The Core Dump

A strong conviction that something must be done is the parent of many bad measures

[By Nic Lindh on Friday, 21 July 2006]

Adventures in schooling

The day care center where Andrea has spent her days has all in all been pretty good over the years. She’s had good teachers who cared about the children, had good little friends, and above all she hasn’t hated going there. My naive thinking on the subject has always been that as long as your child doesn’t hate going to the day care center, things must be at least okay.

The director was a nice woman who, from reading between the lines, didn’t really do much. Which didn’t really matter to us as long as Andrea was happy. Then she was transferred to another center. The successor seemed okay to us, but managed to earn the enmity of the staff in short order. Andrea still seemed happy, so that was one office politics nightmare we didn’t need to get involved in. The center lost a few good employees, but none who were directly involved with Andrea.

About a year in, the director developed medical issues and needed to step down, so a new director was found. This one was apparently (and again, just from reading between the lines) even worse than the last when it came to employee treatment. So more people left, including the one who had taught Andrea’s class, and who was very, very good with the children. Obviously this was not a particularly welcome development.

At this time, The Arizona Republic printed an article about how Intel was funding a new preschool for their employees’ children at the Chandler YMCA. Getting funding from Intel is obviously a pretty good endorsement, so we called to see if we could get Andrea enrolled and talked to the director. Noper. No more seats.

OK, we figured. No wonder. Obviously every Intel employee in the area with children is jumping on this; who wouldn’t? But we were on the waiting list and would be called as soon as there was an opening. Okey-dokey.

A few months went by and there was no phone call from the school. Meanwhile, things were getting worse at the child care center. More employees left, and the quality of the replacements was incredibly unimpressive. This made dropping Andrea off in the morning that much harder—the horrible nagging thought any parent has in their head as they drop their child of at day care is that they’re putting them in storage so that they can go off and earn money to put on the table. This is not a good feeling.

Then in late June we decided to call the YMCA to see if by any chance there had been any cancellations. And we got to speak to a brand-spanking-new director, who told us that indeed there were many spots available.

A big shout-out to the former director: Thanks a whole freaking bunch for keeping up with your waiting list! Perhaps this has something to do with why you are no longer the director? Hmmm?

So we decided to go in and take a look at the place. And it really looked wonderful. The school follows the Reggio Emilia method, which means that the classrooms have muted lighting and are decorated like a home—extremely non-institutional. The staff are all trained in the method, and from what we’ve seen so far really care about the children.

Andrea has now spent two weeks at the school, and it is working out beyond our expectations. It may be placebo effect, but we’ve seen a huge change in her behavior at home, with her performing more self-directed activities and being much more vocal and amenable to verbal instructions.

So at this point we can move our worries over to things like the center closing or her somehow managing to get expelled.

The thing about parenting is that there’s always something you can worry about…

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