Preschool, Hash Tag: Question Mark.

I’ve been asked a lot as of late when I’m going to put Hooper in preschool. I never thought it would be a difficult question to answer, but as it turns out, I find myself stumbling on my words each time I’m asked. It may be easy for me to complain about dealing with his terrible two shenanigans, but it’s hard for me to imagine not having him around… not even for a few hours. Not to mention that, because of his birthday, he won’t be in Kindergarden until he’s 6. This means he’ll be in preschool for FOUR years. That’s a long time. And a lot of money. Cue the megaphone: Preschool ain’t cheap people. Willy and I have a great schedule right now, so preschool would be for learning, not daycare. It’s hard for me to justify spending all that money to teach him things he’ll inevitably learn in due time. Rather than sound like a bipolar lunatic, I figured I’d outline my pros and cons. Here we go:
-Socialization. I can’t argue with this one. Being around other children is always a good thing. Learning things like sharing and controlling your emotions and all that other ish is important stuff. It’s stuff I cannot teach as effectively at home.
-Mama time. Oh how I’ve longed for some good ol’ quality time by myself. I’ve always considered myself an extrovert, but as I’ve gotten older I think that label was made in comparison to my sister who had periods of ubber introvertedness (I know, not a word, whatevs). In actuality, I think I live on the boarder of introvert and extrovert. But lately, I’ve just wanted to sit by my lonesome and enjoy some good ol’ ME time.
-Learning. Duh, this one is a given.
-Cost. I can’t believe how much preschool costs. It’s mind-blowing, really.
-Naps. Hooper still naps a solid 4-5 hours a day. I know, I know, I’m so lucky. I ain’t payin’ for him to nap somewhere else.
-Sniffles. Not sure I’m ready for all the germs he’s bound to bring home.
-Routine. I like structure, to a degree. But at some point, when there’s too much of it, each week starts to feel like a blueprint from the one before. That’s one reason I love my profession; as a nurse, my schedule is always different. No week ever feels like the one prior. Throw preschool into the mix and with it comes a schedule. It makes me cringe.
When did you start your child in preschool? What are your pros and cons and how did you come to a decision?

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31 Responses

  • I’m a preschool teacher and your points are spot on. I would suggest waiting a year or two to put him in preschool since he will start kindergarten at 6. One or two solid years of preschool will make a huge difference in his progress in kindergarten but four can be excessive. Also, I’ve worked in a kindergarten and we can tell which children that have not attended some form of preschool.

    • Thank you for your comment. You can’t beat advice from a pro. I used to coach gymnastics, which included teaching the little toddler classes on the weekends, and I too could make out a large difference between those that were in preschool and those that were not. But I agree that four years feels a bit excessive and, at this point, I think I’m going to wait until at least 3 but maybe even four. Thanks again for sharing your opinion.

  • We live in Canada, so things might be a tad different, but I have had Sadie in pre-school since she turned 3. She had been in daycare before ,so it was not a huge stretch dropping her off with strangers for a few hrs twice a week. Cost for us is $85 a month, seems affordable to us. Sadie LOVES it, the teacher and aid are amazing, the kids are lovely and they do loads of crafts, singing, reading and learning and she has met loads of friends. In addition I have met lots of amazing parents. All in all, win , win. We start pre-school at 3 here which makes more sense to me

  • I would wait until next year, so he’ll only be there for 3 years, that’s what I’m doing with my son’s “just before the cut-off date” birthday. Also, I was sweating all of the same issues, but as soon as I started touring schools all of my fears and the debate melted away because I just got so excited by how much fun he was going to have. The classrooms were so stimulating and inviting that I started to feel like I’d be doing him a disservice by keeping him home. My son will be just turning three when he starts and will be going three mornings per week from 9-12, then the following year 5 mornings per week, and then 5 mornings per week plus some afternoon extended enrichment. Kindergarten in our area is full day. You’ll know how you feel when you find the right school!

  • I say wait until he’s 4. He can go to preschool one year and pre kinder the next. He’s still so young and I personally think your arguments for NOT going outweigh the ones for going. Join a mommy/playgroup or go to library story time for socialization. It’s MUCH cheaper and he’s still learning all those valuable lessons. When he’s 3/4 you can pick up workbooks at B&N for more structured learning. They have some good ones.

