Back to the begining (A Pre-K post)
I was getting my hair cut this week (if you need someone near the North Center neighborhood who is great with thick and unruly hair, email me!)
My hairdresser has a daughter who just turned 2 and she’s starting the whole school investigation process, beginning at the pre-K level so she can apply this coming Fall. In some ways it feels like I was doing that yesterday but it was (sniff sniff) 8 years ago! That was when I first started asking my neighbors where they sent their kids and how the local schools were and I started getting the “no way” about CPS talk. All the kids on my block went to different private schools (the exception being anyone who got a RGC/Classical/Magnet spot.) At the time, you could also use the Tuition-based preK as an “in” for some of the desirable neighborhood schools. (Not an option any more.)
So my hairdresser was asking about the CPS ore-K programs (PreSchool for All) and whether those were a good option or whether private preK is worth the money. She’s full of that new-parent-of-a-toddler wide eyed enthusiasm about how each PreK might have a major impact on her child’s development. Conversly, I am full of the older kid cynicism, sometimes wondering why I spent money on things like Wiggleworms, etc (as well as a total of $16K for a private PreK experience. Oh, plus a $2,000 building fund.)
As you look back now, how important do you feel that the preK process was in your child’s development? Was private PreK worth the money? Do they really learn much in PreK? Or is learning to be in a school setting the most important lesson they’re learning at ages 3-4.
I’m not even fully sure what’s going on with PreK in CPS right now. Very quietly this past year it was announced that more placed (such as charter schools, churches, etc) could apply to host PreSchool for All. And I believe that existing CPS programs may have had to re-apply to host them. Christine Whitley http://christinewhitley.com/ who does consulting to help families determine their school options has asked me a few times, “How come nobody is talking about the PreK thing right now?” Good question — I guess becuase there hasn’t been any announcement yet saying that something will definitely change?
So for new parents here (and my hairdresser in particular) what would you recommend as you look back on PreK and its role in your child’s education? All I could come up with is that you need to tour a range of schools so you can see what’s out there and wait for a place/philosophy/vibe to kind of resonate with you, where you feel like it’s the right place for your child. I remember feeling like the Montessori preK we chose was going to make a major impact on my son. And now I’d kind of like that $18K back for his college fund…. But maybe it helped him get into the gifted program he tested into. Maybe a more play-based PreK wouldn’t have done that.