Monday, November 17, 2008

i have no idea what i'm doing

Friday I drove the children to school and the whole way there, I was having a mock conversation with the Director.

Before I had left home, Charlie had given me strict instructions to not be confrontational and although I certainly didn't want to come off as confrontational, I was a little nervous that once I started talking, I wouldn't be able to stop talking and I might say some things that may not be considered very nice.

Things like, "What kind of Cracker Jack joint are you running here, where you think it's acceptable to feed small children crap with zero nutritional value?"

Not that I would spout something like that, but it was very close to the front of my mind. So I needed to really practice what I was going to say beforehand, because even though I felt timid talking to the Director, if one of those less-than-tactful thoughts came in to my head, my vocal chords might grab them and run.

Because, hey you know what? My children are my top priority and it is my job to do everything in my power to make sure that they are nourished and cherished. And the fact that I'm struggling with guilt that I have them in school at all, is irrelevant.

So I rehearsed what I wanted to say and the segues leading from one point to the next, the whole 25 minute drive to school. The children sat in the backseat, completely quiet, until I would take a pause to collect my next train of thought, and then they'd ask, "Mommy? You not like cookies? You not like brownies and donuts?"

Oh my sweet children.

Of course I like cookies!

And brownies!!

And donuts!!!

I love ALL of those things. Probably a little more than I should. And don't even get me started on my love of ice cream. I could write sonnets about my love of ice cream. I eat it almost every single night and have been known to go to the store at 10:30 PM just to get a fix.

But that's the thing about hypocrisy. Or, more specifically, the desire that my children will have a better grasp and appreciation of healthy food, than me.

Heather left me a comment on my post regarding my concern with the food they are serving at Montessori and asked, "Wait... wait... wait... didn't YOU take donuts to school when it was the kids turn for their party??"

She is right. And although I will take responsibility for contributing to the "bad food" environment on two of the three birthday parties for our children, I remain disappointed that the school specifically requested that I bring donuts in the first place.

Now without this turning in to a long post about how I wish that I could always make healthy food choices, I will admit that I was really hoping, expecting, anticipating that this "high quality" school would be able to help me, as a parent, establish and foster healthy eating habits in our children. I'll go so far as to say that I was anticipating that *I* would actually learn a thing or two regarding nutrition from the school that I could apply to our family, at large.

So when I arrived at the school and I spoke to the Director (er, Directress, a grandmotherly type who started this school 20 years ago and treats it like her home), I started off by saying I felt negligent that I didn't research their snack policy and menu before I sent the children to school full time (or at all, for that matter). I wrongly assumed that it would be at least consistent with what I've heard and read regarding other preschools.

The Director replied that the school offers the children healthy snacks every day and once (or twice) a week, they provide a sweet snack in the form of cookies or brownies. And on some mornings, they also provide a sugared cereal such as Fruit Loops.

Call me a prude but ideally, I'd prefer that our children's preschool not offer up Fruit Loops as a morning snack. It probably won't hurt them, but never once have I served them such sugar-laden cereal, and I don't want to start now.

I would like for our children to be in an environment where they learn to care for their body, mind and planet. I would prefer that the school sets a high standard for good nutrition and requests that the parents conform to that standard by not sending their children to school with Happy Meals.

(As apparently, many parents at our children's school have been known to do.)

The Director further told me that if I have concerns, she will make sure that our children don't receive any snacks from the school and instead, I can supply all of the snacks that I want for them to consume. And I was thinking that if I have concerns, I SHOULDN'T HAVE CONCERNS for the amount of money that we are spending to send our children there.

It actually surprised me that when I left the parking lot 10 minutes later, my children weren't back in their carseats and on their way home.

I don't want to over react and I fear I might be heading that direction.

Still, I told the Director that I will be sending snacks to school and I want to sit in on a class to observe our children. She said that we aren't scheduled to observe our children until the middle of February and I replied that February is too long to wait and I would be coming in to school the first week of December and I want to observe each of our three children in their respective classes. I also want to have conferences with each of the teachers regarding our children's progress. And although I didn't tell the Director this, if I am not completely satisfied following those meetings, I am going to pull the kids out of that Cracker Jack joint.

