At what age do Toddlers happily/healthily go to preschool? - Mothering Forums

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Old 05-18-2011, 10:23 PM - Thread Starter
 
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We are looking into putting DD into a school program in the Fall- August/September at which time she will be slightly older than 2. As yet, we have never left her with anyone and she has Mama available to her 24/7.  The Montessori schools we looked at and that one of her friends LOVES requires a minimum of 3 AMs/wk- we had thought of 2 AMs/wk before this. I have heard some folks saying not to put kids in programs like this til 3. I plan to stay with her however many days it takes for her to comfortable but I also want to do what is really best for her. What are your thoughts/experiences? Thanks!

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Old 05-19-2011, 08:12 AM
 
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We are looking into putting DD into a school program in the Fall- August/September at which time she will be slightly older than 2. As yet, we have never left her with anyone and she has Mama available to her 24/7.  The Montessori schools we looked at and that one of her friends LOVES requires a minimum of 3 AMs/wk- we had thought of 2 AMs/wk before this. I have heard some folks saying not to put kids in programs like this til 3. I plan to stay with her however many days it takes for her to comfortable but I also want to do what is really best for her. What are your thoughts/experiences? Thanks!


DD started a wonderful Montessori preschool shortly after she turned 2 (before that I was working at home so she was mostly with me but had a part-time babysitter too).  It was a ROUGH transition but there was a lot going into that (new language and they didn't understand English there, we recently moved abroad, new apt, and she had had DH, myself and the grandparents around her at home for about 2 months straight before that).  That being said now 2 months later she's doing really, really well and loves school (and is constantly asking about her friends!).  Her school did a transitional period where DH or myself stayed there with her for about 3 days and then after that she only went for a short time until we worked up to full-days.  Everything went fine until she did have a problem with getting into fights with a boy there for awhile but we think that was more of a language issue (she would speak to the kid in English and he wouldn't respond so then she'd grab the toy ).  Her language skills have since improved drastically so with that we've seen her attitude towards school improve too. 

 

I think it's worth a try but I'd definitely ask the school how they deal with the transition, how the caregivers help the kids get used to the method etc.  Good luck!

 

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Old 05-19-2011, 08:59 AM
 
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I'm sure it depends on the child.  We had to put DD into full-time (9am-5pm) daycare when she was 2 y.o.  I don't think it was very happy or healthy. :/  She screamed and cried every single day for 10 weeks.  She eventually settled in, but even now, almost 10 months later, she'd still choose staying home to going to daycare every. Single. Time.  She seems happy enough while she's there - loves playing, the activities, learning, and even has a good friend or two - but she is still really excited for when her baby sister is born and I'm on maternity leave again, and we can all stay home together.

 

DD is, however, a TOTAL mama's girl.  Rather sensitive, cautious, quiet and low-key.  I've known more outgoing, adventurous kids who transitioned into full-day care/school at the same age or earlier who did it willingly without a thought.  Definitely, imo, a personality thing.


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Old 05-19-2011, 12:09 PM
 
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It was over 4 years for any of my girls. DD2 is 4.5 and goes 2 days a week right now, but if given the choice, any day she would stay home. She likes it and has fun while she is there, but it isn't the same as being with mama. It took MONTHS, like over half the school year to work up to this as well. I just got a letdown this morning when I dropped her off and they changed the policy for next year, we had signed up for 3 days, now it will either be 2 or 4. I won't do 4 so it looks like I will pay for 4 and send her for 3. Sigh. DS is 2 and while he could go in fall of 2012 when he is 3 because he is much more forgiving of separation then they were, I doubt I will. Preschool that we go to is more traditional preschool, but in a free play, creative environment, only for children 3+, follows the school schedule, etc... 


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Old 05-19-2011, 12:16 PM
 
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Old 05-19-2011, 01:20 PM
 
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I think it mostly depends on the child.

 

My son is 19 months old and has spent the past month in full-time preschool/play school.  Before that, the absolute longest he'd ever been away from me was about 5 hrs, with my husband, a handful of times in his whole life.  He's been babysat about 4 times ever, by close family friends who he already knew really well.  Oh, and he was still BFing about every 2 hrs during the daytime.  I wasn't sure how it was going to go down, but he actually did great from day one.  He has yet to cry at drop-off even once... he's so excited to be doing stuff that he's like "bye mama, see ya."

