Today as part of my blog challenge, I’m going to ask a question and would love some advice from experienced mums who have faced the same decision/dilemma.
Over the past few months, I’ve been doing research on kindergartens for Jacob to go to. In the South Australian education system, children attend kindergarten when they turn 4 (or in the year that they are turning 4, if they’re born before May) and they go to school the following year.
Firstly, before I begin, I just want to mention (particularly to those who know me) that I’d prefer not to publicise where my kids go to school/daycare hence I am not going to mention any names of places (and would appreciate if you didn’t either, but you’re more than welcome to send me a PM on Facebook!).
We have already decided on our primary school, which is a wonderful school, but unfortunately don’t have an ELC linked to them. The school isn’t too far away from us, but far enough that the kids living in my area may not necessarily attend that school.
I have looked at 4 kindergartens so far which are probably the most logical choices to make (due to a number of factors like distance, etc.).
This is the kindergarten that we are zoned to – in the public system, some kindergartens are zoned to residents in the local area and have to take them as a priority. So if I apply, basically I will get in. It’s in a nice location and they are changing the face of the kindy to a more “nature play” based approach (which is what a lot of kindies do anyway). They are a smaller set up with only about 30 kids in each session and we would have to do two full days and one half day (which is convenient, rather than 5 half days).
What I like is that this one is walking distance from our house too so I could walk the dog with Jacob there and/or walk him home. However, the drawback to me is that most of the kids who go there will be going to the primary school right next door to the kindy (but that’s not the one Jacob will be going to) – so would he be making a whole lot of friends and then having to start afresh when he starts school?
This is a highly recommended kindergarten and also quite hard to get in – I’ve put Jacob’s name on the waiting list but he may or may not be given a place. It’s not far from us but we’re out of the catchment zone unfortunately (but we can be given second preference as we’re in the area just out of that range). I walked through the place with the Director and absolutely loved it!
I love that they get some exposure to the school environment (they sometimes attend assembly there and they also get to use the school library) which is not available at the other places I looked at. It’s a bigger place with about 60 kids (so twice the educators, and they’re split into 2 classes) but the space they have is considerably bigger so shouldn’t be an issue. However, the issue of continuity is posed again – most of the kids go to the sister primary school next door, whereas Jacob will go elsewhere. Also, it’s not confirmed that I’d get full day sessions (meaning potentially Jacob might have to 5 half days which is a bit annoying in terms of organising my time etc.).
This kindergarten follows the montessori method (and is a private kindy, so a bit more costly). I do like the montessori method but am not sure if Jacob needs it (as he is a kinesthetic learner anyway and just goes off and does his own thing, thinks outside the box, etc.) but whether Jacob needs more structure? And something that put me off a bit was the gym next door which was blaring loud disco music right alongside the outdoor play area (not that it really matters, am I being pedantic now?)
I do like that they use the Jolly Phonics program which is the same one used at the school Jacob will go to. Also, the Director of this kindy actually sent her kids to the school Jacob is going to go to, and often a lot of kids from this centre go on to that particular school (so Jacob can move together with his friends). And a bonus is that it’s only 2 full days not 2 and a half days (they get more done in their sessions) and they allow one hour before and one hour after for drop off / pick up.
This is another public kindy but was actually recommended by the Principal of the school Jacob is going to – he sent his own kids there. It’s tucked away in a lovely quiet spot and also has a big focus on nature play – I absolutely LOVE that they have a wooden car, boat and lots of cubby houses outside for kids to play in!
I also love that they don’t set their own themes but rather follow the interests of the kids. The Director told me that some kids were interested in light, so they hung crystals in the window and the kids noticed rainbows forming from the refraction, so then they decided to make a gigantic craft rainbow. And they had a little farm set up which was initiated by one of the educators there, so there was also a farm theme with actual little chicks (and they would watch them grow into chickens). However, she says that each year only about a couple of kids go to that particular primary school that I wanted to send Jacob to. And they also have that issue of 5 sessions potentially over 5 days (depending on the availability).
If you’ve gotten this far, I applaud you and thank you for taking some interest in my dilemma! I might be overthinking it, and they are all very good options, but which do you think would be the best option for Jacob?
I might just mention that I reckon Jacob would flourish at any of these places, so perhaps it’s a question of “which is the best option that would give ME peace of mind?”
I can’t believe that it was not too long ago that he was this tiny demure creature and now my baby’s all grown up and saving China! (Mulan quote, I’m not a Disney geek or anything right?)
Over and out. xoxo