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Baby Gifts & Learning Tools
Baby Gifts & Learning Tools


Tuesday, October 22, 2002 08:27 PM Last Updated

Child Care Magazine

Archive Issue 1

Soapy Soap-Pops Lisa Maliga 6/01/2001 Issue 1, vol. 6.1 Projects & Crafts & Games
Making the Decision of Hiring a Nanny Elizabeth Pennington 6/01/2001 Issue 1, vol. 6.1 Nannies & Child Care
Kitchenlab Kindermath Noreen Wyper 6/01/2001 Issue 1, vol. 6.1 Kitchenlab Kindermath Weekly Column
Q & A (1st Issue) Heather Haapoja 6/01/2001 Issue 1, vol. 6.1 Q & A Weekly Column
Prime Time Parenting, (1st Issue) Deb & Dave Graham 6/01/2001 Issue 1, vol. 6.1 Prime Time Parenting Weekly Column
Starting Your Family Day Care Business, 5 Common Misconceptions Heather Haapoja 6/01/2001 Issue 1, vol. 6.1 Start-Ups in Child Care 
Nightmare of Private Pre-School Jenifer McCrea 6/01/2001 Issue 1, vol. 6.1 Child Care Nightmares, Issues in Child Care

Soapy Soap-Pops

By:   Lisa Maliga

What is a Soap-Pop?  A bar of soap on a stick that looks and smells like a popsicle.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t taste like one!

Soap-Pops are a great way to keep the family occupied with a project that all can enjoy.


6 ­ 8 ounces of glycerin melt and pour soap.  Translucent or opaque—it’s your choice.

6-pack of popsicle molds

Soap color's

Essential and/or fragrance oils


  1. To figure out what size popsicle molds you have, fill one of them almost to the top with water.  Empty the water into a measuring cup and that will give you an accurate measurement.  The molds used in this recipe held 1 ounce, therefore 6 ounces of soap was needed.

  2. Cut the soap into cubes. 

  3. Add the soap to the double boiler OR microwave.  Include a small piece of the color nugget, approximately ¼ of the cube.  Too much color will cause the soap to ‘bleed.’ 

  4. When the soap and color have been blended, add the essential or fragrance oil. 

  5. Have the popsicle molds at the ready, the lids removed, and keep them in the 6-pack stand they came in.  If your double boiler or microwaveable container has no spout, it’s a good idea to pour the soap into a container with a spout so that it goes into the molds with no mess. 

  6. Add the lids very carefully, making sure they snap on all the way.  Put into the freezer for about an hour.

  7. When you take out the Soap-Pops, check to make certain they are done. When you push from the bottom of the mold you should see or feel the soap loosen.  Allow to return to room temperature. 

  8. Label, making sure you indicate that IT IS NOT EDIBLE!

You’ll have a 6-pack of Soap-Pops!  They’ll be ready to use ­ or to give to someone as a gift.

Making the Decision to Hire a Nanny

By:   Elizabeth Pennington

Consider this:  Your pregnancy and delivery were healthy and successful, you’re now home with the baby, your hormones have leveled off and the postpartum blues have subsided enough for you to be able to function like a relatively normal human being.  For the first time in days, your hair is clean and your teeth are brushed.  After weeks of sleepless nights, your child finally has been able to differentiate between night and day after much coaxing from you.  With these major milestones accomplished, you’d like to collapse into a crumpled little heap but your maternity leave is quickly drawing to a close and you’ve yet to face the greatest challenge so far... making the dreaded childcare decision.  Collapsing will have to wait until later.

Plowing through the childcare options can be intimidating and exhausting, but don’t let that stop you. Take one step at a time and think the options through.  Should you place your child in a daycare environment, have a family member take care of your child, or employ a nanny to come into your home?  This can be an enormously difficult decision to make because you do want what is best for you and your baby.  But, what is the most appropriate route?  In a day and age when the option to stay at home with your child has dramatically decreased, due possibly to the fact that your family needs your income, you are a single parent, or you have a career you enjoy and are dedicated to,  not only can deciding on childcare be difficult, but it can be down right scary as well.  Life is tough enough and you don’t want to send Junior down the wrong path at such an early age.

