ve also got 5-week-old Ethan in the car, which means I would take the little guy out amid sub-zero temps to walk his big brother inside the school. The daycare director then told me that she could come out to the parking lot and get Logan, which is great. It mends the gap between the non-choice of leaving Ethan in the car alone or toting him into the school.

With this new solution of the director picking up Logan in the parking lot, I miss all of the posters/notifications about what’s going on in my guy’s class. So I’m in the dark this V-Day. I forgot to ask the director if anything was needed for the party, or even if they plan a party. (Again, I always try to contribute to parties or classroom supplies because I feel it somehow makes up for me picking Logan up late or not being able to attend school events because of work constraints.) Nevertheless I’m now on maternity leave and here I am with Dum-Dum lollipops for Logan’s classmates, still in a last-minute effort to scrawl out their names on these 3-week-old candied treats.  Ah well, I suppose I’ll just say it’s a pre-Valentine’s Day family tradition and look forward to next year’s last minute scramble.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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A Nail-biting Decision: Picking “The Right” Preschool

The new school year is just around the corner and many 3 and 4-year-olds will have their first day of school. It’s time for preschool, where’s your child going?

Picking one isn’t as trivial as you might think. There’s tons to consider. Full-time? Part-time? Do you want a program where you have to volunteer at the school? What about Montessori? There’s also some “must-have” school systems that are so exclusive you feel pressured to get into the $20,000+ a year preschool because that feeds into the elite elementary school, which you must attend to go to the immaculate middle school to get admitted to the high-performance college prep school that paves a yellow brick road to the Ivy Leagues.

Before you know it you’re panicking over whether your child will get in. How will the interview go? What about the “play-date” where they evaluate your kid’s interaction with others? How will she behave? Did you get in all of the right papers? Say all the right things in your essay? Have you talked to all of the right people? Of course to me the latter is the more extreme example, but the concern is palpable on all levels.

Logan’s in daycare and a few months ago there was a flurry among my mommyfriends as to what preschool their kids were going to attend. I honestly didn’t know if I needed to even think about that. My kid’s been in a learning facility since he was 7 months old and the facility has kids from 6 weeks to 12 years.

Nevertheless I figured any good mom would at least know her options. So I poked around at schools in my neighborhood and found one that was highly recommended, focused on letting kids be kids instead of enrichment programs to enhance their SAT performance. Plus many of the kids that go there go to what eventually will be Logan’s elementary school. He’d arrive in kindergarten with friends in his class.

I was tempted to make the switch, especially as I grew increasingly frustrated with his teacher. But his girlfriend, Cali, was there (she replaced Emma) not to mention his best buds, Shawn, Soham and Jackson. The teachers are wild about him and he loves them, even calling one of them Miss Holly-Mom. The other parents dote on him too since he gets there early, he’s the unofficial greeter, hanging out at the front desk saying hi to all and doling out hugs. I figured, why change? Plus now he’s moved up into a new class and his teacher is amazingly wonderful.

So in going through the throes of picking the right school, go with your gut and try not to fret too much, though every mom does. (Even if they won’t admit it.) The biggest thing that kids need at this stage is a few hours each week of playing with peers. And peers can be siblings. Some kids never go to preschool and they’re fine. I think that’s the key. Remember that they’re going to be fine. We’re doing our best and that’s all you can really ask for.

Daycare Woes: When Your Teacher Is Not Making the Grade

Finding the right daycare reminded me of the research I did to find the right college. Student-to-teacher ratios, class curriculum, location, amenities. Cost. We finally found one that we have been generally happy with for the past two years, but the relationship is starting to sour as a couple teachers have left and my son’s current teacher keeps making missteps.

It’s not that we’re worried he’s being mistreated, it’s more about quality of care, such as the lack of follow through, forgetfulness and overall disorganization. I feel like he’s getting enough mental stimulation as their curriculum has their days filled with crafts, music, reading, etc. I just wonder if after all that the teacher is frazzled too. I find out more about Logan’s day from the teacher next door than my son’s teacher.

But I do have to say I feel like his teacher knows him and loves him. At his Christmas performance, when his confidence began to falter before the big smiling crowd, she nodded him over so he could finish the song nuzzled in her bosom. That meant a lot to me, but bosoms can only go so far.

My husband and I are going to talk with the daycare director to see if our expectations are unreasonable. (By daily report cards, do they really mean weekly?) We’ll see what can be done so that our expectations and what’s required of her are the same. We’re also going to talk with the teacher to find out if there’s more we can be doing on our end to help.

Then if she doesn’t shape up after some time, we can always leave. There’s a couple of other really good daycares on the list that we can attend. Although I don’t want to take him away from his friends, I know as a kid, he’s flexible and can always make new ones. That’s something he’ll be doing for the rest of his life.