Monday, September 08, 2008

Almost a year old: time to choose a school

Okay, not quite school-choosing time, but almost. Back when Ava was born, I started looking around to see what types of schools were out there, what was close by, what teaching approaches to consider, and how much we'd need to budget for preschool or daycare in the years ahead. It's daunting!
11 month old Ava looking fetching as she uses her dad's collar for stability

Now that we're getting a little closer to when she might actually be going to part-time care of some sort, I revisited this school review site to start trying to narrow down my options.

Unfortunately, instead of feeling more informed, I'm more conflicted and like it's still too soon to try to choose a spot. I have no idea what type of learning environment Ava will need. Will she do better in Montessori? Waldorf? Bilingual? More or less structured? I have no idea. I'm leaning towards some sort of bi-lingual school in either Spanish or French. Either (or both) would enable her to communicate and connect with millions of people around the world and J. and I have at least a fighting chance at developing some proficiency in those ourselves at this advanced age so we could practice with her too.

One thing I admired in Europe during my fellowship last year and during our trip to Paris a few years ago was the widespread multilingualism, even among kids. The U.S. will have to do better by its students in the coming decades and most language teachers say kids shouldn't wait until high school to start studying foreign languages. They learn it much more seamlessly the earlier they start.

After Gov. Bill Richardson spoke at the DNC last week, sprinkling Spanish through his remarks, I told J. I was going to study Spanish. Again. I took a year of it in high school after finishing my French requirements, so I probably know just enough to accidentally insult some native speaker with a hair-trigger temper while trying to ask directions to the bathroom.

That said, Ava's just getting to the point where she can assert her preferences for activities or items. She shakes her head 'yes' and 'no' in response to simple questions, like "Do you want more of this food?" and "Are you all done?" "Are you sure?" She loves music and starts wiggling her torso, waving her arms or bobbing her head when she hears something she likes on the radio or even rockin' commercials on TV. When I fold clothes, she likes to methodically take them out of the basket one by one, then put them back in. Maybe someday she'll like doing laundry. Or maybe money laundering. It's a toss up at this point.
11 month old Ava practicing her smile for school pictures some day.

I suspect we'll start getting a better bead on what she'll need and what our options are soon, but some of these places have a 12-18 month or longer waiting lists! So like parents everywhere, we'll plan and hope for the best and make the most informed choice we can that fits our resources over the next year or so.

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