My Preschool Debate

I was homeschooled from first through sixth grade. I loved it, and I believe it gave me a lot of advantages for when I did enter public school. So I've always thought I'd homeschool as well, at least during the younger years. I know I'm in the minority, so I've been bracing myself for the lash back from educators and parents who would question my decision. I figured kindergarten age is either 5 or 6, so I had a good half of a decade after having my first child before I had to be ready for this debate.

I had no idea preschool would even be an issue. I guess I thought it was optional, and really, not necessary. Kindergarten is when school starts--I mean, real school, right?

So here I am with a two year old and an infant and everyone around me is putting their kids in a preschool or mother's-day-out program of some sort. And, I hate to admit this, but I panicked. I had never thought of preschool. I didn't think I had to. Since I was a stay-at-home mom, I thought I didn't need a mother's-day-out program, right? Why would I need to pay for preschool? I was staying home so I didn't have to pay someone else to raise my child.

All of the sudden the line got fuzzy, and I didn't know right from wrong (for my family). So, I told my husband all of the sides of the debate and what everyone else was saying, and I asked him to pray. I told him I'd be praying and would figure out where God's leading us, then come to him and see where he felt God was leading us (big decisions like this work best when we figure out God's direction on our own, then come together to find that we're both hearing the same thing from God--we come to a decision in very different ways: my hubby spends very little time on the issue, takes a little time to pray and listen, and comes back with his answer. I, on the other hand, have to hash everything out logically, consult with people I admire, pray, listen, make pro/con lists, etc., etc., until I come to my final decision. I find it rather amusing that we both always come to the same decision but in completely opposite ways).

Needless to say, when my friends (WAHMs, SAHMs, former elementary teachers, etc.) all started enrolling their children, I thought, "Uh oh. I've been missing something." So, for a little while now I've been researching and hashing out the pros and cons of preschool and trying to determine what's best for my children (Please note, I strongly believe this is a personal choice and something that needs to be decided on a case-by-case basis. I am in no way trying to determine if preschool is right for everyone. It's a personal decision just for my family).

Anyway, as I'm hashing it out in my mind, I thought I'd give you a peek into my own thought process and invite you to weigh in with your own experiences/thoughts.

Reasons I'd Send My Daughter to Preschool:

1. It'd give me more time to work (which is a little trickier to find this year because A is napping for half as long as she used to--so my work time has been cut in half).
2. It'd give me more quality time with my infant who's had to share me from day one.
3. It'd introduce my daughter to structure and teach her how to operate within structure.
4. It'd provide more opportunities for her to interact with other children and socialize.
5. It'd prepare her for kindergarten.
6. Everyone else is doing it.

Reasons I Wouldn't Send My Daughter to Preschool:

1. I want to raise my daughter--I don't want to pay someone else to do it.
2. She's got the rest of her life to be in school.
3. I can teach/train her at home so she's not missing out on any opportunities educationally or socially (we've got plenty of options to keep her around other kids and involved in extra curriculars).
4. I don't want to miss anything.
5. Children are influenced by the people they're around, and a big chunk of that influence would now be coming from outside sources.
6. I can always make my schedule work so that I can still work at home. It'd just be different, and different is okay.
7. I'd be doing it because everyone else is doing it.

There's my pro/con list so far. I've talked to quite a few people from all sides about the subject. And I've done a bit of praying. Now it's time for sorting. I need to sort all my thoughts, sift, stir, and sift some more and figure out where God's direction is in all of this. Why do I have to make this such a process all the time? If only I could be at peace with a decision I make after a few minutes of listening to God (like my husband). Well, I know why. I feel the need to have myself completely prepared to quiet the voices in my head when doubt, worry or fear start to come up after I've made the decision.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on the subject. What's most important for you? I'd say my number-one reasons on both lists are really the root of my problem. When I can figure which one is more important, I'll have my answer. I'll keep you posted.

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Lisa Ensor said...

