Good grief. It never ends, and it never gets easier. We have two girls, ages 5 and almost 2, and we've had to do the whole daycare search for one or the other each year, sometimes more than once a year. It is so hard:
- finding your place in the whole gamut of child care / school options -- in-home schools, families to share a nanny with, nannies to share with another family, Reggio Emilio, Waldorf, Montessori, public Pre-K programs, and the list goes on.
- finding something generally convenient -- somewhat near home or work or both, making it accessible for both parents or back-up caretakers in sharing pick-up and drop-off responsibilities. (For us, this means the inner N/NE/NW areas.)
- finding something affordable. (I can't believe some schools and daycares hover around the $1000 per month range!)
- finding something practical for a family with two working parents. We need full-time care!
- finding something that will have an opening for your child at the right age at the right time!
Right now, I am focusing on September 2006, when our eldest will enter 1st grade and our youngest will enter preschool (or pre-preschool). Can we find them a place to go to a school together? Yes!
Childpeace Montessori seems like a perfect place in many ways: perfectly calm, decent location for us (4 miles from the house and 1.5 miles from my office), accomodates children from 18 months to 12 years old, a great environment to learn, and an amazing facility with a gym and outdoor play space. BUT: it's expensive, it's homogeneous (ethnically and socio-economically), and they may have space for just one of our daughters but not both! IF they could accomodate both of our girls, we may be able to overlook the 'cons' of the matter. But, if they can't accomodoate both of them, then the point is moot.
Now, the mission is to find two schools that each meet our initial criteria but that are also convenient to one another. It doesn't seem that the girls can go to the same school until they are both in elementary school. What's another 3 years of the inconvenience of dropping off and picking up at two different locations?
For girl 1:
Childpeace Montessori for reasons stated above.
Emerson School. They have a direct instruction program for tons of one-on-one between teacher and child, mixed-age groups make for diverse interactions and problem-solving, it's located near the pearl and old town and urban adventures are part of every day, and it's part of the magnet portland public school system. Doesn't seem like there are many cons here.
Beach Elementary Spanish Immersion. Children are great linguists. Here is more on two-way bilingual immersion.
For girl 2:
(the main goal is convenience to the above girl 1-potential-schools as well as meeting other criteria)
Fruit and Flower. Close to Childpeace and highly recommended by others who can't get into Childpeace because of the eon-long waitlist. We haven't visited yet so we'll just have to see. Because it attracts a similar student base to Childpeace, I would venture to say that the same pros and cons exist.
Rowanberry School. I heard great things about this school and it's in our neighborhood but ... OOPS! It's only part-time.
Trillium Preschool. It's convenient, uses the community and urban environment as a setting for learning, it's diverse, it's a public magnet (read: "Free")... and wait, then have an elementary school too! This is worth exploring. Potentially both girls could go at the same time next fall ...
And, the search goes on. It gets so much more complicated when two kids are in the equation. Whatever we decide, it'll be all good.