We have decided to change our child care arrangements for Fay. For 2 years now she has had either a nanny at her home or her mommy to take care of her. But as of Sept 14, Fay will be going to pre-school for 3 days a week.
I hadn't anticipated doing this quite so soon, but we found a fantastic school/day care, and the timing is right for a lot of reasons.
Last winter a lot of my neighborhood friends were touring and applying for various pre-school programs. I was a little late to the party because Fay doesn't turn 2 until mid-Fall, and many of these programs have Sept 1 cutoffs. Some of them allow you to start late, on the birthday, but still charge you for the entire season. But, about one month after applications were due, I started noticing changes in Fay and really wanted her to attend one of these programs. She seems ready for that social environment. Since I was so late in applying, Fay was put on several waiting lists.
I think this turned out to be a good thing, because it would have been easy for me to send Fay to one of these pre-schools with all of her neighborhood friends. Instead we started looking at other options.
There is a school in our neighborhood, but further into Chinatown, that is bilingual. They do 2/3 of the day in English and an afternoon segment in Mandarin. They have two teachers in each classroom: one that speaks English and one that speaks Mandarin. They have a high percentage of Chinese children. I'd guess its about 80%.
I spoke to a woman in my neighborhood who sends both of her kids to the bilingual school, and she *loves* it. She couldn't say enough good things about it. So, last week, Ryan and I took a tour of the school and were very impressed. The classrooms were very large -- much larger than the other schools I'd seen. The teachers were all excited to talk to Fay. They paid more attention to her than to her parents which I always see as a good sign. There were a couple of specific concerns I had which were laid to rest:
Q) Would Fay receive one on one attention when she was upset or scared, or just transitioning into this new environment?
A) I saw a 2 year old girl crying her eyes out at two points during the tour (same girl!). The administrator told me that this girl has probably only ever been with her parents at home, and is having a tough time with the transition. Then, one of the classroom teachers scooped her up and cuddled her and removed her from the group for a few minutes. I was so happy to see how gently they were dealing with this girl's crisis.
Q) Can we start off slowly so Fay can adjust to the new school?
A) During the first week we will do 1/2 days, progressively moving up to a full day at school. So, I will pick up Fay after 4 hours, then after 6 (after nap), then after a full day.
A couple other facts that convinced us this was the school for Fay have to do with more adult concerns. They are much less expensive than the other options. And they serve 3 meals a day (the other schools have you send food with your child). We are actually paying for 5 days a week but will only be sending Fay for 3. This is nice for flexibility. If for some reason I need to work different days, I can change Fay's pre-school schedule easily.
Before taking the tour, I thought we might wait until January to enroll Fay in a program. But we realized that many of the children are meeting each other for the first time and going through the separation process together, and it would be best to get Fay in to meet her new friends as soon as possible.
So, we gave notice to our nanny last week. And now I'm freaking out because my baby is growing up. I'm anxious that she is becoming more independent and will go through a major life change without me. And I'm anxious that this is the end of my baby years with Fay. I hope she still will still want some mama cuddles, even after she is a big girl at pre-school.