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June 14, 2005

Comments

naomi

My boy, who is 4, and I have been spending this year together, doing what I've always dreamed of doing with my child, after years of caring for and educating other peoples children (which I loved); we hang out together... we paint, we talk, we play board and card games (Go Fish is currently the huge favourite!!), we play 'trampoline soccer' - don't ask !! -, he helps me with the laundry and folds washcloths beautifully, we sing, say, sound out and write the alphabet, we count, add and subtract at every opportunity, we see friends and cousins and take Grandma and G.D. (Grand-Dad) on picnics, and go for LONG bike rides (now that the training wheels are off!). It's precious, and we have three more months of it - God willing - before our new baby's longed-for arrival, and I want to make every minute count. Last year I did supply teaching once a week, so my boy attended a Kindy program for the school hours. He went along happily enough, but I didn't have that "I'm OK with this" feeling, and I believe that's because I wasn't ok with it, although I tried to be!!! I wanted to teach him, to be there when he experienced something new, to guide him when guidance was required and to give hugs that can't always get around to 24 children when they are cared for by two people. And by nature, he is one of these children that will sit back and watch, then participate quietly in his own time, and sometimes, because of this, there was a tendency for him to miss out, be left behind, or over-looked (I know this because I watched him at length when I worked a half day). So, this year I wanted to be the one to develop his confidence, and promote his ability to initiate activity and be passionate and focused. And I feel extrememly privileged and blessed to be doing this, because I'm seeing this gorgeous child bloom and create and mingle and converse, and it's wonderful! He is alert, bright and well-spoken, & the school that I have enrolled him at to begin pre-school next year part-time, has tried unsuccessfully to encourage me to begin him in their new full-time program for pre-schoolers. I'm really happy to send him for a five-day fortnight, because he'll have the opportunity to interact with his peers and it will be a transition before Grade 1 begins, but also because we will still be able to share our days together and he will be a big part of the new baby's life. Our children's care and education is so important; and it really is a very personal journey of reflection and discovery for parents when they make a decision for their child, based on the family situation, their hopes and dreams for their child, and essentially, the personality of their child. All the best to you and your family. I'm sure your little Angel (No. One) will relish her playtime at Montessori, and I hope that you will be left with no doubts by the time she is due to begin... Naomi

Laura

I felt so guilty at not sending my older daughter to preschool. It seemed all her friends were enrolled and she wanted to go so badly. But she was so little and Kindergarten was lurking around the corner. So Emma stayed at home with me and her baby sister. But the wheels had been set in motion...should we EVER send her to school? For various reasons when the first day of school came around Emma did not get on the bus.
The worry about socializing has been ever present, but looking at her now that the school year is over I see that she's fine. I realize now that school is not the only place (or perhaps even the best place) to make friends and learn. I saw Emma teach herself to read with very little instruction on my part and saw her talent as an artist blossom, as well as her relationships with her little sister and brother. Sometimes when I see the bus roll by, I look at her and realize what I'd be missing if she were on it. And I've learned not to underestimate the fact that she would be missing us too.
I do admire that you enrolled your daughter in a Montessori school. That is something I looked into extensively and think it's a great resource for children as long as they still have ample time at home. Preschool doesn't require that much time away from you, but by the time your child reaches first grade she will be faced with seven hours of school five days a week. She will spend more time with people at school during her waking hours than with her family. If you have ever thought of keeping your children home from public school, I would encourage you to read "And the Skylark Sings With Me" by David Arnold (see #4 on your list), and "How Children Fail" by John Holt. In the end, schooling or not is such a personal and loaded decision, but I wish you luck in making it. By the way, did I mention that my husband teaches high school?

amy

I just went through the same decision process. My daughter will be three in the fall. I ultimately decided to enroll her beginning in the fall, in a two-day morning preschool program (in addition to daycare on the other days, as I work). When we went on a tour of the preschool, my daughter's eyes lit up and she literally left my side to go play and interact. That convinced me that I wasn't rushing her but it would be truly something she'd enjoy. I honestly don't care how much she "learns", I just want her to have another outlet for creativity and fun.

