We’ve talked a lot about school and Preschool here on SMB. What makes our team of writers so great is the diversity of experiences and perspectives. I realized that I hadn’t yet provided my perspective to the whole Preschool Discussion and that, of course doesn’t provide YOU with all the information about what Scottsdale Moms are actually doing. 🙂
Please note that this post reflects my personal perspective and it is not intended to make moms who’ve made a different choice from me feel badly. I am challenging the norm and asking you to consider a new perspective.
As my daughter Reagan creeps into her Preschool years, I am faced with the pressure to find the Best Preschool in the Valley for Her. Preschool seems to simply be “the next milestone” that she is supposed to pass through. She will be four in August so, naturally, she should start Preschool this Fall.
But, she won’t.
I will be her teacher.
I don’t have a degree in Early Childhood Education or anything that would allow me to instruct classrooms full of students as a profession. I’m pretty “unqualified” if you look at my experience (I’ve never been around children much before having my own). As I look at the Preschool options, I’m struck by the messages that seem to imply or boldly state that I don’t know what to teach her or what a child her age needs. I am reminded constantly that I didn’t get the right degree (I majored in Communication Studies). I’m not trained in how to educate a child. I am unqualified. Or am I?
I’ve actually taken the time to discover what is recommended for Preschoolers to learn. I have been both encouraged and overwhelmed by all of the information telling me what is best for my daughter and how I can help her succeed. There are online resources: PBS. Veritas. The US Government. Pinterest. They all have an opinion and can be helpful tools. But, the more I read, the more overwhelmed and lost I became. Then, I started feeling stupid, unqualified, bewildered at all the possibilities, the complexity of it all.
Then I realized that part of the problem was the sources themselves. Instead of helping me think for myself about what is best for MY FAMILY, MY CHILD, MY SITUATION, each of these resources are cramming my child into a one-size-fits-all-box. And that is when the light came on for me. I realized that if I were to help my children make it to adulthood, I need to know what the goal is. Where do I want my children to end up by the time they are 18? What skills do they need to have by the time they leave my home?
Once my husband and I discussed our answers to those questions, it was much easier to look the Preschool Problem in the face. I then asked the question: Why do we send children to Preschool anyhow?
Is it so that children can get an early start on education? Is the point to help children gain more interactions with children his or her own age? Is it to prepare children for Kindergarten? Is it reliable, organized babysitting? Does it align with my goals for their future? Here’s some food for thought:
Getting an “early start” on academics could actually hurt more than help children. Have you heard the phrase “better late than early” (here’s an article)? Delaying academic pressures in children until as old as the ages of 8-10 can actually help them. Especially when it comes to squirmy boys it’s great to remember that when a child is “playing” he is actually learning.
We (I) need not be so hasty to push our young ones into the structured world of lines, letters, numbers and worksheets. The goal is not to have a child who can say the ABCs, read early, recite colors, spell his or her name or count to 100. The goal is to have a child who loves learning and who can’t help but embrace the world with more wonder and awe than they ever would a textbook or worksheet. Play is work to a child. (And work is a part of life.)
Second, being in a healthy home is better for your child than being in an excellent school. And, in fact, a healthy home environment complete with chores, boredom and sibling squabbles is the best preparation for life’s challenges.
The best preschools actually duplicate a home environment complete with free/unstructured play (lots of time to be bored) that encourages learning about the world. So, why not give them the real thing?
Experts agree that a vibrant, stable and healthy family life is invaluable to children’s future success and happiness. In fact, they all mention it above educational preference and academic performance in growing a child into a healthy adult. The Home is the foundation of our communities and it is often overlooked as an area that needs to be cultivated. A healthy home is the best environment for children to learn about the world, relationships and themselves.
Finally, we, The Parents, get to take full and complete ownership of our children’s education and no longer be intimidated by BAs in Child Development or MAs in Education. We are The Parents. We get to determine the educational future of each child we have been blessed to steward.
So, I ask you to simply consider what your goals are for your children and WHY you are choosing a particular path. Perhaps you simply need a break or a safe place for your children to play a few days a week. Or maybe, you’ve just been looking for a reason to reject the norm and keep them home.
Whatever path you choose, know why you’ve chosen that path and stand behind it. Be confident Mama! You are The Parent!
So, tell me, if you’ve chosen to send your children to Preschool or if you’ve decided to opt-out of Preschool, why did you make that choice? Did you do the same thing for each child or did each child require a different decision?