Nolan: Third #preschool tour - The perfect Montessori experience and the dreaded "waitlist" #kids #parenting

Can you believe it?

It's been over a year since we first started touring Preschools for Nolan.

We just weren't ready last year and Nolan wasn't ready. He was still a baby to us, he's our last baby, and it just felt like the world was turning too fast. Do you know what I mean?

So, we started back up this January to enroll him for the 2015-2016 school year.

We didn't go back and tour the first two schools we toured and loved last year, which you can read about here: Tour 1, Tour 2 because we knew we loved them and they were a great fit for him. I did send emails to both school's Directors to refresh myself on their enrollment procedures, application fees, deposits, and start dates.

The school we toured last month was a very well-known and loved Montessori school that we knew coming in to tour had very few spots left as they had so many returning students. It's run by a Director and three Teachers, two of which had their children come through the school before they became Teachers, only accepts 18 kids that are balanced in gender and age (2yrs9mos - age 6yrs) and spend their days together as a group. Their facilities are sparkling clean, the toys and materials are all new and well-taken care of, the yard is like Disneyland for kids, and the staff is warm, loving, gentle and so very kind. It's a Montessori school in that they allow the children to lead their "work" and "play" time throughout the day with a very short 8-10minute meeting with the Director every day, simply to say "good-morning" and to introduce the new work and/or toys for that day.

Things we loved most:
1. The first hour of every day is dedicated to the kids playing outside. How brilliant is that? Get those wiggles out, burn off some energy, and it eliminates having the kids longingly stare out the windows, hoping to play, while the Teacher is talking. The staff meets you at the drop-off curb, collects all the kids on the front steps, and then marches them around back to let them go play. What a great way to start the day!

2. No child has to participate in anything regarding play or work. When they come inside, they get to roam the room and choose what they want to do: read, paint, draw, play with cars/trains, build with blocks/magnatiles, cutting/stamping/gluing a project, playing in the real world room of kitchen, stack/sort, etc., etc. They can play alone, so no forced sharing, or they can ask to join another child or group of children. This would be perfect for Nolan as he's very particular about what he likes and doesn't like, and it takes him some time to transition between activities.

3. No forced transitions between activities including snack time!
I can't stand play-based Preschools that force kids to move from the art table, to the story room, to the science experiment, and on and on every 15-20minutes. It really disrupts the creative process and how children naturally learn. And snack time isn't something every child is interested in. At this school, snack it out for you to grab WHEN and IF you want it. You serve yourself, you sit and eat when you are ready, and you help clean up and move on about your day.

4. They save your place in your work
If you decide to take on a lacing, tracing, gluing/stamping/cutting type of project and aren't done by the end of the day, they put your name tag on it (it's a laminated strip of paper with you name and photo on it, for those kids who can't read their own names yet) and it's right there where you left it the very next day.

5. Everything is in the exact same place day in, day out
One of the best parts about Montessori is the consistency, the routine, the predictability. Nolan thrives knowing his cars are right where he left them the night before or that he can always find the Tag Ready book "Things that Go!" and the pen on the upper right-hand shelf in our playroom. Most children (and adults!) melt down when they can't find their things, am I right?!? :) At this school, every single item has a home. It is labeled with the word and picture of the item so the kids can put things back exactly where they found them so they can find them again later. The staff helps the kids put things back when they are done with them. It's beyond brilliant!

6. Pottery-training isn't connected to Preschool readiness
Nolan isn't digging his heels in, he doesn't refuse, he will sit on the potty when prompted; however, the body urge and brain connection just isn't there yet. It takes some kids a really long time for that to happen so they can be potty-independent. This school believes this and you can send your child in diapers or Pull-ups. It's just not a big deal. I love that!

I could go on and on.

We really LOVED this school and immediately turned in our application and fees.

Unfortunately, we got the dreaded call that Nolan is on their waitlist. We knew it was a possibility because they just don't have many spots open and siblings get priority. We chose to stay on the waitlist and hope a spot opens up between now and August, when school starts.

In the meantime, we are communicating with the two other schools we loved to see if they have a spot for him. I think we'd take a spot at one of those schools instead of taking our chances on this waitlist because Nolan is slotted to start Kindergarten Fall 2016 so this would be his only year for Preschool.

What would you do?


  1. Things are different here in FL, as the school year before Kinder is called VPK and is free through the state at a variety of approved preschools. Because it's free, you have to register with both the school of your choice and the state's board. The state board begins taking registration in early May so here everyone has their VPK nailed down with the schools well before that May date when your registration becomes complete and official. My oldest attended a 3-day VPK (very hard to find, most are 5 half days). That program fills up fast so my boys have been registered as early as March with the school and I call for a state appointment May 1. Long story short (too late!) I would say by May I would have Nolan's school nailed down depending on how quickly you think spots will go at the other schools you like. But that's probably the timeframe I'm just conditioned to be used to! But that way you can enjoy summer knowing where he'll be for preschool.

  2. Thanks, Aja! How interesting that you have FREE Preschool. WOW! Nothing is free here in NorCal unless you qualify for a financial hardship of some kind and there are only a handful of schools who accept hardships. Preschool is private and is going to cost us somewhere between $8,900-$11,000 for the one year he will be enrolled. My annual college tuition didn't cost that much! And the waitlists out here are outrageous - too many families needing Preschool and not enough spaces. The ONLY reason we may get a spot at this Montessori school is because I registered between the very small window of January 1 - March 1st, paid my fees on-time, AND because they don't have waitlists except for the current year so everyone has to reapply each year. Wish us luck! :)


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