Fonticulus Fides

Tuesday, July 08, 2003

I am happy to report that we have received confirmation that Zooey is enrolled in the preschool program at our parish school next fall!

Getting him into preschool has been more difficult than I would have thought it would be. Not all of the parishes in town have preschool programs. I tried to get him into a 3-yr-old program for fall 2002, but had no luck. The one we liked ended up cancelling their 3-yr-old program because they needed the space for all their 4- and 5-yr-olds. But we figured a year later wouldn't really hurt.

Last October, I started calling around to get Zooey on a waiting list for 4-yr-old preschool for fall 2003. I was amazed how many programs were already filled up. The parish directly south of us had an opening, but their cut-off date was June 30, exactly one month before Zooey's birthday. So they wanted him to be with the 3-yr-olds, and that didn't sit well with me. Zooey already knows the whole alphabet and has been learning phonics on his own without any formal instruction from us. He can count fairly high, recognizes all his numbers up to 9 (and sometimes teens and twenties, depending on his mood). He does chores at home, plays well on his own or with groups, and recently has been attempting to "color within the lines" though we've never asked him too. In other words, I think he's practically ready for kindergarden, so I didn't want him stuck in a 3-yr-old preschool.

By spring, we were able to get him on a waiting list for the school we liked best, with only two hitches. First, there was no guarantee a spot would open for him. Second, it was afternoon preschool, and he still takes a nap in the afternoon (although he's about to give it up).

Then a minor miracle happened: our parish priest decided it was high time our school had a preschool program. The price is right -- three mornings a week at just $75 a month. The program features religion, literacy, numerical reasoning, music, fine motor skill development, and large motor skill exercise, which is everything I wanted. He will start each day with Mass, hooray hurrah. And depending on how the first semester goes and his "kindergarden readiness assessment," we have the option of moving him to either full day preschool three days a week (8:00- 3:30) or half days five days a week in the spring.

I'm pretty skittish about "kindergarden readiness." I've been told that boys are pretty much automatically held back until they are 6 around here, in both public and private schools. My husband and his brother were both held back, and since both are bright, school was painfully boring to each of them. There was no need to hold either one of them out of kindergarden until they were 6. Since my boy is already showing most of the signs of being ready and he's not quite 4, I really don't want him to start any later than 5. But he needs to prove himself to professional educators in a preschool setting. And I think he's going to do just great at St. Mary's School.

A word on homeschooling: I'd love to. I think it's a fantastic idea, and were I in a position to homeschool my kids, I would in a heartbeat. There are several factors that prevent this for our family (which I'll get into sometime but not today), but I'm still all for it. One of the things I need from St. Mary's School right now is the religious education Zooey will receive. My husband and I have only been Catholic for what, two-and-a-half months so far. We honestly need some wiser people to help us educate our children, because we're infants in the Catholic faith ourselves. We know it's not a bad thing that we'll be learning right along side Zooey for the most part, but the structure and experience that the school will provide is crucial to our family at this time.

Also, isn't there some sort of mandate that Catholics send their children to Catholic schools if at all possible? Our parish school rates extremely high in academics, religious education (conservative Diocese), community service, and safety, so I don't have much reason to think I could do better with a homeschool. If our parish school was faulty in any of those areas, I might feel differently, of course.

Anyway, for now, we're all happy and confident in this situation. Zooey loves to look at the school building as we leave Mass on Sundays. "That's my school!" he shouts with glee.

Am I crazy for hoping he always feels that way about his education?



Post a Comment

<< Home