Thursday, May 16, 2013

Not Sending My Pre-schooler to Pre-school

Foil fish idea from 50 Rainy Day Activities
Sly will be three this summer, which seems to be the age a lot of parents are sending their little ones to preschool.  I've been thinking about it a bit - the pros and cons - and talking with some other parents about their decision.  Sometimes I think it would be great for Sly to have more opportunities to learn to get along with other kids (so far, having a little sister has proved not to provide enough practice!), learn new games and songs, and just have a change of scenery.  But we've always planned to homeschool our kids.  It doesn't seem to make a lot of sense to send them to a preschool for a year or so, and then teach them at home thereafter.  Additionally, unless we determined that it was essential, we just can't afford to spend the money on it.

Once I was sure we didn't need to enroll him in any official preschool programs, I began to wonder whether I should be "doing preschool" with him at home, now that he's reached "that age."  Things like...I don't know... formal cutting practice with scissors?  Drills in the ABC's?  Whatever it is that kids are "supposed" to learn in preschool??

Part of this worry was the age-old parental concern about my kid falling behind his peers.  But truthfully, a lot of it was coming from the fact that I'm just excited to start teaching him so many things!  I was a teacher, afterall, before I was a mom.  And I love learning.  I kinda can't wait to join the "cool club" of homeschooling moms who go out and do fun educational activities together with their kids. 

But I'm trying to hold myself back from pushing Sly into anything too soon.  He's not even three.  He'll be old enough for all that stuff before I know it, and then I'll just feel sad that he's growing up so fast.  I need to let him - and myself - enjoy his toddler-hood.  So basically I plan to just follow his lead for now, and delve into topics as he develops interest in them (oh no!  I'm starting to sound like an "unschooler" here!  haha).

As I write this, I'm realizing how much Sly has already learned without us teaching it intentionally.  After receiving a dinosaur poster this Christmas from my dad, Sly began talking about dinosaurs a bit.  So I picked up a dinosaur book next time we were at Goodwill.  We read it to him, the dinosaur interest grew, and he started learning all their names.  Then I got more books.  Then the grandparents gave him toys.  Then he started wanting to pretend to be dinosaurs.  Now he requests that Tom read to him from an adult-level encylopedia about extinct animals every night, and he's actually learning from it.  And so on and so on.  And Sly even knows most of the alphabet now, simply because he wanted to know about it.  He points to letters in books or on the computer keyboard, and asks what they are.  He likes to type his own name or other words that I spell out for him in e-mails to Daddy.  And when he wants to learn to use scissors - and I'm crazy enough to trust him with them - he'll learn that too!

Wow.  It's actually somewhat freeing to know that I don't have to create lesson plans, or sit down with him for formal teaching sessions - at least for a few years now - and he will still be learning a ton.  And once he's old enough, I don't need to sign him up for every free activity or educational program at the library or the park just because it's an opportunity to learn something.  Because everything is an opportunity for him to learn something.

So playing outside, trips to the library, playdates, baking with Mommy, making crafts at home...that can be "school" for Sly for awhile longer.


Sly is still ALL about crafts.  I went to Michael's the other day, and picked up some supplies to round out the stash in my craft cabinet: tempera paints, watercolors, pop beads, pony beads, beading lace, some little compartmentalized boxes for storage.  I'm excited to have more options now for doing crafts with Sly.  I justified the purchase by considering that instead of paying to send him to preschool, we'll save lots of money by just doing fun activities with him at home.
I really need a bigger cabinet from all this stuff

One thing I still need is some oak tag.  Does anyone remember that from elementary school?  Construction paper does not hold up to art projects.  The guy at Michael's said they don't sell anything like that, and suggested I cut up poster board instead.  There's gotta be a better answer!  I found that Amazon actually sells some oak tag, but it seems excessively expensive.  Ugh.  Anyone have a suggestion for sturdy paper for crafting?


