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  1. #1
    amp Guest

    Default How the heck do you decide about preschool???

    Let me start by saying that this question pertains to SAHM's and kids in preschool. I keep reading and hearing so many mamas talk about their toddlers in preschool and I'm feeling a bit lost about the whole thing.

    First off, it never really occured to me to even consider preschool until DS was probably 4 yrs old, but it seems so many of you are doing it at 2 and 3. Why? I don't mean to doubt you, but seriously want to know why you decided to do it sooner. Is there something I'm missing?

    Second, so many of the "preschools" here are just glorified daycares, as evidenced by the fact that they start at infants and the infants and one year olds tend to go full time. And they call themselves "preschools". To me, that's daycare, not preschool. So how do you sort out whether it really is a preschool that is prepping for school?

    My mom said that when I was a tot, and she was a SAHM, I went to a preschool coop, which they loved. Unfortunately, I can find absolutely nothing about such a thing here. Just the major chain daycares and some church preschools, which I'm not opposed to, but we don't attend a particular church, so I don't even know where to start.

    Again, I really had no intention of putting DS in preschool yet, but now I'm wondering if that's weird. I can't really even fathom sending him away to school right now. Heck, I can't even get him to stay at the nursery during MOMS Club meetings! So enlighten me if you can. Thanks!

  2. #2
    Timmersmom Guest

    Default RE: How the heck do you decide about preschool???

    My original plan was for DS to start Montessori at age 3 1/2. Last year, I had DD when he was 27 months. A few months later, I found a preschool that took kids that weren't potty trained. I visited it, and hemmed and hawed, then decided to enroll him for 2 days a week, 2 1/2 hours a session. This was definitely a school, not a daycare environment.

    While I felt sad to be sending him "off to school" so young, I felt like I was not able to give him the attention and interaction he deserved, with my DD demanding most of it. I decided the best thing for *him* was to be around around children his age for a few hours a week.

    I don't think his conceptual skills (letters, numbers, etc.) were any better than they would have been without it, but his speech has progressed (some exposure to Spanish, too), and I think his social skills have been enhanced. Most importantly, though, I know he really enjoyed going to "school".

    He is going to Montessori this fall, but I'm glad he had this experience this past year.

  3. #3
    Karenn is offline Sapphire level (2000+ posts)
    Join Date
    Sep 2002

    Default RE: How the heck do you decide about preschool???

    Colin's going to start next year at age 3. I *think* that's a pretty common age around here, but I'm hearing more and more moms starting their kids at 2. I was lucky and found a "lab school" out of a local community college that I just love. I'm sending him because I think he'll really benefit from the chance to interact with same age peers and adults besides me on a regular basis. I think the socialization will be good for him. I feel like interacting with other kids in a mildy structured play environment is a good way to prepare for school. I'm not sending him to preschool so that he can acquire any specific skills like reading, writing or math. In fact, I tended to avoid the more academic programs in town. (45 minutes of "circle time" seemed like a bit much for 3 year olds!) Plus, I went to preschool when I was three and four and I have such fond memories of those years! I loved preschool and I want the same for Colin.

    All of the co-ops around here are based out of community colleges, so you might check there. Other than that, I too have found that most of the pre-schools are either church based, montessori, or really just daycare. (There are also some *really* expensive private schools that have pre-schools.) Also, a lot of my friends who are very involved with MOPS and other quasi-pre-school groups have opted to skip it all together. They feel like their kids get enough socialization at all of their other events. The kids have all done fine in kindergarten -except when they've tried to get into the really expensive private schools in town.

    The way you can usually tell a "pre school" from a "daycare" is to look at how long the kids spend there and who attends. Pre-school programs are usually 1 1/2-3 hours long and that's it. They usually serve 2 years old to Kindergarten, but not infants or older children, unless they are attached to an elemenatry school, which some of the church based ones are.

    Sorry,I think I rambled a bit- I get excited about pre-school. I hope that helped!

  4. #4
    bluej Guest

    Default RE: How the heck do you decide about preschool???

    I won't be sending Ryden to preschool until he's 4. I have no reason other than that's what we did with the other two and it worked out well for us. Oh yeah, and it's not budgeted into our budget right now. Preschools are expensive! I'm also hesistant b/c as active as Ryden is, he totally shuts down when he's with a large group of kids. He has a great time in church nursery when it's just a few kids there. Get more than ten in there and he just stands there like he's overwhelmed by it all. I suppose if he were in preschool he would eventually get over that, but I really see no need to do that right now since it's clear he's so overwhelmed in that type of situation.

  5. #5
    jk3 is offline Ruby level (4000+ posts)
    Join Date
    Feb 2004

    Default RE: How the heck do you decide about preschool???

    Braden will be going at 2. I will be returning to work but even before we made this decision, I signed him up. I think it's important for two year olds to have some experience in a social situation without mom. Braden has been in two playgroups sine he was a baby but it's a different experience with mom around.

