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Opinions on Preschool for 3 year olds

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
In our former playgroup, who we still see for occasions such as birthdays etc... , we are the only ones not doing the preschool thing. All of the moms stay home, but are so anxious to send their 3 year olds to preschool, the half day 2-3 days a week. Some are even pushing the toliet thing so that they can go. This is a group that started out very AP but some have moved away from that style of parenting as the kids have gotten older. Adult led weaning at around 2, no more family bed, some spanking or swatting as they call it, originally planning to homeschool, but not now, things like that. We are in the minority on many things and that is one reason we are no longer a real part of this group. We feel very odd with them, especially now, since they talk so much about preschool.

I don't want ds to go to preschool yet, if ever. We plan to homeschool thoughout his education. We do many social things and get together to have play dates with friends, though that has slowed since the preschool thing has come up. I have signed us up for weekly classes at the zoo and the science museum, together. I asked him if he wants to go to school without mommy and he said he wants to stay with me. They make it seem like I am doing him a diservice by "keeping him out of preschool". First of all, we cannot afford it. I was a teacher, so I am not concerned about him academically, like I would be at 3 years old, but they are. He is already starting to read some words, knows his numbers, some of his letters. So, no big deal there. I don't think it is the time to focus on those things now.

I am not concerned about what they think. But, it has made me think, I want to be objective about it. Opinions? Thanks!
post #2 of 22
My son started pre-school today. It is a very individual decision from parent to child. I think his pre-school is great and that they have the appropriate early childhood focus. It is the pre-school of the international school that my husband teaches at.

Again, it is up to the individuals involved. My son was not against leaving me to go. But he has had experience with this at the gym when I go to an aerobics class and at a playgroup that 7 other mothers and I ran with 2 working at it each Tuesday morning.

From being here, I do know that pre-school is very unpopular in this AP environment and that mothers can be harshly judged for choosing it. So I think that you will find much support in your choosing not to allow your child to go.

In my opinion, pre-school isn't about learning numbers and letters. Why is this even a focus at this age? It is about having fun with other children and learning about yourself and the world around you. Yes, you can do that with your mother, but you can also do it with someone else's.

(Cost isn't an issue for us as it is a benefit of my husband's emplyment)
post #3 of 22
My son is four and a half. He will be going to preschool for the first time this year. I felt that pressure, too - to send him when he was 3. But I had him involved in a one hour, weekly storyhour at the library and an art class that met 2 times a month. I felt he was getting the socialization he needed from that and occasional playdates.

I don't think a child has to go to preschool at all. I am sending him this year b/c he seems ready and HE wants to go. I also want him to have some exposure to a group setting b/c he will go to kindergarten next year. The preschool is 3 mornings a week.

I was like you - it gave me pause when I heard so many other people sending them off at 3, but I knew in my gut, for my family, that I wanted to wait. I will do the same with our youngest as long as the gut tells me the same.
post #4 of 22
My dd was born 4-20-99, so real close to your son's age, and I seem to catch crap for not sending her. I don't really think it is necessary, esp if you are homeschooling. I also agree that it is a personal decision. I have a friend that sent her son to a mom's day out play centered group one day a week at three, and now at 4 he will be going 2-3 days a week. It worked well for them. We can't afford to send dd now either, but i wouldn't send her now even if we could. Just because it doesn't feel right for us. I think if I sent her now it would be struggle, for both of us, but next year she'll be 4.4 yrs old and i think it'll work better. That and we are having to save all this year to send her to the new Waldorf preschool that is opening here.
post #5 of 22
We sent DS#1 to a preschool at 3. It's a very nurturing place, and no toilet training required (whew!) so that wasn't an issue.

As we're leaning towards homeschooling, though, it might seem a contradiction. Well, yes and no. In the preschool years all the kids are really there to learn is socialization. Once a child gets the hang of hanging out with and working with other kids, then the schools are supposed to start with the ABC stuff.

And once our kids get the hang of hanging out with and working with other kids, then we can say they've learned from school what they need. And we can get on with the rest of life.

In the years when they're learning how to learn, that's where I don't see an actual school environment is necessary.

