Everything about this school exuded “THIS IS THE ONE FOR US.” While I could talk for days about their philosophy, values, director, teachers and 70-year history that attracted us, at the end of the day, the place just felt right. Match made in heaven right. Giant excel spreadsheet out the window.
For us this was the only place that – without hesitation – we felt like we could drop off our daughter THE NEXT DAY, walk away, and she would be ok…and eventually thrive under their care and guidance.
It felt so right that we passed on other opportunities before admissions decisions were sent on this one.
Five years later and after both of my daughters attended the school (each for two years and one in the tot program), here’s what I have to say about preschool in Chicago:
First, there is a school for everyone. I should never have let those women at the gym stress me out. There are plenty of options and perhaps it just comes down to fit and maybe a little patience. (In the end, our daughter got into every school we applied to – even the lottery schools, even the “impossible” schools, even the most sought-after CPS programs. Sure, we found out about a couple after the school year started, but spots ultimately did open up. And while our daughter is a star to us, there is nothing more special about her than any other child in Chicago applying to preschool.)
Second, the process really is a journey. While much of it was daunting, and some of it was annoying, it was also kind of fun to explore the possibilities. More importantly, it was eye opening to explore our own ideas about education and figure out what was important to us.
Third, for us it took going on the journey to figure out where to land. I’m glad we applied to a wider range of schools to be able to explore different kinds of options. I’m glad we kept an open mind about all of them. I’m SO glad we didn’t blow off that final presentation. We figured out our priorities as we went, and for us it came down to a feeling, not a spreadsheet of pros and cons.
In the end, we were so lucky to find a place that values the same things we do about early education. That gets to know each individual child and inspires that child to learn and grow and be his or her best self. That understands that first (and second…and third) time parents are also learning about life with school-going children. That serves as an incredible resource and source of support to those parents. That is filled with like-minded people who become a wonderful community and often friends for life. That helped shape two children into happy, confident little ones ready for life outside of home. How lucky were we that we attended that final parent meeting so we could feel what was right for us and didn’t just make the most logical choice or easiest choice.
About the Author: Anny Gary is a happily married proud mama to two girls – ages 8 and 5 – who keep her running all over town to school, dance, gymnastics, theater, swimming, art classes and social activities. She serves on a variety of boards with several leadership positions. In her spare time, she works as an independent consultant with an emphasis on marketing and management. Oh, and she loves to write.