the education of little d

I haven't enrolled Daniel in preschool for the fall. I have my reasons, however lame they are, but half the time I'm convinced this makes me a bad and negligent mother. It's hard to say, exactly, why I've been dragging my feet. My excuses thus far have been the cost and the fact that until about two weeks ago I was sure he would never ever EVER potty train, but I think there's something deeper holding me back. It's like I'm not quite ready to share him with someone else responsible for his learning (except Stuart, obviously), and I know that's selfish and kind of stupid of me, but there you have it.

Plus, I'm kind of disorganized and most preschools you have to enroll several months ahead of time before they all fill up. And they cost a mint. For good reason, but still...I wish preschool was part of public education for every child in this country. That would take some guesswork out of the whole process and save me the headache of this decision.

In any case, I had a very reassuring conversation with another mom in the park yesterday. Her 4yo son isn't in a formal preschool, either, though she herself teaches preschool classes, and she told me the most important part of it is socialization and opportunity for discovery. I feel like we provide both Daniel and Anya with plenty of both, frankly. They are interested in the world around them and they play well with others, and at their ages, those are the things I'm most concerned about. I want to enroll Daniel in some preschool-level enrichment classes at the YMCA this fall, which will give him the opportunity to be in a group of kids on a regular basis with an adult in charge who is not me, and it won't cost as much as full-blown school. We'll make sure to have regular playtime with his friends in town, too. And I have made a point of doing outings that are educational as they are fun: strawberry-picking at a local farm, going to the zoo and the children's museum, attending outdoor concerts like Opera in the Park last weekend. (I guess it's a good thing I'm the sort of mega-dork who thinks that picking berries and going to outdoor opera concerts is fun.)

I hope that's enough. Daniel won't start kindergarten for a couple years, so we have time to get him ready for public school. A year from now I'll be ready to let go a little more. Even a semester from now, when he turns 4 (!!) I'll be more comfortable with the idea. But for now we're enjoying the freedom of an open schedule, the time he has with Anya (they are really starting to play together and it's terrific fun to see them interact and make up their own games), and the joy of learning for learning's sake.

I want to make one thing clear, though I don't intend to open up a big ol' can of worms: I will never homeschool my kids. I know that all the stuff I just wrote in the paragraphs above might make me sound like I lean that way, but I don't. I also don't want to get into the whys and wherefores here because I know several homeschooling families that are doing a fine job and I don't want to offend anyone or hurt anyone's feelings. I just mean to say that until Daniel is ready for public school, or maybe just a year or so away from that, I like being his first teacher, his primary educator. We'll take the next step when it comes.


Mrs. Allroro said…
As a preschool teacher, it sounds like a great plan to me.
Jessi said…
You're the momma, momma. Here are my reasons for putting Brynna in preschool when she was still 2: 1. I freakin' love Montessori and can't afford for her to go through 8th, which would be my preference, so I wanted to jam pack as much as possible in. 2. She hopped through a series of crappy (and one abusive) daycares and I was ready for some actual responsible people to take care of my kid. Since it couldn't be me (well, it could, but only if I was willing to live in the streets to do it) I thought the fine ladies at Montessori would do a good job.

Whatever you decide is going to be the best decision for you guys. You shouldn't feel like you have to put him in Preschool. While I agree that Preschool should totally be available to every kid in the US, it isn't because it's really optional.

(Also, I feel weirdly ranty reading this, but it's just my mood. I think you're a super mom.)
Is there no Headstart preschool program offered through the public school system? I'm not sure how Wisconsin does things, but I know Texas offers free Headstart preschool in the elementary schools. (This suggestion is for when you are ready to let him go to preschool. There's not a durn thing wrong with wanting to keep everything unstructured at this point in his life.)

I know a lady who is an elementary school teacher - and a great one. She has a two year old daughter whom she refused to send to a daycare/preschool setting that had any sort of curriculum or structured environment. Her reasoning was that her daughter's job was to be a kid and to learn through play. She had taught Kinder, and noticed that - by the end of the year - there was not a lick of difference in progress between the kids that had gone to preschools with a curriculum and those that had stayed home with Momma/Daddy or just went to a regular babysitter with no lessons.

So, I guess what I'm saying is - do what you want to do, and what you are comfortable with. In the long run, it doesn't make that much difference.
Becca said…
FWIW, we just pulled CJ out of daycare/preschool after four years. Since Tom isn't working, he's taking on the responsibility of keeping up on CJ's education until he starts kindergarten (next year). Cost is a huge factor in this decision. But I think we would do it even if we could afford to keep him at daycare since Tom wants to do this.

Watching CJ makes the transition is interesting. He has his own internal sense of routine and order. He asks Tom to read a story, or to practice letters and numbers, based on what he's used to. If he holds onto this, I think this will help him with the transition to the classroom, accepting a teacher's authority and learning to apply focus when needed.

I'm in the camp of let kids be kids as long as you can--once they enter Kindergarten, it's institutionalized learning for at least the next 13 years. Let them spend time now having fun and learning in their own way. Preschool has its benefits, but I know CJ is greatly enjoying having fun at home and having Daddy all to himself.

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