A daycare situation may be what you want for your child. You find a respectable and accredited center with teachers who have graduated magna cum laude in Early Childhood Development, and you can go about your day at work with few worries.  As the child grows older, interaction with other children can certainly be beneficial as a social learning tool.  A wide array of social skills will be learned in the daycare situation that may not necessarily be learned at home. Get hit over the head enough times with a block by his playmate,  your little one is well on the way to quickly learning to ask before taking.  On the other hand, your child will not have the undivided attention of his teacher.  The teacher-child ratio varies from state to state, but as a toddler, the average ratio is one to four.  You may want your child to have the benefits of  a one-on-one situation.  Another consideration may be the germs that tend to run rampant between these little guys because of their close proximity to one another.  No matter how clean and sterile the daycare center is and as long as toddlers employ the magnetic field that somehow exists between their mouths and everything that is not nailed down,  germs will be passed and chances are your child will have more colds, flu, etc., than he would in any other setting.

You consider a family member. Your mother, mother-in-law, or a favorite aunt, perhaps?  This would provide wonderful bonding between the family member and your child and certainly trust wouldn’t be an issue, this is your favorite aunt, after all.  It  is possible, though, that your aunt, or whomever you have chosen, may have a different philosophy of discipline and care than you and your husband does.  Standing your ground and holding firm with how you want your child to be cared for may be difficult and may very well be the cause of some familial strain. Rice cereal and bananas are available for breakfast but you find out that your child has gladly been gnawing on Oreo cookies all day. Or, it  simply could be that you do not have family close by, which in some instances, may very well be for the best.  You continue on to the next option, which is hiring a nanny.

You like the idea of your little one in the safety and comfort of their own home, but bring a virtual stranger into the home?  Give her access to your house and trust that she will meet or, hopefully, exceed your expectations of care for your child?  Well, sure.  Certainly, the nanny is an unknown quantity initially, but after careful screening, background checks and interviews you may very well be ready to welcome your new nanny into the family without hesitation or reserve.  Don’t be fooled, though.  Hiring a nanny may be the most difficult road to travel, but keep in mind that it may also be the most rewarding.  

The issues you need to tackle once you’ve made the decision to bring childcare into the home are numerous.  Should you employ an au pair instead of a nanny?  And, what is an au pair anyway?  Should you go through an agency or place an ad in the local paper?  How do you do a background check for criminal history, DMV records and credit reports?  What should you include in a contract between you and your nanny?  Do you even need a contract?  Should you allow your nanny to take your children to the zoo, the local playground or the movies?  Do you want your nanny to be a live-in or live-out?  How can you check on your nanny to be sure she is treating your child in an appropriate manner?  

These are questions and issues, and there are more, to be considered and discussed in regard to the employment of your nanny in following Child Care Magazine issues.

Kitchenlab Kindermath

By:   Noreen Wyper

Every week a self-help tutorial for parents and caregivers of Kindergarten children ( ages 4-6 ) will appear in this column. Help your child understand that Mathematics is an important, functional part of each and every day. Go ahead! Delve into those cupboards. Enjoy the social interaction of “hands-on” learning with your child. The reinforcing of these skills is the “stepping stones” of success into your child’s future.

One, two, one, two,

Sock, shoe, sock, shoe,

Three, three, four, three, three, four,

Clap, clap, snore, clap, clap, snore.


Do you see the pattern? Identifying, reproducing, creating and extending  patterns develops the recognition of patterns in mathematics, science and language in later years.


Patterning:  Tutorial # 1.

Work with two objects and then three. When the pattern is complete, always have the child touch the object from left to right , repeating it out loud . Say it with your child the first time. Then, have the child repeat it at least twice alone. Be positive and encouraging at all times.

Using cans and boxes from the grocery cupboards, create patterns such as; can, box, can, box/ can, can, box, can/ can, box, box, can/ small can, medium can, large can.

Using colors create a pattern such as red can, green can, red can, green can. This time, build the pattern upwards. The child matches a red can on top of the first red can, a green can on top of the second green can, etc.. Then build a third story upon the second one. Now, you have two different ways to say a pattern. Horizontally from top to bottom, left to right you have created a red can, green can, red can, green can pattern. Vertically from top to bottom, left to right you have created a red can, red can, red can, green can , green can, green can pattern. This also teaches directional skills for pre-reading.

