Birthday Party Retrospective

A couple of weeks ago, I took my son to a birthday party for a boy he had spent his entire preschool life with.  Ho-hum, another kids birthday party.  Except for one thing.

This was the first time I saw my most intimate school-choice cohort.  You see, the birthday boy had only been in his new kindergarten for a week.  He didn’t really know his new classmates yet, so his invitations were distributed almost exclusively to his pre-kindergarten friends, and by extenson, his friends’ parents.  The very same parents with whom, I, over the last several years, play-dated, stressed over schools, visited schools, and discussed and dissected our own school selection processes down to the finest detail.  Interestingly–on the one hand, we share a lot of the same core values and beliefs.  On the other hand, our kids ended up scattered everywhere–of the 15 or so kids, no more than 3 kids ended up at the same school, and we were scattered pretty evenly between public, private, and charter schools.

Everyone was happy with their school choice, which was nice to hear.  Our kids are all thriving, joyful and learning.  Nobody expressed any serious adjustment issues from their kids.  Though some expressed some very minor frustrations with their respective schools, I believe that the frustrations were mostly due to adjustments to new routines, communication structures, and expectations, not sincere issues with the schools that were chosen.  The frustrations involved school communication, dropoff logistics, transportation (I am not alone, apparently), and managing multiple dropoff locations with kids at separate school/day cares.

The experiece told me a few things.  The first–the buildup to kindergarten is bigger for parents than it is for kids.  Kids can get excited about it, but the volume of energy parents spend worrying about transitioning to kindergarten or picking a school that is the ‘right fit’ is at worst overblown and needlessly stressful, or at best, leading parents to make the right decisions to address those issues.  With regard to school choice–along the way we lamented that there may not be a perfect school out there, but as parents we understand our kids better than we think and have a pretty good sense of where they will thrive.  With regard to the transitioning process–we seem to be pretty good at understanding what our kids need to know and when they need to know it as they embark on the kindergarten experience.


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