In hindsight, although I feel like I did a lot of research, I didn't do nearly as much as I should have. Sure, the teachers are all Montessori certified and Charlie and I were both impressed (to tears) when we sat in and observed the classes. But, the food thing really bothers me. And I don't think we I considered how difficult it would be to be away from the children for such a large chunk of time during the day. Part time was too difficult with the commuting. And I didn't think about how that drive back and forth (and back and forth) to school can take upwards of an hour each day. And although I thought about it, I didn't really THINK about how it would feel to write a check every month for tuition.

Oh dear gracious the tuition.


Now if the parent-teacher conference yields that our children are thriving, I'll keep them in school. Otherwise, within the past week, I've looked in to several other options for schools around our neighborhood. I've also looked in to homeschooling and although I like the idea of homeschooling, there are certain children in our family that make me batty and I would truly fear for my mental stability if they were with me all day every day. I've also contemplated hiring a real live teacher to come in and instruct the children for three hours a day, in ... uh ... I don't know.

The bathroom? Closet? Garage?

Meanwhile, Charlie left this morning for a business trip to Washington, DC.

His shuttle to the airport arrived at 5:30 AM. At approximately 5:29 AM, he deposited a fussy and hot Henry in to my arms along with a bottle of infant Tylenol.

Of course it happens the very first day of my husband's five day business trip, my baby's temperature fluctuates between 100 and 104. And two of my three four-year-olds are complaining that they don't feel well.

Of course it happens the very first day.

My mother called me a few days ago to ask whether or not I had any one lined up to come help while Charlie was out of town. I told her that although I have the names of a few sitters, I would hopefully, be fine on my own. Mom then said that Charlie will have a great time away and this break will be good to help re-fuel his batteries.

When I asked, what about me, don't I deserve a break? My mother very matter of factly said, "Oh come on, Jen. You just had break. Remember?" I hesitated before responding, "No, I don't remember. What are you talking about?" Mom answered, "You had a break a few weeks ago when you sat down with all of those attorneys!"

I snorted and asked, "You seriously think being DEPOSED for a trial is considered a break? Are you kidding me? I was grilled for a full day by a team of lawyers from the opposing side of a substantial lawsuit. That's hardly the same as staying in a hotel, by yourself, with room service for five days!"

My mother very seriously replied, "Jen, you were in a fancy building with breathtaking views of the City and they brought in pastries and a catered lunch. Right? That IS a break."

Well, I suppose.

When you put it that way.


  1. Hey Jen,
    I thought most Montessori schools had a strict policy about sugar not being in the top 5 ingredients and were opposed to processed/junk foods.... at least that was what I found when I was interviewing preschools. I would do the same as you and pack my kids' snacks too in light of their not wanting to change their sugary snack menu! How surprising that the director did not even attempt to pretend that they would try to provide healthier snacks, etc.... no concern! A cracker jack operation indeed! Sorry :(

  2. I forgot to add that when I was interviewing Montessori schools many of the schools said that the parents were not to send their kids to school with snacks that had sugar/corn syrup in the top 5 ingredients.... their policy seems uncharacteristic of most Montessori imo

  3. That is such a mother comment - the break for the man vs woman part.

    I think you are right about the food - the food thing is a big deal at school. Your blog a few days ago talked about being a glorified daycare (activities etc - but that is the montesorri experience). Well sorry your kids would be better off food wise with daycare. The daycare my kids used to go to had healthy eating for all meals - breakfast, morning and afternoon tea and lunch. Birthday cake was okay - but they were the only sweets allowed - santa gave out books at xmas, not lollies. A fruit ice (frozen fruit juice) was the favorite treat, fruit, vegies and rice crackers were common snacks. 95% of all food served was made in the kitchen at the school.

    I am amazed that your school solution is for you to bring in your own healthy snacks - while the other kids munch on rubbish. If your kids actually do this - then they are saints. Not sure I would be that strong even as an adult.

    Is there an advisory committee/ board of governors, anyone the director reports to? If so, go to the higher power. Or, if not, try to find other parents who share your food decisions and then start trying to recruit more parents. In this day and age with obese children, I am amazed that there are schools out there that have this sort of policy.

    But enough of the guilt about school Jen. Other countries school systems have children in school at 4 (reception - the year before year 1). You have 4 kids - take all the help you can get. You may even find it helps your kids emotionally and academically when they hit Big school.

    You deserve a break too. It's 6 hours a day - not boarding school.

  4. Let children enjoy their childhood and know what is sometimes food and everyday food. Creating food issues will only create food issues.