Use other kitchen objects for similar patterns or create your own. Then, switch roles and encourage the child to create his own concrete patterns. Now, it’s your turn to touch and say, “ fork, fork, spoon, fork, fork, spoon/  mug, mug, bowl, bowl, mug, mug, bowl, bowl/ serviette, paper towel, Kleenex, serviette, paper towel, Kleenex/ banana, orange, apple, banana, orange, apple.


Continue to create the following such as;  nail, bolt, nail/ crayon, crayon, pen, crayon/  penny, nickel, dime, dime/ clap, stamp, stamp, clap.

Cut the flaps off a cardboard box. Draw a line across the middle of one flap. Starting  on the left of the line, draw a line up to a peak and then back down to the line forming a mountain. From that point draw a line down to a point and back up to the horizontal line, forming a valley. Have the child continue this pattern across the flap.

Now, it’s time to create some “pattern language” with your child. Examples could be;

up, down, up, down/  high, low, high, low/  mountain, valley, mountain, valley.


Let’s add in some “ body language” to match the verbal pattern such as; stand up, sit down, stand up, sit down/  arms held high, arms held low.

Do you have any wallpaper in your house? If so, does it have a pattern? Walk along the wall, repeating the pattern together. Could you put “ body language” to it? ( snap, clap )


Sticker Books:  Arrange the stickers on the pages in a pattern from most favorite to least favorite. Repeat the pattern as there are usually four sheets to a package.


 a.) Buy a box of colored Froot Loops cereal. String both a necklace and a bracelet following a pattern of colors.

 b.) Use one of the flaps off the box. Have the child draw a colorful picture on it with markers or crayons. Choose three colors of the Froot Loops and glue a frame around the picture following a pattern.


Next Week:  Two-Dimensional Shapes.


Question & Answer Page (First Session)

By:   Heather Haapoja

Email: with any questions you might have for her to answer in the Question & Answer Page.


Welcome to the Child Care Magazine Question and Answer Page first session! The daily challenges of raising children can stir up so many questions! Parents and child care providers share the common goal of bringing up children in a safe, healthy and caring environment and sometimes we need help finding answers. This column focuses on answering specific questions from you, our readers, and providing resource links for further information.  It is not a FAQ page, but an ongoing forum for getting information.  Open to parents and caregivers alike, it also offers some insight to "the other side of the fence", encouraging further understanding between parents and childcare providers.  We welcome your questions about any and all childcare issues, so keep those questions coming!

And now, for our premier issue, a selection of commonly asked childcare questions and the helpful and practical answers that you will come to expect from Child Care Magazine.


Q:  How can I locate a childcare provider in my area?

A:  First of all, allow yourself plenty of time for your search.  If possible, start looking at least three months in advance to allow for waiting periods at centers and day care homes.  Ask for references from friends and relatives with children in day care.  Look in your local newspaper want ads under Childcare Services.  Check your yellow pages for child care and day care centers and while you are there, look for a local Child Care Resource and Referral Agency (CCR&R).  The CCR&R will be able to take your list of preferences and provide you with a list of providers that meet your requirements.  They may also have written materials available that will further help you in your search.  Can't find the CCR&R listed?  Call their toll free number, 800-424-2246, to find the nearest agency.

For more information: The National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies' Child Care Aware web site at will help you locate the agency nearest you.  You can also read child care related press releases and sign up for the Daily Parent newsletter for more helpful advice.

Click the childcare link at Care guide, to search child care providers by city and state.  This site also offers information about choosing childcare. 


Q:  How do I interview a childcare provider?

A:  Once you have made your calls and narrowed your list down to the best choices for location, hours, openings, fees and the like, you will want to arrange for a visit in the daycare home or center.  This visit will give you a good idea about what kind of care this provider offers.  Take your child with you so that you can get a feeling about how the provider interacts with your child and whether they seem like a good match.  Some personalities just clash, no matter how perfect the provider may seem it is important that he or she "clicks" with your child.  Observe the way the person relates to your child.  Schedule your meeting during business hours so that you can also observe interaction with the other children in care.  Prepare a list of important questions to ask, such as "Are you certified in first aid and CPR?"; "What forms of discipline are used?"; "What daily activities are planned?"; etc.  Above all, trust your instincts.  If you just don't feel right about someone who is otherwise qualified, go ahead and move on.  Chances are those feelings will not change.

