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Preschool "for socialization"??, What are your thoughts on sending 3-4 year olds to school

post #1 of 39
Thread Starter 
I posted this in the SAHM forum, but maybe this is the better place...

I'm a SAHM to an almost-4-year-old and a 10 month old baby. We started DS in Montessori (3 hrs/day, 5 days/wk) last January and he's been out on summer vacation since June. Now it's time to go back and he doesn't want to go. He's adamant that he'd rather stay home. He doesn't like to "do work" at Montessori (pretend play and running around being silly aren't allowed), even though he likes the other kids and the guides.

Since I'm at home to take care of him, there's really no reason to send him anywhere, IMO. But I'm getting a lot of "kids need the socialization" and "everyone goes to preschool these days" from friends and family (DH included). Really??

We are out and about every day - library, parks, indoor park co-op, swimming pool, farmers' market, playdates with friends. It's not like I sit him in front of a TV all day (we don't even have one). And I'm thinking the "everybody does it" idea has to do with working-outside-the-home parents choosing "preschool" over daycare.

I like the Montessori learning environment in theory, but in reality it hasn't worked for us. Sure, it'd be great if he could name the continents, but why does a 3 year old need to know them, anyway? Other "preschools" just seem like playtime/daycare, which I'd rather not pay for when we can do our own thing for free. Also, DS is a "mama's boy" (NOT my label) and would rather not be left anywhere.

What are your thoughts? Thanks!
post #2 of 39
I think if he's happy at home and you're happy with him at home, preschool is a waste of money. If a kid is in a print-poor environment at home or likes preschool then it's a good idea, but otherwise I don't see it as necessary. I agree that the "everyone" is because of WOH parents like me (we do send DS to a daycare that is also a preschool in the upper grades, because we both WOH). At least in my area, Universal Preschool is touted as being an improvement over the minimum level of daycare for WOH parents-- not an improvement over being in a good home environment.
post #3 of 39
I woudln't send him if he didn't want to go. He's still very little, and the most important thing he needs to learn is that the world is a safe place- then he's free to explore and learn at his own pace.
post #4 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by gottaknit View Post
He doesn't like to "do work" at Montessori (pretend play and running around being silly aren't allowed), even though he likes the other kids and the guides.
Nope, I wouldn't send him. And I'm pretty pro-preschool myself. But I would only send my child to a play-based preschool that focuses on socialization. I wouldn't ever send my child to a place where pretend play, running around and being silly aren't allowed.

If a child thrives in the Montessori environment, great. But IMO most kids need to learn through pretend play and being silly. Our son probably would have thrived in a Montessori environment (he likes structure, quiet and independent work). However, I think he learned many more important life skills in his Reggio Emilio daycare/preschool/kindergarten. He NEEDED to play with other kids, to learn to exercise his imagination, and to work imaginative ideas out with other kids.

If you think he'd like another program, I'd look for a play based one. But since he's still 3, I'd probably wait another year and then look for a good co-op or 2-3 x a week preschool. Many 3 year olds are very happy being home with mom and sibs. Many 4 year olds can really benefit from the outside contact. But it all depends on your child.
post #5 of 39
My DS is almost 5 & has never been to preschool. THis last year was wonderful! We signed up for a 1 x week program @ a farm, he took a once a week swim class & he has a standing 'playdate' with his best friend who I do childcare for 1x a week (these activites were as much to provide structure to our week as anything else). We filled in some gaps with weekly libarary trips, food shopping & the farmers market, & getting together with other friends of all ages. We felt occupied & active, but not rushed or too busy. This summer we let go of all planned activites & went to Walden pond 2 - 3x week. DS is a little bit of an introvert, & we never felt like he was lacking socialization. In fact, I felt that the focused group expereince everyday would have been way too much for my independent, creative guy. I've seen a change over this last year to him reaching out more & more to other children, so we're hoping that starting him in Kinder in a few weeks will go smoothly.

