Monday, December 06, 2010

The actual cost of preschool

Once again, you have helped to calm my anxious nerves a bit. Thank you. I have both some concrete steps I plan to take with Josh (one-on-one "learning fun time," for example) and some serious backing off to do on the worry throttle. A visit with a developmental specialist may also be in the offing, depending on what we hear back from his pediatrician, who up till now has seemed very unconcerned, chalking it up to him being "all boy."

So I will move forward on the assumption that he is probably fine. To paraphrase Amanda's comment, he may just be in a contrary phase, unwilling to please me by doing what I want him to do. He also favors his dad at every opportunity, seemingly just to crush my heavy heart into a goopy sad paste. (No, I don't want you to read me my night-night story, I want Daddy to read it to me!) So Jeff might actually get a better response from him than I do with letters and numbers and such. We're going to give that a try as well, and I will be both pleased and jealous if it works. Jeff--high school class salutatorian, former academic and quite possbily the deepest-thinking person I've ever met--was slow to talk and slow to read, according to his mom, whom I just interrogated on the subject. Maybe the slow start is in Josh's genes and portends nothing but good things for his future. (Am I laying on the optimism a little thick here, do you think?)

Again, thanks. Your comments were a relief.

So: On to another topic where I'll beg for further advice. As I mentioned in my last post, Josh & Olivia have been sick. A lot. More than a lot. In fact, neither one has been truly well and healthy for a full week since they started preschool--and official Winter hasn't even arrived yet.

Both kids sound like Mad Men-era smokers when they wake up. Then add in the congestion, sneezing and those godawful ear infections and pinkeye cycling through persistently and you get the picture. Josh has also had an infected toe, croup, stomach flu and a series of strange rashes, and Olivia has just been...not sure how to phrase it. Droopy, maybe. Tired and pale and languid. They have seen their beloved pediatrician (not to mention their new BFF ped at urgent care) countless times in the last five months, and pretty much each visit ends with new prescriptions for antibiotics or eyedrops. (We have about a dozen of those little plastic measuring syringes at this point; I've gotten very good at drawing up an exact teaspoon.)

We have been conscientiously keeping them out of preschool whenever there's a chance they might be contagious. Any fever, we keep them home. Significant cough, we keep them home. Snotty noses, we keep them home. Pinkeye, hell yes, we keep them home. So far, we're averaging more than one absence per kid per week, and they're only in school three days per. So we're getting less than 2/3 of what we're paying for, in terms of coverage.

Preschool looked like a downright bargain. For less than $1200 per month, both kids are cared for from 8 a.m.-6 p.m., M-W-F, including snacks and lunch--not bad, at least by Bay Area standards. Much less than a nanny. But when you figure in the 8-12 hours per week that Jeff ends up staying home with them instead of working, the cost advantage is lost. And when I think of the fact that, my god, my poor little kids are sick all the time, it feels a bit cruel to keep sending them.

Have you been in this position? If so, what did you do? Any tips for keeping kids healthy in the midst of a germ factory? I am all (infected) ears.

9 Comments:

Anonymous Jen said...

Without fail, the first week or two of school, Andrew gets sick (and then, as an added bonus, so do we! Awesome!). He did get sick an awful lot his first year of school, but thankfully, this has tapered off considerably over time. Unfortunately, whether they start school at 2 or 5, I think this is just part of the process. It sucks--for all involved. I hope your season of sick is soon over!

The only caution I would raise is with the persistent ear infections--make sure that your ped(s) are vigilant about ensuring that there is no hearing damage/loss due to the ear infections. With back-to-back ones like these, there is some concern that it can cause hearing loss. With A., after his many ear infections, we screened for it, and all was fine, but I felt better for having checked it out.

Hope all are healthier soon!

8:07 PM  
Blogger For the Long Haul said...

I just wanted to say that you ARE getting a great deal on the preschool thing. I also live in the bay area and I have two kids in preschool (well one of them is only 19 months old so it isn't really "school" at this point...) and I pay $1,600 a month for Monday through Thursday 9:00-4:00. As for the sick thing? Goes with the territory for school and time of year. Just think of all the fantastic antibodies they are building and like your other commenter said, it is just part of the process. Hang in there!!