Ok so here are my thoughts... in no particular order.
When I stopped working so much on "stuff" i.e. Lizzy Brookes, photography etc. I started to see my life slow down. I realized how many moments I was missing with little B while my mind was thinking about other things. I didn't plan to stop working on the side, the show homes situation chose it for me- but I'm so grateful it happened. I'm seeing that this short time with little B is precious and I don't want to miss any of it. When he's of school age (5 or 6) things will change forever! I'll have to be structured, he'll have to start keeping up with "what's required" and until then... I want to keep things simple. Play dates, library time, unexpected nice weather playing at the park or just sitting in his room listening to him talk and play. Not sure if my ramblings have helped, but remember to follow your heart and follow peace :) love you ma'am! you are an AMAZING mom and I know Andie will be smart, socialized and educated- however you go about that now :)

3 Little Chicks said...


I send Sophie to Mommy's Day Out two days a week but keep my twins at home. I'd send the twins too if it were in our budget. Then, I could work during the daytime twice a week. Right now I end up working from 6pm to 11pm. Fortunately, it is project work and not constant or I'd really be exhausted.

I'd keep Sophie home with the twins if we had more social activities. I don't have a playdate group but would love to join one. I tried to join a local SAHM/WAHM group, but only one other person ended up coming to the activity. Do you have any suggestions?

I like to do preschool activities with my girls and am confident they will be prepared to start kindergarten when the time comes. I'm in no hurry to send my girls off to school five days a week.

I'm glad you wrote this post. I've really been contemplating the homeschool/preschool thing myself too. I'll be checking in to read updates and suggestions!


Angie Neal said...

Good and interesting thoughts, Joy!
As you said, it is a very personal decision each family must make. I sent Hannah to pre-school for two years, three days a week for 2 1/2 hrs, for several reasons: She needed it! She was beginning to get restless at home and is a kid that craves interaction; I knew I would not homeschool (neither of us have the personality for it) and they are expected to know so much by the time kindergarten starts I knew she needed someone else working with her; we chose one that placed importance on academics but was also a Christian facility and I loved that she got both.
The structure and interaction were so good for her. It also gave me time to work at home and spend one on one time with Gabe.
I think if you choose a place that holds the same values as you, and if you stay closely involved, it is a great thing for young kids and has benefits for you as well.
Also, it is pretty obvious in Hannah's kindergarten class which kids went to pre-school and those that did not. Not just academically, but behaviorally as well. They are used to being in a structured classroom environment and adapted well to the change of five days a week of school (if you do end up homeschooling this will not be an issue).
You know Andie best, and know what she needs. I did what was best for Hannah but it might not be the same for someone else. Sending prayers for perfect clarity for you!

Camille said...

Joy, I share your mixed emotions. We haven't put Indi in preschool yet, but we're in the process of searching for a part-time program. She ultimately made the decision for us: she's been begging to go to school for months, and when we've toured different centers, she's walked right into the classrooms and started playing with the other kids. When we lived in Brooklyn, she had a group of kid friends she hung out with at the playground and library every day; now that we're in Michigan, we do play dates and classes, but it's still not the same, which is why I think she likes the idea of school. I'll let you know how it goes!

Anonymous said...

I am a headmaster of a school - Christian, classical school. We have done a pre-K for four year olds that met only two mornings per week. I am not a fan. Traditional schools from Adam and Eve until the 1880's when the first kindergarten was formed in the US, children went to school at about 7 years old. The more time children spend with their parents in the early years, the better adjusted they are at school. The kids Pre-3, Pre-4, etc are less social. If you are a bad parents and are mean to you kids and ignore them, however, they are better off with a nice Pre-K teacher!! Great post. This is a really important issue as the Pres is pushing hard for universal Pre-K and lower. Do what you need to do if you need a little break, but value the time and relationship that is takes to nurture your little ones. Read "Loving Little Ones" a great book for moms w/ tots. The best and very encouraging.