DS turns 3 next week and we are feeling the pressure of preschool. We are strongly considering homeschooling but won't make final decisions until he's older and we know what the logistics will entail at that time. Our main reasons for considering part-time (2 half days/wk) preschool are that we feel DS might benefit from other positive adult role models who offer a different yet compatible style of teaching/play/discipline, etc., I also feel that I simply cannot offer enough activities to keep his mind busy and that a preschool would offer much more variety. Our concerns are cost; will he benefit from or does he really need more than we offer right now; starting a path towards peer orientation earlier than I would like. I definitely do not want to enroll him in preschool just because other people are doing so, the last thing I want is to give him an example of doing something just because everyone else does it. I know that this topic has been discussed before but would love to hear any new opinions/insight. Thanks!
Mom to DS 9/18/09 and DS 3/28/13
Laugh it up, fuzzball
The exception would be the kids whose parents are not reading to their children, teaching their children the ABCs, how to count, body parts, etc., or socializing their children. Those children would benefit from a structured learning environment like preschool or a homeschool group.
My son goes to preschool twice a week. He learns a little bit here and there but most of what he learns is from me or my husband. He goes to preschool mostly because I need time to work. But also because I'm not a very social person and I think it's a safe way to socialize.
give young kids enough room, enough freedom to get into things and explore it in their own way, most kids will "keep their minds busy" without a lot of help. Home: a 3yo might cut and tape a string of yarn onto a blob of paper, run around with it and call it a kite (based on an actual project!) Preschool: a clever turkey picture made with handprints and pre-cut leaves. So cute compared to the blob-kite! But the blob-kite was entirely my dd's own creation, start to finish. (OK, but that was not at 3yo, but you get the idea.)
The stuff coming out of preschool pleases the parents and their expectations. It's pretty fun, too. I don't mean to dis those projects, but it's missing a wonderful opportunity to have kids learn to create *from scratch*.
For me (opinion, here, remember) the ability to learn to direct one's day-- through boredom or bursts of creativity, on one's own or joining in with a parent's activities-- and find ways to fill it trumps the specifics of learning. Any day, any time.
If I had the *choice* of preschool vs. staying at home (and I do! hey!) I would choose to keep the kids home (obviously). If I didn't have a choice, I would choose the most open, play-based "school" I could find.
"She is a mermaid, but approach her with caution. Her mind swims at a depth most would drown in."
Great advice, it's a good reminder to evaluate the needs and wants of . In our family at this time, there are no true needs that will be filled with pre-school. I find that my biggest concerns with preschool and possible homeschooling are my own self-doubts. That's just something I am going to have to work through. Besides, my husband and I usually put on the brakes when there is something that "everyone" seems to be doing, just not our style to follow the herd because it's what you're supposed to do. I love the mamas on this website, so much great insight. Thank you!!
Mom to DS 9/18/09 and DS 3/28/13
Laugh it up, fuzzball
I feel like most kids (very much as stated above) are very capable of teaching themselves through exploration. If you are reading to your kids and answering their questions they are in a pretty good place. :) They need a few good things at home and to get out occasionally. The more people they are around the better. But I feel pre-school is only scary if the child is very much left alone in a small or unsafe envoirment. Any adult that can give them even a decent amount of one-on-one attention is better than pre-school.
Kids learn best from living in the real world and being around people of all ages. Not a room of 2-3 year olds and a few adults.
Some of my thoughts about preschool ...
The short version:
If you're not planning to send your child to a brick-and-mortar school for grade school, why set up the precedent and expectation now? If there is one thing I've learned from parenting, it is that you should not do anything that you're not prepared to keep on doing indefinitely. (This goes for co-sleeping too!)
The longer, yet still abridged, version
We're at this age right now ... my daughter is nearly four, so it comes up often, hence the opportunity for a lot of thought and discussion about the subject.
I think that it's easy to start doubting yourself once you see your child's peers leave for school. And that happens at pre-school age. The parks empty out, your friends' kids are bringing home cute art projects and talking about circles time and new friends. There are new clothes and adorable lunchboxes and that compelling gaggle of "it" mamas at pick-up time, plus there is all that time to yourself. If that all sounds yummy to you, then preschool might be a good fit for you as a parent.
I don't think it's a good thing for most kids. I don't want my child to start attaching to her peers any time soon. As a homeschooing/unschooling parent I don't want to set my child up to expect any kind of brick-and-mortar school down the line. To put it more succinctly, I don't want her to get a 'taste' for it. I don't want her to line up for the bathroom or learn to sit still and be quiet and do this or do that or be a certain way or shy away from things just because of social pressure or the expectations of a formal learning program. I don't want her to be labeled as anything other than her first name. I don't want her exposed to social dynamics that she's too young to manage safely on her own. I don't want her to learn about what's 'cool' and what's 'normal' in the world of formal education.
I believe the socialization concern is a myth, and that there is no need for people of any age to be stuck in a group with just their peers. I don't work with just other 37-year-old paramedics, so why should my three-year-old be subjected to a whole group of children her age who are so young and vulnerable and still struggling to find their place in a social miasma? I think it's easy to just 'be' in the world, and that that is equal to and better than socialization by peers.
I don't believe that three-year-olds need 'teaching' at all. They are learning all the time.
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So my kid goes/went to preschool. At the time he started we needed the childcare (I was in school full time and dp was working full time and we needed ds to be somewhere). Ds goes to an amazing, play-based, child-led co-op school. I have had a major hand in hiring all the of the teachers currently working there (including myself!). The community of the school is incredibly tight (we had a picnic on Saturday with current students, "alums," current and former teachers). The environment is set up so that there is tons of free play, some group stuff, "all school"/"kid" meetings where rules/norms/expectations are set by the kids. The group is mixed age 2-6 years old. The curriculum is emergent (i.e. the teachers observe the kids, see something that is interesting to them and introduce some ideas/books/songs that fit into that). We have had (and currently have) many families that are actively or plan to homeschool.
So for me, it was an easy choice because I had an awesome option. This year ds is eligible for kindergarten but he is still chillin' at his co-op school and homeschooling/unschooling too. It is not so much that I feel like preschool offers "more" than I do sometimes it offers "different" than we do at home.
It also gives me a chance to work and have some moments without ds, which is really important for my relationship with my kid. I need some time without him and he needs some time without me. That is not always true for all families, but for our family it is very true. I know that if we continue to homeschool long term (we don't know what we are going to do next year, it depends a lot on whether or not I get a full-time job and/or if that full-time job makes it easier/harder for dp to work), anyway if we do homeschool long term I know I will need time that I am not hanging out with ds (we have already looked into several homeschooling co-ops and some part time democratic school options) I really need time when I am alone to be able to be present when I am with him.
All that said.....there are some preschools out there that would never be an option for us (highly academic, punitive, very "schooly," controlled, teacher centered etc).
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