Policy, Politics, Statistics

What is a high-quality preschool?

Around our town, parents of preschoolers are busy observing in classrooms and filling out lengthy application forms for next year's preschool. Most of our preschools have a $25–$40 application fee and waiting lists a mile long, so it's a process that many undertake cautiously and anxiously.

Same thing next year? Grade retention.

We're approaching the fourth grading period at our school, which leads some teachers and parents to think about whether a struggling child should be retained. It's never an easy conversation to have.

Kindergarten: Half or full day?

One of my blog posts that got people talking was the one about our decision to enroll Anna in kindergarten as a 5 year old (rather than waiting until she turned 6). Both our girls have summer birthdays; we waited to send our older daughter, but wrestled with the same decision for our younger daughter.

No substitute for a teacher

Molly's teacher leaves this Friday for maternity leave. The long-term sub has been hired, the kids have been prepped, and they're throwing her a baby shower before she goes. Sounds good, right?

The wheels on the bus went round and round

Anna, our "five-year-old-summer-birthday-girl-and-second-born" daughter started kindergarten today. I first wroteabout the subject of kindergarten with summer birthdays last January during preschool re-enrollment. I questioned sending her; Miss K., our preschool teacher, never had a doubt in her mind. Anna would go. Another year of preschool and she would be bored to tears. Send her on.

Another disincentive: money for nothing

Yesterday's New York Times included an opinion piece by Barry Schwartz titledMoney For Nothingabout a pilot program in New York City schools that offers cash rewards to students based on attendance records and test performance.

Retention attention

The Reading Rockets service Ask the Experts gets a lot of questions about a lot of topics. Grade retention is one of the most common question topics, particularly this time of year.

As a teacher, have you considered retaining a student? As a parent, has someone recommended your child not be promoted to the next grade?

Doin' the Teacher Shuffle

Oh boy. I found out today that some of the teachers at Molly's school will be changing grade levels next year. Sadly, the teacher I hoped Molly would have next year won't be teaching first grade after all. But I'm sure it will work out fine. There are several terrific teachers at our school, and I know that Molly's K teacher and the principal will find the right match for her first grade year.

Safe and Sound? School violence.

"Suspicious packages" were found at Molly's elementary school Tuesday morning, just after we put her on the bus to go. All buses were diverted to the high school, and after sitting for awhile the kids unloaded into the high school gym, waiting while the schools were searched. Realizing the sweep would take hours, school was cancelled and kids were released to us anxious parents. Within an hour, Molly was home playing out front, drawing with chalk and kicking around her soccer ball....oblivious to the scare, and grateful for an unexpected day off from school!

Should she stay or should she go (to kindergarten): Part 2

Thanks to everyone who commented online and offline to me about our kindergarten decision. It's comforting to know that other parents struggle with a similar decision. And after reading your comments and talking with friends, I'm even more convinced that it really is an "it depends on the child" decision (those kind drive new-ish moms like me crazy!).

Anyways, Anna is going. This fall. To kindergarten. On the bus. Yikes.


"A book is like a garden, carried in the pocket." — Chinese Proverb