The Great Preschool Debate

I've been thinking about this a lot lately. As of now, J is not signed up for preschool. I'm not really sure why. Part of me thinks she just doesn't need it. Academically she's right on target. She knows her ABC's, she can count to 20, she can even write a few letters. I'm not concerned about her 'being behind' when it comes times to register for kindergarten.

What I do think is important about preschool is the social aspect. Everyday lessons like sharing and paying attention are what most 3 year-olds really need. But more and more preschools are putting an intense focus on reading and writing. They are taking the fun out of being a kid. Gone are the days of dress up and fingerpaint.

Once upon a time, preschool was a place for kids to get used to being away from mommy, a chance for them to make friends and learn valuable life lessons like how to play nice and follow directions. Now the pressure's on. Kids are expected to know how to read before they even enter kindegarten.

I'm more inclined to let J learn naturally. I don't want to force academics because I don't want her to dislike school. I think she's going to be a good student. She learns very quickly.

I'm torn because I do think she would benefit from playing with other kids. Right now, she's an only child and it's just me and her most days. She does go to school/daycare two days a week while I work and I think I'm going to continue that in September. It's less structured than a typical preschool but perhaps that's a good thing.

What do you think? Do you feel pressure to send your little one to an academic preschool? What do you think kids should be learning in preschool? I'm curious to hear what other moms think.



Juliabohemian said...

I didn't send the 5 year old to preschool and she did just fine. Of course, we had no money for it and still don't. I am not sending my 3 year old either. They are in church groups and get enough socialization there to make them ready for school.

I think the whole "being ready for kindergarten" thing is overdone. Your kid will be fine. Unless she suffers from some major social disorder (which she obviously doesn't or you would have mentioned it by now) then she will figure it out on her own.

Stephanie said...

I felt it important to send my daughter to preschool so that she could learn not only to socialize with other children, but also to learn how to listen to another adult (other than her own parents). I looked carefully and found a wonderful pre-school one town over that does a lot of art projects, outdoor play (if it is over 30 degrees, the kids go outside) and just fun stuff. They do work a little on some academic stuff, but it is not their main focus. It has been a great experience for her and I am very happy. Keep looking - you may find just the place that is the right fit for you!

Stephanie said...

I felt it important to send my daughter to preschool so that she could learn not only to socialize with other children, but also to learn how to listen to another adult (other than her own parents). I looked carefully and found a wonderful pre-school one town over that does a lot of art projects, outdoor play (if it is over 30 degrees, the kids go outside) and just fun stuff. They do work a little on some academic stuff, but it is not their main focus. It has been a great experience for her and I am very happy. Keep looking - you may find just the place that is the right fit for you!

Nicole said...

As a school psychologist, I think it's important to send kids to preschool. And, I don't think a preschool should be academically based. There is so much to learn at preschool without focusing on the academics: separating from parent, socializing with peers, learning how to be at school and following directions, language development, etc.

Follow what you feel for your child. It does sound like she gets some of these things in the program she currently attends. Is it a preschool? Many preschools do not focus on academics. I found touring different programs helped me find a great one for my little ones.

Good luck!

Mama of 2 said...

I agree with you regarding how acedemic so many preschools have become. And while I see their point I don't often agree with it.

I was very lucky in the preschool that Little Man went to in the fact that they stressed learning through play. I mean playing a game of UNO is learning matching, colors and numbers but not a single child playing knows that. They only think they are playing cards like the grown ups.

This is not to say that Little Man didn't learn a great deal while he was there because he did but the key for me was that he didn't know he was.

I will most definitely be sending Girlie Girlie there when her time comes. I know that the school gave my child a good foundation for school and the school district we attend is a tough one so I know I am making a good choice.

Waya said...

Well, with all the emphasis on the MCAS, (Mass. Comprehensice Assessment System), students are stressing out more so now than when I attended school.

So I can see why schools are pushing preschoolers into more academic subjects. Although it's my job to balance my children's lives with other "creative outlets".

I too had my oldest and my 2nd son in day care 3 days/wk for some interactions with their peers (I was babying them too much at home!).

And my 2nd son will be going to an integrated preschool this fall for his expressive speech, and it's only 3 hrs/day, Monday-Thurs.

It's going to be interesting having him home w/my 3rd child. *biting nails*

Dollyllama said...

My almost-four-year old is in preschool (out of necessity) and while I wouldn't call it "academic," they certainly have things the teachers are supposed to accomplish with the kids throughout the year. However, these things are certainly not "taught" in any archaic sense of the word--for instance, one of the ways color mixing is taught is by giving the kids an ice cube tray and a pipette thingie, and then putting three or four different colors of water in the tray and having them squeeze them in and out of the little squares. Mostly they just do this on their own as play, but sometimes one of the teachers will ask them what they've discovered, or ask them to do it a certain way. They don't learn letters in any standard fashion (like putting the ABCs on the wall), but my daughter knows all the letters that begin the names of all her classmates--if I show her a "J", she'll say "That's J! For Jayla!" They do lots of singing and painting and running and discovering. She comes home all the time with new things to tell me. But I have noticed (and verified with her teachers) that all the heavy learning is reserved for me--that is, when she wants to ask a question about death, or where babies come from, or what jail is, all that waits in her head until she can talk to me.

