I'm not exactly sure when it happened, when "Kindergarten" became the highest trending term in all my conversations.
Overnight it seems. Suddenly I am discussing kindergarten with everyone from friends who also have 5-year-olds, to family members, to random people in the grocery store who it is frequently revealed don't even have school-age children but even still want to know where Nia is going.
Everywhere I go these days, people want to know if we've chosen a kindergarten.
It is the $64,000 question of the moment.
And it is a loaded question: Are we sending Nia to our "home" school (the school in our neighborhood for which we are zoned) or are we sending her somewhere else?Are we choosing public and everything that comes with it (civic duty?), are we choosing to pay for something else (elitist?), or are we opting out completely (freak?).
I'll tell you right now -- since it seems you and I are now having this conversation right here on the blog -- we haven't decided. Literally every option is still on the table for us from our neighborhood school to private schools to transferring to another public school in a neighboring district to homeschooling -- the entire gamete of school options (and if there is some option I haven't yet considered, please don't tell me! Wait, nevermind. I can't not know. Tell me!)
I envy the people for whom this choice is obvious, those people who already knew long ago exactly what they were going to do when their child turned five. By the same token, I don't envy my friends who not only have to decide what school, but also IF they will be sending their child to kindergarten this year based on where their birthday falls. Nia is a May baby. She'll be a good, solid five by the time the school year starts, so that piece is decided. But where??
My therapist, where she here perched on my shoulder, would say I am giving this question entirely too much weight in the grand scheme of life's problems. And that is probably true, though it doesn't make me think about it any less. (And didn't I just conquer cancer for the chance to grapple with such questions, these "tiny" problems that make up the fabric of a rich, gorgeous life well-spent..?)
This is why it is a big deal: Because we're not just choosing a kindergarten, you see, we are choosing the next six years of our child's life, where she will spend 20-30 hours a week (and the people with whom she will spend these precious hours, teachers & peers alike), where the foundation for how she feels about schooling will be laid, brick by brick (worksheet by worksheet?).
What is the worst that could happen?
I posed this question to Joe and we both had different answers.
I say the worst that can happen is that her spirit, her desire to learn (which is so strong!) could be stifled. That she could go to a place where anxiety would over-shadow her ability to learn.
For Joe, the worst that could happen is that she would be utterly bored and completely unstimulated, as he once was.
So we asked her preschool teachers where they thought a natural fit for her would be. "She's very flexible and adaptable. She'll be fine wherever she goes."
That's reassuring... and completely unhelpful all at the same time...
This week we are touring yet another public option, meeting with the kindergarten teacher at a private option, and exploring further our homeschooling options. (This is my new part-time job!) At what point is it all just too much information? At what point do we say simply, it would be really nice to be able to walk to school each morning, hand-in-hand -- and voila! the decision is made?
If you are one of my friends, hoping to read this post and discover where Nia is going to kindergarten, I'm sorry to disappoint. The good news is that kindergarten registration doesn't go on forever. The season will draw to a close and when the dust settles, my big girl will be on her way.
And I'll have an answer to the $64,000 question.