A few months ago, I wrote about the decision I was facing on whether to send my twins to Kindergarten next year – they will be 5 in late fall and according to Connecticut standards, they are eligible to go to public school in September. Up until recently, I was adamant that I wanted to hold them back. I’m pretty sure I still do, only because my position at the time was based on a few things that have not changed: 1) my kids would be young for their school year; 2) my kids would be SMALL for their age (they always will be), which may not be a huge deal now but will become one when they hit puberty.
What I didn’t realize when I wrote that piece was that in January/February of the year they’re eligible (as opposed to May/June), parents must decide whether to register for kindergarten or put a deposit down on a pre-K/5s program. For parents who have flexible schedules, this may not be a huge deal – there tend to be a pretty wide range of good options if you have some flexibility in your daily schedule. For those of us who work full time and need coverage from 9 until 5 (or later), this is a big deal. In my town alone, there are really only three viable 5s programs that can seamlessly provide coverage for the full working day – while many preschool programs have extended day options, some only have classes up to the 4s, while others only have coverage until about 3:30. In my case, I also need a program that has two 5s classrooms because I’d like to split my kids into separate classrooms next year. What this means is that you’d better be ready to put your deposit down in winter (when registration typically begins for many pre-Ks) or risk losing your spot. In my case, I need to guarantee TWO spots, so the urgency to hold the spot is even greater.
What’s the big deal? Just put the deposit down.
There are two issues: 1) the tuition per child at our preschool and most full day preschools near us is the same as a college tuition (I will write about this next week); 2) the deposit at my school is between $1,000 – $2,000 per child (I won’t say exactly how much since I’m not allowed to disclose it). On sheer deposit alone, multiply that by two kids and I am looking at several thousand dollars of a deposit that I would lose if I change my mind.
So, why are you second guessing your original decision? Just do another year.
Here is my dilemma: when I recently spoke with our preschool teacher, she informed me that my daughter is on course academically and emotionally to go to kindergarten next year. My son, on the other hand, is on course academically, but immature emotionally – we agree with her assessment of both kids. The teacher recommended that I enroll in our preschool’s 5s program and keep an open mind about potentially skipping straight to first grade the following year if they’re ready academically. Now, if you’ve followed any of my posts, you know that I’M A CHEAP PERSON – I hate spending money extraneously. I’m having trouble reconciling with the fact that if I do this, I’d be paying the equivalent of TWO college tuitions for what would be private kindergarten when I could, in theory, be going to public kindergarten for free. If the teachers had told me that both kids were emotionally behind, or that both kids needed more time academically, there would be no question in my mind that staying where they are is a good choice. But here, they are telling me that from an emotional standpoint, staying where they are is recommended (but needed only for one child) but academically, they are ready to be in any kindergarten.
I’ve gotten a wide range of suggestions. Many have recommended that I go ahead and push them through to public kindergarten but I fear that this could be a disaster for my son. Our transition to our current school this year was difficult and is STILL ongoing. Additionally, our public school district separates twins by default, and he is very attached to his sister. Finally, the kindergarten classes in our district are about 20-21 kids versus the 16 kids he has now. I fear that by putting him in a new environment, a larger classroom, and separating from his sister, I might be making a huge mistake. Note that if I stay where we are now, we will be separating our kids into two classrooms, but at least they will be in a place that is comfortable and familiar to them.
Ultimately, I ended up sucking it up and putting the deposit down. I will also likely register for public kindergarten when registration starts in a few weeks, just to leave my options open. A lot can change between now and September, and my kids may suddenly blossom into kids who are unquestionably ready to go. It kills me to know that I could lose several thousand dollars just due to my indecisiveness at this point, but like everything in motherhood, tomorrow truly is another day.