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Is mediocre preschool better/worse than none?

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
I am trying to make some preschool decisions for next fall. My ds will be almost 3.5, and he's been in a wonderful preschool this year, but he may not get a spot next fall. So now I am looking at:

-a really great NAEYC accredited school with only a few openings, which we probably won't get into.
-a really great school that requires 5-day a week attendance, which I don't particularly want/need/want to pay for.
-a pretty mediocre program housed in a rather outdated facility, but near our house and offering lots of flexibility with scheduling.

Is the mediocre program better than nothing, or worse? My ds likes preschool now and seems to enjoy interacting with other kids. He has no siblings at the moment, so I feel like it's a good idea to give him opportunities to socialize. But I feel strange about sending him somewhere where the curriculum and facilities are just not very appealing, kwim? But maybe at age 3, it's just about spending time with other kids anyway. We have no family nearby, so it's very helpful for me to have a couple mornings a week for errands, appointments, etc. But maybe it's better to just keep him at home instead of sending him somewhere I don't like? What would you do?
post #2 of 18
If it is practical for you to do it, I think it's better to keep him home than send him to a preschool you don't like. You can arrange opportunities for him to socialize, and spending 1 on 1 time with a caring and attentive adult will provide plenty of age-appropriate educational experiences.
post #3 of 18
For me it would depend on what you mean by "mediocre." If the staff is committed and amazing, the facilities wouldn't matter so much to me. But I'm guessing that's not the case, huh? I probably wouldn't do it, then. I'd look to trade playdates with another mom regularly, so I could still get a morning or two "off" each week.

Good luck -- maybe a spot will come through at your first-choice school!
-e
post #4 of 18
I agree, it depends on why you don't like it. If it were unsafe, or the curriculum inappropriate, or governed by philosophy or principles completely at odds with my own, I'd keep him home. If the teachers are kind, the activities fun, and peers are friendly -- and, most importantly, if you think your child will enjoy it -- I'd be fine with it.
post #5 of 18
I think the most important thing is he has a teacher he likes. If the teachers at the "mediocre" school seem nice, then that could be a very good choice. I would prefer a place with a flexible schedule. I'd be concerned the "good" school was too academic.

My ds went to a "good" preschool at age 4. Things that were inappropriate from a developmental standpoint were required and the teacher was scary (authoritarian) to ds. It was a five day a week program which was too much for him so I started taking him only three days a week. It was not the step toward a great educational journey that I had hoped because it made my child very resistant to the idea of school, reading, writing, and learning.
post #6 of 18
My children enjoy a variety of activity classes throughout the week where they build relationships and have a sitter they see for 4 hours once a week also. That's one alternative you may want to look at. It's not either-or in terms of that good thing about preschool.

One of my problems with preschool is that "it is your activity," to quote another mother I met during my very brief preschool-going experience.
post #7 of 18
I would keep looking for another alternative in the meantime, starting asking everyone where they send/sent their kids, you may find an option you didn't know about. But if it ends up as your only option, then yeah, I would probably try it for a few weeks and see how your DS feels about it.
post #8 of 18
Thread Starter 
Here's what made me think the school was mediocre:
-overnight cleaning standards seemed a little lax (vacuuming, etc.)
-teachers aides saying things to girls in the play kitchen like, "I can't eat that, it'll make me fat!"
-art projects that emphasize putting everything in the right place to make something nice to bring home, rather than emphasizing the process of working with colors, materials, etc.
-snack cups left on a communal table during playtime, rather than served at a specific time (this seemed sort of unsanitary, since kids can just touch all the cups)
-class is composed of 30 mixed-age kids (2.5-4), housed in a maze of 4 or 5 rooms, and when kids pick their own activities, it just seemed too big and overwhelming. There are "circle teachers" who gather up the kids for small group activities, but it felt like the program was designed to fit the facility, not the kids' needs.
-old, beat-up toys, old, beat-up carpet, generally dingy (this wouldn't have bothered me if everything else were great...but it's not)

I am still on the fence. Maybe we'll just get a spot at our current preschool, that would be great. This is so frustrating!
post #9 of 18
I'd vote to keep him home if you're not 100% comfortable. Are there homeschool groups you can attend to he can play with other children? And maybe a mother's helper to get time off rather than preschool?
post #10 of 18
As a former pre-k teacher her is my take on your situation...

