My daughter just turned 4 and we have decided to put her in a preschool program a few mornings a week. She has been home with me up until now. I would love to keep her home until kindergarten, but she really wants to go to school and I think she could use more interaction with other kids. She is very verbal/precocious for her age but does not have much interest in learning numbers/letters etc (which is fine with me at her age). I have been searching for months for a play-based preschool in our area and the only two I can find are a 20 or 25 minute drive away.
I put her in a summer program at a school close to our home to try it for a month. She is there 2 mornings a week, from 9 to 12:30 and she completely loves it. She tells me that she does not want to go to a different school when summer is over and she wants to stay at the school she goes to now. The positives are a barnyard with animals, an outdoor classroom (which they don't seem to spend tons of time in), and good caring teachers. The negatives are it is more academic than I would like. Although they do seem to introduce the concepts in a child-friendly way (songs, finger plays, puppetry, stories, body movement) I would rather that they didn't force them to learn these concepts at this age at all. They also do learning centers/open classroom each morning. When I walked through the room at the end of the year last year, I definitely saw the kids printing their names and writing letters etc. The second negative which is a huge negative for me is that they have a computer in the classroom and they are supposedly encouraged to use it each day. I try to keep her away from screen time as much as possible at home and I am completely against the idea of paying for her to be in a program that uses them.... I don't see any value at all to computers in a preschool class. Although her teachers told me that they shut off the computers most of the time, not sure how true that is... The school also seems very into making money.
The farther away schools seem to be closer to what I am looking for- one is a RIE program and the other is a Reggio program, play-based with an art studio where the children can work every day. Very child-led, great teachers also. Mixed age classes (not sure how I feel about that). Then there's the drive- almost 2 hours of driving each day with drop off and pick up. And I have a 10 month old daughter also, who would be dragged along for the drive as well. She would only go 2 days a week to either of the far schools, so it wouldn't be too many days of making the drive. Also they are both less expensive than the closer school.
So for fall should I stick with the closer school where my daughter is happy so far, or a further one that seems to be more of what I am looking for? How far would you be willing to drive for preschool? Does anybody commute to preschool with a younger sibling? I would love to hear opinions, thoughts and experiences from others. I am pretty conflicted and I don't have much time left to decide. Thanks in advance and sorry for the lengthy post!
Edited by goodnight moon - 7/12/12 at 9:48am