My wife and I went to our first pre-school tour a couple months ago. We live in Los Angeles and had been frightened into action by a friend who was visiting for coffee. The friend was admonishing us for waiting so long to start the waiting list process. After all, Zoe was already eighteen months old. For all intents and purposes, we were “too late to get into any good schools.” The way she said it made it sound as though we had consigned our daughter to a lifetime in the service industry after four years at a community college because the only choice left to us was the J. W. Gacy Clown-Around pre-school.
Before calmer heads had the chance to talk some sense into us we found ourselves in the office of one of the more prestigious pre-schools in the Los Angeles area. The children in this school system graduate to the next level with an average 85% or higher. They don’t mess around here. Only a handful of students per teacher. No holiday is celebrated or hailed so as not to leave anyone out. And the children are not forced into narrow cubbies when they are bad, though a few of them looked like they should be.
What really stood out to me though was when the principal sat us down to give us the low-down. I’ll skip all the details and get to the salient point:
“It used to be,” She said, sternly. “That children came to Pre-K to get ready for Kindergarten, where they would learn the alphabet and their numbers. Nowadays, children come to pre-school already knowing their alphabet and our job is to further enhance their experience to get them ready for a world where they are already ahead of the curve.”
Yipes. When did pre-school get so…advanced? When I was in Nursery school (as we called it) we played Duck, Duck, Goose! Now, the kids are practically pre-algebra! Daunting to say the least. But not impossible to overcome and I’m gonna tell you how we did it. Because it was remarkably simple and our daughter seems to be a genius. Albeit a genius who craps her pants and thinks cheesy poofs are part of the four food groups.