If you had asked me two years ago, where our kids would be attending school k-12, I would have undoubtedly said, "the public school around the corner." After all, this is why we chose the neighborhood that we did, and ultimately why we bought our home. We had no problem investing in a private early education, but we figured that by the time the LM was 5, he would be more than ready for a traditional kindergarten program. It's important to point out, as well, that my husband and I are huge proponents of public school. We both were in public school k-12 (my husband actually deviated for a year in his youth, hated it, and found himself back in the local school the next year), and both went to public universities for undergraduate, and graduate school. We are the first people to say that there really isn't that much of an advantage of private over public, and as an adult, it is so obvious that where you went to school makes no difference, once you actually secure a job.
I feel like it's important to give you that background, so you understand why it was such a difficult decision when we ultimately concluded that we would only be seeking independent schools for our children. We actually felt as though this decision was somewhat forced upon us, when the school system in our town was unwilling to consider students on an individual basis (specifically our LM) and instead relying on set policy when dealing with issues of enrollment and placement. Basically, our little dude was born 6 days prior to the Sept 1 cut off for kindergarten, on the advice of his pre-school, which he had attended for 4 years, and our observations at home, everyone was unified in the belief that he would benefit astronomically by delaying kindergarten for a year. I've learned that this is a common issue for a lot of late summer, high energy kids, and more often than not, it is boys who end up having problems, not right away but often down the line, simply due to the fact that they weren't emotionally ready to begin school when they did. When it was time to apply to kindergarten last year, we brought these concerns up to our local school contact, we were told that even though it was 6 days, under a week, the LM would have to begin kindergarten at age 5. Funny enough if he had been born in April, he would have qualified for two years of kindergarten, but since he was three moths past, they felt he was "ready" having never laid eyes on him.
We took this news in stride, and decided that we would keep our guy in private kindergarten at his current school, hoping there he would get the preparedness he would need, and then we would move him to public school in first grade. Sounds great, right? Wrong. Turns out the lottery is only available for the entering kindergarten class. Not only would we not get to pick a top three, we basically would get whatever was left at the bottom, and in our town, everyone supports and shoots for the same 4 schools, and gone would even be the chance of him attending a school anywhere near our home, and his playmates. So much for community, right?
This is why, last year, we made the decision that we consider looking at independent schools for our kids. Recognizing that this is, of course, a luxury to make this decision, it still wasn't one entered in to lightly. Financially, and emotionally the cost is high. We realized that there were some choices that we would need to make, simply to foot the bill, and ultimately there would be sacrifices that made in all areas of our lives. The fact that the public system refused to even consider what would be right FOR OUR OWN CHILD, and instead talked about rules and guidelines, made our decision pretty easy. Finding the right school, would prove to be more difficult.
We started our search by looking at independent schools that truly prided themselves on making the most diverse and unique student population. These were of course the most liberal schools in town, and that worked just fine for us, given our left of the left political leanings. I was very disappointed last year when we were turned down by a school that we truly fell in love with, and learned this year after applying again, that it was because our LM wasn't able to help fill their diversity quota. In short, he was a boy... and they had enough of those.
That realization was a hard one for us. Here we were, willing to do anything to find the right "fit" for our little guy, and it seemed like almost a game, public, private, independent, blah, blah, everyone seemed to be following some sort of script, and with the competition so high for spots, I really felt so defeated. In the end, the LM stayed where he was, and his school WAS ABSOLUTELY RIGHT, in delaying kindergarten. Our little guy was given a year where he could be the leader, he could mature in his body, and he was given the time he needed to discover more about who he is, and what he likes. Oh, and he found skateboarding, which has done more for his focus and maturity, than any school could .
Which brings us to this year. This year, having already decided that we were only going to apply to independent schools, we decided to cast a wide net, and not be limited by the overwhelming amount of applications, interviews, follow-up interviews, group interviews, and really commit to finding a school that we thought would be the right fit for our kids. Along with the trio of liberal leaning schools we had heard about, we also looked at a few all boys schools in the area. I know, I know, this is the opposite of diverse and liberal, but after hearing this talk a few years back, from Michael Thompson (the guru) I felt as though we owed it to our boys to have a look. I'm sure you all know where this is going.
Much to my surprise, when it came down to decision time, there I was, pacing the floor during our romantic vacation, hoping that one of the two, all boys, jacket and tie required schools, would be accepting our little skater dude, with parents that verge on hippies with no religious affiliation. We got both our first choices, and funny enough, the schools that we actually were accepted to, were the ones that are the more conservative boys schools, and not the more liberal leaning ones, that we felt were the most like "us." It just goes to show, you never know what you are going to be drawn too, and unlike last year where we felt like no one was going to be able to give our child the education he deserved. This year, we feel 100% confident that our little guy is going to be starting his education, in the most perfect place for him.
Now, I know what you are thinking. Jacket, tie... how is that going to work for a kid who likes to skate, paint his fingernails, and has more swag than his father and I combined? After letting him pick through a box of clothes I got for him during crew cuts big sale last week, let's just say I'm not concerned in the slightest.
Behold Little Man 2.0
I know kindergarten is just the tip of the iceberg, but I can't tell you what a relief it is, that my little guy is going to be in a place, that we all love, that loved him back, for the next 10 years. I am so glad that we stuck it out, focusing solely on what is best for our child, ignoring what everyone else thought would work for him. Through this whole process, my husband and I were given our own, unexpected education, regarding being and advocate for your child, and standing strong in the knowledge that you know your kid better than anyone else.
P.S. Here he is on his first day of school, age 2. I can't believe it, but even then he was wearing his beloved vans! I guess he was destined to be a skater boy!