I think the right timing of group classes completely depends on the individual needs of the child. I've known 3 & 4 yr olds who really need & want that social interaction with other children & I've know many like my DS who thrive more on their own. You know what your child needs...just listen to your internal wisdom.
post #6 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by LynnS6 View Post
Nope, I wouldn't send him. And I'm pretty pro-preschool myself. But I would only send my child to a play-based preschool that focuses on socialization. I wouldn't ever send my child to a place where pretend play, running around and being silly aren't allowed.
Yup. My dd loves school, but she basically goofs off with her buds all day, so what's not to love. Maybe look for another program.
post #7 of 39
I would probably find a play based preschool to send him to instead if it's the program that he doesn't like and not the being away from you. It sounds like maybe he'd enjoy playing with the other kids, but more on his terms. Developmental (play based) preschool has been great for all of my kids.
post #8 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by gottaknit View Post
I like the Montessori learning environment in theory, but in reality it hasn't worked for us. Sure, it'd be great if he could name the continents, but why does a 3 year old need to know them, anyway? Other "preschools" just seem like playtime/daycare, which I'd rather not pay for when we can do our own thing for free. Also, DS is a "mama's boy" (NOT my label) and would rather not be left anywhere.
I think you answered your own question right here. If he has friends & he goes to play dates, then there is your socialization. Plus you said yourself that you keep pretty busy. I think Preschool is pretty over rated overall, but especially in this aspect.
post #9 of 39
If it's not working for you, then skip it.

My son is starting M school 5 days a week, and I think it will be good for him. But that's my son and what I think he needs as an individual, and if it doesn't work for us, we may change course.

It sounds like it's not working for you and so I think you're right to choose something different.

I don't think there's a one size fits all -- all kids have different needs, etc.

I don't buy into the "kids need socialization", that's not why we're doing school. I'm doing school because my DS seems bored at home and he could be exposed to more things and learning experiences, I think he will love it. I thought about homeschooling but I don't think I have the organization to do it, especially when caring for other kids. If I only had one maybe I'd feel more capable.
post #10 of 39
I wouldn't send him. Personally, I think we're headed for a preschool backlash. I was just reading in American Baby (of all places) how the Finns have this fabulous educational system and tiny drop out rate and they don't even begin to teach reading until children are 7. I was reading somewhere else that in this country, school used to start at first grade. Then it was kinder, now preschool, and wth? 3 y/o's know the continents??? I'm old but in kindy all I learned basically was to take turns, tie my shoes and not use a whole roll of toilet paper when I went to the bathroom. Now they're writing essays?!? JMO but I think play is the way to go, and if he wants to stay w/ you and do it, why not?
post #11 of 39
We sent DD to a play based coop preschool last year. She LOVED it. It was totally worth the money for us. She made friends, she learned some cool stuff and she got used to following directions from people who aren't mom and dad.
We also got a wider social circle out of it which was helpful for us as a family, not just for DD's social life.

It's going to depend on what type of school you send your child to. Pre-k can be wonderful or awful depending on your child's personality, the school and what you're looking to get out of it. As an introvert who's partnered with another introvert it was difficult giving DD all the outside stimulation of friends/playgroups that kind of thing. The school we picked was heavy on parental involvement and had enrichment activities like group bowling, pot luck dinners and play dates at the park. It was wonderful for us and DS can't wait until next year so he can go, too.
post #12 of 39
If he doesn't want to go back, I wouldn't send him. Maybe look for more of a play based preschool, going 2-3 days/week instead of 5. DD (3.5) is about to start a 2 day (2.5hr/day) week preschool. I think this is plenty for her and know that she will enjoy it and can learn a lot of things from there that she won't at home. Personally, I think that 3 and 4 yr olds need to run and play around. I'm a SAHM and focused on finding a preschool for her that was only a preschool - not also a day care center. I looked into Montessori for her but the one near us was 5 full mornings/week and very expensive (3 times the cost of her current one).
post #13 of 39
Chiming in here with a "don't send him back."

My dds are 5 1/2 and have never set foot inside a preschool. They've been out and about with me, gone to library storytime, had playtime at home, craft time at home, taken gymnastics and swimming . . . but they do still know how to take turns, share, wait in line, and do circle time. We get comments expressing amazement at their well-developed social skills all the time.

