Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Kindergarten Question

For some reason, I used to think that when my kids went to school this working mom thing would be easier.  Suffice it say, we're two weeks into kindergarten sign up and I can already tell you that will not be the case. 

Husband and I are torn on where to send KJ to kindergarten.  There are more kindergarten options than I ever imagined, and it seems like the more I look into it, the more possibilities arise.  We have sorted out a few things.  We know that we aren't going to send KJ to the local public school.  Although it had been our plan to send our kids to public school when we moved to our town, the current state of the school district pretty much ruled that out.  I was still willing to give it a shot, but when Husband and I learned that full day kindergarten was awarded by a lottery and that only approximately 25% of the kids who request it get it, we knew there was no point in even trying.  I have no luck: there was no way we would end up in the 25%.  So, that leaves us with private school or continuing on with daycare. 

Initially, we thought we would just continue on with kindergarten at daycare.  To say we are happy with the education our children have received through daycare is the understatement of the year.  Every day I'm amazed by the things my kids learn in school.  Sweet Pea is learning phonics, and she just turned 3.  KJ can sound out words at 4.  KJ can even correctly count the number of syllables in words.  Having just attended a preschool fair, I feel pretty confident that I couldn't have sought out a better preschool if I had tried.  I guess in this one respect, I actually did get lucky. 

The kindergarten at daycare also seems amazing.  The student-teacher ratio is very low (1:8), the teachers seemed fantastic, and the kids that come from that kindergarten tend to do very well in school.  Plus, it is full day, with before and after care like we are used to.  And the kids would be in the same location.  All in all, daycare kindergarten sounded like a great option.  Until we got to the price. 

The cost of daycare kindergarten tuition is only a few hundred dollars less than the in-state tuition for the University of Illinois.  And let's be serious, while kindergarten is important, it is still just kindergarten.  And it would be difficult for us to swing. 

 So, I looked into the private schools.  I was shocked at the number of private kindergartens available in our little town.  There were at least four, with a fifth coming soon.  But despite the surprising number of options, there were very few that worked for working moms.  For example, none of the kindergartens had exactly the same hours.  "Full day" could mean anything from 8 am until 12:15 to 8 am until 2:30.  Many of the private options had no busing and no provisions for after school care.  In fact, when I asked one kindergarten with no such offerings how they accommodate working moms, the director actually said to me that they don't have any moms that work.  Lucky for them, but if I'm going to pay private school tuition, I'm going to need a job! 

In the end, we simply signed KJ up everywhere, and said we'd figure it out later.  I'm hoping that with time will come clarity -- and the return of some of our deposits.


1 comment:

  1. Wow...this is terrible. What is the tuition at Illinois, btw? Just so I can think about it? Do you mean it's still 800 a month, like daycare, or are we talking about an increase over standard daycare? Or is it a ripoff because it doesn't cover a full day, so you still have to pay for daycare after it?

    Is your school district bad? Or is it a good one, but they just don't view kindergarten as mandatory? We live in Texas and my husband bought in a bad school district when he was single. It's a bad situation. There are knife fights in our school district. No way our kiddo can attend. Unfortunately, now our house is underwater, so I have no idea how we'll sell it. The fun of middle age continues...