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Is pre-school necessary

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
My 3 1/2 year old started a wonderful class at a Waldorf school. But we stopped because his separation anxiety was so intense.

How important do you think school is for his age?

And, if it's not too critical now, what age is optimal? I'm thinking five, but not sure.
post #2 of 14
I think that pre-school is something that is a lot of fun for some children, but I don't think it is necessary at all.

One thing that I have noticed, however, is that teachers and school systems operate as if children have been to preschool, and they are not set up to help children who haven't learned some of the survival skills (remembering where outdoor clothes are kept, distinguishing between snacks and meals, tying up shoelaces) that are expected of someone who is in Grade 1. Even a very loving and kindly teacher cannot help a child who doesn't know about these kinds of situations because she will be looking after 20-30 other busy little people.

For that reason, I would say that it would be a good idea to check out what is expected at the next level of your child's education. Talk to the Grade 1 teachers at the school you plan to send your child to and find out how much support they feel they can offer a child.
post #3 of 14
I am a huge fan of preschool but I guess I wouldn't call it necessary per se. I think it is a very positive thing to let kids have some practice with the general idea of school - sharing, taking turns, sitting in circle, listening to the teacher, working in groups, lining up, etc. Also, preschool is fun - or it is supposed to be. If he is not having fun then he is learning that school is not somewhere he wants to be and that is not good at all.

Maybe try again next year when he is 4. Let him be involved in choosing between two or three preschools that you like. Make sure it is only a few days a week for a few hours a day. VERY nice teacher. Read books at home about preschool. Let him role play with you about being dropped off, playing, then you returning. Sing the "my mommy comes back, she always comes back" song.

I do think it gives kindergartners a leg up so maybe bag it for this year and go next year.
post #4 of 14
I also am a fan of preschool, but didn't start out that way. I used to assume it was just a way the educational system wanted to "get my kids" out of my home earlier. But I have to say it has been wonderful for my kids and has taught them many new and wonderful things. A couple of things, though. There is a book, put out I think through La Leche League, that tells you how to set up your own homebased preschool situation with other families (I will go get the title before I end). This may be an option for you. Also, through these boards I have heard more stories about difficulties with separation in Waldorf preschools than other types of preschools. I am not saying there is anything wrong with Waldorf in the least, but there seem to be beliefs or policies in Waldorf schools that make it difficult for some families to work through this issue if they have a sensitive child. So, it may be that if you found a preschool that would let you stay and sort of "wean" your child into the preschool, it might be more successful.

One other thought. A dear friend of mine who assumed that her child would mature out of the separation problems by kindergarten, has now found that her daughter is having a harder time than ever separating from her into kindergarten. The child is emotionally healthy and fine in every other way, but has been with her mom 100% since she was born. So, for some children with certain temperaments, it may not ease up with more time.
post #5 of 14
Oops, here's the name of the book: Playful Learning: An Alternate Approach to Preschool, by Anne Engelhardt and Cheryl Sullivan.
post #6 of 14
IMHO preschool is not needed at age 3 1/2 and is a real waste of time & money. Everything a child needs to prepare for a public school Kdgn they can learn easily in 6 months time, the summer before it starts. The reason they are pushing for lowering the mandatory age of attendance is to give the public school system more federal money, they even have new ad campaigns out to promote early childhhod education as something your child has to have. The long range studies show that there was little to no advantage to the children subjected to head start.
If you are going to use a Montessori school they will prob want you to have a full year of preschool at the Montessori school before starting. Our local waldorf reccomends the mom and me 3 days a week for the 3-4 year old age group to get ready for waldorf. If you are going to homeschool, preschool is not needed at all. Good luck to you!
Mom to four kids
ds 14, ds9, ds6, dd 3 1/2 (not in any preschool)
post #7 of 14
Thread Starter 
Thanks for your input. The school we started was a Waldorf school. It seems pretty clear that he was afraid of having to go poo without me being there to wipe him...I'm sure it's symbolic of him resisting someone else taking on the mommy role.

I'm leaning toward Waldorf for Kindergarten and beyond. I'd love to homeschool but feel pretty intimidated. I wish I could get a clear, objective understanding of Waldorf. It seems perfect in one context yet repressive and culty in another.

This is so hard. So we'll hold off for now.
post #8 of 14
Originally posted by MJmommy
Thanks for your input. The school we started was a Waldorf school. It seems pretty clear that he was afraid of having to go poo without me being there to wipe him...I'm sure it's symbolic of him resisting someone else taking on the mommy role.

I'm leaning toward Waldorf for Kindergarten and beyond. I'd love to homeschool but feel pretty intimidated. I wish I could get a clear, objective understanding of Waldorf. It seems perfect in one context yet repressive and culty in another.

This is so hard. So we'll hold off for now.