How many teachers are there to students?? NAEYC ratio, I believe, is 1:10 for that age group. I am hoping there are at least 3 teachers as well as teacher's aides present?? That would be my first and foremost concern. Then it falls into are the teachers caring, nuturing, etc. Are the children encouraged where they are developmentally? Not just to fit the needs of the facility. Is the environment nuturing. I would have an issue with broken toys and overall uncleanliness. The snack issue, if it is handled correctly, is not a big deal. I have observed a Montessori program where the children can come and get snack through out a certain period. Apple slices were placed on a plate and the children took what they wanted. The children did not touch all over the other pieces though. I think this is just due to the Montessori method and how the children were shown it should be done. The aide responding with that will make me fat tends to have me believe that they have not hired aides with proper training. I do not feel I would place my child in that school. I think the fact that you are questioning it so deeply tells you that you know what you want to do. Maybe you are trying to make it fit??

Hopefully your child will be able to maintain a spot where he currently attends and this will be a non-issue for you. My vote....if this is the alternative...keep him home.
post #11 of 18
When my dd was 4, I sent her to a place I didn't feel great about- it was recommended by a friend and I had to send her 'somewhere" because I was working at the time. I truely regret sending my child there- she had a number of bad experiences that have made her think that school is a bad place. We homeschool now, but I hate that she has this bad view of school now. If I had it to do again, I would have gone with my gut that that place wasn't good enough for my child.

Listen to your mommy instincts.
post #12 of 18
I would definitely keep her at home if it's at all possible. Preschool isn't just not necessary (how many of OUR generation -- 30+ -- even went to preschool?) -- it's potentially quite damaging. If you haven't already, read "Hold On To Your Kids".

Yeah kids need other kids to play with, but not NEARLY that much. They need strong adult role models MORE.

Personally, I've come to believe that group-schooling should not be started -- even if you're completely in favour of public schools and don't want to homeschool -- until at least age 8. Before that, they need family structure and bonding more than peers and academics.
post #13 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by NicaG View Post
Here's what made me think the school was mediocre:
-overnight cleaning standards seemed a little lax (vacuuming, etc.)
-teachers aides saying things to girls in the play kitchen like, "I can't eat that, it'll make me fat!"
-art projects that emphasize putting everything in the right place to make something nice to bring home, rather than emphasizing the process of working with colors, materials, etc.
-snack cups left on a communal table during playtime, rather than served at a specific time (this seemed sort of unsanitary, since kids can just touch all the cups)
-class is composed of 30 mixed-age kids (2.5-4), housed in a maze of 4 or 5 rooms, and when kids pick their own activities, it just seemed too big and overwhelming. There are "circle teachers" who gather up the kids for small group activities, but it felt like the program was designed to fit the facility, not the kids' needs.
-old, beat-up toys, old, beat-up carpet, generally dingy (this wouldn't have bothered me if everything else were great...but it's not)

I am still on the fence. Maybe we'll just get a spot at our current preschool, that would be great. This is so frustrating!
I changed my mind. No, I would not send him there.
post #14 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by tankgirl73 View Post
Preschool isn't just not necessary (how many of OUR generation -- 30+ -- even went to preschool?) -- it's potentially quite damaging.
I'm 36 and went to a preschool, or as it was called then, nursury school. This was in a small town (under 2,000 at the time) in the midwest. Mom was a SAHM and I had a younger sibling that stayed with her.

That being said, I would hesitate to send a child to the facility described.
post #15 of 18
I'm a former early childhood teacher, education specialist, and NAEYC validator. I wouldn't do it. I'm fine with snack being available when the children want it and the program using several rooms as long as they are cozy and set up well.

I'm not ok with the sanitation issues and the number of children. The group size (no matter how many teachers) is completely inappropriate.
post #16 of 18
Read Better Late than Early.

Their point is that unless the child has some sort of learning handicap or you cannot do it because of work, home with Mama is better than the "best" preschool, never mind those less than idea.
post #17 of 18
I went to preschool starting at age 2, in 1977. Don't tell, but I've been in school ever since!

That said - I'd do what you can to get a slot in the NAEYC school - my kids went to a great preschool (well, ds still does) that's NAEYC accredited and has the reputation in the community of being "hard to get into" but there are always slots right when school opens and at the start of a new semester.

If that doesn't work out, I'd keep looking. 5 days a week is a lot if your dc isn't interested/ready. Maybe music classes or some other structured activity would fill in the edges a bit if you don't do preschool.

I wouldn't send him to the place you don't like.
post #18 of 18
Don't do it! I am faced with a similar situation and was trying to convince myself that it is only a few hours a few days a week and he needs the socialization. In the end, you have to trust your gut. I like the idea someone had to get a babysitter so you can have a little time to yourself. I like the idea of a NAEYC accredited school even better. It is not a simple thing for a school to get accredited. As a former preschool teacher who has been through the process I can tell you it really means higher quality. Good luck.
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