Kindergarten Conundrum: A Quest for Education Perfection


choosing a kindergarten schoolI’ve fallen down a parenting rabbit hole. No, that’s not true. I’ve voluntarily jumped headfirst down this particular rabbit hole, with only a vague understanding of the shadowy end I’m hoping to find: the perfect kindergarten.

Our son doesn’t start kindergarten until August. However, registration for many districts started in February, so decisions have to be made now. Kindergarten is nap, snacks, and play, right? So who is this obsessed person insisting on touring every kindergarten in the area and accosting fellow moms about their kindergarten journeys?

That would be me.  

Add yet another item to my failed “I will never” list: I will never lose it over finding the perfect kindergarten.

As a teacher, I feel I have a pretty healthy understanding of the power and limits of education. The power is immense and the limits are inevitable. School can impact kids dramatically but it’s not the end-all, be-all of child development. I know this.

So why has my blood pressure risen 10 points as I try to imagine where he spends the first days of his educational career?

Because we all want the best for our children. Because the best kindergarten will ensure a successful life. Obviously.

But it can be hard to define what makes a kindergarten the best. Is it high test scores, regular emotional guidance, or nontraditional lesson plans? Should I look for strong community support, a school that looks exactly like what I experienced? Does it matter that the school’s website has outdated information and grammatical errors if every kid in the hall has a smile on his or her face? Does a heavy Twitter presence suggest healthy investment in technology or a decreased emphasis on communication skills?

My answers change daily.

Then there’s the private school option. I’ve always worked in public education and the idea of K-12 private education used to leave a bad taste in my mouth, an affront to my chosen career. Then my son landed in a free preschool housed in the neighborhood Catholic church. Not surprisingly, I’ve lost that bad taste as I better understand the benefits of private education: small class sizes, familiarity with community members, and an emphasis on service.

My, this rabbit hole is twisty.

When I regain my footing, I’m calmed by the fact that every school I’ve visited would be fine. We are blessed to live in an area where education is prioritized by many, and the teachers and administrators I’ve met are committed, intentional, and fully capable. Not once do these educators tell me I’m overthinking this choice.

Which is exactly what I’m doing. I am overthinking.

I want to feel chagrined and apologetic, but I don’t. I’m the mommy. I might visit every elementary in the Metro area, and if that’s what it takes to make me feel comfortable with our decision, that’s OK.

Now, it is possible that this decision is not actually about academics. There is just the slightest chance that my stress and anxiety have nothing to do with his future classroom and everything to do with the awareness that my baby is starting kindergarten.

It couldn’t possibly be about letting go.

We will decide on a school. Whether it’s our neighborhood school, an in-district transfer, an out-of-district open enrollment, or — dare I say it — private, he will be fine. We will be involved. It will be the right fit because we will make it that way.

And I will come back to my senses and embrace this next stage of his childhood, at least until my overthinking embarks on something truly scary. Like middle school.

How did you choose a school?


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here