  5. Jen - I think you are so right to worry about your children's food at school. My daughter is at a nursery school (we're in the UK) and her school has an excellent health eating policy. In fact I have most certainly learnt a lot about health eating from this school. All snacks are fruit or raw veg, drinks are all water or milk and the lunches served are all home cooked, full of nutritional value and most of all tasty!

    My daughter actually eats better at school than at home (!), so I'm so glad she is getting some really nutritious food at least on the days she is there! We also try to copy the types of meals they serve and habits they try to foster.

    I must also say that the comment from the headmistress about it being your turn to observe in Feb, is also unacceptable. At our school the child and the parents come first, and if the parents want to observe before their alloted time - then great!

    I have actually joined our school as a parent governor, and one of my responsibilities is to talk to parents for feedback, so I think that the previous commenter who suggested talking to the board of governors is absolutely correct.

    Good luck - I look forward to reading how you get on!

  6. I just want to put in a tiny plug for homeschooling and just say that it will be VERY hard when you start (or like when you did the practice run with the art project), but it gets better every day. I have 3 kids (7,5, & 2) and it was awful 2 months ago, but everyday they got more into a routine and now it is enjoyable and very peaceful.

    I love reading to them, watching them do their chores in the morning. Watching them help their little sister and read and play with her.

    I respect whatever decision you end up with. But if you do try homeschool, just give it a chance and know that they will act crazy and naughty at first, but if you stick with it, I think you would find great results.

  7. I would find that a problem too, the sugary snacks. Our preschool was in a church, all 3 went. Their drink was usually water, their snacks a healthy thing of some sort. Sometimes graham crackers, goldfish, or fruit never a cookie. Now birthday treats were usually something sweet but it came home with them. Good luck with that. It surprises me for a montesorri.

  8. That school is giving me bad vibes. I don't like it. I don't like that they aren't respecting your needs. When I went to the teachers at my school and said Amanda couldn't have red dye, they immediately changed their snack list and took out ALL THE RED DYE. They stopped serving fruit punch. They didn't make me bring her snacks in. They didn't single her out.

    I would be concerned. And like you, I'm writing 1/10th the check you are writing each month for preschool and I feel all the way to my bones. It hurts me to pay it every month. Money is disappearing out of my bank account so fast it's making my head spin.

    I think you should find something really close to your house and send them a few days a week. There is no need to commute that much. Our school is 10 minutes away. I literally hop in the car 10 minutes before I have to get them.

    I would be miserable if mine were gone that much per day. You should definitely find something closer, cheaper, and less hours. If you didn't have to do it 5 days a week, part time wouldn't be that bad.

  9. I definitely - I mean I think over 10 minutes one way for a preschool is too hard. That is a pretty major logistical issue with preschool.

    Am pretty shocked by the snack/food stuff. I have to say that the daycares I'm familiar with are MUCH much better with the food they serve. And your children would be in a full academic program in the daycares here by 4 also. So I think you're actually almost comparing to a small in-home care? Which would of course be a lot CHEAPER.

    This stuff is hard Jen, I feel for you. I am having trouble keeping my son (3) at a school I like well enough, but the drive is hard for me logistically, and the cost is just too high for what it is. Now that I know what some other preschools cost -- preschools that are NOT co-ops which take tons of time -- it makes it even worse.

    At the same time, nearly all preschools are going to stress you as the mom. It's just what they do. If it's not the school stressing you, it's the other moms sometimes!

    The benefit of daycares is that they are more used to working with families where both parents work and whose time is at a premium. There is one near me that allows for people to go part-time or only certain days. Maybe something like that would be better than this school.

  10. FRUIT LOOPS??? What the....
    For the amount of money you are paying, those kids sould be eating caviar every day! At Shayna's school, they have a calendar wich shows what the planned snacks are. The most sugary item on their menu is jam. Cookies and fruit loops are empty calories and the kids will be running on empty way before lunch! What are those guys thinking?

  11. Good Grief. I can't believe they feed the kids all that crap. It is one thing, if the parents themselves put the food in the kids' lunches. Fine. It is on them. But the school? To provide Fruit Loops and junk on a regular basis? Seriously?

    This can't be the only Montessori in your area. Oh, I hope it isn't. Do the other mothers of multiples in your area have any other schools that they are fond of?