For more information: Read "A Childcare Primer for Parents" from the non-profit organization, Child Care Action Campaign (CACC) at  This article describes what to look for in childcare and also gives information on childcare financial aid.

For further help with the childcare search and a great list of questions to print out, read "Four Steps to Selecting a Childcare Provider" at

One more, an excellent printable checklist of questions from Child Care Aware.  The "Evaluating a Provider Checklist" is located at

Q:  Which provides the best care?  Home based day care or a day care center?

A:  This is really a matter of personal opinion.  The key is to understand the differences between the two and then decide which would be a better situation for your child.  Daycare centers are generally allowed a higher child to adult ratio than home daycare; therefore the group size is much larger.  Center staff are required to have more education background for their licensing.  Centers provide more of a pre-school atmosphere and some offer pre-school programs. 

Home based daycare providers also have certain training requirements, although not necessarily teaching courses.  What is provided in a home daycare setting varies widely between caregivers.  The child to adult ratio is much smaller, so there is more individual attention for the children and generally, there is more of a "homey" atmosphere.  Think about what kind of environment will allow your child to thrive and look into all available options for the best setting for him/her. 

For more information: A complete explanation of the different types of childcare available can be found at Child Care Aware   

Also, read the article "Meeting Children's Needs: Day Care vs. Preschool Programs" at the National Network for Child Care (NNCC).  

Q:   I would like to become a day care provider, how do I go about doing this?

A:  Since childcare providers are state licensed, each state has it's own rules, regulations and even terminology when it comes to daycare licensing.  For example, some states refer to daycare licensing, others daycare certification.  You can start by calling your state's daycare licensing office and asking for further information.  Generally, you will be signed up for some type of orientation program, where you will find out what will be required of you, should you want to proceed.  You can also get licensing information by calling 800-598-KIDS, the National Resource Center for Health and Safety in Child Care.

For more information: The National Resource Center for Health and Safety in Child Care has a web site at Here you can explore all of the licensing requirements for your state.

The Daycare Provider's Beginner Page at and the Daycare Provider's Home Page at have dozens of helpful business links as well as links to individual providers homepages.  These will give you a real feel for the daycare business and advice on start up.

Be sure to put a lot of thought into your decision.  Read the article in this issue of Child Care Magazine, "Starting Your Family Day Care Business, Five Common Misconceptions".  Daycare certainly isn't all fun and games, but it can be endlessly rewarding.


Q:  What education do I need to become a day care center owner/operator?

A:   Again, this will vary by state.  There will be requirements for number of hours in accredited courses in child development and human services.  Also, there are requirements for both experience and courses in staff supervisory.  If you intend to also hold a teaching staff position, even more training is required.  You can locate detailed information for your state through your state daycare licensing office.

For more information: The National Resource Center for Health and Safety in Child Care web site has licensing information, by state, for both home based daycare and daycare centers, including education requirements for center directors, teachers and other daycare center staff. Their web site is:

If you would like more information on opening your own center, the Daycare Provider's Beginner Page has a special section just for information on daycare centers.  See it at

Check out the Small Business Resource Center's "How to Start Your Own Daycare Center" at for more start up information.


Q:   How do I decide how much to charge for my day care services?

A:  Since it is your own business, you are free to charge any price you like.  But if you charge higher fees than your competition, it may be difficult to find clientele and you will have to be prepared to justify your prices when you start to get calls.   The "going rate" will depend on the area where you live and the type of services that you will offer. You can get some idea of typical fees by talking to people you know with kids in daycare or by calling some of the daycare providers in your area.  Another option is to contact your local Resource and Referral Agency. They can give you a price range of the different services that they have listed in their database.  Some daycare providers charge an hourly rate, some charge by the week.  You will need to take all of this into consideration as you decide on a fair wage for yourself and your daycare clients.

For more information: Read this helpful article, "Setting Fees", at the National Network for Child Care  

Well, that about wraps it up for this week!  I am looking forward to getting a lot of new questions for next week's issue.  If you have any child care questions, please email them to me at and I will do my best to find you some answers!  We want to make Child Care Magazine a resource that parents and child care providers can count on for great ideas, encouragement and support.



By:   Deb & Dave Graham

Email: with any questions or comments about Prime Time Parenting.

