Wednesday, January 21, 2009

More Kindergarten Searching

This is the week that all the schools in Somerville do open houses. We visited the Brown School and the Kennedy School yesterday. Today we visited the Healy/Choice and the Argenziano.

This is an emotional process for the most part. My kids are very different and what might work for one, might not work for another. I want a school that has a solid arts program that can nurture a budding engineer. I also want it to be convenient to my house and safe with a super fun after school program.

After visiting five schools I am convinced that we have some really great choices available to us. All of the Somerville schools basically have the same curriculum and the teachers are trained to individualize the assignments to the kids when they get ahead so they don't get bored. Supposedly the Choice program at the Healy school teaches the curriculum a little bit differently, but I sure couldn't get anybody at the school to articulate what the difference was. They said it was more "individualized" than in the regular programs. But everybody at the 'traditional' schools said they they tailor the lessons to the students individual abilities. But I didn't really see any advantages that the Choice program had over the Kennedy or Argenziano that would justify the additional hassle to drive there every day. We can walk or bike to PHA, Kennedy or Argenziano and Kennedy also has the added benefit of being within walking distance of my parents/sister's house. So, I'd have lots of available adults if I had an emergency and couldn't get there. It's one subway stop away from my office, so logistically that would just work.

I'm kind of surprised by our reactions. One thing that's been great is that Rich and I have had the same gut feelings across the board about each school we visited. We both loved the Kennedy and PHA and we liked Brown, Choice and Argenziano but didn't think they were the best fit for us.

The Brown would not work for us at all. They have no playground or cafeteria and Eric needs so much exercise just to function properly. Plus there would be crumbs and gluten in the classroom constantly (they eat at their desks) and I did not see a bathroom in the kindergarten. For a kid with a digestive disorder that just would not work. It was clearly a beloved school and we really liked the principal, but it will not be on our final list.

And I'm not sure that I understand why Choice is generally the school everybody I know seems to pick. It seemed really similar to the Kennedy, which is infinitely more convenient to my neighborhood. The reviews of it from folks I know range from "so so" to "FABULOUS." But it's a pain in the butt to get to. You have to drive there if you don't live in the neighborhood (and nobody I know who goes there seems to live anywhere near there) and you have to park a few blocks away and walk your kid in, which seems like it would add at least a half hour to 45 minutes to your morning.

I think we need more information...


Blogger Downpuppy said...

If your tour guide at the Brown had short dark brown hair with lots of body, narrow glasses & a daughter in 3rd grade, she had a good time too.

There's an awful lot to be said for a walkable school. (It turned our soggy 4 year old into a superfit 5 year old, & the walks are a good time for converstion) And you're right, at least for the next few years, that the programs are pretty much the same.

So hey, whatever you pick, should be fine.

9:13 AM  
Blogger Margaret said...

I can't for the life of me remember who gave us our tour of Brown. She was a parent. But I think she had 2 kids, not one.

I thought your daughter was at Choice?

12:26 PM  
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