    It shouldn't be this hard. You shouldn't be stressed about how your children are being treated and nourished while they are at school. You should be comfortable about it or check into sending them elsewhere. Just my two cents. It is what I would do. Sorry to come of so incredulous. I just can't believe the director is so matter-of-fact about giving the kids so much sugar. These things should be occasional treats handed out by parents at their discretion. Not staples.

  12. Before I was a mom I used to be a pre-school teacher and I have worked in very ritzy pre-schools and pre-schools I wouldn't let my child anywhere near. In high school I spent half my day at vocational school studying early childhood education. Part of my lessons was to student teach in a pre-school or elementary school for a semester. I first chose a Montessori school. I was excited because I'm intrigued with this way of teaching. I was so disappointed when I went there and found out they do some Montessori techniques but not enough to, in my opinion, be called Montessori. It was like any other daycare. I later switched to student teaching a second grade class.

    Have you looked into community colleges? One of the best Montessori preschools I had ever seen was held at a local community college. The college students are learning how to teach Montessori and are heavily supervised by their professors. Plus it's cheaper for you.

    Go with your gut. If you have a bad feeling about this place then listen to that. I once worked at a horrible pre-school called La Petite. (I think they're national.) I left after a week of working there because I witnessed the teacher for the two year old room being abusive. To one little boy in particular. She would pick him up and slam him into the floor for time out. I almost clocked her when she did it and she said it was ok because, "He's wearing a diaper. His butt is padded." After that I would run to him anytime he did something bad so I could be the one to put him in time out and not her. When I told the director, I of course, being the new girl, was not believed. I quit and a couple of days later on Halloween that same little boy came to my house Trick-or-Treating. (I think it was fate as I had no other way of contacting his mom.) I told his mother everything I saw and she hugged me and said she had a feeling something was bad about that school. While no one is physically hurting your child, my point is still the same. Go with your gut.

  13. My kids have food allergies and they often eat something else then what the other kids are having. (They are pretty good about trying to only have nut free things but every once in awhile something is offered that they can't have). The kids get used to it, if you wanted to go that route. Healthy snacks should certainly be the goal and the norm of the school, though. Even if it is not perfect they should be trying! (How hard is it to buy cherios instead of fruit loops, for crying out loud?) My kids have only had sugar cereal on vacation and it is a fun thing not an everyday thing!

    No preschool is going to be perfect, but you should be able to find one that you are comfortable with. One that has a more open policy about parent visitation (you should feel welcome to drop in and observe anytime and a teacher should always be willing to talk to you about any concerns you have!) and one that more closely lines up with your values (healthy food choices being one of them). Maybe Montessori, maybe not. Maybe one closer to home so that they can go less hours without the long drive.

    I think preschool is great for kids, and the moms who send them. Hopefully this preschool is not your only option! Take a deep breath, ask around, see if you can find something that fits your needs better. My top search criteria were that they were fairly close by (in case of an allergic reaction or illness), that they (and I) felt safe and happy (allergies again as well as in general) and that they were encouraged to learn through play and interacting with their peers. (Cost plays a factor too but since I was only sending one at a time I had the luxury of some wiggle room there).

    I know this is hard!

  14. HI there, been a long time reader of the blog and love it.

    Had to chime in here, Im OUTRAGED at the snack/food thing! My kids go to the Y, and I love it by the way, and at anytime of the day I can come by and visit, hang in the class room, help out if needed. THEY encourage parents stopping by ANYTIME. Also they provide hot lunches, snacks several times a day usualy fruit of some sort, and crackers, etc. Never sweets. EVER.
    (except on holidays and they pack them in goodie bags and send them home with the kids) anyway dont give up and perhaps start looking for another school?

  15. Based on what I've learned about the Montessori philosophy they should not be allowing the foods you're concerned about in the school.

    The NAMC (I think that is where this is from!) states:
    As part of the "Cosmic Education", Maria Montessori believed that a healthy mind, body and spirit are essential elements for success on the universal path of progress and development. With these, a human being has a better chance of making a positive contribution to the world than one who does not take care of his physical, mental, and emotional development. The Montessori teacher can play a key role by helping the children discover that good health is a pleasure they can enjoy from childhood into old age.

    And to think that they are suggesting that you provide your own snacks with the amount of $ you are paying is crazy. If I were in your shoes I would be pulling the kids out of the school (sorry Charlie!).

  16. Actually, I forgot. The Leprechaun brings Lucky Charms to our house every St. Patrick's Day as a treat!

  17. Find a new school - closer, healthier and fewer hours per week. There has got to be a better preschool than that in San Diego. And even if it's not Montessori, your children will (most likely) still be learning to share, pick up, sing songs, etc...