- Amy
post #6 of 22
IKWYM imakebelieve! In our playgroup my Ds is now the only one his age (4 1/2) who does not go to school. I am really getting tired of people asking me "Oh, so.....he DOESN"T go to school!?!?" At first, I wanted to home school. But he really really wants to go to school, so I told him when he is 5 he can go if he still wants to (he misses the cut off for public school this year). I too went to school to teach, so I know he is not lacking in academic areas. We just enrolled him in a gymnastics class once a week, and if it goes well, perhaps I will get him involved in a art class or something else he is interested in.
It seems to me that many people I know put the older kids in preschool at about 3 because that is typically when they have baby 2 (or 3, 0r 4.....). It is easy social interaction for the child, and time for the parent to spend with the baby. PreK/school really seems to be a pretty new thing.....no one I knew growing up went.
The thing I am afraid of is that my kids will be left behind in Kindergarten. There will already be a set social circle among the kids who were in preschool together. They will know how to stand in line, raise hands, sit in a circle......ect. I activley tried to get him into a very desirable program last year for that reason, but by the time they called us for an opening, I changed my mind (plus, it costs a fourtune!).
post #7 of 22
Thread Starter 
Thanks for your support everyone. Yesterday, Ben asked if he could play with a friend.

--I said that he was at school.
--He said "zoo school ?
--no, preschool.
--Is that school without mommy or with mommy.
--He said, "oh then he must be so sad right now, I bet he's missing his mommy so much."

I knew then that my decision is the right one for our family. It's funny whenever someone in movie or he sees someone sad, in his mind, they are missing their mommy or daddy.
post #8 of 22
My oldest is starting kindergarten this year and it breaks my three year olds heart. He soooo desperately wants to go to school too. We enrolled him into "his own" pre school and he is really excited to start. My oldest never went to pre school because he just wasn't ready for it and well.. I was too lazy to get him there. Now at five he is REALLY ready and excited to start kindergarten. I tend to just follow their lead and see where it takes us.
post #9 of 22
I'm a teacher, too, and I have decided to skip preschool for my daughter. That's a big decision, since she is an only child. But I do not feel that preschoolers need "academic" learning. Being a teacher, and seeing that people's potential for learning goes on for a lifetime and does not expire at a certain age, has helped me make the decision against formal schooling at this age.

That being said, if a wonderful school that emphasized play and social skills for my three year old existed nearby, I would probably want to send her twice a week. But it doesn't. And so I've decided that she will blossom at her own rate. Most parents in my community feel that they can't give their children the skills that they need at the preschool age.-- ABC's and so on. I feel that lots of exposure to the outside world--on errands, with friends and family--and lots of involvement at home, baking and gardening and doing household things and being read to and making art--these are what are most matter to a young child. I am struggling with the conventional idea of "socialization" right now (see my recent post!), but instinctually I feel that my daughter is doing well and will be just fine--with delayed schooling, or homeschooling.

Just hoe your own row! As long as your child is stimulated and learning about the world and seems happy, you are doing a good job.
post #10 of 22
I'm a SAHM and my 3-yr-old has always been a very attached little girl (even in our playgroup who we'd been w/2 years, she would often hold back and hang out w/me the whole time). Don't get me wrong, I don't think it's a bad thing that she's attached, and we have considered homeschooling at points. But recently a really great Catholic school in our area opened that we would like for her to go to now and so rather than send her to that "cold turkey" - I wanted to try preschool first. I considered waiting until she was 4, but she has started to really come out of her shell since turning 3 and expressed an interest in "school" and then when I found out I was having a third, we decided to start at 3.

She starts in 2 weeks and I continue to maintain that if after a month (or sooner if it's really bad), she doesn't like it, we'll pull her and try again at 4. But she talks about it so much and is so interested in other kids her age now, I think she's going to be fine. I admit w/soon to be 2 other kidlets, I'm looking forward to the 'break' for 2 hours/2 days/week and I'm excited to see her coming out of her shell a bit.

I agree though that kids are different and only you can know best what Ben needs and it sounds like both you and he are comfortable w/the decision not to go for now. I wouldn't feel bad at all about your decision. And I agree w/some other posters, I don't think preschool is necessarily about academics as much as it is about socialization, getting ready on more of an emotional level for real school if that's where a child is going to end up, ya know?
post #11 of 22
Interesting question. Here in the UK, most children get funded pre-school places at age 3 and ALL children get funded places at age 4. And this is for 2 1/2 hours, 5 days a week.

