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Talking With Other Parents

Happy women holding coffee cup while looking at each other in cafe

Photo credit: PhotoDune

Whether you’re pursuing a public, private, or alternative education, you’ve probably had at least one of the following thoughts: How do I go about finding a school with which I am comfortable? Where do I find a place I can leave my child each day knowing that he or she is in capable, caring hands? Will he be happy? Will she make friends? Where can I go to get answers to my questions?

When you finally do begin to search for a school, your child’s play group is an excellent place to start. Another great resource is religious or other community groups. Many of the moms in these groups will have school-age children or know of friends who do. Ask them which school their child attends. Has their experience been a positive one? Are they pleased with the education they are receiving? Does their school provide a loving, caring environment? Is the school actively involved in parent education? Is it affordable?

Like many of today’s young parents, I began thinking about my girls’ education while they were still in diapers. Five years would pass before my children would even enter school, but the process of thinking about their education had already begun. I remember attending an educational conference where someone asked me how many children I had and what grades they were in.

They’re not in school yet, I admitted sheepishly. They’re still babies. 

Good for you, the woman replied. You can never start too early.

That’s true whether you’re teaching your own children or sending them away each day to be taught by someone else.

Maybe you’re an advocate of public education. Or prefer the slightly more creative approach of a charter school. Whatever you decide to do, don’t second guess yourself. This may not be as easy as it sounds, especially if your closest friends have strong, and differing, opinions about the choices they’re making. Do your homework and then stick to your plan. Have confidence that you’ve made a wise decision, one that works best for your family.

In addition to talking with your peers, you can also benefit from the wisdom and experience of parents whose children are older or have already left home. I’ve always sought out friends who are a step or two ahead of me in the parenting process. Why? It helps me gain perspective, keep my sense of humor, and, basically, get a grip, especially now that all three of my daughters are entering their adult years. Older friends remind me that every stage of childhood is fleeting, and that as much as possible, I need to relax and enjoy my kids.

Next week I will begin taking a look at how to choose the right school for your child. Until then, happy parenting.

– excerpted from How to Prepare for Kindergarten: Getting Your Child and Yourself Ready for Day One. All rights reserved.

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