I call it the “preschool dilemma” and it’s causing a lot of angst in many moms’ minds. Where to send them? When to send them? How to pay for it?
When I tell these moms that I didn’t send my kids to preschool, mouths drop and eyebrows raise like I’m some sort of back hills, intellectually challenged dinosaur.
Preschool has become almost a given today but I kind of feel like its one of those expectations that has become bigger than life and women are doing it because everyone else is doing it. Remember what your parents said about that logic! I’d like to challenge you mothers of preschoolers to step back and reassess this whole preschool pressure.
When my children were young, I felt I was actually qualified to teach them the basic intellectual information required to enter kindergarten (Numbers, Letters, Words, Colors, Scissors, Glue, Crayons, etc.) After all, I had graduated from high school and gone to college. I also felt like I had the socialization thing under control (siblings, neighborhood friends, Sunday school, Awana, Bible Study childcare, play groups, etc.).
I was also a stay at home mom at the time who made a choice to forgo some of the financial perks that a second income would have provided, including preschool. In fact, the choice to manage our household on my husband’s ministry salary encouraged me to be creative when it came to getting my kids ready to start school. What’s that saying? Necessity is the “mother” of invention.
Our local high school had a childhood development class and for 12 weeks each semester, they offered a little two day a week, hour and a half “preschool” for the neighborhood preschoolers. Two of our children enrolled in this program, loved it and had their first graduation (cap and gown and all) from their future high school alma mater. This alternative offered a chance for Shiloh and Cody to experience a classroom setting, learn to follow directions in a group context and begin to define who they were apart from me. It was just enough and it was FREE.
When our youngest was four, a group of us moms, who all had four year olds, decided to put together a preschool co-op that was (you guessed it) FREE. Most of these moms were staying home with their kids, some of them were very well qualified teachers and all of us wanted to prepare our kids to start kindergarten the next year.
Eight moms formed four teams of two and each team was responsible for conducting two months of preschool for these kiddos. I can’t even remember how many times a week we met (maybe twice) and for how long. But the other 6 moms would drop their kids off for the morning at the home of one of the teachers, while that teaching team of two provided an educationally enriched time for the 8 children.
Thankfully, I was teamed with a highly qualified elementary school teacher and my responsibilities were more along the lines of crowd control, recess, planned recreation and snack time. For those kids who were pretty mature for their age as far as attention span and small motor skills go, they were affirmed and challenged to progress even more.
For those kids, like Colt, who had a hard time sitting still long enough to get a book opened, let alone read it to them and who still could care less about cutting and coloring, there was enough freedom, group activities and affirmation to make sure they went to kindergarten thinking school was a lot of fun and they could succeed.
This is the year that all of those four year olds graduate from college and to the student, each of them has had a stellar academic career. I’d like to think some of that can be attributed to Invention #2, our free preschool co-op.
The preschool dilemma doesn’t have to cause such anxiety for moms. There are all sorts of ways to get your child ready for school. These are just a few that worked for us. What are some of the ways that have or are working for you?