    I have 7 month olds, what am I doing giving YOU advice? sheesh! But seriously, after reading your blogs, finding a new preschool seems to me (as an outsider WITHOUT preschool age children:) as the best option!

  18. gotta back you up, i'm also appalled they would serve that cr&p at an expensive montessori school - geeze.

  19. Don't feel too badly about not knowing what to ask for. Live and learn right?

    But I really hate that you seem to think of daycare (versus Montessori) as a bad thing. A non-Montessori daycare not need be looked at so negatively.

    My son goes to a wonderful daycare - a national chain at that - and they don't serve sugary snacks like your school. The sweetest snacks they get are the occasional Nilla Wafer or Animal Crackers. Otherwise, it's fresh fruit, applesauce, or toast with jam. We also get a monthly menu ahead of time so we know what days to supplement if a child has allergies or you don't like what's being served.

    Plus they have curriculum as young as 10 weeks. Simple, age appropriate and fun. I'm sure there are other schools in your area that have a better program, a better diet, a better commute and are easier on the pocketbook.

  20. Ok...first about the schedule. There is a lot of fuss in Montessori about having an ideal "three-hour work period." However it is really hard to acheive that unless a school starts right at 9 and goes all the way through noon with no interruption, so I think it would be unusual to find that.

    In fact this blog here:

    Has an excerpt of the actual schedule used by Maria Montessori as printed in her book "the montessori method." It is not that different from what your school is doing. Montessori states REPEATEDLY throughout her works that the kids should receive as much outside/physical time as possible. Combine that with the need to eat and nap, and you'll see why your kids schedule is as it is.

    As to the food...that's not acceptable at all. With the amount of birthday treats they have during the year and holiday parties they are going to get plenty of junk anyway. Plus, shouldn't the parents be allowed to feel like they can have a special treat AT HOME occasionally? When I was a kid we had dessert once a week on Fridays, your kids are getting triple that before they even leave school. The school should not be scheduling any junk into their week outside of birthday treats and special parties. So, fruit loops Monday, brownies tuesday, birthday thursday, brownies Friday, treat day at home saturday....your kids will have junk every day and there wasn't even a holiday that week!

    Petition all the other parents at the school, this will get resolved FAST.

  21. I have a few thoughts that might go against the grain here...but it's worked for us, so take it for what it's worth:

    *I agree that any school that discourages meetings with teachers/random visits and observations is way out of line. You should be welcome to observe/talk to teachers whenever you want, without warning. If a school weren't open to this, I would leave.

    *I agree that schools should serve healthy snacks.

    BUT--on the food/snack front, I have varying opinions.

    I have to say that I think we're a lot alike, Jen. For example, when I first got a cleaning lady, I was frustrated because it wasn't exactly how I would clean--not as perfect. Or when my mother-in-law would watch my baby, it wasn't exactly how I would do it. I have noticed some of these tendencies in your own blog posts as well--you have extremely high standards for yourself and your family, which is good. BUT--at least in my case--these high standards can cause me (and everyone else around me) a lot of STRESS. I admit that I'm a perfectionist, but that means that I often place expectations on myself and others that may not be entirely reasonable.'s taken me a while, but I have tried to change my expectations a bit (notice that I did not use the word "lower"). Even if my cleaning lady doesn't wipe along the baseboards like I'd prefer, she got everything else done so I can do that--and if I don't get to it, who cares? The rest of the house is clean. My mother-in-law may let my kids watch too much television when she cares for them, but that's ok because she does crafts with them and bakes cookies with them and loves them more than she could ever explain. And when she watches them, I get a break to study or get a pedicure or whatever, and that's important, too--more important than my need for everything to be perfect all of the time.

    And when my daughter started going to preschool and she ate sugar cereal for breakfast (and yes, I was horrified--but she loved the school and I was happy with pretty much everything else...)and MEAT of all things for lunch (we avoid meat for the majority of the time), I decided that school food was just that--school food. The food we ate at HOME was healthier, but the food she ate at school wasn't what I preferred.

