Why I'm Not Enrolling My Daughter in Preschool
With the high costs and competition to enroll in preschool, is it worth it? Can I provide enough early education through homeschooling instead?
As my daughter approaches her third birthday, the question of preschool comes up. Is she ready? Is she going? When? Where? Ahh! First, I’m still trying to wrap my head around the thought of her as a preschooler rather than a toddler. Second, she doesn’t make the age cut off this year (nor is she potty trained yet). And third? Well, I don’t think we’re going to go that route. After doing some research and talking it over with my husband we don’t feel it’s necessary. I know, now I’m totally screwing up her chance to get into Harvard or Yale, right?
It’s not that I don’t appreciate what preschools offer; after all, I attended Head Start which is a government funded preschool program for low income children. Head Start is not an option for my kids. We make too much money and there aren’t any public Pre-K schools that I can find in our area. Private preschool is the only way to go and it’s not cheap, which is getting tougher for middle class families like us to afford. Heck, in NYC there’s talk about a plan to offer subsidized loans to upper middle class families so they can afford preschool. If a family earning more than $80,000 is struggling to afford early education that sends up a red flag to me.
But it’s an investment in her future!
Now I did do some pricing and found options ranging from $1500 to over $6000. The low end is only for two partial days at a preschool co-op. So cost is definitely a factor (even if it isn’t as crazy high as other areas). Yes, the break would be nice, but I am home anyway and like spending time with my kids. (Remind me to re-read that line on a bad day!) The early years are important for early education and building a foundation for life which I think is important to do together. As a family. I am a believer in play-based learning which we already engage in. In essence I’ve been homeschooling my children since birth.
But what will she learn?
My daughter loves learning and I’m almost afraid that enrolling in school now would ruin that for her. She was an early talker and knows the basics already (counting to 10, the alphabet, colors and shapes). Almost everyday she asks questions, we sing, read and play. We need to do more crafts and experiments which I can easily add in as a structured activity. And if I want to get fancy there are homeschool resources and preschool curriculum I can use.
Recently we’ve noticed her paying more attention to the words in her books, pointing and asking what that word says. She’s also been asking what letter words start with and tries to trace letters on her LeapPad. If I enroll her in preschool I’m afraid she may get bored. I know repetition is how toddlers learn, but I like being able to customize her learning based on actual skill level rather than age. On top of all that there’s a few studies that question whether or not preschool really makes a difference and show that the home environment and parents’ education are better indicators of academic success.
But what about social skills?
Socialization is the biggest question we’ve been asked and asked of ourselves. I used to think kids had to go to traditional school settings to learn social skills, but observing my daughter I’d say she’s been learning them for awhile. Interacting with us, our family and friends and strangers at the store all teach her about being social. The kids observe my husband and I as well as test their own skills and boundaries.
Yes, but what about behaving in class?
This is the second biggest issue raised since it ties in with socialization. There are ways to learn how to behave in class and listen to a teacher without being in an institutionalized school setting. We attend storytime at the library, gymnastics class, swimming lessons and soon, dance class. These are alternate ways for little kids to learn about listening, talking turns and working together. We aren’t sure whether or not we’ll continue to homeschool after preschool, but we aren’t worried about her failing upon entering a formal school system.
So, we’ll keep playing and learning at home and in our community. There are many years of traditional classrooms ahead and I’m in no hurry for my daughter to enter it.
Are you planning to enroll your child in preschool? Why or why not?
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