 

He's really, really social and is a very laid back child... I think his personality, not his age, makes him a really good candidate for a group setting.

 


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Old 05-19-2011, 01:30 PM
 
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I think it depends on the child. My 6 year old adjusted pretty well to 1x per week preschool at age 3 and had no problems at age 4 going 2x per week. He also did well with my MOPS group when he was 2.  My 4 year old is nervous about going to preschool 2x per week next year, but will adjust fine once he is there. He did well with preschool at age 3, but hated my MOPS group when he was one.

 

 I personally don't think there is an advantage to starting school early if a child is getting quality interaction at home. Where I live, there is a big push for kids to start school 3-5 days a week at  age 3 and I just don't see it as necessary. They have the rest of their lives to be in school. Why push it? I realize that I am very blessed to be able to stay home with my kids and not everyone has that choice, but I am so glad that I have never pushed for lots of school time. I am heartbroken that my 6yo will be in school all day next year for 1st grade. (It feels crazy to type that he will be in first grade.) I am going to miss him so much during the day. I miss him now when he is in kindergarten for 1/2 day. 

 

Honestly, to me 3x per week seems like alot for a 2yo, but I know that the montessori model is a little different. Truthfully, that is one of the reasons that I went with a more traditional preschool with lots of play-based learning. Good luck with your decision. You could always try it out and see how it works for her and pull her out if she is having a hard time.

 


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Old 05-19-2011, 01:49 PM
 
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yeah, i'm guessing it's mostly personality. i was able to stay home with my daughter until this summer, when i go back to work part-time. i am really anxious about sending her to preschool, because she has a personality described by a pp. she is shy, cautious and very sensitive. she is the kid who ends up crying every 15 min at play group, because someone touched her, or took her toy, or  whatever. she will be 18 months and while i'm sure she will eventually adjust, if i didn't need to get back to work, i'd have liked to keep her home. as it is, we are very social and busy during the week, but it is mostly for my benefit! she likes to be out and about too, but isn't overly fond of being around lots of other kids. it is just me who goes crazy being alone so much.

 

i will say that 2 or 3 times a week sans mom is supposed to be harder to adjust to than almost every day. i am glad i'm working mornings 5 days a week, because it means that preschool becomes a very reliable part of our daily routine. if i had a more relaxed, out-going kid, i'm sure she'd be fine with 3 full days or whatever, but with my dd, i think it's probably better to have more consistency.

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Old 05-19-2011, 02:24 PM
 
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i will say that 2 or 3 times a week sans mom is supposed to be harder to adjust to than almost every day. i am glad i'm working mornings 5 days a week, because it means that preschool becomes a very reliable part of our daily routine. if i had a more relaxed, out-going kid, i'm sure she'd be fine with 3 full days or whatever, but with my dd, i think it's probably better to have more consistency.



I could see that.  DD's done a lot better going to her preschool (40 hours per week DH and I both work full-time) vs. her babysitter (normally 2-3 days a week anywhere from 3-5 hours each time).  I think it also helped her too that she's a bit older now and that she's a pretty social kid so she looks forward to seeing her friends there. 

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Old 05-19-2011, 08:07 PM
 
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I agree with pp - it really depends on the child & I think it also depends on the situation. I put ds in a program one afternoon a week this winter - he was 27 months when he started & quite a bit younger than the other children (the requirement was potty trained which he was). It went VERY well - he was a little bit upset one day (the 2nd week) & I had to stay for 5 minutes. BUT the program was at the same place we go to regularly for morning playgroup & for La Leche meetings & he knew the 2 ladies running the program. If I had tried to put him in a program elsewhere &/or with new people it would have been a very different experience I am sure.


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Old 05-20-2011, 09:55 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for all the great input. It looks like this may be more difficult than I had thought/hoped for. DD is very sociable with a few kids she knows and loves but is cautious and a Mamas girl. She is with me 24/7- co-sleeping breastfeeding etc. and my husband works alot, travels and we have no family here. We have never left her with anyone, even family because they only come for short periods. I see how wonderful really high quality early education can be through some of the activities we do and frankly I would LOVE to be able to exercise, go grocery shopping etc. Since I have no back-up really  I thought building it into our week could end up being great for both of us. I also have a business idea Ive been working on that needs more time than 9-11PM when I feel up to it and I thought this could help. I also dont see how I cuold manage having a second child with no breaks as it is now and thought this might help with that too. I feel more hesitant having read your responses, as DD's wellbeing has to be the top priority. I would not leave her if she felt abandoned or sad. I ahve some other Mom friends who have talked about putting our kids in the same school so they would be together to ease the transition. We all live in different places though so this may not work. HMmmm.