My dh and I have been quite torn about what to do with our dd1 (she'll be 3 in October). She won't qualify for funding until January, with the way the system works, but I still feel that 5 days a week (even for only 2 1/2 hours a day) is too much for a 3 year old - but everyone looks at me like I've grown horns if I mention that I don't think I want her to go to preschool every day at age 3.

At the moment, both of our girls go to a nursery one afternoon a week (when I'm at work), and they both love it. The other day, dd1 almost pitched a fit when she thought she wasn't going to go...

So - I think it does depend on the child, and I'm leaning towards sending dd1 2-3 days a week in January and seeing how she goes. I'm really happy with the nursery she's in at the moment, so I'll probalby keep her in their preschool.

So...I'm pretty middle-of-the-road on this one...which is good to know, becuase I do sometimes feel like a bit of a freak here in Scotland. :

post #12 of 22
O.K. I'll admit it. I chose to enroll my three year old (ds1, now 7) in preschool because I needed a break. He was a very attached, intense toddler and I think that we were both ready for some space.

He wanted to go, although the separation was a little hard for us during the first two weeks. It helped that his school day was short (1-3:15pm/3 days per wk.) and that he had 5 kids and two teachers in his class (just a fluke!) The following two years he was in a 9-12am/4 day per wk. morning group with 12 kids and 2 teachers. They have a developmental play curriculum, which I think is appropriate for 3-5 yr. olds. I loved picking him up - both of us fresh and excited to share the rest of the day together.

So basically, preschool was a way for us both to have a little space and fun. Not neccessary, but definately enriching.
post #13 of 22
Hi there,
My son will be three in September and although I was not really sure if I wanted him in preschool or not, we ended up finding a wonderful cooperative preschool that is five minutes from our house and he will be starting there in two weeks. I feel comfortable with this because the parents are so involved and the focus is on play, not learning. There is always one parent in the class (plus one teacher and an aide) and it works out that I will be helping with his class about once a month. The coolest part is that the parents basically run the school. I think this is a great alternative to traditional preschool. Also, my son is very, very social and I think he needs more interaction with other children than I am giving him (I also have a 7 month old). I would never send him if he did not seem comfortable leaving me. So, this is what is working for us. I don't think there's a right or a wrong way to go as far as sending your 3 yr old to preschool, it just depends on what feels right to you!
post #14 of 22
My kids are 4 and 5 and have never been to preschool or school. It is very odd, but when my oldest child was 3, I felt more pressure to put her into preschool than I felt this year to put her in kindergarten!

Preschool is a nice experience for some kids. It isn't something that kids "need." Heck, school isn't even something that kids "need" for socialization or accedemics, so how can they "need" preschool"?

You might try finding a homeschooling support group where you live. Many homeschoolers have large families so there are always other young children You might enjoy the homeschooling board here on the mothering forum as well. Most of the moms there have kids who are too young to attend school!
post #15 of 22
I have found 3 years old to be the most wonderful age and I LOVED spending time with my son. I'm very glad I chose not to send him to school like nearly all his friends. He'll be joining them next year when he's 4 1/2 and it's breaking my heart to think of him away from me for 3 whole days a week. Serenetabbie, I don't think it will take long for them to learn those little things like raising their hand, etc. and from what I've seen my son follows directions better after having more time with me this past year, so he won't find it hard at all.
BTW, one reason we didn't send him is bc we were having a new baby and wanted him around to be a part of it all.
post #16 of 22
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all of your opinions and help with this issue. I know we've made the right choice. We started our zoo classes yesterday and he really likes it, but wants me there. A friend of his is attending their preschool program 3 days a week, 6 hours a day. He saw her there and was a little distressed that her mom wasn't there with her. I asked him if he thought he might like to come and play here without mommy and he said, "no, I want you with me here. " Then he was kind of clingy the rest of the day.
He did great in the little class though. He asked and answered questions, participated and had a great time. This is perfect for us. He gets to be with other kids and has me there too. I'm hoping to meet some new moms at the class for us to play with. We've been pretty lonely lately, with my friends who went back to work and his friends who have gone to preschool. Thanks again! It's hard to meet new friends.
post #17 of 22
I can't imagine having a three year in school six hours a day. Even three year olds in special education programs normally only go for three to four hours a day.

