Friday, January 25, 2008


Let's talk about preschool for a moment, yes?

Hubs and I have decided we are not going to send Daughter to a 3 year-old preschool program next fall. She will turn 3 in April and would certainly be mature enough to attend a preschool setting by September, but we straight up don't want to send her yet. It's my opinion that at 3 most children are still 'babies' in many ways and if possible they should remain home with mom (or dad). Obviously if both parents work outside the home and the child is in daycare of some kind, that's different. I'm just talking about people in my situation...stay-home moms.

At the risk of sounding braggy, I'm going to say that Daughter is really bright, quite precocious, and surprisingly social considering the lack of kids to play with in our neighborhood. She runs right into the room when we go to playgroup, shrugging off her coat and throwing down her mittens so she can join the kids already playing. She sits nicely at story time, cleans up after herself when we have snack (without being asked), and is almost always friendly and willing to share. At library story hour she's the only kid in the group who sits in her little chair and pays attention to the story, only speaking when the librarian addresses the kids/asks a question. She introduces herself to the other kids and answers adults when they speak to her. The librarian stopped me this morning to comment that "she's very bright...she's really doing quite well."

Yes, yes, of course I think she is amazing because she is my kid. I know how it sounds, and I apologize. I'm just trying to say that I don't think she NEEDS preschool right now. She's a really capable little kid and I like being around her. I set the bar high for her behavior (though I never expect her to do more than she is capable of at her age) and she rises to it. I look forward to another year together at home, doing our thing.

But that's another issue. Our "thing" is sometimes pretty lazy, and because we live in the boondocks & gas costs a fortune, we don't head out much. We aren't fortunate to have indoor playgrounds like some of you do. So we do playgroup (a bargain) and story hour (free), and this morning one of the story hour moms told me about a gymnastics place that has good tot classes plus free-play time several days a week (expensive classes, reasonable free-play charge) so we might try that. I'm also pondering swimming lessons.

The question is, how many things am I supposed to sign my 3 year-old up for? And should I be calling all the local preschools now, to observe classes and get Daughter on "the waiting list"? I overhear other moms talking about this stuff and I'm getting paranoid about it. I mean, what's wrong with letting your little one just play and learn at home until 4 years old? Am I really naive here?

I'd appreciate (gentle) feedback about this topic. This is my first time going through it and I'm concerned about doing too much or too little. How do/did you all handle these issues?


Anonymous said...

I read your site via Karen at Big Trade-Off. I love see your knitting/sewing stuff.(as I have no ability in this area) I have a 5 yo who started kindergarten this year. We started preschool at 4. I kind of went through similar thoughts at 3. You're the mom, you know her best, and they ARE still little at 3. Sounds like she's getting many of the experiences she'd get in ps with your playgroup, etc. I'm not an expert by any means, but when my 5 yo started kindergarten I felt really sad when it hit me that we'd never go back to the "unstructured" time we had before. I know one can always find a "study" to support their opinions, but I've been hearing "experts" lately talk about how our kids aren't having as much time to just play and be kids, and that can be detrimental. Sounds like your daughter is a well adjusted, smart little girl and that you're doing a great job.

Karen's cousin Julie

Jenn said...

I think whatever you think is right for your family is fine. There is a lot to be said for the socialization of preschool, but she's getting that already. If I could stay home, I would, so I'd keep her as long as you can!

Cori said...

I read here fairly frequently but rarely comment. I do have two cents here so I thought I'd chime in. I'm a preschool teacher, although I teach a four year old program. My opinion is that most three year olds, especially ones in a SAHM situation, that don't have any noticeable behavior problems, are reasonably social and aren't having trouble reaching developmental milestones really don't receive any additional benefits from a structured preschool setting. At this time, with the requirements of most kindergartens, most children do best with a year of preschool before starting their formal education, simply because kindergarten requirements are what our generation was doing in first grade so coloring, cutting, taking turns, and classroom etiquette is expected to already have been learned. Many preschools offer an open house session in February or March and enrollment starts then so next year you might start shopping around but until then, I'd enjoy "doing your thing" and I think your thing is just fine for you and Daughter.

Karen said...

Both of my kids have attended preschool at age 3. I didn't have any expectations for them attending at that age, just the socialization for them and a break for me. I figure four hours a week isn't a lot of time away from home or me in the grand scheme of being a SAHM to them.

Either way, I don't believe preschool is a determining factor for success either socially or academically. My kids have enjoyed it tremendously, though, which has made it worthwhile to us.

Karen said...


Ruth said...

There's nothing wrong with letting your girl start preschool at four instead of three. You need to do what feels right to you. All of my kids started preschool at three (2.5 hours per day, twice a week), but it was as much for me as for them ... three can be intense, and I needed a break.

I would sign her up for one or two classes and play the rest of your time by ear. I don't know what local custom about preschools is by you, but around here you need to start calling preschools in the fall for the next year (in other words, you would have already missed the boat for Sept. 2008). So if you aren't going to send Daughter to school until 2009, you can wait and start calling the preschool of your choice in September.

Do you have a preschool in mind? You could always call them and ask what their application process is.