Do you follow Parenting on Twitter? Or Daring Young Mom? Or maybe you check their Facebook pages? If so, you too have been inundated with Mom Congress information* - Arne Duncan says this! Michelle Obama thinks that! Moms need to do this! Michelle Ree said this about that and oh wow is all this education stuff intimidating because seriously, Michelle Ree could probably run me down on the playground blindfolded, easy peasy.
This is nothing against Parenting or Kathryn, obviously, who are LOVELY magazines/people (I've even met Kathryn! In person! She's hilarious!) but as the mother of an almost-four-year-old headed to Pre-K in the fall and kindergarten in September 2012, all those rah rah Take Charge Of Your Education! tweets left me just a LEETLE freaked out. Apparently the most important people involved in a child's education are his parents? I'll just say it right now: poor, poor Jackson Cheung.
Coincidentally! I spent my morning touring what I hope - what I THINK I hope - is Jack and Molly's future elementary school. Our new house has a Catholic church and school practically in its backyard. And guess what! We are Catholic! And interested in Catholic education! Even though Catholic school would mean 1) switching churches and 2) large buckets of money!
I'm not sure what I expected when I showed up. Maybe a host of angels hovering over the entrance singing, "Send your children heeeeeeere!" Instead I was met by a VERY nice lady who didn't mind my suddenly shy and sullen children. The three of us, all a bit tongue-tied, followed her into the Pre-K classroom, the kindergarten classroom, the third grade classroom where my good friend and huge proponent of this particular school teaches. We admired the artwork papering the hallway walls and explored the library, the playground, and (!) the principal's office.
The nice lady kept asking if I had any questions and I kept shaking my head, which made me feel like a blithering idiot. How did I not have any questions about This Most Important Decision?! I managed to think of a few at the very end as we were leaving, but of course those made me feel like a blithering idiot as well. I can never find the right balance between Too Much and Not Enough information. And honestly? I'm not sure what to look for in a school. It looked great to me! It was full of happy kids and happy teachers, as far as I could tell, lots of art, lots of light, and administrators who took obvious pride in their school. I learned about diversity, class sizes, technology, and it all sounded good! Yay school! Right?
I left feeling more unsettled than when I showed up. This had partly to do with the Blithering Idiotness, but it also had to do with decision making. I definitely liked the school, but it wasn't obvious to me that it was The School. I feel totally overwhelmed STILL. I have to check out the public school too, and did I mention Jack still has A FULL YEAR before we sign him up for kindergarten? Ahead of myself much?
Except I don't think I am. Everyone in my situation is obsessed with School. In our case, we'd need to start attending the new church way in advance of kindergarten in order to receive the discounted parishioner tuition rate, so we really do need to figure it out soon. I have every intention of being involved in my kids' education, but sometimes I feel like the only thing I really know about it is that I shouldn't be their teacher. (Like any mom exposed to mommyblogs I've had to consider homeschooling as well!) I have a feeling this is just one of those things we need to jump into, hoping we've picked the best place, and figure out as we go. I've watched Jack grow more confident and less tearful during his time in preschool, which seems to be a function of getting older, but there's no denying the environment has been good for him. An environment that used to really freak me out. HMMM.
How are you handling these decisions?