I *hope* we're headed for a preschool backlash! It makes me so sad to see 3 and 4 year olds being shipped off to day-long programs to "get them ready" for the new day-long kindergarten. Children do learn best by playing.
post #14 of 39
I went to tour a Montessori school when dd1 was three. It is awful. She would not have done well there, and it was so *rigid* that I didn't feel comfortable either. Now that she is turning four I am going to try a regular JK setting....2.5 hours a day....

So, I would say...he doesn't have to go. OR....find a *fun play filled* preschool
post #15 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by LynnS6 View Post
Nope, I wouldn't send him. And I'm pretty pro-preschool myself. But I would only send my child to a play-based preschool that focuses on socialization. I wouldn't ever send my child to a place where pretend play, running around and being silly aren't allowed.

If a child thrives in the Montessori environment, great. But IMO most kids need to learn through pretend play and being silly. Our son probably would have thrived in a Montessori environment (he likes structure, quiet and independent work). However, I think he learned many more important life skills in his Reggio Emilio daycare/preschool/kindergarten. He NEEDED to play with other kids, to learn to exercise his imagination, and to work imaginative ideas out with other kids.

If you think he'd like another program, I'd look for a play based one. But since he's still 3, I'd probably wait another year and then look for a good co-op or 2-3 x a week preschool. Many 3 year olds are very happy being home with mom and sibs. Many 4 year olds can really benefit from the outside contact. But it all depends on your child.
This.

My dd started a co-op preschool at 3 because she is quite an extrovert (and we are not) and we could tell she really really needed the external stimulation. The program for three year olds is two hours twice a week, which seemed about right to us, and it is almost all play. They have free play for about 45 minutes, then a story time, then snack, then large motor play, then circle and sharing time. She absolutely loves it, has mourned not going over the summer, and can't wait to return.

She would not have done well in a Montessori environment, and I agree with Lynn that most kids learn better at this age through play. Their childhoods are so short as it is, I vote for all the play time they can get!
post #16 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by newbymom05 View Post
I'm old but in kindy all I learned basically was to take turns, tie my shoes and not use a whole roll of toilet paper when I went to the bathroom. Now they're writing essays?!?


Wow, you learned how to tie shoes? All we did was make letters out of pretzels. I kinda sucked at that....
post #17 of 39
I wouldn't send him back. I'd keep him home and join a playgroup or arrange playdates with friends if he has any desire or need for outside socialization.

My DD went to all-day preK and thrived there, and now she goes to all-day kindy, and loves it. But not all kids need that type of environment.
post #18 of 39
I never have bought into the whole "they need the socialization" thing myself. DD never went to pre school and we dont do play groups the only people she played with were the neighbor kids and only rarly. She started pre k at jut shy of 5yo and did great no issues fitting in at all.

If a child dosnt want to go then there is no way I would send them.
post #19 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by MCatLvrMom2A&X View Post
I never have bought into the whole "they need the socialization" thing myself.
Me neither. I don't want my children learning social skills from other 3 and 4 yos, I want them to learn them from adults. It doesn't seem natural to me to put a bunch of same-aged children together with a few grown-ups and expect them to learn social skills from that.
post #20 of 39
I'm a mega-purist about Montessori, and a Montessori that allows 3 year olds isn't true Montessori. It's an offshoot. And a Montessori that doesn't allow fun isn't right, either. The Montessori I went to (from 4-6) was fun, I learned, we played, it was great! The owner knew my mom and me, and knew my baby brother, and made a HUGE exception by allowing my brother to go from 2-6, but he was ready for the learning and play, not just play, at that point, and fit in just fine. But it was a huge, never before never again, exception for him.


I also don't agree with the "socialization" thing people talk about. My son is very sociable and social. He'll talk to anyone, and although sometimes it's just to talk about how he got a scrape, or had an ambulance ride yesterday tomorrow a long long long time ago, or that we used to have a cat, he can TALK to people.

He is asking for friends, so we're joining the Y, which has tons of fun and active classes where he can play and meet kids!
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