Amy

I am a firm believer in public schools and the like (being I'm a teacher and all) but I have to say, my mom didn't put me in any sort of preschool program and just helped me develop my love for reading and music. I started kindergarten with just as many social skills ( I mean, she didn't keep me inside like a hermit) as the other kids and I didn't have the stress that sometimes comes with being pushed into school too early. Ultimately, it's what makes you feel better, I mean, I send Isabelle to daycare because I work, which I guess would be a sort of preschool, but if I could, I like the idea of being able to be there for when she fostered her independance. :)

elise

My youngest is now going into third grade and looking back I think the important thing that my oldest and youngest got out of their one year of preschool was that they learned to be away from me. A bit difficult for my oldest who went kicking and screaming - very stressful at the time. My middle child had no major problems with being away from me and would have been fine with out preschool but wanted to go. The only other reason I can think that it would be crucial to go to preschool is if a child had difficulty learning, then any boost/help they could get would be beneficial. My kids didn't have any developmental delays and went to kindergarten barely knowing their alphabet. I guess they could sing it, not really sure. This was due to the fact that I never had the inclination to be a flash card kind of mom. It never made them stand out in kindergarten because that's what they learn there. The alphabet, numbers, colors, etc. By the end of the year they could read. On the other hand, the kid who could read when he entered kindergarten came out of the bathroom with his pants down around his knees asking for toilet paper! Hee Hee!! He learned to keep his pants up! My point is, although these decisions seem crucial now, they really don't matter in the long run. There are decisions that will matter, but I don't think this is one of them.

muse

You're the best teacher. Keep her home and continue with the "part-time." It's another thing if you were working out of the house.

Robin Lyn

Ah, the joys of young motherhood... I remember those days, only I taught my daughter at home and she, being very bright, was reading early, writing early, everything early. Until she got to public school. She read (and tested) two- three grade levels ahead, was socially adept (perhaps, too, according to the teacher who couldn't get my poor bored daughter to stop talking to her classmates), and was actually a full six inches taller than her classmates and was teased for staying back (when she was a straight A student), and finally I asked the school to put her ahead a grade or two. "Oh noooo, we couldn't do THAT," the red, round face of the principal replied. That was "asking for trouble socially."
End result? She spent a number of years being bored and having to stifle the urge to socialize. Later "socialization" (which was so highly discouraged at school) was to become the "big issue" when I took her out to homeschool her in junior high through her remaining years. (I might add that this daughter is a talented actress and also keeps a day job as an administrative assistant to a vice-president at Disney with NO problems whatever in her socialization skills.)
I highly recommend you speak with others that attend the school your child will attend and get past the politically correct answers about gifted programs, etc. and find out what they will practically do to support your child who is working far above grade level.
Or-- you may find yourself having to homeschool your child after all of these effort, just so she/he will remain academically challenged.
I wish you the very best...

Michelle

It sounds like you have really thought this out. I am sure whatever you decide, the outcome will benefit your daughter.

I sent my daughter to Montessori school 3 mornings a week when she was just barely 2 years old (they offered a toddler program for the younger kids). I was so glad I did. Of course, she adapts easily to any situation, so although there were a few tears in the beginning, she quickly came to love the program and made lots of friends. They even started her with potty training.

When that school year was over, I switched her over to a regular preschool (to keep costs down) and she has been doing well ever since.

I actually am now faced with a similar predicament though looking ahead towards kindergarten. I live in San Francisco where the public school system allows kids to enter kindergarten if they are 5 by December. My daughter's birthday is in November and although she is only 3.5 now, with the way the school system is here, I actually have to start thinking about this soon. At first I thought I was going to send her early because she is very bright and loves to learn. She does numbers and letters very well, and I think she will be reading by her 4th birthday.

But I have pretty much decided to wait another year to send her to school. I know emotionally and intellectually she would be ready on the early side of things, especially since she's been in preschool since she was two. But as you said, I think it's best to maintain their innocence as long as possible, and the sooner you send them off to primary school, the sooner that starts to deteriorate.

Anyway, good luck with what you decide.

julie

I've been on the fence about schooling so early as well, but my 2-year-old daughter is READY to socialize and be at school. We took her to a Kindercare two weeks ago for a visit (to see if we all approved of it). We loved it, she loved it, and it's all she talks about now.

babybaby

wow, you have a parenting list? I have lists for everything, but I haven't written one of those yet. now how can I get my husband, who's never written a list in his life, to cooperate?

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