  • I feel like so many stay at home moms can’t wait to get their toddler in pre-school! And I’m like “isn’t this why I stayed home, so I could be with my kid?” And it’s expensive! Im not going back to work just so i can put my kid in pre school. No thanks. I’m thinking maybe just the year before kindergarten. We shall see.

    • Ya, it ain’t cheap. Truthfully, that’s a big part of it. And ya, I don’t judge other moms that send their kids to preschool because I know every situation is unique, but I really do enjoy my time with Hooper at home. And we do lots of fun things with other kids anyway.

      • Oops I didn’t mean to sound judge-y! Totally not how I meant it. Most days I enjoy being home with my almost 2 year old and am not ready to change that yet. 🙂

  • I was only in preschool for a year, when I was 4, and I’m an only child, and I’m really smart, etc — I was in fact always ahead of my peers, and I know being “socialized” is important but if I was able to handle it, Hooper will be FINE because he has a brother already! I really honestly don’t get why people put their kids in preschool so early these days, especially if you have the ability to keep him at home and let him learn at home til then. That’s my opinion 🙂

  • i agonized over not sending tru to preschool until age 4 but it worked out great. we are doing the same with harry and tova. truman started K as a 6 year old and he’s had a great year, i think he would have struggled a BIT more entering K as a 5 year old (it would have been fine but i think maybe a bit harder being gone all day). the first year of preschool he went from 9-11:30 and it seemed like FOREVER, the next year he ate lunch there so was there until 12. kindergarten is 8-2 and oh my god, the first month was so insane just waiting and wondering! but it all gets easier and easier, it just takes time for everyone involved! even now, a lot of his friends go to after school activities until the EVENING and i am that mom who asks the questions like “arent they tired?” and i get looks sometimes. it’s not that i think my kids need to be coddled constantly (i do) but i know my kids need down time, time to just “be” and be in their heads and decide what they want to do for a spell instead of having structured activity all the time. it took me a LONG time to accept this, i still feel guilty or question whether he should be in all kinds of camps and sports and stuff but i just go by his interests/lead. you know, they all turn out great if they are loved and cared for. tru loves school, we’ve been lucky so far (i mean he’s 6) that the teachers have been fabulous and he’s doing really well. whatever you decide he will be great. i felt like a freak for keeping him home until 4 but it turned out to be a great decision. plus, now that he’s used to all day school, these years are going to FLY.

    • I’ve heard that as well, that once they start school, the years fly. So yeah, I’d like to prolong that too. And I couldn’t agree more… so long as they are loved and cared for. It’s more than obvious that you care deeply for all your kiddos. I’m not the mom that will be flying from one activity to the next either. I plan on following their lead too.

  • I’m going to join the choir and say wait. Enjoy what you have with him now. He’s learning by interacting with Van…and with your friends’ kids. He’s still a little guy.

    As far as “me time” goes, I’m convinced everyone becomes a bit more introverted with age. There are just so many more stresses and pressures that we require it just a little bit more. I’ve probably gotten more extroverted, but that’s because I was at the way, far end of the introversion spectrum.

