Years ago before we had children, G and I lived in a cool little section of a big city. Our little section was quaint and had a commercial fishing history. It was sweet, cultured, and comfortable, and we lived in a cool beach-front condo. As I walked our two dogs through the neighborhood, I imagined the day we might have a little girl or boy that I would walk to kindergarten to one of the awesome brick buildings right in our neighborhood.
After all, that’s what people did when I was growing up; we went to the school that was in the neighborhood. No applications, no testing, no competition, no nothing. We simply walked down the street, up the hill, and through the front doors of school. Simple.
So I was confused when I learned the local parents in that part of town became stressed out when it came time for their five year olds to enter kindergarten. I chalked it up to big-city elitism and promised myself that if and when I ever had children, I would never enter the fray. My children would simply attend our neighborhood kindergarten and that would be that. Easy.
Flash forward eight years. I now have a daughter set to enter kindergarten. George and I currently live in a different city full of wonderful elementary schools. In fact, we have a reputable, historical, renovated elementary school right in our neighborhood that Eva is set to attend.
All I have to do, come March 1, is sign her up. Done and done.
Or, it would have been done, if our school district hadn’t decided that full day, every day kindergarten was in the best interest of every five-year-old in our city.
Yes, Eva could do all day kindergarten. We’ve done “mommy and me” yoga and gymnastics from the time she was six months old. Eva’s participated in pre-k enrichment programs, ballet, pre-school, and more gymnastics. She loves excitement and is an eager learner.
However, I don’t believe that dropping my young daughter off at school at 9 a.m. and leaving her there all day until 3:30 p.m. five days a week for the next year is a good choice for our own family. I wish our district would offer options.
Don’t get me wrong; I was raised in the public schools and I have no problem with public schools in general. My problem is the district deciding for every family in town that all kindergartners will be better suited for first grade if he or she is in their schools five days a week.
What about afternoons at the park? Down time? Spending time with Dad when he’s home from sea? Ballet? Gymnastics? Art class? Visits to family? Before dinnertime, that is. Without attending a 7 a.m. ballet class, that is.
As a result, I’ve spent the last week calling, e-mailing, texting, talking, and researching every single private kindergarten program in our county. I’ve inquired about rates, schedules, instructors, and philosophy. I’ve talked with parents who stand on all different sides of the issue to learn their opinions and hear about their experiences and thoughts.