    I thought about sending different food, but didn't want her to feel singled out from her peers for what I perceived as a lower-order issue. If my daughter were in full-time daycare, perhaps I would feel differently, but it was (and still is) a 2-day-a-week situation. And for how much she loved the school, and how much I was getting done for my comps, I just decided to let it go. And I passed my comps. And my daughter grew. And I realized that for me, it just wasn't as big of a deal as I thought it was because so far, it has turned out just fine. Not perfect--not ideal--but good. And I'm ok with that because she is happy and healthy and we enjoy each other so much!

    So--I am sorry for this long post, but I think you need to decide:

    1. How important is it that you have the kids in school for some time during the week--for your work and also your sanity? Are you willing to "ignore" some issues in favor of other issues?

    2. What are the most important issues at hand here (for me, it would be the ability to observe anytime I want, which should be non-negotiable)?

    For us, we've let the food issues slide b/c we simply have to--and we make up for it when we're at home. And we let other things slide, too, because in the end, it's simply not worth it for us--we are all much more peaceful that way. But that's just us.

    Good luck with whatever you decide. I hope this didn't sound preachy!

    By the way, your children are precious. And Henry--oh my! I could snuggle him on the spot. What gifts they are!

  22. Jen, I am back. I couldn't let this go, because last week the kids were learning the letter "J" all week, and they came home and told me exactly what was "junk food" and what was healthy. They even did worksheets, picking crossing out "junk" and circling what was "healthy". And each of them got it totally correct.

    THIS is going on in my Community Center preschool class that's 7.5 hours per week and costs $95 per month. Surely if they can manage to teach something so basic and important in the City Of Las Vegas, the home of the all-you-can-eat buffet, then there is NO excuse for that school. NONE! And we are getting snacks on the city budget and it still isn't junk. Don't you remember when I brought a vegetable tray for Halloween that one time? They only allowed one small little cupcake, fruit, and vegetables with dip for Halloween.

  23. I agree w/ so many of these comments...we use daycare 2 times per week due to having to me having to work part-time. I originally was paying $12/hour for my 2 because the sitter was outstanding and I thought that's what the price of good daycare was. She kept them engaged and sent home wonderful art projects every day. Well a friend introduced me to her sitter who keeps them every bit as engaged and sends home super- creative projects...all of which makes me wonder how she makes any money. It's not like there are a ton of kids in the home, either. I've been teaching my kids Spanish and much to my delight, this lady follows through as she is bilingual as is her MIL who helps out there. We are saving $600 a month, or 65% and our kids are thriving. We focus on manners and such at home so that at daycare, she is always telling us how polite they are. When we pick them up they are boucing-off-the-walls happy! She provides us w/ a schedule of what they do during the day and her info. sheet states "parents have the right to enter the home stanytime while their child is present" to check on their children. I would say what the hourly rate breaks down to but I'd almost feel bad. She's getting a big fat end of the year bonus from us. Anyway, you really can get everything you're looking for outside of Montessori. Best wishes!

  24. I agree with anonymous at 2:00. I think that she makes some excellent points. I think that you need out of that school, ASAP. Any school that tells me to wait 3 months to come observe, well, that is just wrong. I'm a teacher and I don't like parent observations, so take me seriously when I say that the fact they didn't want that is a big problem. I think that you expected something amazing, and are paying for something amazing. It's not what you thought, so it's time to look elsewhere.

    Just be careful to not make yourself miserable looking for the perfect school. I think it's wonderful you want the BEST for your children. Just keep in mind, no school is going to be perfect for you. (That being said, I still think this school is well out of line.)

    I have no clue where in SD you are, but my aunt used to teach at Rancho Bernardo Community Presbyterian Preschool and it was wonderful from my observations. She only isn't there anymore because she moved.

  25. Fancy & expensive does not always mean better! You know what is best. Luv ya Jen!

  26. I did a Mother's Day Out type program at a local church and LOVED it. It was T/TH or M/W and it was from 9-2. I felt like it was the perfect balance. I got a little time away from them and they got to go play with friends and do arts and crafts projects that I was far too scared to attempt in my own home. I never felt like they were away so much that I was missing out on anything with them. And it was C-H-E-A-P. But, the main thing is I loved it. After 3 years there, there is nothing I can complain about. Next year, DD will start. One of the best things though is that this church was close. As in, 5 minutes away close and there was a pick up/drop off line for those days when I didn't feel like going inside or it was raining/etc...So, my experience with a "cheaper" non-montesorri school was fabulous. And, according to his Kindergarten teacher one of my twins is reading on "at least" a second grade level and the other is not far behind, so I give the church a huge amount of credit for that as well.

