Monday, October 12, 2009

Like Mother, Like Daughter? by Jamie

My daughter, Jayda, will turn three in May, and she’s been in the same daycare center since she was 3-1/2 months old. It’s a small daycare—a warm, nurturing environment where everyone knows Jayda, and she loves it there. Technically, she can stay there until she enters kindergarten, and many of her classmates will do just that. But, lately, I’ve been starting to think she needs to go somewhere new in September, where she’ll be challenged more.

My birthday is in February, and my mother started me in nursery school early, because I appeared to be very intelligent. Then, because I missed the cut-off date for public kindergarten, and my mom didn’t want to keep me in nursery school for an extra year, she put me in private kindergarten, followed by private first grade. Finally, the public school system accepted me as a 6-year-old second grader. Yes, my mother pushed me ahead—and I thrived because of it. I was always reading levels ahead of my classmates, was an overachiever throughout middle school and high school, and graduated with honors from the University of Michigan. I’m smart. And my daughter is smart, too. Along with my blonde hair, blue eyes, and passion for candy, it seems she’s inherited a bit of my intelligence.

I recently started scouting out new nursery schools for Jayda, and have been quite impressed by what I’ve seen. One place has a shiny new computer center, a large indoor padded playroom, and a small petting zoo. Another is smaller, and more worn-down, but it also has a small computer room, weekly music classes, and even teaches Spanish to 4-year-olds. I’m thrilled there are great options for us—and both places actually bus the children to school if you don’t require extended hours. These days, whenever Jayda sees a school bus drive by, she lights up, and begs to ride on it, so I know she’d be thrilled to take a bus to school. Or would she? When the reality hits, will she be scared to death to climb aboard?

When I consider the tuitions, I lean towards the place with the shiny new computer center. It’s incredibly large and modern, with so many fabulous amenities, and it’s almost the same price as the smaller, older place. But maybe the smaller school will be warmer and more appealing to Jayda…and the bigger place will seem overwhelming? I’m really not sure. I want to do what’s best for my child…and I simply want her to thrive. But I also want her to be comfortable at her new school. It’s a tough call…especially when I know Jayda’s still very happy at her present daycare center…and probably would continue to be so for awhile.

I guess I can liken this scenario to my workouts at the gym. I’m comfortable doing the same old workout every day: I know what to do, I’m good at it, and I feel pretty happy afterwards. But when I force myself out of my comfort zone and challenge myself to do completely different exercises, ultimately, I’m always thrilled with the results. No matter which school I choose for Jayda, big or small, I’m going to be pushing her out of her comfort zone: A new place, new people, and new things to learn will probably seem scary at first. But change is good—especially for a smart little girl who thrives when challenged. And now it’s up to me to make that change for her. I just wish it was easier!

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