Summer is here! I hope everyone had a nice Summer solstice. It’s one of my favorite days of the year. The weather is perfect in Portland and it’s still light out at 9 pm. Anyway, this is the perfect time to recap RB40 Jr.’s preschool experience and talk about the plan for next school year. I’m sure many of you’ve heard that it will cost nearly $300,000 to raise a kid from birth to 18. Sometimes I feel like most of that is the cost of childcare…. Here is our childcare history so far.
- Birth until 5 months old: Mrs. RB40 took maternity leave and I took a sabbatical right after that so, Jr. stayed home.
- 5 months until 18 months: Jr. went to a local daycare facility. The cost was $1,250/month.
- 18 months until 2-1/2: I became a stay at home dad so we didn’t have to pay for daycare.
- 2-1/2 until 3-1/2: After one preschool that didn’t work out, we found a preschool that could handle Jr. He went 2 days/week from 9 am to 1pm. The preschool cost $300/month.
The main reason why I wanted Jr. to start preschool was so he can learn to socialize with children his age. I don’t have any friends with children his age and I didn’t do a good job connecting with other parents locally. Most parents in our area both work full-time so the kids also go to full-time daycare so we don’t really see them much. The only time Jr. interacted with kids his age is when we went to story time at the library. Oh yeah, we see kids at the playground too. However, he didn’t know how to play with other kids. He only wanted to play to play with his mom and dad. I guess he was too young back then.
Unfortunately, he had a few behavioral problems when he started preschool. He threw toys, pushed other kids, and even got into a sand throwing fight once. Thankfully, things improved a lot after a few months and he became much more civil. Kids mature so quickly at this age so that must be a part of it.
There was another boy in his class with the same high energy level and temperament so they quickly became best friends. The school had to hire another teacher to handle these 2 crazy kids. 🙂 These days, he will play amicably with any kid he sees at the playground and that’s awesome. So the socialization goal is accomplished and I’m very glad that we started preschool last year.
Note – Preschool at this age is mostly just playing and doing fun activities. I think they learn one alphabet letter per week and that’s about it, which is great.
Actually, this preschool was a happy coincidence for us. The first preschool we tried didn’t work out and we were just looking for some place where Jr. can go for a couple of hours during the rainy season. One day we drove to an obscure community center to check out their indoor gym and it turned out they had a preschool AND one spot available. I’m quite happy with this preschool, but next year we are going give cooperative preschool a try.
When we were looking for a preschool last year, I found a co-op preschool nearby and put our name down on the waiting list. This co-op preschool accepts kids age 3 and older so we couldn’t go last year anyway. Our name is still on the list so we have the option to attend this coming school year. I have heard a lot of good things about this preschool and it would be a good opportunity to get more involved.
What is a cooperative preschool? A cooperative preschool is a group of families who hire trained teachers and work with them to provide a quality preschool experience for children. The parents contribute about 4-6 hours per month and take on one committee job throughout the school year. Co-op preschools are also usually a little more affordable than private preschools. Next year, Jr. will attend 3 half-days per week and it will cost about $300/month. Other preschools in the area cost about $500/month for 3 half-days/week. So co-op preschool is a bit more affordable, but it isn’t a huge difference.
The big issue for co-op preschool is the time commitment. I’m a stay at home dad, so I don’t mind helping out. It’s more difficult if someone has a full-time job or more than one child. Next year, I’ll be a teacher’s helper in class once or twice a month. Also I put my name down for some of the easier committee jobs. I’ll be assigned one of these as I understand.
- School Bulletin Board Director – Take care of the bulletin board. I think I can handle that. I have to get Mrs. RB40 to help me if necessary.
- Classroom Supplies Shopper – Go buy supplies.
- Immunization Compliance Coordinator – Collect paperwork and correspond with the school district.
Co-op VS Traditional Preschool
As previously mentioned, I’m quite happy with our current preschool and I’m a bit reluctant to change schools. The thing I like about co-op preschool is that it offers a better opportunity to connect with other families. I’ll be spending more time in the classroom so I should get to know the kids and other parents more. Theoretically, co-op preschool promotes a close-knit community via parental involvement.
It has been nice to be able to drop off the kid and have some time to myself. However, I’m terrible at connecting with moms. We only made friends with one family so far (Jr’s best friend). The interaction time is usually quite brief at drop off/pickup (hi, bye) and I’m the only dad there, so I feel a bit awkward around all the moms who seem to have a lot to chat about with each other.
Anyway, this particular co-op preschool has a very good reputation and many positive reviews. If it doesn’t work out, we probably can go back to the previous preschool, so I’m not too worried. I’m looking forward to be more involved at preschool and see how kids interact with each other. I think it’ll be a lot of fun.
Do you have any experience with co-op preschools? Would you send your kid to one? I guess another option is homeschooling, but I don’t think I can handle that.
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