Thanks again for sharing your experiences.

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Old 05-20-2011, 10:01 AM
 
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Thanks for all the great input. It looks like this may be more difficult than I had thought/hoped for. DD is very sociable with a few kids she knows and loves but is cautious and a Mamas girl. She is with me 24/7- co-sleeping breastfeeding etc. and my husband works alot, travels and we have no family here. We have never left her with anyone, even family because they only come for short periods. I see how wonderful really high quality early education can be through some of the activities we do and frankly I would LOVE to be able to exercise, go grocery shopping etc. Since I have no back-up really  I thought building it into our week could end up being great for both of us. I also have a business idea Ive been working on that needs more time than 9-11PM when I feel up to it and I thought this could help. I also dont see how I cuold manage having a second child with no breaks as it is now and thought this might help with that too. I feel more hesitant having read your responses, as DD's wellbeing has to be the top priority. I would not leave her if she felt abandoned or sad. I ahve some other Mom friends who have talked about putting our kids in the same school so they would be together to ease the transition. We all live in different places though so this may not work. HMmmm.

Thanks again for sharing your experiences.


If that is really the case (as in she will have friends there already), I think that would be a HUGE help.  Another thought... maybe you could switch off child-care with these moms for a trial run first?  Then you'd get a better feel on how your daughter will do. 

 

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Old 05-20-2011, 02:44 PM
 
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Definitely depends on the child. As a natural parent I let AE (now 2yrs) take the lead. We currently go to a Waldorf inspired play group once a week, the children are with the teacher while the mothers are in a different room, she has been doing well these past few weeks, but today she really needed me to be there with her, which made me really appreciate the set up her group has because in any other preschool i would have dropped everything and drove back to be there for her because 2 is a very young age for a child to be separated from their mother because they we both still have that natural attachment.

AE will be starting 3 days/ week on her own next semester and that is definitely the minimum, otherwise, they wouldn't be able to adapt to a consistent routine. We are now deciding to space the days out or have them together.

 

 


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Old 05-20-2011, 05:24 PM
 
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I think it really depends on the child. Have you thought about doing preschool like activities in a group setting with other moms, like a co-op?


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Old 05-21-2011, 07:30 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I like the preschool coop idea- sounds fun and we do alot of this kind of stuff already as DD is interested in the alphabet and counting and singing, dancing etc.I dont think I would take care of several toddlers on my own though and wouldnt leave DD with another Mom watching several kids herself either. We could certainly exchange babysitting (though DH thus far has been against this)and I can look into some babysitting (thinking about having someone come a bit in the PM 1-2x/wk while I'm here so I can get things done nad ease DD into it). Ultimately I was thinking this time period would work for me to start getting a little slice of time again since I am "ON"24/7 and have been for almost 2 years without breaks, never sleeping through the night etc. I am really exhausted and think I'd be a better Mom if I had a bit of time to breathe and get things done.. And I lovethe idea of building my business idea into something too, but need more time I see from the posts however that while this might work for DD, there is a very real (rather high) possibility that it wont.

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Old 05-21-2011, 07:43 AM
 
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DS was 3 (had turned 3 in june and we sent him in sept).  We did 2 days a week but 3 would have been nice, too.  There was a transition and I took the advice of many and did NOT stay in the classroom.  Big smile, kiss and hug.  Confident, confident.  Big enthusiastic smile at pickup.  Just reinforcing the lesson that mom leaves and mom comes back, predictably.  

 

A coop wouldn't have been a great scene for us.  I wanted the break and DS thrives on really predictable schedules.  IDK if he'd have done great initially with me there some days but not others.

 

DD is 2.. will be 3 in oct.  I wish I could send her in sept but she only qualifies for the 2 year program and it's just too short to bother with.  


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Old 05-21-2011, 08:14 AM
 
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DD went to a baby sitter at 1, then a fulltime daycare at 2 1/2. She hardly cried at either transition, though this is her personality (outgoing, independent, etc).

 

DS on the other hand, is a different kid. He will not even stay 15 in the YMCA childcare. However, I'm going back to school in the fall so he'll be at a montessori school 2 days per week. I think he'll be upset at first but will adjust quickly since he'll have a few new playmates and lots of new activities to do.

