- We love our current daycare provider, "Serena." She runs a very small (~6 kids/day, w/one assistant), preschool daycare. She takes kids from near newborn to 5 years old, but the kids we see there are mostly around age 2 or younger.
- Serena is amazing. I can't emphasize this enough. Said a coworker who sent his kids to her daycare: "If the house were on fire, Serena would meditate for a minute, then devise a fun game to get all the children out of the house without them even noticing the fire." Probably true, minus the moment of meditation. She is downright serene.
- She's not cheap: we pay $850/month for 3 days/week, which is a sizable chunk of my paycheck.
- Serena's daycare is a 15-minute drive from our home.
- Dr. Wonderful and Fantastic Mentor both have their kids at "Hippie Nursery School" and rave about it.
- Hippie Nursery School is a 5-minute walk from our home.
- Hippie Nursery School is $650/month for 5 days/week.
- Hippie Nursery School has ~20/kids at a time.
- Hippie Nursery School only takes kids age 2 and older.
- Lucas turns 2 in one month.
- We have been accepted to Hippie Nursery School; I have the forms filled out on my desk.
Serena was, to put it mildly, crushed. About on the verge of tears, and this was in front of a new-to-the-school parent. She was holding Lucas on her lap and clutched him tightly, saying quietly, "No, no, no, no, no." "Do not take him away," she pleaded. "We will work something out. Do not take him away. He is the best one."
She called later today to talk to Mr. Trillwing and me about the situation and told us that at age 2, her rate for full-time kids goes down to $720/month and $525/month if Lucas is enrolled for only three days. So basically if we keep Lucas there, we'll be getting the same high quality care for $325 cheaper a month than we are now. Crazy, eh?
During this call, she also mentioned that Lucas is her favorite child. (Does she say that to all the parents? I sense not.)
More things you should know:
- Serena is not only a licensed daycare provider, but also a credentialed teacher. She's very bright, and has a Master's degree in economics. She's been teaching preschoolers for 22 years. I'd guess she's in her 50s.
- Serena is from India and is, I believe, Hindu; the assistant I see most frequently is from Nepal, and is a very recent (9 months) immigrant. Serena has another assistant who's not usually there when I drop off or pick up Lucas who is Muslim (she wears a headscarf). I really like the multiculturalism and multiracial atmosphere. This is reflected in the kids enrolled at the school as well.
- Lucas adores Serena. He used her name before he regularly said "Mama." He's making terrific progress there.
- From what I've seen at Hippie Nursery School, most of the kids are white (with a sprinkling of mixed-race Asian and Latino--Dr. Wonderful's and Fantastic Mentor's kids). I believe all the teachers at Hippie Nursery School are white.
- Aside from campus, our town is, for California, quite white and wealthy. I value the diversity of Serena's daycare and want Lucas to find such diversity completely normal--which it is in my hometown and in Nearby City.
- Ideally, we would have Lucas in daycare for full days MWF and mornings TR.
- Because of traffic on Fridays, the total amount of time we spend driving to and from Serena's every week is about 5.5 hours. We wouldn't drive at all to Hippie Nursery School.
- I ran into Fantastic Mentor today. She sent both her daughters to Hippie Nursery School at age 2, and she said she felt they didn't really have "enough hands on deck" to give 2-year-old boys all the attention they need.
My heart tells me to stay with Serena. She's making good progress with him, and Lucas adores her. But the drive is a bit crazy--we couldn't live farther from her and still be in the same town--and the cost is an issue relative to Hippie Nursery School. I'm not exactly clear what her academic program is, but I recall her talking about having the kids reading and writing before kindergarten. I don't want to be a pushy, competitive, obsessive parent, but if she can maintain the confidence and curiosity Lucas currently has and have him prepared for kindergarten, I would nominate her for canonization in several faiths.
My gut says to stay with Serena for at least another 6 months to a year. I'm not sure if we'd get accepted as easily at Hippie Nursery School at that point as we did this time, especially if we turn them down now.
Mr. Trillwing and I need to go back and take another look at Hippie Nursery School, and we're scheduled to have a sit-down with Serena on Wednesday afternoon.
Those of you with kids, or who teach the little ones: What has been your experience with 2-year-olds? How did you decide upon when to send the kids to preschool, and how did you evaluate the schools you considered?
Again, many thanks in advance for your advice.