Friday, March 4, 2011

The Preschool Predicament

It's March and, as a parent of a preschooler, that means we should already be enrolled and have our plans set for the 2011-2012 school year. Except for one thing...

...We aren't doing preschool.


I'll be honest and say that I really gave it some good thought, not because I thought Beanie needed to learn and socialize away from home but because, with my PPD, I wondered if I was going to be able to give her what she needed. It seems there is so much pressure put on children (and parents) and at younger and younger ages. I met a mom whose son had just turned one and friends were asking if she'd thought about where he'd go to preschool. A friend told me that when they moved here others told her they needed to start preschool at 2 1/2 because kindergarten was so competitive. Kindergarten? Competitive? Surely five year olds aren't all about competition at school. Is it the parents? The public school system? I don't know.

We've decided to home preschool Beanie for sure. We lean toward an unschooling approach to preschool learning and I just don't really see what she needs to know that Glenn or I can't teach her. We can socialize through our playgroups and through classes at through parks and recreation and the like. There's other factors like the fact that many preschools are church based (something weren't not interested in) and the fact that any preschool except for a co-op is probably cost-prohibitive for us right now (and, really, if we're doing a co-op why not just be at home?).

I'm excited that our AP moms group is working to put together a co-op of its own. I don't know how it will all pan out, but I have high hopes because there are quite a few of us who are interested and a lot of good ideas floating around. I think that it really could provide a bit of needed structure to our learning. I also think it will be nice for Beanie to learn from other moms and for her to be interacting with the same group of kids on a consistent basis. I'm really excited and it makes me feel even better about our decision not to send her to preschool.

While we're in limbo with the moms group co-op I'd like to add some structure to what we're learning about. Do structure and unschooling go together at all? Whatever. It's not about the labels. Basically, I'd like to set aside some time a few days a week to sit down for "learning time." We can play it by ear and see where we go with it. Right now my idea is to rotate through days about letters, numbers/math, science and arts & crafts. Not all of these have to be sit down activities of course. We learn about numbers when we're at the grocery store or when we're baking. We talk about science when we discuss weather and bugs. She's really been into drawing and painting lately, something she didn't hold much interest in before. I feel like we've deforested a rain forest with all the paper she's gone though, but what's a mom of a three year old to do?

I'm excited about where this next year of learning will take us. So far, our plan is to go to public school for K-12, but we'll see where we end up with that, too.

Do you homeschool/unschool/etc? What are your favorite resources?


  1. Great post Kristen! I have some serious homeschooling/unschooling leanings and I am loving being able to be home with Mostest and do activities with him! Only being 2 months into a new home/town/situation I haven't been able to get much of a routine down but I am really trying to add some routine type structure into our days.

    I have found window markers and dry erase boards/markers are a really great way to use less paper and keep letters, writing and drawing interesting.

    I have also been hitting Salvation Army A TON and getting a bunch of stuff for activities for just a couple of bucks. Its usually stuff that other people thing is junk so that helps it cost less too LOL

    I look forward to hearing what your moms group gets going!

  2. Fair enough! We just enrolled our son in preschool for the fall, when he will be 3. I had never thought about not doing it until some fellow moms mentioned staying in daycare (because "it's the same") or just not bothering until kindergarten. Huh. I just always thought preschool was what you did.

    We're opted to send our son because he's not in daycare and we think the structure will be good for him. He gets a lot of socializing but I think a bit of reinforcement from people outside mom and dad (and others who care for him) will be good.

    But sounds like you made the right decision for you!

  3. I did homeschool preschool for a friend's son, and we had so much fun :) we did have structure though, and he thought it was exciting to be able to tell me what came next, although we were never strict and allowed for natural learning moments. I already know that if A goes to preschool at all it will be just the one year pre-k and just very part time. I don't believe in pressuring kids or getting competitive at such a young age.

  4. We lean much more towards the unschooling approach. I've just started reading Playful Learning and am excited about knowing the caliber of education available to my kids. There's just so much about formalized education that scares the crap out of me at this point.

  5. We unschool, my daughter is now close to three years old. I am on the yahoo group always unschooled and I find oodles of interesting things on there. It is a really strong and confronting group, and they challenge me everyday.
    You can also check out my blog if you want to learn more of an unschooling approach. Sandra Dodd has heaps of info and is great too.
    You could also think about getting a subscription to life learning magazine

  6. I probably would have sent my kids to preschool if it wasn't for the fact that DH didn't go to preschool and he doesn't see the point of it. I think if I were to send my DD to preschool, it would mostly be to give myself a little break--it would be nice to go grocery shopping with just one kid again. I think we will probably do home preschool at least this year. Maybe we'll send her to preschool when she's 4. We currently live in an area that still does half day kindergarten, but if we move somewhere that does full day, I'd like her to have part-time preschool before going to a full day program, to ease into being away from home. Our plans to do public school are not set in stone yet either...I am starting to become more and more worried about what public education is trying to indoctrinate children with.

  7. Being a public school teacher makes me even more uncomfortable with my children going to a traditional school. It is not a natural learning environment despite many teachers' efforts to make it so. I'm on my phone at a rest stop in the 5 or I'd type more.

  8. We are not a preschooling family either. Our oldes two I taught at home and plan to do so with our youngest two, as well. We force our kids into growing up earlier and earlier. And since we have figured out our budget to allow me to stay home and raise our kids...that's just what I'm going to do. I don't need to send my 2,3 or 4 year old to someone else to learn what they need to know for kindegarden. Plus the cost isn't something we are going to even consider. This is a great spoke to me. In a lot of ways I am in the minority on this issue...and I'm glad I have a partner in crime! :)

  9. I found myself in the exact same dilemma with doing preschool and now with Kindergarten. And both times we decided that our daughter does so much better learning at home. She gets plenty of socialization through classes, playgroups and playdates...and the thing that just makes me beam is that I get to be a part of it all, on the front lines! It truly is an amazing experience :-) Good luck with preschool, it really is a lot of fun! As for resources, I fell in love with the Oak Meadow curriculum. They are based on Waldorf principles and just fit so well with our parenting approach. I would highly recommend the preschool one as it will set you up nicely if you do plan to continue homeschool for Kindergarten. We are now using their Kindergarten curriculum as well as stuff I've supplemented with.

  10. If Elsa were three right now I'd probably be putting her in preschool, because there just aren't any playgroups around here for me to take her to and it would be a good way for us. Plus we do go to church so that doesn't bother me.

    But I agree with you that it's ridiculous these days. I saw an ad about how something like half of all children start kindergarten "unprepared." WTH? How are you "unprepared" for kindergarten? I recall kindergarten being singing, craft projects, and playing. We learned to count and read, but they didn't expect you to know it coming in. Jeez. And somehow, we keep falling further behind other countries academically.


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