Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Lazy Tiger Mom starts the K search

Hi, Cat here. I've been so grateful to this blog as a source of information and inspiration to my first kindergarten search and especially so to the parents who have re-opened it. I'll share my newbie story of the search including some probably-clueless initial thoughts of schools and criteria. I've been told that I have masochistic desire for feedback, so please set me straight! 

As for the title of the post. I was raised with a tiger mom. Yet call-me-selfish, but I'd much rather spend my meager spare time on myself or couple-time. That sounds far better than driving my kids around to more classes and enrichment, much less any type of homework or music drills.

Our family is two working parents with high-stress jobs and frequent travel. Our two daughters (4.5 and 1.5) have been in daycare since they were 3 months old. I'm a very pragmatic mom and believe in public school both for the diversity, range of experience and also most definitely the financials. I was raised 100% private, mainly due to living overseas and by necessity only having access to English-speaking international schools. My husband is an avid public proponent, having gone public all the way and also with two teachers as parents. 

Perhaps this is too flippant and may get me flamed, but my current naive belief is that public school will be fine through elementary school (how bad can it be?) and that anything lacking can be supplemented at home (in all our spare time, ha!). Currently we're determined to go 100% public and have heard rumor that even if absolutely nothing works out we can start applying for some decent neighborhood parochial schools after hearing the lottery results. So that's the strategy for now. Besides I don't think that I could even muster up the time or energy for the private school tour and application process. 

We live 2 blocks from Glen Park Elementary. I don't know how I feel about Glen Park. It would be fantastic to drop by daughter off to school and then head on down to Bart for my commute. I think that my thoughts are still mostly ill informed about the other pros and cons.  

Some rough ideas about criteria.
1. Local proximity. Remember the pragmatic mom thing? This is our absolute top priority. I feel that our lives are already so crazy with 2 kid drop-offs and a hectic work schedule. 

2. After school care. 2 working parents. We definitely need care through 6pm, although I'm lucky enough to have a flexible job so any late school start time is OK. 

3. Involved PTA. I've heard it's a really good thing (inane statement on my part but still!). 

4. Isn't arts focused. My husband's a scientist and I firmly believe in the magic blend of science + liberal arts. 

Here's our current tour list:
Miraloma (daughter's preK is right nearby and many of her friends already have older siblings attending)
Glen Park 
Commodore Sloat
SF Community 
Thomas Edison Charter
Jose Ortega?
Paul Revere?
Alice Fong Yu?

Any tips are appreciated!


  1. Hi LTM -- Your first two priorities are spot on.

    But you're going to have to upgrade to full-fledged Tiger Mom to tour that many schools.

    I'd say touring your local school (Glen Park) and what you think is your first choice (Miraloma) will be enough. After that, if you still have energy, do SF Community because it's different, a popular school like Rooftop or Clarendon, and one private like Town or Marin Country Day just to see the difference.

    Frankly I didn't find tours to be that useful. In a random one-hour visit you learn about as much as you would from a driveby.

  2. I disagree - I think the school tours helped me get a sense for the size of the school (there is a big diff between little Marshall and bigger BV) and the "vibe" of the school. It helped me figure out if I could see myself and my child there. That being said, my tours were very targeted - I toured all of the public Spanish immersion schools (and was pleasantly surprised with all of them!)

  3. I would definitely tour Glen Park. They have a new principal, formerly at Grattan, and it looks like she is poised to make some great contributions to the school and community. Also Sunnyside as they have more of a science focus and an active PTA community.

  4. definitely check your AA school and those that are logistically possible for you. i toured 3 schools and found the tours useful. remember all tours are during school (ie work hours) hours so touring a ton is a ton of time away from work.
    also be realistic. if you have no tiebreakers you probably won't get into a trophy, so just tour a few. even if you have a tiebreaker you could get "swapped" out of your choice.

  5. I would tour a lot....found all the schools very different and we ended up at one that we had never considered. Tours made a HUGE difference in our choices. Some trophies wasn't even that crazy about after seeing.