    As far as the snacks, that is crazy. As a self-confessed junk food addict I want to be the one controlling how much "junk" my kids are eating. They should have a list of approved snacks and then there would be no confusion.

    Good luck with your decision!!!


  27. Honest to goodness, why do they think children need ANY of that garbage food?

    Feed children nutritious food ALL THE TIME. They don't need even need to learn about crap like Fruit Loops. Why do this adult (child education professional?) think it's a good thing to be giving these "treats" to children? Why would it matter if they have treats in the cycle? Just feed them healthy all the time, and they'll be healthy.

    That's my school of thought anyway. They won't know they're missing out on Fruit Loops if Fruit Loops are just never served; it's simple as pie!

    I'm really, really irked by the response you got to this issue. Absolutely friggin' ridiculous! You're paying up the wahzoo for what? Part of your fees obviously covers food bills... if you're going to pack your own food, part of your tuition should be reimbursed!

    I think you're 100% in the right here. Demand delicious and nutritious from your pre-school - especially from such an expensive pre-school!!!

    Also: Totally wrong of her to be like, "You can't come observe until February". These are your SMALL children. The parent relationship is HUGE at this point (and all through elementary school as well) -- no school should be denying parents the right to visit with their SMALL children if the parent has concerns.

    Stick to your guns, J!

    As a future educator and frequent childcare professional, you are in the right and they are in the WRONG.

  28. Hey, it's me again. Look at this Document from the Montessori program in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

    It even says that on birthdays, they focus on non-food related celebration, like by taking a "birthday walk".

    So, your unhealthy Montessori is not typical practice, they could totally change their ways but they are being stubborn.

  29. GEEZ you mean fruit loops aren't healthy?? get all your fruit servings in one sitting and when you add milk -- calcuim to boot!!!!! ;-)

    Hope the kids feel better soon. Hate to hear that they are sick. Hope your able to enjoy your week w/the kids anyway.

  30. You will be sooo much happier in a small neighborhood school with a 5 minute commute and a good reputation. I think ours is fantastic. Then your babies can be at home bonding, playing, just being with mommy and their baby brother instead of sitting in the car or the nap room.

  31. Jen, I think that with the money you are paying them, THEY should be providing the healthier snacks at the school, not you. And you should be allowed to observe WHENEVER you want. These are YOUR children, and no school should be able to tell you that you can't observe them in this school.

    Like I said before, the Montessori school my youngest went to here in the East County part of San Diego (actually it's just off the 125 & 52), did not allow sweets, and especially chocolate at the school, and the kids were not allowed to have it in their lunch. I was provided with a list of foods that I couldn't bring.

    And as you said, you were hoping it would help you to establish better eating habits, and it definitely did for me! When I first saw the list I was like, "whoa, we CAN'T bring that?" but it helped me to make better food choices for her.

    Seriously look at other options and you might be able to join another school before January.

    Good luck!!

  32. just had to say wow, i would be livid over that food thing. absolutely, hit the roof, livid. but i'm a little bit, shall we say, obsessive about putting what comes down to toxins into my body, so i would have probably freaked out at her so good job for not doing that. i told the fiance what they were feeding your kids and he was more mad than i was.

    what passes as food in western culture is enough to make me gag, to be honest.

  33. oh, and telling you you're not to come in until february! these are your children! what is wrong with these people! i'm glad you're a bigger person than i because mine (if i had kids) would have definitely been in their carseats on their way home at the end of that conversation. good for you for sticking to your guns.

  34. Jen,
    My DS has been in a Montessori preschool since Sept and it is very different than yours. The parents take turns sending in snacks and they must be healthy. No sweets allowed. Ours also has a very open door policy. You can go anyday, anytime you choose to be a visitor in the class. That was very important to me. I agree with the others that not all Montessori's are run the same and I hate that yours is giving it a bad name. Good luck with whatever you choose.

  35. If your heart sinks every time you drop them off something is wrong.

    Why not phone around other care providers and see what else is available. It will put you in a position of strengh if you want to go back and fight your corner.

    The other thing is, if you want to make any further complaints - put it in writing. The school should have proceedures they have to follow.

  36. Wow, yeah, I think that your Montessori is not really following the standard tenets of Montessori-hood. Being told you have to wait to observe your own kids? FAIL. My son's Montessori has a total open-door policy, and while they stress to us that being in class while your kid is there is likely to cause him/her to act differently, it's not even a question whether we can be there. And we have standing parent-teacher conferences twice a year as well as whenever WE want them. This lady may be grandmotherly, but that doesn't make her a good directress.