  • Okay Ash, here goes… Only you and Willie know whether Hoop is ready to be in a structured environment now and the benefits of such an environment. The situation now with regards to preschool is that parents are choosing to start their kids at a very early age in preschool and the children that are in very academic classes as opposed to just daycare for a longer period of time before starting kindergarten are at an academic advantage over the children who have started later or never gone to preschool. It is true that parents can choose to do workbooks at home and this is great, but the children that are in academic classes and learning ABC’s, our 50 states (geography), beginning math concepts, etc. are clearly ahead of the game. Our children’s brains beginning at a very early age are sponges and are capable of absorbing so much information. Austin, Kyle, and Ashtyn all were in very academic preschools, but in a very loving structured environment. I will tell you that these kids that Austin went to preschool with and I have seen grow up through the years are all so so bright and I think nearly 100% of them are all in their first year of college. You’re looking at whether to start Hoop in preschool or to keep him home because he’s so young, but something you need to look at is the future, which is hard to do at this age, but is a necessity. The kindergarteners who have been in an academic preschool with parents who continue to stimulate their learning will continue to thrive. The children who maybe didn’t go to preschool or for as long, but with parents who foster their individual learning will also continue to thrive. The key to the success of any child is the parents and their direct involvement with their child and the learning process. I will tell you that the academic competition when you get to high school and then the college application process now is unbelievably tough. Our children are learning at such high levels now, as opposed to when we were in school, especially me because I am older than you, that any advantage you can give them early on in achieving their highest learning potential without burning them out is important. You know what Hoops limits are on any given day and this will play a role as he continues to learn and mature. We all can chime in and tell you what we did or are doing with regards to preschool, but every child is unique and only you can make that determination. I wanted to give you a broader look and have you think about things in the long term and how your decisions now may affect what happens in the future. As for me, Ashtyn did test out of and skip kindergarten and go directly into first grade, but this was because we knew she excelled academically and even though Ashtyn has a November birthday and on the younger end she was also more mature because of her older brothers. We knew if we did not do this she’d be bored in kindergarten. It was a decision that we struggled with at the time whether it was a good decision to advance her, but I can tell you it was the best decision we made. Ashtyn will be starting high school in the fall and continues to excel academically. Ashtyn is currently taking geometry as an eighth grader, having already taken algebra 1 last year, and is advanced in the area of math. Generally, algebra 1 is taken in eighth grade and geometry as a freshman in high school. Again, it all comes down to you knowing your child’s strengths and weaknesses. Had Ashtyn not had older brothers, this may not have even been an option. Only you and Willie truly know Hoop and Van and what they’re capable of and trust me you’ll know when and if the time is right to enroll them in preschool and what type of program that may be. Good luck with this process. I know it’s not an easy one, but trust in yourself and the knowledge you already possess… XOXO

    • Wow, thanks for the thorough response Lisa! It’s always good to hear from someone who has done it all before! Ashtyn sounds like she’s doing great! xo

  • My son started preschool 2 days a week at almost 3 yrs old and it’s working out pretty well. One other pro is now when he’s at home he’s less bored because he’s not at home so much – he plays really well by himself with his toys that he hasn’t played with in a few days. And hearing him tell me about what he did at school and about little conversations he has with his friends is almost worth the $40+ a day.

    Are there any half day options in your area? Then you could avoid paying someone to watch your kid sleep at least!

    • I think there’s a lot of comfort in the fact that your son can tell you about his day. Hooper isn’t there yet, and until then, I’m a little weary about dropping him off anywhere. He’s the first born, ya know?! Ya, half day options are where we will start when the time comes.

  • Our youngest is the same age as Hooper (November birthday, right?) and we are not sending her to preschool until next year. By that point, she will be 3 going on 4, giving her two years of preschool before kindergarten. Honestly, I think that it’s every parent’s personal decision to make the judgement call, you know your kid best. My husband and I have gone round and round about it, there are so many pros and cons. But, honestly, why start them so early if you don’t have to? They’ll be going to some form of school for the next 20 something years! For the next year, we’ll just continue to work with her at home and she’ll get her socialization 3 days a week at daycare. Good luck with your decision! I know you’ll make the best possible choice for Hoop!

    • Yes, November birthday. I couldn’t agree more… he’ll have lots of time to become edge-you-mi-cated. Thanks for sharing, a lot of people seem to agree with you.

  • We put our little girl through two years of preschool (3 & 4), but only for the socialization. She was an only child, no cousins, and there’s not much around our area for kids. So we thought it best that she finds other kids to play with. But I like what Olivia says. It’s of course your call, but since kids will be in school for 20 years anyway, might as well have all the snuggle time now!