In the hustle and bustle of today's working parents with hectic schedules, many families are finding that their together time is spent mostly in maintaining order.  In the house, in the meals, and especially in those parent/child relationships. In a society that pushes from every angle for our children to rush headlong toward independence, it is a strange quirk that - compared to other times in history - it has never been so seemingly hard to obtain. 

Why does a great portion of communication with our children, these days, seem to be embroiled with debates over daily chores, bedtime battles that stretch way past story-time, and constant references to boredom at the sheer lack of having absolutely "nothing to do?"  A parent should feel sorry.  Or have a little understanding.  Or at the very least realize that "things have changed since you were a child." After all, sibling rivalry is now the acceptance - not the exception.  Right?

Only if you admit it. 

The fact is, that most parents still possess - deep down inside, somewhere - that wonderful common sense that keeps their world from toppling upside down, no matter what it happens to look like from moment to moment. The trouble is, we've lost touch with how to apply it.  And even if some of us can still remember how Mom or Grandma used to do it, we shockingly find ourselves repeating the same phrase as our children: that "things have changed since you were a child."

And we mean it, too.

Back then, they never had to deal with uncensored movies on prime time TV that give you (or your kids) a visual jolt just surfing on through.  Or video violence.  Or a school system that is often failing in more subjects than it's educating.  Right?

Of course.  And you could spend a lot of time proving and getting upset about it, too.  Only it wouldn't be very worthwhile because the truth is, that everybody's right.  You, your parents, and even your kids.  There are - and always have been - differences between the generations, even in the "good old days."  And to be focused in on these differences is actually a hindrance to good parenting that keeps us from that most wonderful of Life's secrets that makes all the difference!

Times change, people don't.  

Unlock the secrets of human nature and you can successfully deal with anybody, no matter what age they are.  With a few basic rules that are simple to apply, you can start seeing results today, and tomorrow, and any other time you want to "turn the key."  And before you say, "But you don't know my kids," let us assure you that - unless you have given birth to alligators instead of children - these things will work for you.

Here are the basics:

  • All humans (even those who have not yet attained the use of language) WANT TO BE ACKNOWLEDGED.  That means, noticed when they come into a room,  looked in the eye when they are spoken to, and responded to when they do or say something to others.
  • All humans respond to praise.  SAY SOMETHING NICE ABOUT THEM and you have their attention.  Instantly.
  • If you LISTEN WITH RESPECT to them, they will listen with respect to you.
  • If you CONSISTENTLY PREDICT HOW WONDERFUL THEY ARE, they will do everything within their power to rise to your opinion of them.
  • Contrary to popular opinion, the more LOVE AND ATTENTION you shower on a human, the more strong and independent they will become.

Here in this column over the next few weeks, we will take an in-depth look at each of these principles, and give practical suggestions on how to start them to work in our daily lives.  And we'll devote a portion of the column to questions and answers, so that common problems and solutions can be shared with others, for the benefit of everyone. We think you'll like PRIME TIME PARENTING, and hope that above all else, you will come to agree with us that - in spite of the many terrible things people have been saying about it, lately, the human race is the best thing in the world to be born into.

Please email Deb and Dave at with any questions or comments about Prime Time Parenting weekly column.

We hope you'll join us.    


Starting Your Family Day Care Business,

Five Common Misconceptions

By:   Heather Haapoja


Sitting in the brightly lit meeting room, notebook in hand, I waited anxiously for the Family Day care Orientation meeting to begin.  About thirty others waited with me, all wearing the same hopeful, anticipatory expression.  I imagine they all shared with me their own variation of the "day care dream".


It was going to be such fun!  A way that I could earn an income and still be home with my kids.  I imagined the darling little preschoolers coming to my door every morning, eager to begin another fun day.  I could envision my family room all set up with a child size table and chairs and shelves filled with books and toys, sunshine streaming through the windows.  We would have a full day of games and songs, arts and crafts, meals and snacks, and a lengthy nap, during which I would do all of my housework.  The parents would all be so happy to have such a loving, caring place to bring their children; they would gladly pay top dollar for such service!


Somehow these daydreams never involved any fighting, crying, kicking, screaming, biting, spitting, hitting, temper tantrums or rainy days!