    Sorry you're going through this, and I hope you won't judge all Montessori schools by your experience with this one.

  37. You could move to from here. All children that turn four in 2008 attend every other day Junior Kindergarten. And it's free. And EVERYONE packs their own lunches.

    I'm just thinking there has to be other options out there. We send our kids to private Christian school and pay almost $10000 a year for all three. It starts at age four.

  38. a plug for pre-schools-- but find one that you love, love. our girls go FT, five days a week. they're 3 and they absolutely love it. there are monthly shows (puppet, magic, music, etc) along with extraculiar classes, field trip, science camps; and catered lunches w/in USDA guidelines. it's very EXPENSIVE and yes, i miss them, but they're learning and having a ball---much more stimulation than i can give them--- so it's very worth it.

  39. Hi Jen

    I agree with most of the commentators, junk food is simply unacceptable.
    I know how long you took to decide on this school, the stress of this must be weighing heavily on your mind.
    You will make the right decision, and we will be here to offer you words of support.
    In Australia, the Montessori system has become a little on the "fringe" side of education.
    I am in the midst of a teaching degree and we have had a few lectures on the Reggio Emilia system of education. A lot of current curriculum's are trying to incorporate this style of learning into their programs. Here is the wikki link:
    I agonize over many, many things in my life, I try to cope by asking myself if this will be big in my mind in 6 weeks, 6 months or 6 years. As the years go by I am realizing that the stuff that I stress over is fleeting in the big scheme of things.
    Your kids are happy and healthy and have wonderful parents, they will turn out to be a credit to you and Charlie.

  40. I'm a lurker that just wanted to add my two cents which might be comforting.

    I work at a preschool. The snack policy is atrocious, but there is logic to asking you to bring your own snacks. When Bobby's parents get a different snack for him from the school, then Johnny's parents want the same thing. Pretty soon the school is trying to give 20 different snacks to accomdate the desires of 20 parents. For this reason a lot of schools have a policy of we accomadate allergies and other than that if you aren't happy with the snack you have to provide your own. To get it changed you have to convince the parents as a whole or at the very least the majority to request a change in policy. I also have a note on observations but have to go pick up my little ones from nap time so this comment will have to be a two parter.

  41. Since I'm in CA too, I asked today at Ian's preschool about snack policy. IT IS PART OF LICENSING that they post a snack menu and it has two food groups. (i.e., juice & graham crackers is fruit & carb). Sugary snacks are a NO-NO!

    Cooking projects are one thing --i.e., popcorn/ pancakes/ muffins --posted snack menu is totally seperate.

    I asked about brownies/cookies as a snack (not part of a birthday) and our director said "absolutely not."

    You are paying good money and have every right to call licensing.

  42. Jen
    I totally agree with the comments here. You should be able to see your kids i n their classes at any time. The snack policy is crap. I cannot believe that a Montessori school would encourage sugary snacks.
    Our preschool is pretty good about this the most sugar we've had is in pumpkin muffins we made for Halloween.

    With the amount of money you are paying, have you considered hiring a teacher to come to the house to home school the trips? You would have the best of both worlds, someone to take charge of the lessons and the chaos, you could get work done, and your babes would be close enough so you could participate should you choose to.

    what about a co-op home school with other like minded parents? You could split the cost of the teacher, and the school could be based in a different parents home each week/month.

    I'd totally be in for it if you weren't in CV and we in RB.

    Just a couple of thoughts.

  43. This is anonymous again. The thing with observations is that you should be able to have access to your child at all times, however, before you get worried ask why they want you to wait. We've had the experience that a lot of parents do not simply want to observe they tend to conference and that presents a danger to the kids. The teacher's attention cannot be divided between a parent and the children. My full attention has to be on the kids to keep them from doing anything dangerous that they will attempt if they sense that I'm not watching. Therefore observations usually involve two adults in the room so that when a parent has a question there is still someone watching the kids. It also may affect their behavior. You are their ultimate authority so there comes a bit of I don't have to listen to the teacher my mommy's here. One last note...your responsibility is to your children the teacher and the school are responsible for ALL the children. So follow your instincts and do what you feel fits your and your child's needs.

  44. ...please where can I buy a unicorn?