I don't think preschool is absolutely necessary either. However, we send our daughter for a few mornings a week not to prepare her for school, but because she had no friends in the neighborhood (and no cousins on either side!) to play with regularly. She is very sociable and has met a little group of kids from the neighborhood at preschool that she also meets up with at the park, etc. Anything she "learns" there in the traditional sense is icing on the cake (and she has learned a lot of fun stuff).

However, if her temperament were different, I would reconsider. Perhaps your child is just not ready. There's no harm in waiting and maybe trying out different schools. When we were looking for a school, we were surprised at how many parents left their kids at home during the open house/parent nights. We took our daughter to all of the schools to see how comfortable she felt there.

I also found your remarks about Waldorf very interesting. I feel the same way about it. Some aspects of the program are incredible. We went to the parent-child program initially and liked it, but ultimately decided against Waldorf for now. The expense is one issue, but also we felt that the loving atmosphere we were looking for (and that is so great at Waldorf) could also be found elsewhere. Besides that, I am somewhat uncomfortable with the esoteric elements of Steiner's teachings.
post #9 of 14
At this age, feeling loved and secure is far far far more important than anything else. At some point, probably primary school age, if this were still tough for your child it might be appropriate to push through with the transition into separation--into carrying the feeling of love and support in himself. Definitely listen to your child!

I was just contemplating this today as we looked at a preschool, and I was turned off by the teacher. I realized I need the teacher to really love my child, and see how awesome he is, to be in awe of him--for me to feel it is appropriate for him to spend hours separated from me. It was a Waldorf preschool, and as I've seen at other Waldorf schools, I felt the teacher projected a lot onto my child without really looking at him and being open to discovering his uniqueness. It is driving me crazy because the toys and the play yard are all so wonderful, but the dogmatic style of Waldorf feels so much about form without being true to feelings. I came home making fun of the singing goodbyes--why can't she just say from her heart: "It's time to go now." (There was this blank expression on my kid's face trying to figure out what she meant.) The singing was based on a philosophy but lacked the connection to her heart. I can express a lot more love just saying, "Hey guys, it's time to go" or however it comes out. Feeling is the foundation to form...but I see way too much form without the feeling.

I will look at some other preschools but really would most love to find other parents who are not sending their kids to preschool and want to do weekly outings and garden days and cooking and such activities together with the kids we love so much.
post #10 of 14
YES! If the heart is not there in the work, nothing else really seems to matter, or to flow!
post #11 of 14

I volunteered in my son;s

K class and I could see the difference between kid who went to preschool, went to bad preshool or good school or sayed home but had group expereince orginized by thier parents. A good preschool is not a waste of monye but you do not ahve to do it at 3. You can even do it at 5 and send you kid to K a year later. It does provide an opprtunity to lean how to get along with a goup, including kid you migh not like at first or who do not like you.
I started school at 7 and I was not in preshcool. and I wish I was. It would ahve saved me a lots of suffering in elemntary schoo. I simply did not know the rules of social interaction because I mainly hanged out with adults for 7 years
post #12 of 14
Just wanted to add that the reson there is a push for kids to be in school at a younger age has a lot more to do with kids passing the stupid test that "W" has set-up than with anything else. In Texas, kids have to pass a test in 3rd grade before they can go to 4th grade. The standards for this test are inappropriate as is the pressure for an 8 year old. However, the thought is that if kids learn to read by the time they are 5, then the test will be easier for them. However, since kids are not little adults, this doesn't work so well.

My advice as a teacher is read to your child all the time, give him lots of experience with crayons, drawing, letters, and pencil and paper, have him interact with other children and adults, and have times when he sits and draws or "writes" quietly. Most preschool teachers have little to no training in child development. Some are barely out of high school. Many preschools are actually just glorified daycare centers. I worked at an excellent one during college, but even it gave a different presentation to parents and visitors than the reality. You can give your child the experiences they need without going to preschool.
post #13 of 14

I respectfully disagree

I do not know how things are in Texas, but I live in the Bay area, Califonia. And the preshool where my child is in now, and preshool where my older child was and many pre shcool are looked at were not glorified day care center. In our rpe school director had an Masters degree in education. all teachers have BA or Masteres and all teachers aid took at leas 12 ECE credits. Wheny you look at preschool it is good ide to ask about teacher credentials.
I also want to reccoemn shcool which use Emilio reggio approach. My kids love it. Many JCCs practice it. It is very very hands own and child lead
post #14 of 14
I hope things are different in CA. In texas, our education system SUCKS with very few exceptions. Here, with the exception of a few very expensive pre-schools in dallas, many of the "pre-schools" do nothing but watch children. Few of the so-called Montessori schools actually run according to Montessori principles. The only way to find a good one is to interview both the administration and the teachers, talk to parents of students, and ask to visit the classroom unannounced.
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