  • My son has a November birthday, so will be almost 6 when he starts school as well. We are starting him in preschool this fall. He will be going two half days (3 hours) a week. Then the next year, he will be in pre-kindergarden for three half days a week. I was very specific about what I wanted out of a preschool and looked at a few before making my decision. I knew I wanted a preschool and not a daycare. I was surprised how many preschools are really daycares with the name “preschool”. Anyway, in our situation, I know it will be great. My son wants to be around kids all day, every day. I try to give him that interaction with other kids as much as possible, but I know preschool will really help. As for learning, I am in the camp that says parents are the best teachers, but I really think preschool will be good for my kid too.

    • I worry about the daycare versus preschool thing too. I know I need to tour a few of the local preschools so I have an idea. I think I’ll feel better about once I know more. Two half days sounds like a good start, I’ll probably do something similar.

  • I stay home and I don’t plan to do preschool at all. I am part of two playgroups that meet weekly and we go to the park/museum twice a week or so. We get plenty of socialization. At our playgroups it can be a mad house (we alternate houses and most of the moms have multiple children so it is crowded and loud) but it teaches such valuable lessons. Plus watching my son starting to engage in creative play with other kids is adorable! So I’m not worried about socialization. We started with 1 playgroup and now we have 3! It is amazing how many stay at home moms are lonely and want to connect with other moms and families. I think it is just as much for us mamas as it is for the kiddos!

    We do have a free Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten, or VPK, program in our state (Florida). You get to choose what preschool to send your kid to for a 3-4 hour program for free the year before they begin kindergarten. It gives them a leg up for kindergarten. I think most states have similar programs. Look into it! Free preschool is a win! Liam will go then. He is 26 months and I try and do really simple activities with him twice a week (today we colored with a red crayon and a red pencil and I drew some letters. Woo hoo). It’s a lot less pressure for him. I would love som mommy time too… But I stay home with our 2 kids so we can’t afford it anyway.

    • Ya, Hooper plays with a lot of other kids too and doesn’t seem to have any problem in social situations. I’ll have to look into the VPK program, sounds like a deal! Thanks for sharing.

  • I’m in the same boat as you except my daughter, Stella, has a mild speech delay. We’ve been working with a speech therapist for the past couple months and she said the best thing for her is to be in preschool as many days as we could afford. I’m a stay at home mom so sending her to preschool, and living in California, seems silly but we’ve gotta do it. Really grinds my gears that it costs so freakin much.

  • We have our little girl through two years of pre-school children (3 & 4), but is limited to the community. She was an only child, cousins, and not too many children around the area. Therefore, we believe that the best, she found playing with other children. But I like what Olivia said. Of course, this is your call, but because the kids will be in school 20 years anyway, might as well snuggle time!

  • What a great post. I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately since the new baby’s arrival, but the super high cost of preschool deters us from actually doing it. Also, Oliver is 2 years old.. so maybe it’s too soon, but I’d love him to be around kids his age more and learn new skills and also the ME time is a plus. If it wasn’t for the high cost we’d wouldn’t think twice about it.

    • Ya, cost is the main factor for us too. It’s not really something you can do one year and not the next… so we’re looking at spending 300+ a month for FOUR years… I think we’ll wait until he’s 3 or 4.

  • i’m having the same debate right now!! it would definitely be alot easier to have at least one kid in preschool… but if I’m home with no income, it just makes sense to teach them what I can, while spending extra time with them. we walk to the park everyday… to.get.out their energy, as well as make new friends everyday!! as far as socializing… they have siblings… they’ll be fine. my oldest will be 4 at the end of june, he can spell his name, has his address and my phone # memorized, he knows his abcs and can count up to 100. I don’t know if hes ahead or behind, but I know 11 year olds.that don’t know their own address, that went to preschool. I think only you know whats best for your kids… every kids is different!! good luck on your decision.

  • Hi Ashley, I love your blog. I have a 16 month old and another on the way (due November). I live in the UK and childcare is so expensive here. I haven’t sent my son to nursery, not because of the expense, but because it just didn’t feel right to me to leave him with strangers. I started to worry about the socialzation but I am reading this book at the moment, ‘Raising Babies’ by Steve Buddloph, which talks about the importance of affection in the first few years and how that shapes your babies brains more than anything. Group care of children, no matter how good can not replicate the loving environment of being with their parents. Having your boys with you is the best thing you can do for them in the earlier years x


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