 

I'm not one for making him miserable but I really think that a little pushing is what it's going to take for me to keep my sanity. I need to get out of the house!


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Old 05-23-2011, 08:04 PM
 
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I think it really depends on the child.  My ds always had a very hard time separating from me, would cry until he vomited if we tried to leave him with a babysitter when he was a toddler.  I felt he wouldn't be ready for preschool until 3.5, and he was happy being home with me.  However, his speech was a bit delayed.  Our speech therapist had been coming to our house for therapy, but after a few months she suggested that we could enroll him at a nearby university preschool, where there were reserved spots for early intervention kids, and where she did integrated therapy in the classroom.  The preschool was a Reggio program and had a great reputation in the community.  Ds was 2.5, and we decided that this was a good opportunity.  We enrolled him 3 mornings a week.  He had a very hard time the first month or so, but the staff was really great and helped him make the transition.  At first I sometimes just stayed at the school and took him home after an hour, if he had been crying.  We worked up to a regular 9-12 day, and eventually he loved being there.  We were all very sad when ds graduated out of speech therapy and we lost our spot at that school.

 

My dd is a totally different story.  She has never had such strong reactions to being left with a babysitter or at gym or church nurseries.  She cries for a minute, and then she's fine.  I enrolled her in a program 2 mornings a week right before her 2nd birthday, and she's done great from the start.  I like that she's getting some interactions with other kids and adults, and I like that she does things at school that I'm not so good at (crafts/art).  I agree that kids don't need school at that age, but it's a welcome break for me, and dd seems to enjoy it and always tells me all about her day when she gets home.


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Old 05-23-2011, 08:43 PM
 
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I think it depends on the teachers at daycare. There are wonderful people who will welcome your child, and love them and hug them and truly care for them; and there are lots of others for whom it is a job, that brings in money. I actually found the latter are often young women without children, the former are often older moms.

 

We have changed daycare on our child 3 times before we found a good fit. At his current place, he never cried when we left. At others it took 45min and more before he would be ready to say byebye.

 

Listen to your child and not so much the methods (besides some common sense) behind the daycare.

 

I also prefer daycares, that mingle ages and where the teacher would stay with a child over severals years.


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Old 05-26-2011, 06:12 PM
 
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I think it'll depend on the kid.  Before age 2, DD hated to go anywhere without us, she even cried to go to church childcare (but was fine after a few minutes).  At 2 she started Early Intervention Preschool and it was like a switch had flipped the minute she turned 2--she would run right off and not even bother saying bye.  When we came to get her she'd hide and try to make us leave her, lol.  DS, now 19 months, regularly goes to childcare at our Y for up to a couple hours and doesn't seem to mind being left, either--we have a little routine when we get there and as long as we do our routine he's not bothered to have us leave him. 


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Old 05-26-2011, 09:42 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the continuing input! I really reevaluated this idea and went from definately placing her in a program to not planning on it based on the feedback here. Thank you for more recent posts with some positive experiences at near this age too!  I will check out some more schools next week and ask DD what she thinks. I also will find out about the deposit situation as most places seem to take big deposits that are nonrefundable. I am also looking into the programs that one of her friends is going to go into so we can coordinate- this could really help. It is so hard to imagine her being ok with it when I really think about it as she wanted to be held about 30 times today and was nursing like a baby due to multiple molars coming in. I don't want to traumatize my little sweetie but if it could be good for both of us, it would be great. She just is sooooo attached to Mama!! Thanks again so much everyone for sharing your experiences- I appreciate it!!!!

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Old 05-31-2011, 04:56 AM
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Another poster saying it depends on the child. I put DD in PT montessori school when she was 1 because I was working and she mostly hated it. She just does not separate from me very well though. DS, OTOH, is 16 months and I am looking for a place for him so I can work again and I really think he'll love the stimulation.

 

One thing though, DD went 2 mornings a week at first (tues/thurs) and I found the time between thurs and tues to be really hard because it was too long. It was almost like she was unused to it when tues rolled around. We moved to MWF and that was a lot better.

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Old 05-31-2011, 07:05 AM
 
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We love our Montessori program.    Jack will start this fall he will be closer to 3 but we also have the choice of 2, 3 or 5 mornings ( or full days).    Because he will be closer to 3 we chose the 3 morning a week program.   Worked great for my now 7 yr old 


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