    Additionally, in our area if you do not sign your child up at two, it's virtually impossible to get into a program at a later point. I chose his preschool by visiting a bunch of local preschools. Since I am a teacher, I knew what I was looking for in terms of a program. I wanted a place where the children were free to explore within a nurturing environment. The schools I looked at were not glorified daycare centers. Each had a vision and the teachers were highly trained in early childhood education.

    DS 6/3/03

  6. #6
    schums's Avatar
    schums is offline Platinum level (1000+ posts)
    Join Date
    Nov 2001
    near Ann Arbor MI

    Default RE: How the heck do you decide about preschool???

    Alex is not going until he is 4. I looked into it for this fall (he is 3 now), and decided that it wasn't something that he needed right now. Things to consider that helped me make my decision:
    * Does your son regularly socialize with other (non-related) children close to his age?
    * Does he seem comfortable with other kids around his age? Is his play age appropriate?
    * Are there activities/classes you can enroll him in in the community (other than preschool) to widen his horizons and give him the experience of time away from mom?
    * Does your son seem ready to be in a classroom for 2-4 hours a day, 2-4 days a week, every week for the entire school year? And does this fit YOUR lifestyle right now?

    I decided that I could take the same amount of money that 3 year old preschool would cost and sign Alex up for different classes through our Parks and Rec department here, and let him have some fun this year without any pressure, but still have him learn how to follow instructions with a group (without me there), make new friends, etc. I just don't think he is ready to sit in a classroom for the 3 1/2 hours a day 2-3 days a week that the preschool around here runs. He'll have plenty of years of structured school.

    Oh, and don't listen to people who tell you that your son will be horribly behind if you don't put him in 3 year old preschool. I talked with Alex's ped at his 3 year appt, and she said that unless you have an at risk child, there is no indication that preschool helps a child succeed in school. In other words a child that has 2 years of preschool and a child with no preschool at all before kindergarden have the identical chances of success in school.

    Alex 3/2002
    Catherine 8/2003

  7. #7
    alkagift is offline Sapphire level (2000+ posts)
    Join Date
    Jan 2003

    Default RE: How the heck do you decide about preschool???

    We started looking around for something for Matthew when it was pointed out to us that he has almost no socialization outside of immediate family. He's open with family, but very shy with the normal noisy-ness of older kids at the playground. He really needs to have more exposure to more people since I'm basically a hermit. He knows his letters and numbers and loves to read and has great fine motor coordination, so it wasn't about "education" per se for me. I really think it's an individual decision based on what you think Jacob would need or want.

    At two, none of the programs I talked to recommended anything more than 2 days a week, three hours a day. There ARE programs around here too that call their full day daycare programs for toddlers "preschool." My guess is because a) it sounds better or b)because they really do have a preschool for older kids and they're just sort of extending that to the younger kids since they think parents like a more aggressive "educational" philosophy.

    We chose a program that around here is technically called "Mother's Morning Out" (and this is a term that is used lots of places to mean the same thing--3 and younger, part-time half days). Almost all of these programs are affordable and are at local churches. Our program is at a church that we're not attending, but which has a respected elementary and middle school program and it's right around the corner from our house. The program is not preschool, in my book, since they don't have a strict curriculum (it's more like they learn about birds for a month and pretend they're birds and worms and eat crackers and go look at birds). Preschool there starts at age 4.

    Montessori is a different deal--much more school like, ours starts at age 2 1/2 (Matthew wouldn't be eligible this fall anyway) and requires them to be potty trained. It is $7,100 for the school year, half days 5 days a week.

    Mommy to Matthew Clayton, who is TWO!

  8. #8
    amp Guest

    Default RE: How the heck do you decide about preschool???

    Jen, Jacob has the very same reaction, and maybe it's just mommy neurosis, but I can't see taking him to school and leaving him, knowing how upset he'd be right now. Thanks for your input!

  9. #9
    amp Guest

    Default RE: How the heck do you decide about preschool???

    Karen - Your post was helpful and you didn't ramble. I appreciate your input as to why you decided to go with it and when. Also, I think your assessment of what a preschool is is probably right on target. My problem is, I don't know how to find it. When I google, or look in the phone book under preschools, I still come up with places that start full time "care" for infants at very young ages, etc. So I don't really know where else to look. I guess I assumed that even the local college would show up if there were a good program available. I know they have a fantastic daycare for students children, but have never heard of anything public or preschool related.


  10. #10
    amp Guest

    Default RE: How the heck do you decide about preschool???

    Jenn - How did you know that if you don't sign up for preschool now that it's impossible to get in later? I worry about that, but have never heard anything locally in that vein.

    Also, how did you find your preschool and how were you sure it wasn't just a glorified daycare? Did you know even before you visited the school, or did you have to try a bunch out w/ a visit to determine that?

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