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I remember pre-school. I remember the fuzzy caterpillars that inched their way across the uneven bark covered ground. I remember the soapy water we could wash things in and the baby dolls that always seemed to end up in the sudsy sink, leaving their pinkish plastic skin slippery and warm. Actually, I remember all kinds of things about pre-school.
So it must have been a big deal.
So why was I so surprised when I heard about the Bay Area's put-your-unborn-child-on-the-wait-list-for-pre-school phenomena. Instead of joining the band wagon, I put my head in the sand and figured it would all just work itself out.
That was until last week when one of my trusted new mom friends shared that she had indeed added her little guy to some sort of list. Now, I was officially behind. But instead of panic, I breathed, accepted the reality, and trusted that it would all work itself out if I just gave it a little attention.
Without much effort, the next day I received an email announcing Pre-school Preview Night - 76 San Francisco pre-school/child care/school situations all under one roof on one night. I would start here. And so I did.
What I didn't expect was the line of stroller pushing families waiting for the doors to open at 5:30. I wouldn't let myself get overwhelmed - it is what it is. Stay calm, carry on, grab some brochures and then go home. And that is exactly what I did. The nugget and I asked a few questions, joined a few mailing lists and left with a stack of papers and a tiny bag of Haribo gummi bears (leave it to the German preschool to represent!) From Waldorf to Co-ops, Montesorri to Lycee Francais, all bases were covered.
Here is what I learned:
1. There is a baby boom - so yes, there are more families looking for a place for their babies but you will find something
2. Two working parents means pre-school becomes necessary so there is more pressure in a place like San Francisco
3. Structured curriculum vs. free play - there is a middle ground
4. Location, location, location - staying in your neighborhood simplifies life immensely
5. There are options that do not cost $12K a year - thank god!
6. Choose the right parents to play with - at the end of the day it is their values that will be affecting your life and the life of your little one
I left feeling assured that there is indeed no reason to stick my head in the sand.