  6. I don't know how to put this in uncensorable form. I guess let me just cautiously say, based on what the OP writes, I don't believe that qualifies you as a Tiger Mom. I believe it trivializes hard work many true Tiger Parents do, and that if you make your kids' development, activities and learning a higher priority than what you say, in your own words, to be self and couple time, that is what qualifies you as a Tiger Parent. I believe those who do get enrichment for their kids will see their kids do better. I'm trying to be cautious, please let me know the rules, no names, just basing it on what she wrote. Can I comment on what people write? I don't think you're a Tiger Mom if you are derisive towards tutoring and activities and put short-term things ahead like "couple and me time". How do I express that without risk of being censored? I said selfish only because she said it in the initial post and I was commenting on that, I made sure not to go out of line, no names, etc. I'm trying to be careful. What are the rules?

  7. I agree, I saw the others and they were an interesting opinion, not trolling. I emailed when I saw the bloggers request and got ignored, zero response, over a month ago.

    Please publish the rules and apply them fairly, there haven't been any interesting debates since this restarted.

    What is the line you can't cross? What is the proper way to debate a point? What are the rules that if you violate, your post can just be taken down?

  8. 12:35 - Thank you for rewording. Better wording and tone than the earlier posts. Comments will be removed if they are not thoughtful and if they, in any way, seem to attack the lovely and generous people who offer to share their story. Is it subjective? YES! If you err on the side of being empathetic and not condescending, you shouldn't have any trouble.

  9. I have often heard that the biggest gift parents can give their children is a stable marriage. Couple-time should not be seen as a selfish act.

  10. You have a point, there should be time for both, but the way I see it the best parents put their children's needs over their own. Obviously if you would consider divorce if you are unhappy with your marital relationship, it's better to focus on couple time, that is horrible for kids, but if you can stay married and put your kids higher, your kids will do even better. It's all about balance. She just seemed pretty dismissive of the idea of getting extra help for kids, and a lot of kids get stuck in math, even kids with stable, good parents. That's why kids who go to Kumon are achieving so much, because someone is there to help them when they get stuck. For some kids, they just stay stuck, and it's sad.

  11. I have a great idea. Let's make our comments about the content of people's posts, not their metaphors or ways of identifying. LTM seems to have a sense of humor, which is lethal in SF. But can we buck the local trend of earnest judginess, let her laugh at herself a little, and focus on her questions and school search?

    LTM, look at Daniel Webster if you are looking at Revere. Lovely parent community and a more stable history. Also, use those flexible work hours to tour lots of schools. It might or might not help, but it can't hurt.

  12. I agree with the previous poster. LTM has a sense of humor which might be a great asset in the whole process. I also respect her honesty about what she is capable of and able to commit to at this time. Humor and realism in today's parenting - bravo! If LTM chooses a school because it is close to her house, she might be the one able to go to monthly PTA meetings and do make a regular contribution to her school because it is convenient for her. Let's try to support her in her goals, her honesty, and her realism and keep focused on schools rather than parenting styles.

  13. 12:35 Thank you for the thoughtful respectful comments, maybe it's good I didn't see the first version? :)

    And yes, in no way do I believe that I am a tiger mom at all... decidedly way too focused on or perhaps equally focused on me/hubby and the kids.

    Many apologies to the true tiger parents. I tip my hat off at you. There are many different folks with many different parenting styles... and I believe that each is just right, for your family.

  14. LTM, keep it simple. Tour Glen Park, Fairmount, Sunnyside, and Mission Prep, which is a public charter school. These are all close by and offer a variety of teaching paradigms and communities. Mission Prep is a public charter so you apply with a separate application. It has longer school days and lots of support so it might be a good fit for your family.

  15. I suggest that you tour Orega. I have two kids there (3rd and 1st grades) and have been very pleased with the school We have both GE and MI programs and our award winning principal is top-notch. School starts at 7:50 so you an start your commute early and get to work on time. The after school program ends at 6:00. Tours start on Friday, October 19th at 8:30.

  16. 9:23am and 3:40pm. Thanks for the suggestions of Mission Prep and Jose Ortega. Will definitely take a look at those.

  17. Only issue with not being 'tiger' in public is that it might take the tigers in many schools to keep the things you want- enrichment and a healthy PTA- to thrive in the school....Just a thought. (Not sure I totally get the tiger designation anyhow)

  18. As a parent of a child at Glen Park Elementary School, I can say that your neighborhood school (GPE) has everything you're looking for. Convenient start time (drop off as early as 8:20), Free aftercare until 6 pm, involved PTO, and a balanced curriculum (arts enrichment AND a full time computer teacher). You lucked out!