It is no easy task to determine who should be trusted to take care of your child, the person who matters to you more than anything else. The teachers at Half Pint Academy did much more than just “take care of” our son; they educated him, taught him how to make friends and treat others, and they developed a smart, polite boy who is well prepared for entering Kindergarten. Our son loved Half Pint and so did we. But we didn’t always know that would be the case.
When I was trying to find childcare for my son, I spent a lot of time considering different options: Day care? Preschool? Free Universal Prekindergarten? Nursery school? In home babysitter? He had never been to child care before and we were scared. We thought it would be such a long day for him to endure, with such an early start. We worried about what would happen if they didn’t feed him, or if he wouldn’t eat what they fed him, what if other kids were mean to him, what if the teachers were not nice when parents weren’t around? What if they don’t pay attention to him? What if the other kids model behaviors we don’t want in our home? It was a terrifying prospect: sending the person we care about more than anything else, to a place without us, with people we didn’t even know?! The fears seemed endless.
We found Half Pint simply from driving down the road. We did look at other places that friends had referred to us, but they were either the wrong hours, or not in the right location, or maybe left a little bit to be desired after an initial conversation. Many places seemed to be too rigid with their arrival and dismissal times, and/or inflexible with which days they did and did not offer care. Some seemed disorganized. Sending a four year old to a place for longer than an adult’s work day felt like bad parenting to us, but we had no choice. It was also the very first time he would be with someone who wasn’t family. While Half Pint had everything that we were looking for, we were anxious about our son’s opinions of being there from 7:30 until 4:00, five days a week.
Now he is ready for kindergarten because he is adjusted to that schedule. We are hoping his kindergarten teachers are as nurturing, patient, and kind as his Half Pint teachers were. While he was at Half Pint he learned how to write upper and lower case letters, he learned how to thoughtfully respond to a story when he listens to it being read to him, he learned how to take pride in his accomplishments and personal responsibilities. He can recognize unkind behavior immediately, and is very friendly and polite to new people as a result of the social skills he learned at Half Pint. He made friends, he was happy, and he likes school.
Two years after enrolling in Half Pint Academy, I have learned that Half Pint wasn’t a hidden gem that I had discovered, but in fact is well known by many parents in the area. I’m a teacher, and many of my colleagues sent their children to Half Pint. I recall once even hearing a teacher say, “That’s where everyone wants to send their kids.” (I wish I had known these people back when I was trying to find childcare!) Our son never complained about going to half pint, and now he is crying about having to leave. He loved his teachers, the curriculum, and the structure of the day. He never had any of the complaints or issues I was afraid he would have.
Every teacher was excellent, and they were always patient with us and our son. His teachers at Half Pint were always professional, demonstrating consistent and reasonable expectations for the students, with age appropriate consequences given as needed. There were times when he had “accidents” in his pants, and not the kind that just result in wet clothing, either. There was a time when he vomited at school. Once he had lice and I called to tell them that was why he wouldn’t be at school. Despite my private feelings of embarrassment and guilt, the reassuring teachers at Half Pint shrugged it all off as though it were comparable to missing a phone call: “It happens.”
We found the teachers to be approachable, kind, and always committed to the social and educational development of our son. If we had another child, we would certainly send them to Half Pint academy, even though our school district does provide free universal pre k for the full day. It would certainly cost less money, and there are advantages to attending our local district’s full day universal Pre K, but we know that it couldn’t possibly be better than what we experienced at Half Pint. Good enough isn’t quite good enough when it comes to who spends the day with our child. Even though our local pre k program is probably good enough, we want the best, and based upon our experiences, we couldn’t have asked for better than Half Pint. -----From Nathan Romeo’s parents