My two year old wasn't ready at two. But now he's three, and needs more stimulation from other children as his brother doesn't play with him very much. He's started a three day per week, three hours per day preschool. They'll work with us on potty training when we're ready. His teacher nursed her babies until they were all two-three years old, so she understands my son's attachment to Mommy. He loves it! School started at a great time as many of his playgroup friends recently moved away out of town.

They do fun, social stuff, very tactile, colors, freeplay, and music.
post #18 of 22
My four year old started pre school today. It didn't even occur to me to start him at 3. First of he wasn't very vocal really. He wasn't potty trained either. That was what I personally was looking for from him before he started.

When we went today there was a little girl who had just turned 3 there and she cried when her mommy talked about leaving. Perhaps she wasn't ready even if her mommy was. There are probably a lot of 3 year olds who are ready, but me personally, i don't think my now 2 year old will end up going next year when he is 3. That's just me though...

Different strokes for different folks i guess...
post #19 of 22

Let down...

My son was 3 in July. We have preschool (here in England) too. Now, I wanted him to go in order that he would start leearning that he could be safe and cared for with other adults and to give him some experience with other children and perhaps the chance to make some friends who could become playdate fodder(!!). I do not want school proper to be a shock for him because he's had no preparation in any way to be away from me YET I do not agree that children should have to go through separation trauma as a natural part of their growing up. I had/have no intention of sending him there on his own.

At his first session last week I stayed for the entire session while he played. Without prompting from me all his comments about it were very very very very positive. He really enjoyed it. Between the first and the second sessions he told me he wanted to go on his own. So, I clarified it with him several times and got the same answer. The ladies who run the group know that I only live up the road and am a stay at home mummy. I left him and he was fine. Went home, did jobs around the house. Every time the phone rang I leapt for it in case it was them calling to say he was upset. It was never them so I worked at home feeling good about how he must be having a nice time.

When I got there I found out he'd started crying the moment I left and had cried for ages. He'd gotten so upset he'd hidden in the toilets and peed himself. He was so dehydrated from all his upset that he was tottering around when I was walking him to the car - I took his temp at home and it was 102F.

I am SOOOOOOOOO mad that they did not phone me and let me know he was upset - I would have gone and got him right away. What were they thinking?

How dare they have made that choice for me. Suffering as I am from postnatal depression it has made me feel so incredibly depressed and upset. I feel like I have been a total swine to Thomas yet it's not my fault as they took any choice out of my hands.

We are there tomorrow and I will of course be staying with him the whole time. I hope they are ready to receive a roasting from me about their choice in how to care for my son as I am ready to haul a few asses over the coals on this issue. Not happy. Feel very low. . Feel like I've failed him even though it was no fault of my own that no one called me.....
post #20 of 22
Oh Isobel how I can relate to your situation! My son (3) just started preschool and had a similar incident. I went with him and stayed on his first day, he loved it and went back twice after that without any problem. Then last Thursday he fell and hurt himself and apparently cried off and on for 40 minutes after that, wanting his mommy. I feel that his teachers handled the situation very well in that they tried their best to console him and wrote down what he was saying so that I would know how he was feeling. They talked to me about it as soon as I arrived to pick him up... Yet it is such a terrible feeling knowing that my child wanted me and I was not there to console him. He was asking to go home and he didn't get to. It was the first time he has ever been hurt and not had mommy or daddy there to make it better. I still have very mixed feelings about the whole ordeal. He seems to really love his preschool and looks forward to going. I just wonder if I should have told them to call me anytime he wants me or if waiting it out is better. I don't know. I am conflicted about this. I think I will ask them why they didn't call me and at what point they would have. Fortunately ours is a cooperative preschool and Tuesday is my day to help with his class. ((((Hugs)))) to you and your little one. You sound like a wonderful mama. Give those preschool people a piece of your mind!
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