Thursday, April 24, 2014

Bust Averted

The Grape is going to Kindergarten in September after all.

And we're staying put in the city for at least one more year.

I wrote last month that the Grape wouldn't be attending either of the two private schools to which we applied, but it turns out the tea leaves changed this month.

Quick recap: one school cut its Kindergarten class with spring birthdays, rendering the Grape ineligible based on demographics. Simply put, we applied a year too early for their profile.

The other private school offered us a pre-K spot after we applied for Kindergarten and stated, both in person and in writing, that we were only interested in Kindergarten. We knew this school's age demographic skewed younger than the first school's, i.e. There was no red shirt birthday cutoff in play.

I wrote last month that the disjointed process left a really bad taste in our mouths.

I suppose we could have tossed the letter regarding pre-K in the trash and left it at that, but R. and I were so puzzled about this outcome, we decided to inquire by phone.

Long story (involving much phone tag) made short: R. called and made it clear we weren't going to send the Grape to pre-K. Then he asked the admissions director, as politely as humanly possible, WTF?

After a moderate degree of ado, a Kindergarten spot materialized. The admissions director noted in an email to us she was impressed with our advocacy for our son. I take this to mean she thinks we are very pushy and demanding people (high compliments, in my opinion).

So why, if the process ticked us off, did we take the Kindergarten spot?

Three reasons.

First and foremost, we really like the school. It features a play based, child centered, Reggio inspired Kindergarten program, and we think that environment will be a great fit for our pensive but social kid. The school shares many of our values, with an emphasis social justice, organic learning, community mindedness, and development of problem solving skills. We know quite a few families at the school who have been delighted with their experiences. The Grape will get to start a foreign language in September. We were impressed by the teachers we met during our visit.

Simply put, there was no reasonable argument in favor of turning down a Kindergarten seat we wanted in the first place, because the process didn't gallop along as smoothly we hoped. Especially since the BPS lottery didn't pan out in our favor.

Second, we may still move to the suburbs eventually, but we didn't want to do so without serious deliberation.

Yes, it would be great to have a yard, a mudroom, a playroom, and some space to entertain. But we still love many things about the city. If and when we move, I want to take our time and get a much better grasp on neighborhood options. Call it moving proactively, rather than reactively.

Third, private school is a product families buy one year at a time.

I think a lot of people lose sight of this fact, because all the schools try to package themselves as long haul commitments. They all say things like, "You join our community." You never hear, "You buy a year of tuition."

But the truth is, you reassess every year. If the system is working for your kid, fantastic. If not, you make a change.

I find that there's always the plan, and then there's what happens. We might stay in the city for the duration of the Grape's elementary school years, or we might still flee to the land of mudrooms, picket fences, and highly desirable public schools.

In any case, we're focused on the here and now, and we're delighted the Grape will be joining his friends in Kindergarten this fall.


  1. It's such a good reminder for people that you can reassess year to year. Kids are so much more resilient than we think and they will readjust if needed.

    Glad your path or next year is set so you can put this one worry aside. That's always nice to do!

    1. Thanks, Nina. While I doubt it's advisable to uproot kids constantly, I think it's important to remember that any private school is an investment, and if it stops performing at any point, it's time to reassess. That said, we are very optimistic about this play-based kindergarten. We did lots of due diligence.