Anyway, preschool has definitely been fun for her, but I wouldn't say she would be any better or worse in kindergarten because she went to preschool. She may adapt a bit quicker than someone who has been home, but I doubt she'll be any more academically advanced. Just a thought!

Christina said...

I think part-time preschool is a great idea. It still gives her lots of mommy time, but it also gives her some time away to learn and socialize with others.

I would really recommend touring preschools and finding one that fits what you want to get out of a preschool. Montessori schools are often more unstructured and focus more on fun ways of learning than strict academia.

Cityslicker Mom said...

i used to feel pressure, since my son is now 4 and i've never done prek, meanwhile, i knew people who were sending their 2 and 3 yr olds to prek. i personally just didnt think it was necessary at that age. most of those moms were looking more for a break for themselves. my son will be starting prek in the fall, bec he will be 4.5 and i think he really enjoys interacting with other little kids, plus, it's a way to get him used to the student/teacher dynamic. but im not all anal about it. it's just Prek!! just like your daughter he knows his abcs, spanish, counting, etc. they learn alot of that stuff sort of naturally (sort of).

cfmadmin said...

I don't feel pressure and honestly don't care that my now 5.4 year old son has never went to preschool except for a few weeks at age 4 because he wanted to try it. He ended up quitting because it wasn't fun and he didn't like nap time since he no longer took naps but they kind of forced it on him but that's a whole other story...

Now this doesn't bother me mainly because we are considering homeschooling and our son get's enough socialization with other family, neighborhood friends, and his sports activities!

If you feel you must send her, then I would find one like montessori and only do it part time.

petite mommy said...

I left the last comment. Sorry about the error.

chelle said...

I have been pondering the same thing. I think when the time comes our dd will be going to a part time pre-school. Same as you, not because she is not learning at home, but for the structure and the opportunity to learn from someone else.

Tracie said...

My hubby and I have been having this conversation more and more lately-what to do about preschool. My daughter is in a missionettes class at church and she has learned from that that there are times to sit in her chair and listen to the teacher and do structured activities and time to have "free" play. So I don't think she needs preschool for that reason. Really I am with you-I would be more excited about preschool if I could find one that is more "play" or "learn-through-play" oriented. She has enough years of schooling ahead of her to take away her fun time now seems kind of sad.

carrie said...

I think the preschool "experience" is far more important than the academic need at this age. With my older two, I was very choosy and looked at a lot of schools until I found one that was just "right" for us. Our daughter will be going there in the fall for the first time.

I didn't necessarily feel pressured for them to be in preschool, but there are always those interactions with other moms where one mom is comparing where her child goes to school to the other - I hate that!

I think learning through play is more important than learning to "color in the lines". The Immergent (this may be misspelled) curriculum which is adopted at our school of choice does not force children to learn in a strict manner. Kids are encouraged to learn by doing and experiencing and playing. I love it, but it may not be for you.

The best thing to remember is to do what feels right for your child and forget the rest. Only you know what is best, and kids with great parents who do not go to preschool turn out just fine too! :)


TJ said...

I used to feel pressure. My friends had put their kiddies in preschool when they were three and for a moment, I thought I *had* to do that as well. I snapped out of it and kept my daughter home. We played school, she knew how to write her name young, learned her ABC's, etc. She only actually went to preschool for about three months because we had to move, and here in the south they don't have preschools (that I can find anyway!). My daughter starts kindergarten this fall, and I think I made the right choice. I am all about her being a kid, for now.

But my friends also figured they were doing right - so it really just comes down to doing what feels best for you. You know, follow your gut. :)

Rose said...

I sent both my children who are now teens to preschool and I don't regret it. But follow your heart. If she's an only child, preschool might be good for her. Have you asked her, if she wanys to go

something blue said...

My girls are back in daycare. It is an amazing facility that brings in all kinds of professionals for entertainment and development. They come home with more crafts than I could ever imagine them doing at home. They learn new songs and have so many friends. I find that my three year old listens a little better too after following directions from "their teachers." I think we are really lucky to have such an amazing place to send them but it does cost a small fortune.

Jamie said...

My daughter, who just turned 4 June 6, is now in the pre-K room at daycare. They have a regular curriculum and each week they focus on a letter and a number. Her teacher told me this morning that next week they are going to work on learning their home address and phone number. They also do fun activities like water play on Thursdays and show and tell. Even if I was not working outside the home I would have her enrolled in some sort of pre-K program at this age. She loves playing with other kids, thrives on structure, and is learning so much.