I am embarking on the pre-k school journey and it’s daunting, confusing, expensive, and ssssaaaaaddddd that our kids have to grow up. Okay no it’s not and I’m thankful my sweet child is getting smarter and taller and braver and can wipe herself and is going to crush pre-k. But when I look at her baby picture I HONESTLY BARELY REMEMBER THAT SWEET STAGE. And now she is saying things like, “Are you kidding me Mommy?” and “I love you to the moon and back, Mommy.” Cue all the tears and emotions.
Alas, our kids grow. With each day, experience, new friendship, and new discovery, they are being formed into incredible human beings. World changers. Leaders. Artists. Educators. Our future looks bright with these little ones. And so, NO PRESSURE ON THE SCHOOL SITUATION, RIGHT?! Right. Riiiigggghhhtttt.
The journey of searching for pre-k schools begins.
Where I live in North Miami – Miami Shores specifically – there are probably 10-12 pre-k options I’ve narrowed down, of which 3-4 are $20k+ per year. My husband quickly said, “Don’t even set up an appointment or step foot in those schools because it’s not happening.” Okay, honey. So that leaves us with 7-8 and last I checked I have a full-time job and so does my husband and researching pre-k programs, calling schools, attending appointments is like a full-time job in and of itself. And now here I am craving living in the middle of Texas where all the kids go to the same school. Okay not really, I don’t want to live on a ranch and milk cows, but come on, city living, can we make this ANY EASIER?
I’m here for you, moms. I have, in fact, started the process, albeit in denial. And by process, I mean sending texts to all my mom friends and receiving approximately 27 different responses and opinions. And then ruling out some schools based on said responses. And then adding them back in. And then having wine with mom friends and re-hashing the same stuff, bringing me back to square one in my search for pre-k schools. And calling a few schools to set up appointments. And in this super methodical, scientific approach I’ve taken, I have come up with a list of questions I’m asking in the research and during the appointment process to help me decide.
Sarcasm aside, here goes; and I hope this helps you, too, dear momma friend.
- What is the faith of the school? For me, this is a priority. I grew up going to a Catholic school and now as a Christian, our faith matters and thus, it matters what kind of faith the school has – or doesn’t have.
- What price can I afford, and am I willing to pay? This is the financial planning part. If you can come up with your number, this will definitely help narrow down your list of options.
- How does the atmosphere of the school make me feel? As a designer and an ESFJ on the Myers-Briggs, feelings matter tremendously to me. It’s not going to make my decision, but it is certainly going to play a role in my decision.
- How far is the school from home? This is equal parts practical and cultural. Practical for the working moms, cultural in that there is something special going to school where you live – or within a mile or two of where you live.
- What time is school over, and do they have after care? And, if they have after care, what is the programming and cost associated?
- How many hours of homework does the child get, on average, per night? Honestly, I never would have thought of this until I talked to moms who have gone before me. All of this is so personal and related to your goals and dreams for your child, but I know this much – I don’t want Zoey at age 5 doing 2 hours of homework a night. I want her playing and helping me with dinner and singing and dancing and reading and painting and having play dates.
- Does the school have a diverse academic program? Meaning, will my child get a healthy blend of science, math, art, physical education, religion and faith, outdoor activities (especially in Miami), etc.? I am equal parts right and left brain so art and creativity matter deeply to me, as does time management, learning about the science behind life, the role God plays and who Jesus is, and the list goes on. I believe wholeheartedly in a diverse range of academics to help children gravitate and grow.
- How does the school communicate? I am not a helicopter mom, but I would like some level of consistent communication, especially in pre-k. I am okay with social media updates, but I also would want a dose of 1:1 engagement on a regular basis so I can understand how Zoey is doing, opportunities to get involved at school and general updates on events and need-to-know information. Do they email? Physical letters? Text? All of the above?
- What is the pre-k student to teacher ratio This one matters less to me – I know, gasp – but is still important. I grew up whereby for my first 9 years of school – kindergarten to 8thgrade – I had 12 kids in my class. The same 12 kids and so, it was a 12:1 ratio. It was good. I am unclear at this point if this is crazy and it’s more like 25:1 or what it is. But, it’s important that I know and understand.
- Tell me about the technology! I know we all have a love/hate relationship with technology, but I favor technology in schools for my child. I want her to understand it, to be able to use a computer effectively and proficiently. I want her to know the job market – one day, not when she’s 5, ha ha ha – related to technology. It matters and it’s not going away.
What are some of the questions you’re asking in your search for the right pre-k school? Or, if you’re already past this stage, what is something you learned or wish you knew before your child started pre-k?
We have put together a great resource for you!
Check out the Miami Moms Blog Preschools Guide for a list of local preschools in Miami listed by area.