Saturday, October 3, 2015

Why I Sent My Kids to Preschool

Lately, I have been seeing a lot of articles on why people aren’t sending their kids to preschool. While I don’t think there is a right or wrong answer to this topic, I’m giving my insight to help those that might be on the fence about sending their kids to preschool. Here are a few reasons we enrolled our children in preschool.

Learning to Listen to Other Adults that Weren’t Part of my Family

Being a SAHM, I have been my children’s primary caregiver. Their grandparents have watched them. They have been to Sunday school. However, preschool allows my kids to be in a setting where they had to listen and follow instructions/class rules (for a long period of time) from an adult that wasn’t a friend or family member. Likewise, I also like the idea that my kids are interacting and working together with other kids in a school setting without me. 

The Structure

My kids get plenty of unstructured social play at the park and playdates. They have had more structured experiences at story times, church, and mommy and me type classes. However, preschool provides time away from me in a more structured environment where my children have to advocate for themselves without me around.  When I say structured, I think it’s important to note that I have always thought play-based learning preschools were the best.  While there should be some structure at a preschool, structured doesn’t mean your children have to be sitting in desks doing worksheets. Yes, you can definitely provide structure for your child at home. However, I really feel like it would have been hard for me to replicate the structure that goes on in a classroom setting with 10 or so other children.  

Helping with Separation Anxiety  

My daughter never had a lot of trouble being away from me. However, my son did. I took him to Sunday school and a toddler gym class so he could get used to being around other adults. It helped a little. However, I was nervous about him going to kindergarten and being away from me for six hours a day.  I wanted to ease him into this routine. When my daughter started kindergarten, I witnessed other children having a very hard time leaving their parents. The first week of preschool was hard because my son didn’t want me to leave. However, he soon realized that preschool was fun and that I always came back. I made sure that I never snuck out, always said goodbye to him, and made sure he knew I would be back.

Being Exposed to Different Teaching Styles

I’m a credentialed teacher and we have always done a lot of educational activities at home. Furthermore, I know I am fully capable of teaching my kids counting, letter recognition, reading skills....and I do. However, I like the fact that my kids have been exposed to different teaching styles. I know the teachers at my son’s preschool are all trained in early childhood development and might have a few tricks up their sleeve that I don’t. 

Tips for Choosing a Preschool

I don't think going to preschool is a necessity for everyone.  Also, preschool can be expensive. In addition, you can focus on having structured learning time at home and giving kids opportunities to follow instructions from other adults.  However, If you do decide to send your child to preschool, here are a few tips:

Look for a low teacher to student ratio:
My son’s preschool has a very low ratio of about one teacher to every five kids. There are two teachers and about 10 students. As far as I know California’s law say the ratio should be 1:8 for three to four-year-olds. However, I noticed a lot of the other states were higher. I would also look for a lower maximum group size. Most importantly, make sure the staff is certified and trained. 

Know what you want:
Before enrolling your child, ask about the school’s learning philosophy. This
PBS article breaks down the different types. Overall, the school should have a consistent curriculum with goals. Your preschool should be open to letting you come in and observe or take a tour.  

Look for a preschool that encourages a community:
I like the fact that my son’s preschool encourages parents to come in and read at circle time. The staff is very loving and treats the children and the parents with respect.

I think all kids are different. This post is not intended to make anyone feel bad about not sending their child to preschool.  A lot of kids that don’t go to preschool will likely adjust to kindergarten fine.  However, for me, I was worried about walking my kids into public school kindergarten without having the out-of-home preschool experience.

But that’s just me.

So what are your tips for finding a good preschool?  Why did or didn’t you send your child to preschool?

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