I feel like I’ve been asked a million times. “You don’t send your kids to preschool? Why not?”
And for the most part, I don’t mind answering the question. But when the question comes with a tone of voice or attitude that I’m not doing the best for my kids, that’s when I get irritated. You know, the look or the response that implies that I’m crazy, or maybe just plain stupid. Obviously I don’t understand that a child these days MUST be stimulated, taught by others, over-scheduled, and expected to be overachievers beginning at age 3.
A few weeks back someone asked me if little A was going to go to 3 year old preschool next year. I said no. Then she said, “oh, then you’ll send her when she turns 4.” I said no. You could have heard a pin drop. And the look she gave me. Ugh.
I felt like saying, “It’s not mandatory. Enough already!” But of course, I didn’t. Instead, I felt obligated to tell her all my reasons why I have chosen not to send my kids to preschool.
Now, I don’t want this post to imply that sending your child to preschool is wrong. I really don’t feel that way, and I certainly don’t want my opinions to make anyone feel defensive. It’s just that it seems like society has “decided” that preschool is best and if we choose otherwise, we’re bad parents. I don’t like the herd mentality that I see when it comes to preschool. Instead of just doing what everyone else is doing, my husband and I gathered information, assessed our own abilities and life situation, evaluated our kids’ abilities and personalities, and then made a decision. And we’ve decided preschool just isn’t right for us.
And for the record, here’s why:
- Before I made this decision, I consulted several kindergarten and preschool teachers. The majority response was that kids don’t really need preschool to be academically prepared for kindergarten. The major impact of preschool on many children is learning how to interact with other kids, follow rules, raise their hands, etc.
- I really felt that as a mom who has specifically chosen to use my time to be home with my kids, I was best equipped and certainly competent enough to teach my little ones the basic academic concepts they need in kindergarten. Things like colors, numbers, alphabet, shapes, etc. Skills like cutting paper, coloring, gluing – all are easy enough when you are interacting with your kids on a daily basis.
- As far as the socialization part – I think parents can easily teach kids to follow rules at home (hopefully that’s happening anyways!) and be taught how to do things for themselves that they’ll have to do in kindergarten with a little forethought (putting on snow gear by themselves, opening lunch containers, etc.). If kids are involved in play groups, MOPS groups, or even go regularly to the church toddler/preschool room, they are getting what they need as far as learning to respond to someone other than you and learning how to interact with other children.
- For me, it felt like sending my kids to preschool was pushing them to grow up too soon. Let kids be kids! Five year olds are still kids – and early enough to go to school. Without any evidence that early learning really provides an advantage in learning past kindergarten, I wasn’t ready to push my kids to grow up any earlier than necessary.
- I don’t think there is any argument against the fact that kids learn best when they are in a loving, nurturing environment that challenges their skills. Who better than mom can provide this?
- Germs. Enough said.
- And lastly, I always said I didn’t want to make parenting decisions based on fear. And the only reason I would lean toward preschool was that little nagging voice (probably the effects of our society) that said to me “if your kids don’t go to preschool, they’ll be behind in kindergarten”. Well, I told the voice to go stuff it. As a matter of fact, I have 2 kids who went into kindergarten without preschool experience and according to their teacher they were better prepared than most of the kids in their classes.
So if you’re getting ready to make preschool decisions, I hope I’ve given you something to think about. Again, I’m not knocking anyone’s decision to send their kids to preschool – it’s entirely possible that if I was still working I’d have kids in preschool as well. I’m just encouraging everyone to think it through and make the decision that’s best for your kids without buying into the lie that preschool is a must. It’s not.
I’d love to hear your thoughts – it’s ok to disagree with me! What criteria did you use when making your decision, and are you satisfied with it?