Okay, maybe I wasn't really that unrealistic, after all I do have children of my own, but I did have some pretty impractical thoughts about my future child care career.  In time I discovered that while child care is truly a rewarding and important job, it can also be frustrating, exhausting and under appreciated.


Looking back at my own experience, there were a few things that I wish I'd been better prepared for when I was just getting started.  The following are five common misconceptions about what it's like to have your own day care business.


1. "Licensed day care will give us the extra income that we really need!" - Need is the key word here.  Day care is an excellent way to make an income at home, but getting a profitable day care going is a long process.  Licensing can take from 2-6 months and it requires some start-up cash.  Add to that the time it takes to find enough clients to make a profit.  It may take up to two years to have a full, successful home day care depending on the area that you live in.  One solution to getting by financially in the interim is to look into the unlicensed child care requirements in your state.  You may be able to care for one or two children as an unlicensed provider while you work toward setting up your licensed day care.


2. "Doing day care will be just like my normal life, but with a few more kids around the house." - This is a very common misconception about home day care settings, believed by almost everyone who has never operated one.  Don't let anyone kid you, licensed home day care is a serious business and you will likely spend more than a forty hour week working for that business.  Any activities not directly related to child care, including most housekeeping duties, will have to be squeezed into your "off" hours.


3.    "I won't have to 'get ready' for work each morning."  -   True, you  won't need a business suit to greet your day care kids at the door. However, you will be greeting the parents as well, and doing so in your bathrobe probably won't make the best impression.  It can be really tough to pull off a professional image at seven o'clock in the morning, especially if you aren't a 'morning person'.  It helps to wake up early and allow yourself time to shower, dress and fully wake up before they begin to arrive, in other words, get ready for work.  My most embarrassing moment in day care was the day that I missed the alarm and woke up to the doorbell ringing.  I was at the door within two minutes, fully dressed and yet unable to speak coherently.  At least my cheeks had a rosy pink glow (of humiliation).


4. "I'm great with kids, people will love me!"  -  This may be true, but remember, there are all kinds of people and they all have their own way of doing things.  You may be the best care giver in the world, but you can expect parents to still be wary and occasionally critical.  After all, they are leaving you in charge of their most precious possessions. A good day care provider needs good people skills.  You will be communicating with all types of parents about all kinds of issues. You'll need the ability to handle criticism tactfully, while keeping your self esteem intact.


5.  "It will be so nice for my kids to have built-in playmates!" - At first, this may seem to be the case.  Having kids coming over to play every day is great fun.  But be prepared for the novelty to wear off over time.  There may come a day when your little one says, "I don't want so-and-so to come over today."  Suddenly they find that they have no say in the matter.  When you have small children of your own and a home day care business, there are ample opportunities for guilt.  You may find that your kids don't get the individual time with you that they need or it may be difficult to treat your own kids and your day care kids equally.  This is a really important consideration if you have small children.  Though it works out great for some mothers, others may decide that it's best to wait until their own children are older before starting their day care business.


Quality day care providers are always in demand.  It can be a wonderful way to earn an income from home once you have invested some time in building up your business.  By all means keep a positive attitude, but examine your expectations realistically.  Resist the temptation to rationalize away any potential problem areas.  Instead, identify where you might have trouble and formulate a plan to meet it head on. 


Then, go ahead and imagine those perfect days in child care.  They really do happen, every once in awhile!


Nightmare of Private Pre-School

By:   Jenifer McCrea

Not too long ago I took my son to story time at one of the big chain bookstores.  They also have a Thomas the Tank Engine set, so before the story got started we went over to play.  We were alone for a bit and then two other boys ran up to play with the trains. 

My son immediately began gathering as many trains as he could into his arms.  “Share!”  He screamed at the other boys. “Share!”

I thought this was laugh out loud funny.  One of the other boy’s Mothers looked at me as I was trying to pry some of the trains out of my little boy’s hands, “He’s going to have a hard time in preschool.”

Maybe, but not this year.

Our family recently relocated from California to North Carolina and in our relocation packet, very kindly provided by my husband’s new employer, was school information.  After looking through the packet, calling around to various preschools, and doing a little bit of research, we decided that a Montessori school would be a terrific fit for our son.  He’s outgoing, independent and can focus surprisingly well for his age. I was unaware of the arduous process in front of us.