  1. Dollar Tree calls it Posterboard, but it really is Oak Tag. I always picked up a couple every trip the whole time I taught-you never know when it will get used. At 2 for buck, why not?

  2. Speaking of education/preschooling/etc ... my cousin lent me a cd of a talk about Montessori and it is REALLY good. So clear, and makes so much sense. If you're interested I can lend it to you when I'm done. :)

    1. oh, sure. I would like to hear it. I finally found a book that explained Montessori really well, and I agree that it seems like a really good method. However, it's not fully adaptable to a homeschool setting. I might end up incorporating some of her principles, though.

  3. In terms of cost, within the diocese, there is a scholarship for preschoolers and it's based on income. (Actually most preschools offer some sorts of scholarship programs.) Sure you have to turn over your entire tax return but most parents I have talked to aren't paying much at all to send their kids each month. We will see how it turns out for us. I am just excited to have two mornings a week where I can focus on Noah and doing Mommy and Me classes with him while Matthew is off at school. I feel like Noah doesn't get to do half of what Matthew did, and it's clearly showing in his language development. Hoping to get him caught up quickly come the fall. :) And maybe I'll get some sanity back, too! lol

    I might add that Matthew is a good six months older than Sly, so I could see how I would be debating at this point if Matthew weren't going to be an older three in the fall. We debated at two and he was just too young. Now he just seems ready and willing. We'll see. :)

  4. From my experience (with Dom), if you're planning to homeschool, I wouldn't bother with preschool since he'll make friends there and it will be a bit of effort to either keep up with them (we do now) or let them go. I think Dom's experience with preschool made him wish he were in "real" school now (he's in's hard to even call it homeschool).

    Here comes my developmental psychologist side...boys are usually behind girls in development and, geez (that's a technical term), he's only going to be THREE. There was a reason that normally no one went to school before kindergarten (and many not until 1st grade)... Just my two cents.

    I agree that he will be plenty socialized with you, Tom and Stella, playdates, etc. You are a smart, capable your God-given ability to raise and educate your child. :0)

    Pray about it, talk to your husband, then decide what's best for your family.

  5. My son started preschool 2 mornings a week when he was 4. It was the perfect amount of time for him to be away from me and he loved it. He also knew several of the children already through church, and his cousin went too, so that helped. But it wasn't about readin writing and 'rithmetic, more about crafts and regular opportunities to play outside with friends. I am very grateful for it; it was really difficult for me to take him outside during winters with a newborn, I'm just saying it wouldn't have been worth it just for the "academics." It was a somewhat unconventional situation though and won't be an option with our next child so we will probably skip formal preschool for her. Since we are homeschooling our oldest next year I hope to have the three year old just participate as best she can with some of the easier stuff.

    There are homeschool co-ops in our town that include pre-K, maybe Sly is too young this year but it's something to think about for next? I imagine in a city as big as yours there are options like this. Worth checking into for the socialization aspect (yours and his).

    1. Thanks for commenting. Preschool does seem like a nice opportunity for playing with other kids, but as Sue commented above, I worry it might be hard to then keep him home for school afterwards.

      Yes, I am aware of a few co-ops in the city, and I intend to get involved once Sly's a bit older.

  6. Gordon and I were talking about this when we were walking to my midwife appt this morning, even though Pippa is at least a year away from starting any program.

    Here in Vancouver the options are pretty dizzying. There is an interesting program at the public schools for preschoolers called "Strong Start" which is basically "preschool where the parents stick around too" lol. It's a drop-in program and it's totally free, they even provide the snack. I'm definitely going to at least try that.

    For actual school, IF we can afford it, and IF the schools are decent, we both feel it's a good thing to support Catholic education. If we lived some places, I wouldn't even consider it, but the Catholic schools in Vancouver seem pretty good. And no matter where she goes, it's ultimately our responsibility to care for her faith formation; we just want to make sure it isn't being undermined at school at least, and it would be nice if it's being nurtured.

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