Thursday, February 21, 2013

On Preschool.

Jack turns three in June. 
Three = eligible for fall preschool enrollment.

Yesterday was a day where, despite having gone to bed at 1 am the night before (poor, poor decision), I made a concerted effort to really engage with the boys. Jack and I worked on alphabet flash cards, I crawled around on the floor a lot, we sang Raffi songs. I mean - I really gave it my all. And by noon (when Tim came home), after five hours of active toddler engagement, I was totally exhausted.  And that's just five hours. I know most moms give it a good solid eight hours before their spouses come home. Not to mention single parents! So you'd think I'd be celebrating the day when I could bring Jack to a place where they will teach him lots of neat things and do lots of creative activities while Moses and I kick back at home eating bon bons and oat puffs.

I was SURE I'd be excited for the day. Not because I don't like raising my kids, or because I dislike my time with Jack. But anyone who has two children 2 years and younger at home (who rarely nap at the same time) knows we all could use a little break every now and then. And when that break means someone is teaching my child valuable life skills - even better. Especially since there's some crazy statistic out there that kids who go to preschool have a higher rate of obtaining college degrees. So basically, if I don't send Jack to preschool I'm setting him up for a life of future hardship.

Nice try, statistics.

In any case, I love the idea of preschool. I just don't love the mega bucks it costs to attend (why aren't they free?!) Plus I started to feel sad that I would miss out on being a part of those "hands on" years of learning. But then I was like "Come on, Lauren. YOU can do that." Naturally, I have visions of Jack and I skipping through the woods examining leaf samples with magnifying glasses. And making solar systems out of styrofoam balls. And making lots of hand-print turkeys for Thanksgiving. Sure, it's probably not going to be a cakewalk, but preschool is expensive. While part of our tax return would certainly cover the fees, I think it's worth it for me to at least try my hand at intentionally educating him in the way a preschool teacher would. Between Pinterest and the craft store I'm sure I'll manage to sort something out.

That all said, I know I'm going to have to be organized in order to make this fun instead of stressful. To do it well, I'd want to set aside exclusive time with Jack two days out of the week (based off a normal preschool schedule) to do some intentional learning, which would mean I'd need someone to care for Moses.

I'd also like to follow some sort of curriculum - mostly because I suck when it comes to thinking about creative activities. I found this option through another blog and I think it could work well since it's simple, free, and incorporates faith into the lessons.

So that's the plan. 
Any advice on how to go about doing this in a fun, non-stressful way?


  1. It's a lie. It really is. I see stay at home parenting much more closely now that I telecommute. Michelle is an *awesome* stay at home mom. And we have several friends that also have really impressive stay at home parents. And I get to try it out on Saturdays.

    I don't think I've seen anyone survive eight hours of active toddler engagement at home.

    So don't feel bad. We've strongly encouraged the boys with independent play... play dough, puzzles, legos, building blocks, toy trains, drawing... But ultimately it's really tough. Especially if you don't leave the house. It goes by much faster for us if we go to a museum, park, or shoot - just Target or the grocery store. 1-3 hours, accounted for. Done! Voila!

    We do try our best, though. We try & get them outside. We don't turn on the TV, like, ever (probably our biggest victory). Although during nap time when our bodies really come crashing down & oldest Alexander (now 5) is still whizzing about, the iPad usually does come out a bit (takes away from the TV victory, I know). Eventually, we just have to say "Alexander, go do *this*. We need a break for an hour - please don't bother us." It's hard, but I think being able to entertain yourself for a bit is a good life skill. We're still working on that...

    So, preschool. Don't pay too much attention to the study - it's correlation not causation. It may be that preschool helps children academically in the future. Or maybe that people who send their children to preschool value education more, and therefore their children would do better anyway. It's really impossible to say.

    For us, did I mention Michelle is awesome mom? Alexander was already way ahead on most of the "academics" he needed for preschool - letters, numbers, vocabulary. I have no doubt that Jack & Moses would be plenty prepared "academics" under your guidance, too. But Alex really really needed to go to learn social skills. Before preschool, he literally couldn't participate in a soccer practice - he froze up out of fear. That's what we needed to fix, and we simply couldn't do that on our own.

    So we started gradually - it's both cheaper & really not necessary to do more. Two days a week for all of 2011-2012. This school year, 3 days a week first half of the year. Now in 2013, he's finally up to 5 days a week to prepare him for kindergarten in the fall. He's doing great. He loves it. It's one of the best things that happened for him.

    Now, I've tried to give a good recommendation for preschool, at least a small amount of it. But don't let me discourage you from picking up a preschool curriculum for yourself. Marching through that at home would give the kids so much quality time & enrichment, I'm sure the results would be amazing regardless of preschool.

    1. Wow this was so helpful and encouraging Mike!! Jack almost refuses to play by himself so its good to know I'm not alone in this. And that eight hours of toddler engagement is not practical! Lol.

      Thanks for sharing the way preschool has helped Alex. I think Jack would like it too - I guess I'm not ready to let him out of the nest yet? Which is weird considering how exhausting I find it to try and entertain him somedays. BTW - we totally go to Target just to pass the time!

      I will consider everything you shared as Tim and I pray over this whole thing.

  2. Take the pressure off yourself - Jack already knows many opposites! I think we've deluded ourselves into believing we need some sort of curriculum to educate our little ones. Just by reading to him, taking him places, having him interact with other children and adults, the BSF're already laying a fine foundation. Do the curriculum if you want and think it would be fun for you both. Otherwise you'll get stressed if all doesn't go according to plan.

    1. Thanks Anne! This is helpful especially since you've done home schooling before. And I did think about the fact that you have always said the best way to learn is to do so "as you go about life" and not being quite so regimented about it.

  3. first of all, I don't know ANY parents who are 100% intentional and hands on for 8 full hours of the day. So don't believe that lie or make it guilt you! Of course we try to be, but kids thrive when they can use their own creativity too. Independent play is good, and mom needs time to herself :)

    As for us, I'd love to do preschool but there are only private expensive ones in Montreal that I know of, and we probably won't be able to fit it in the budget. What we'll probably do is continue with daycare and maybe add a day or two since there is some structure and socialization there similar to preschool (though obviously they're not learning to read, etc, there).

    I find a lot of learning/educating happens organically when you're just parenting. The alphabet is a great example. I don't use flash cards or any official materials, but when we're reading or playing we always go back to the alphabet, and now Lily knows a good amount of the letters by heart!

    If I can find an affordable preschool, I will totally send her though. With two babies at home by the time Lily is 3, I won't have the energy or ability to go to the next level of educating and plus I think a preschool teacher can do it far better than me haha! After all, I don't have a degree in teaching, I have one in business!

    1. Thanks for the insight Em! I hate that preschool is so expensive. But then you're right, and I often remind myself of this, that Jack is learning on a daily basis without me having to be super intentional about it.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...