Should I Send My Child to Preschool?
To Preschool or Not?
This parenting thing never ends. Just when I had the feeding and sleeping part down pat (yes "I" not "the baby" because, really, who's training who??) along come those nagging questions about when your kid will start preschool. What age is right? Is preschool even necessary? You want me to write a check for how much now??
Preschool (or nursery school) can be defined simply as school for those years preceding public (read: free) school that many parents use as to supplement to the education they are providing for their child at home. A prep for Kindergarten, if you will. Or as I like to call it, freedom to grocery shop sans the fun of temper tantrums and over-packed diaper bags.
The fact is, preschool is not required for the 2-5 age group. You can teach your child manners, ABCs and proper hygiene right at home for the cost of - wait for it - FREE! But really, who doesn't need a 3 hour break two times a week from the apple of their eye? Is preschool the right choice for you and your family?
Ready or Not?
Ask Yourself These Questions
- Can we afford it? Quite honestly, this has to be your first consideration. While some areas have low or no-cost preschool, you will likely be looking at a bill of anywhere from a few hundred to several thousand dollars for one year. Ask your friends, call around to area schools and take a hard look at your household budget.
- Does my daycare already cover Preschool? If you have your child in daycare, your center or caretaker may already be covering the basics of preschool. Ask them before you start shopping around.
- Can I drive my child back and forth? If you are full or part time working parent, transportation should be a big consideration. Preschools typically start at or after normal working hours and end around lunch time. If you are unable to get away from your job you may need to hire a babysitter or nanny to take care of drop off and/or pick up. There are preschools with extended hours to accommodate working parents and you should look into these in your area if this is an issue.
- Is my child ready? Has your child ever been in someone else's care? Did they cry? A lot? Were they easy to calm down and distract, or did they stand at the door bawling until your return? Does your child enjoy playing with other children? Does your child use the bathroom on their own? As a parent, you know your child best.
- Are you ready? Have you ever left your child in someone else's care? Did you bawl at the door until it was time to pick them up? In all seriousness, parents who are with their children all day every day will need a break. If you are one of those parents, do not be ashamed to admit you need a time-out! Those few hours a week may be all you need to recharge and remember that you were a real human person before you had kids too.
Do It. Or Don't.
The decision is really all yours. Your child doesn't need preschool like they need food and shelter. But they may like it. And you may too. And the cost of having someone else teach your 3 year old the basics of finger painting in a place that is not your home may be all you need to sign on the dotted line.
Oh...and while they are competently being looked after those few hours per week, do something for yourself. Like take a shower. Please. Your friends are begging you.