Saturday, March 15, 2008

Another big decision...decided!

After many months of research, conversations with other parents, school visits and deliberation, we finally know where Lucas will spend his next nine years of school - Prospect Sierra.

We love everything about Prospect, when Kevin and I visited, it looked like so much fun and a great place for Lucas:
  • Well-rounded curriculum - At least once a week he will get not just one, but all three: art, science, and music
  • Lots of space to run around - When Lucas came to the school with me this past week, he said, "Mommy, did you see all that grass? Can I play soccer there?"
  • Two classrooms per grade, 2 full time teachers until 3rd grade - After speaking with Lucas' teachers, they feel that he would especially benefit from a smaller environment with a smaller teacher to student ratio
  • Warm and wonderful teachers - During the weekend school tour, we had a lot of opportunity to talk with the teachers and really look at the work that the kids had done in class. We also saw them in action during one of the weekday school tours and they seem fantastic.
  • Fun afterschool program - He can take classes like fencing, Mandarin, baseball, ceramics, chess, carpentry, steel drums, cooking. Many of these classes separate out the kindergarten kids into their own class.
  • Service learning - If I had more time, I would do more of this with Lucas on a regular basis. In Kindergarten, they focus on the environment and take care of a creek area that is just down the hill from the school. It's also a green school so they bring that into the curriculum and the way things are done at the school - composting at lunch, solar panels, etc.
And knowing what we know about Lucas and after talking with Lucas' teachers, we feel really good that this school is the best one for him.

The whole process was interesting for me. What I learned was:
  • Just about everyone is super happy with the school their child is currently attending.
  • Public vs. private is a touchy subject. It reminded me of the working vs. non-working discussions when Lucas was a newborn - people have strong opinions about this, but what works for one family, may not work for the next family.
Also, after visiting the private schools, I was happy to see that they were as ethnically diverse as our community at large, and even more diverse than what would have been our public school, where "diversity" is made up mostly of Asians. I started thinking that maybe Lucas would not be accepted because he is half Asian and half Caucasian. So many of the kids in these private schools and also the prospective parents were of mixed race, specifically, just like us - Asian / Caucasian.

Lucky for us, Lucas got into both schools we applied to, and we had the public school as our back-up plan.

Since Lucas didn't really know he was interviewing, we never really brought it up to him or asked him where he would want to go. A couple of times I asked him where he had more fun, between the two private schools, where he had to go into the classroom with other kids to be observed. He would say Prospect Sierra because they had better snacks and that the grown-ups were nicer to him. He's asked to go back to the "Prospect playground" and about a week ago he taught me this clapping game, which he said he learned at Prospect.

So last week during breakfast one day, after we made our decision, I told him that he will go to Prospect Sierra. In typical Lucas form he said, "You know, when I went to Prospect one of the grown-ups told me that he loved blueberry muffins too." Now he will have at least one thing in common with one of the adults there. So there you have it, we made the right choice!

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