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School Shopping

My oldest child is four years old. She will be turning five this February. This means it is time to start exploring school options for next Fall. We live in a section of the city that has some interesting school boundaries. Someone told me it had something to do with the way the farmland was mapped before all the developments popped up. Currently, the school we are zoned for is about eight miles away in the opposite direction of where my husband and I work. A referendum passed last year that will mean a brand new school a quarter mile away…but it won’t be ready until Fall of 2017. That will be the year my youngest child will be entering Kindergarten. What to do for the one year gap in the meantime?!

Options

  1. I can do nothing and my daughter will attend the school she is zoned for. However, this would involve sending her eight miles in one direction, my youngest 3 miles in the opposite direction (to daycare), and my husband and I revising our work schedules to be home to pick both of them up at their various times.
  2. Hold my daughter from starting school until 1st grade (Kindergarten is not mandatory), and then both girls start the new school at the same time. However, this means paying for daycare one year longer than necessary. Daycare isn’t cheap. Also, I do think my daughter will be beyond ready to start school next Fall.
  3. Start touring other options and figure out the Open Enrollment procedures. There are charter schools, schools in other districts nearby, private schools, and Montessori schools. So many options!!

My goal is to have an efficient schedule conducive to two working parents. If at all possible I would like the girls to move in tandem with each other. As they get older it’s inevitable I’ll be going in all kinds of directions. The longer I can delay that madness- the better. Of course, I also want the best educational program I can find. A building that has modern security systems, but isn’t scary to access. I’d prefer to drive them to school instead of taking the bus. Oh, and a diverse student body, not too large, not too small, offering foreign language as early as Pre-K… Sound like an impossible wish list living in the Twin Cities? Surprisingly, I may have actually already found something. My husband and I toured a program a couple of days ago that seems to fit all my major wants. The application process doesn’t start until after January 1 and acceptance is by lottery. Wish me luck.

Whatever Happens

I’m so grateful for having all these choices. The thought and action of school shopping feels a little overwhelming at times, but no matter what ends up happening, I feel confident knowing that the best education they will receive is entirely under my control. It will happen at home, in all the active parenting, storytimes, consistency, travel, swim lessons, dance classes, playtime, and involvement of family and friends. I love being a parent.

Do you have any tips for the school shopping process? Is sending your kids on the bus as scary as it seems? What do I need to know before I send my kids off to school next year?

Best,

A. Lockhart

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