We had Liz's preschool orientation today. It was really very nice, the school is lovely and her teacher seems great. We even met her again at lunch (out of the school context) and Liz seemed very responsive to her. I have a very good feeling about this match.
One of my major concerns in looking into preschools was Liz's age. Her November birthday means she misses the cut-off for Kindergarten by two months and therefore, won't be starting full-time public school until she is nearly six. Not to be "that mom" with the uber-gifted-snowflake, but I was worried about this. As a second child, as a kid who is physically much larger than her peers and as a girl*, she is already on top of most preschool goals and even starting to get into some Kindergarten level work. While I don't expect the school district to cater to my special desire to ensure she is "challenged" or not bored, I was apprehensive that her rowdier nature might put her in a less than desirable behavior mode if she wasn't engaged.
Having looked into the options such as private schools (holy cash BATMAN! That was the sticker price on my undergrad education and then I at least got food, a bed and a gym.), homeschooling and petitioning for an exemption, we decided to just keep her on the school prescribed track and see what happens. Once we got into the district-run preschool I felt even better about the situation. Knowing that she will be tracked through her home district and placed in Kindergarten based on a years worth of guided instruction eases my worries so much. If she winds up being a bit ahead, or maybe winds up needing some interventions, she will be all set within the parameters of the district. She can enter full-time school with a dossier, if you will, of where she is at and where she should be headed.
The final soul-soothing factor came today in our orientation. While it is an integrated preschool aimed at mixing kids who needed interventions with kids who will serve as model students, at least 50% of the kids in Liz's class are in a similar birthday situation. It is clear that when they build the classrooms in addition to balancing out IEPs and desired sessions, they seem to sort by age cohort within the class cohort. Basically, kids who are definitively Pre-K (vs. 3-4 year-olds with two years to Kindergarten) seem to be grouped together. I like how that will help the entire class get what they need. Personally, I really like that Liz will be with a group of kids who are all reaching roughly the same milestones so no one feels left out, left behind or bored.
So my last baby will start school at the end of August. I will have two hours, four days a week kid-free. Looks like I need to start thinking about what I might like to do when both of them are in full-time school. Yikes!
*Obviously girls are not smarter than boys of a similar age, but as explored in this post, how we socialize boys and girls for school seems to be very different. This does create a phenomenon where girls seem more prepared for the "rigors" of school than their boy peers.