I've written about it before, but we were truly blessed when we found our current daycare situation (believe it or not, it was all through an ad on Craig's List of all places.) J has been going to the same in-home daycare for 3+ years, since he was about 5 months old. We love the setup and the lady who runs it. The benefits have far outweighed the negatives: small group setting (I think 7-8 kids right now including Jr. and her own son who's in school all day), very low turnover (literally the same group of kids for the past 2 years, she hasn't had an opening for new families in a long time), reasonable price, warm and inviting atmosphere where the kids feel like they're at grandma's house, fun activities, home-cooked meals, parties on the holidays and their birthdays, a very open-door policy...
But recently, since Jr. was born really, TH and I have been wondering if J is starting to outgrow his daycare. As much as he loves it there, I can tell that every day he's more and more ready for a classroom setting. There is a routine every day and some learning activities, but the daycare is really geared toward the infant/toddler set. There isn't a "curriculum" in any sense of the word. J is a very intelligent kid, already reading dozens of words, doing basic math, and navigating the computer like an old pro. The other day he asked me when he could go to school like a friend of his who left daycare this semester and started preschool. When I told him if he starts going to preschool that means that he won't go to daycare anymore, he said, "I don't want to go to daycare anymore, Mommy." When I asked him why, he said, "I like it but now there's too many babies." (Backstory: All of the kids at daycare are roughly the same age, 2.5-3.5 years old. Three of the 'daycare moms' including me had babies this past year between August and September, so now there's a whole new crop of infants there.) Hmmm.
So what's the problem? I'm not sure if we can afford preschool right now. Our daycare is very reasonably priced, and one of the best features is that we pay per day attended, meaning that if J only goes to daycare for 2 days in a week, we only pay for 2 days, instead of the full-week-tuition-no-matter-what policy of most daycares/preschools. That works out well with my current schedule, because I only work every other week - therefore I only pay for daycare every other week. We've found a pretty good preschool that we want to look into, with a fairly decent tuition, but it's still going to be almost twice what we're paying right now for daycare for the two kids. And of course Jr. will still go to our current daycare, so the kids will be in two different childcare situations, which I'm not too keen about.
I also feel a little strange putting J in such a formal setting for so many hours during the day. 7:30-5:30 seems like alot of time to me to be in school. Of course that's how long they're at daycare now, but it's so much more informal there--like I said it's like being at grandma's house, with cookies and playing in the backyard and afternoon movies on rainy days. I think some of my resistance is just me not wanting to face the fact that J is not a little toddler anymore (he'll be 4 in THREE MONTHS. Holy moly.). It's so strange to think of him going to "school" already, carrying a little backpack and a lunchbox and not taking naps and having parent-teacher conferences. Which one of us isn't ready, I wonder.
We went ahead and set up an interview this week with the preschool so we could take J to see what it's all about and talk to the teachers. I'm still not sure how we're going to pay for it, but if it seems like the right step then we'll just find a way I guess, we always do when we need to. We'll see.....
Practice makes perfect
8 years ago