Lila will be 3 this summer. She's a smart kid. She knows her ABCs and can count past 20. She knows her shapes, colors and opposites. She can navigate around the web by herself if I leave her alone. The one thing she has no idea about is how to behave.
So a couple of months ago I began my quest to find a good preschool for her. Just a couple of days a week, but somewhere where she can play with other kids and maybe learn to sit still for 20 minutes at a time. Now, I don't live in some big city that has prestigious schools with waiting lists from birth or anything. Syracuse, NY has a sufficient number of "head start" type programs and private schools that offer programs for 3 year olds.
I had sort of resigned myself to this one around the corner that is in a building adjacent to a baptist church. I saw the kids outside playing and it would be super convenient in that it is LITERALLY at the other diagonal corner of our block. I got the info and talked to the teacher. It seemed okay. No garbage lying around...no serial killer types lurking in the bathroom. I was ready to enroll her.
Then I got wind of another preschool program nearby at the catholic school across the street from the baptist church. I thought they just did K-6 but apparently had started up one program for 4 year olds and one for 3 year olds. Now, I am not really subscribed to any religious affiliation. But as a kid I went to Catholic school myself so I figured I would make an appointment to take the tour.
What happened was unexpected. I LOVED THIS SCHOOL. The kids were extremely friendly and polite and the teachers just exuded this confidence and ease about the way they handled one misbehaving boy. Since this was part of a larger school, the preschool kids sometimes teamed up with the older kids for "mentoring" and games. They participate in all the school events from concerts to plays to book drives. It was everything I could possibly want in a preschool for Lila.
Until I got the information about the cost. The least expensive program (2 half days a week) would cost me $3,000 for the year. That's $300 a month, or about $37 per day. This seemed a little steep considering that the other school charged about a fourth of that. But it was SOOOO much better!
Ben and I looked at other schools but none impressed us as much. None had the atmosphere or quality that this one had. We were hopeful that this would be an incredibly valuable experience for Lila. We put the registration off and hoped that financially we would have a better idea of where we stood before the summer. Unfortunately we do...and there is no way we can afford to send Lila to the awesome school. Because I am a black and white kind of girl, my thinking is that if I can't give Lila the best, we will just skip preschool this year and hope next year is better. But then I get slapped with my own guilty conscience...Am I depriving Lila of valuable learning experiences by not sending her to school? Not because I want to have one of those genius kids, but because she would LOVE it?