9:57 PM  
Blogger Foxxy One said...

That's a great deal - we paid a lot more than that just for Dylan.

As far as being sick - it's either now or when they start kindergarten. Their immune systems are learning to fight off these germs and it takes anywhere from 6 months to a year to get them acclimated. Dylan was sick almost his first year of day care. I agree though - if they have persistent ear infections - get to the ENT.

5:06 AM  
Blogger Thalia said...

Agree re the illnesses, mine are constantly ill, one goes to nursery school, one is at home with the nanny but even if Pob wasn't going to school they have enough activities and playdates with other children that I can't imagine it would be any different. A friend who is a paed said it's the children who don't get ill you worry about as at some point in their teenage years their immune systems collapse with the strain.

Re the slow development, I'm interested what you say about your husband. Junior (17 months) has been v slow to talk compared to Pob (who was talking in sentences at 17 months). I try not to worry and mostly fail, except when I think about how persistent he is at understanding how things work, and how creative he is at gettign things to do what he wants them to do - both people and things. I watched him carefully experiment and figure out how to open the playground gate. The whole exercise took less than 2 minutes, and then he was free! I'm sure Pob would not have done that, she'd have come to find me and asked me to open it for her. Different approaches, but not sure it means he has learning difficulties.

Good to hear from you.

7:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, that first year of preschool/daycare does suck. I'm in the middle of it with twin infants right now and I think their entire infancy will be about snot. With our older boy who started at 11months the first year was bad but it has been fairly smooth sailing since. With my son, I also followed all of the rules about illness/group activities and was home with him a lot. I eventually realized, I may have been the only one following the rules that closely and eased up a bit and sent in a slightly sicker kid than I would have liked. As much as I didn't like doing that, it was a sanity saver. Re: the constant bacterial infection, in our house, that means food or other allergy leaving a weakened immune system to deal with viral insults. It is normal to be sick a lot but always with things that need to be treated with antibiotics might need some extra thought. For example, I finally realized my kid's recurring pink eye was actually just allergic conjunctivitis and responded well to some allergy eye drops(and right back to school). That and finally figuring out the real extent of his dairy sensitivity which we thought was mild. Good luck! Sue

9:18 AM  
Blogger Alexicographer said...

Besides what others have already said about now or later (see http://www.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/12/06/daycare.kids/index.html?hpt=C2 for a report on the study that finds you can have childhood illnesses either with preschool or elementary school but can't avoid them), the only other question/suggestion would be, if they miss a Wednesday, could they go in on a Thursday (or whatever)? We used a Tu/Th setup similar to what you're describing for years 1-3, and the provider did exactly that whenever she could (she'd never have more than 5 kids but if there was a slot either because someone else was out sick or on vacation or because she had a vacancy, she'd let us shuffle days). If you're using a larger place perhaps that's just not workable or allowed, but it's the quick alternative that occurs to me based on my experience.

10:00 AM  
Anonymous Carla Hinkle said...

I think that's the way it goes the first year of preschool/daycare. It does get better in later years (though some kids are always more prone to getting sick than others, witness my younger daughter vs the older one). I send my kids to school with runny noses unless they are really ridiculously runny. And minor coughs.

I like the idea of switching days if you can ...

2:00 PM  
Anonymous Orodemniades said...

What's really scary is that $1200 a month is not only just a little bit less than my monthly gross, but is less than what my local pre-school costs per month. And I live in rural VT.

Scary.

9:13 PM  
Blogger Dream Mommy said...

I would see an ENT if the ear infections keep up. $1200/month in preschool, wow. Of couse we live in rural south Louisiana

Thalia,
About the talking, some kids just take a little longer. I've cared for many foster kids, most delayed and the speech therapists told me they usually don't say as many words as you read about on the internet/textbooks by 1 year. I also found that my later talkers, especially my 4 year old son, will make up for the late talking when they finally do talk. He talks non-stop now!

My special needs 5 year old is non-verbal, but he can problem solve when he is really determined to do somthing. It's really neat to watch.

4:36 PM  

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