I called both the Montessori schools in town.  I should probably mention there is a Montessori Charter School that I can also apply to but it will be a 40 minute commute to and from school each day.  I thought that was excessive when the preschool itself is only three hours.  The two private Montessori schools detailed over the phone their prices, and the number of children attending the school.  Of course, the smaller school with the much larger price tag (about $3,000.00 a year more) had no waiting list.  Gee, I’m shocked.

So our choice was made.  We knew that we were going to pay more for a Montessori school, but the school we applied to holds classes to the eighth grade and provides many more resources for a better price.  Our son could have continuity in his education if we so chose, and with a bigger, more culturally diverse school, would have the exposure we were looking for in a pre-school.  After all, I can teach him his ABC’s at home.  I’m sending him to Pre-school so that he can learn to interact with many other children and have an authority figure who is more objective than his father and I.   

I dropped by the school one day with my son to pick up an application.  The office staff was nice, but not friendly, and I had to ask if there were any other requirements other than the application.  Yes, my husband and I had to attend an ‘information session’, where we would meet with the ‘Director’, don’t call him principal, and the admissions director.  We would have our questions answered and be allowed a tour of the school.  Prior to the information session, we had to pay the $50.00 application fee, and turn in the completed application.

Fifty dollars?  I just want to say here that I paid less than that to apply to some of the colleges I sent my SAT scores to.  It’s not that I am opposed to the school making money, but 50 bucks seemed a little steep.  Still, I want the best for my son, so I ponied up the money and had my husband reschedule his day at work, so he could be there too.

We went to the meeting and met with the bespectacled and bow-tied Director of the School who was very positive Montessori was the best education to be found anywhere.  Non-traditional school enthusiasts can be a bit like some, not all, but some, breastfeeding enthusiasts.  A little over the top pushy, and they can make you feel like you are doing a disservice to your child if you make another choice. I tried to resist the brain-washing, but when we toured the school, I was sold.  The children were engaged in what they were doing, they looked happy.  In one classroom they were speaking Japanese, another Spanish, and the toddlers were answering their teachers correctly, though in English. I was amazed.  Yes, I thought, this is what I want for my son.

The next step was a private meeting with the Director of Admissions.  To get the appointment, I had to wait for the secretary of the Admissions director to call me.  She called on a Friday evening after we had left town for a few days.  By the time I got back, and returned her call, she said she only had one opening left.  Dragon lady wouldn’t budge.  She wouldn’t even give me a half hour to call my husband at work and see if he could get the time free.  I had to take the appointment. My husband was not happy having to tell his new boss that he was going to have to reschedule a client meeting.  When he told her why she laughed, said she had been there.  Unfortunately, on the day of the ‘meeting’ my son woke up with a 103 temperature, so while my husband ran him to the doctor, I had to face what essentially was an interview by myself.   All I can say about the interview was that I did as I was advised to do and interviewed the Admissions Director.  I asked to be put on the financial aid list.  That didn’t mean my son would get financial aid, it simply meant I would get the forms to apply for financial aid.  She said that would be no problem.  What I didn’t do was hand her a $100 bill on my way out.  But hey, I’m not bitter. 

That was in late January.  I had been told in the interview that admissions decisions would not be made until late March, early April.  Fine.  I could wait.  In late March I received the financial aid forms. Good sign…I thought.

I spent three hours filling out the financial aid.  They wanted my last year tax information, and this year’s tax return information.  Hello? It was March. Like every other good American I wait until April 15 to do my taxes – so I guessed.  It was worse than filling out an IRS 1040 not-so-EZ with a Schedule C.  I sent in the $17.50 to have the stupid form processed, and I waited again.

Just a few days too late to stop the payment on the check to the financial aid processing center, I received the letter saying they had two applicants for every spot in the toddler class.  And my son wasn’t in.  But if I would just send in one more form, he would be placed in the ‘waiting pool’, and if someone of his gender, socio-economic class and cultural background drops out of one of the classes, we might get a call.  Like a dope, I filled it out and sent it in. 

So my son is staying home another year.  I’m trying to find a playgroup where he can interact with other kids, and not have me there.  Meanwhile he is just going to have to settle for fighting over toys with kids in the neighborhood, and Mommy teaching him his ABC’s. 

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