I attended a couple of preschool open houses over the past month. I’m still not convinced that I actually want to send my child to preschool, but I want to know what options are available when I finally make a decision. Have I mentioned that I absolutely hate making decisions? Yes, a million times. Well this is another one of those times.
Right now my son spends the majority of his time with me. A little piece of me thinks he could use some time without mommy. I’m not on the band wagon that all children have to be social, but it couldn’t hurt for him to play with some little buddies his age without having mommy around. We attend a couple of toddler classes together right now, but I’m usually next to him or at the very least in the same room with him.
Since he’s an October baby and we live in the state of Maryland he would start preschool in the two year old class. Maryland has a rule that all children must be five before starting kindergarten, so even though he’ll be nearly three he may be in class with children nearly one year younger.
There isn’t anything I can do about this rule other than move. His birthday is just pass the cutoff to test-in early, so throughout his school years he will be one of the oldest children in the class. My husband was also the oldest growing up, (his parents held him back a year), and he is certainly no worse for wear. So there is no real point in worrying about this, though I will admit I still worry just a bit.
A few preschools offer split classes. In his case they would be 2/3 splits. So roughly half of the children would be two years old when starting and half would be three. I like this idea, but don’t really know how things would shake out the next year when he’s back to being with kids slightly younger.
There is also the whole question of co-op, versus non-coop. I would like to participate in my child’s classroom, but I wonder if it would be difficult to have me participate sometimes and not others.
If we have another child, (which I hope will happen), then a non-cooping option would be best. That would give me time with the new little one and I wouldn’t have to find alternative care for the baby. I know a few folks who juggle coops with two children. Of course, if my son turns out to be a one-and-only then helping out in the classroom might be nice.
Then there is the question of doing other things while my son is in preschool. With an extra six hours a week I could go grocery shopping, run errands, help my husband with his business, oh and take a little time for myself. It’s not a ton of time, but that could prove useful.
There is also the question of frequency. I savor the time I spend with my son, so I would prefer to send him to school only two days a week, but there are also options for three, four and five day classes. As you can see I have no idea where I actually land on any of these issues.
The other problem is that the preschools require you to apply, but cannot guarantee you admission. That means you have to apply to a whole bunch of preschools in case the spots fill too quickly for the ones you like.
Each application costs between $50 and $100. So far I’ve written three checks totaling roughly $200 and I think I might sign up for one more. That’s not a ton of money, but it’s not chump change either.
I know a lot of mothers read this blog and I would love to hear any advice you might offer. What do you think about preschool for two (almost three) year olds?
11 thoughts on “Thoughts on Preschool”
Where I am (IL) most preschools you have to be 3 to start 9/1 is the birthdate cutoff). There’s a 3 program and a 4 program. You must be the given age when starting. My daughters birthday is 8/23 thus just squeaking in and making her the youngest in her class. I am a huge preschool fan for children. They need to (IMO) learn to interact in a structured setting, respond to other adults and begin to understand that it isn’t all about them… Very hard! While I believe these can be done in other environments, if main streaming schooling is in the child’s future it’s good to begin these experiences.
I see so many fun social pieces that come of it too! Play dates, new friends (for mom and kid), birthday parties, etc. I work daily with children in schools, so I could go on and on…. But in most situations I would agree that a 2-3 (half) day program would benefit most children. Only you know your little one best.
Thanks for the comment!
I’m a WAHM; my daughters (5yo twins) have never been in daycare. They are in their second year of parochial preschool (Nov bdays). At first they went 2 mornings/week, and for the past year they’ve attended 3 mornings/week, which (IMO) is well worth the extra morning because of the greater sense of routine. I am not crazy about the multi-age classroom format of their own particular program, but there’s no question that preschool has been terrific for our family — my husband and I have made new friends, I’ve learned more about my daughters from their teachers’ feedback, and my girls seem pretty happy and have made friends on their own, separate from playdates/organized activities.
The half-day format is nice if it’s available.
Thanks Ellen K. I hadn’t thought about my son making friends on his own. I love that idea!
It is certainly not necessary but there are lots of benefits. One is that it expands your social circles and your childs. 2 or 3 half-days is a gracious plenty in my opinion, if you are home and want to make sure you still have lots of time to do your own thing with your child.
I had one child go to preschool for 2 years, and one went for 3 just because of birthdays and cut-offs etc. Sounds like you might be in a 3 year situation. If so, it certainly would be fine to wait another year if you are waffling. Plenty of time!
Thanks Tamara. The 3 year situation is definitely adding to my waffling 🙂
I think preschool is important but three years of it is a lot. My daughter will have one year and she is more than ready for kindergarten next year but she’s always been in daycare. It kind of depends on your kid.
Thanks ND Chic. Some of the preschools are similar to daycare in that there is less structure and a lot of free play. Others are much more structured and I wonder if the structure aspect would be a bit much if he goes for three years. I wonder if I send him in the fall if I should look for one that is more play focused. Thanks for the insight.
Coming back to agree that 3 years of preschool is likely too much. Some of the girls’ classmates are in their 3rd year of preschool and are bored — and it shows in their behavior.
Hi Ellen — Thanks for coming back to comment. Three years does seem like an awful lot of school. Especially since he has so many years of school in front of him. I wonder if he’ll be bored in the early class too. He will be with two year olds, because of his age, but he is quite advanced and I wonder if he will get bored of the things the other children are doing. I think you just made my decision even harder 🙁
Just came across your blog and this post stuck out because I grappled with the same issue not too long ago. My oldest is five now, and he started kindergarten in the fall. I’ve been a stay-at-home mom all along. I decided against preschool for a few reasons. First, he’s precocious, and there was nothing they could teach him, academically speaking, that he didn’t already know. I didn’t want him to be bored. Second, it is freaking expensive! We just miss cutoffs for public preschool (which fills up quickly anyway), and I wasn’t going to fork over hundreds of dollars per month when I didn’t really feel he would benefit all that much. Really, I couldn’t fork it over even if I wanted to. Finally, I realized how quickly time was flying by, and I just couldn’t push him out of the nest any earlier than I really needed to. The one thing that had me questioning myself, though, was the socialization aspect. He spent an awful lot of time as an only child (he has a baby brother now), and had some pretty severe social anxiety around other kids. I decided to try taking him to free library programs a few times a week to see if that helped. It took him a while, but I think it did the trick (and some of it was just him needing to mature a little). We did workbooks and crafts at home a bit, too. Now he LOVES school and is comfortable around other kids. I have no regrets.
I’m not anti-preschool (in fact, for a time I was almost certain I’d send my son), but I’ve realized it’s not a must. Nothing wrong with keeping them at home just that little bit longer.