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To preschool or not to preschool

Updated on July 17, 2011

I decided to stay at home and be a mom to my daughter as soon as she lay peacefully on my breast after she was born. I was still in this dizzy happy momentum following a birthing of a child and as I gazed lovingly into her wide open eyes, I knew I wanted to give her the best I could.

This was a time of upheaval in our family, my husband had been without a job for over a year and my income was hardly enough to pay for groceries. We lived off savings. And yet, upon seeing my firstborn resting in my arms I felt a surge of love and my heart knew I wasn't going to go back to work and put her in a daycare. No matter how insane my decision seemed, I was determined to do as I wanted. Defying the common sense, I refused to go back to my peanuts-paying-job and assumed a role of a stay at home mom. This was a bliss for me and her. There is no question about that. We continued living like Scrooges and eventually my husband got a job.


Image: Louisa Stokes /
Image: Louisa Stokes /

During my years of mothering I came across many mothering styles and I always wanted to understand what was behind certain decisions parents had made. In my opinion, there are some choices we make as parents that are pretty self-explanatory and there is nothing left to be questioned. I absolutely understand the motives of a single mother who has to put her child in some sort of a daycare in order to be able to make ends meet. There are many parents who can't simply afford to live off one income only. There are professional women who are driven and want to continue to go back to their career as soon as their children are of certain age. And there are stay at home moms who live a comfortable life without financial worries and stress. And yet majority of them choose to put their children in a daycare or preschool.

Image: Filomena Scalise /
Image: Filomena Scalise /

Take heart and model behavior

I was always wondering about the reasons for doing so. In my opinion, the common misconception that kids need to socialize from an early age is leading parents to enroll their young children in an organized preschool. While I understand rationale of a working mother to do so, I don't quite understand reasons of a stay at home mom. Young children need most of all their parents. If you have ever observed their play, they tend to play next to each other and not with each other. Two year olds don't usually need anything more than to run errands with their mom, observe her in social situations and take clues from her about the proper conduct. The mom is the best person to model their behavior. Let's look at how they are corrected in a preschool model. If there is only one adult in charge of a group of two or three year olds, there is a chance she won't see all the details in each of the problem situations. There may be times she will discipline both children who caused a trouble, even though only one of them was really guilty. Preschool is not genuinely loving environment for a child to learn the essential life skills. It is hard for me to believe that most mothers consider themselves unable to provide enough stimulation for their own children and instead choose to entrust their little one in hands of professionals. Moms are by nature capable to take better care of their children than any other person.

This is what you should consider:

  1. a need for socialization doesn't really start until child is at least 3 years old. Majority of children can be socialized through playgroups, park dates and outings
  2. basics that are prerequisite for kindergarten are easy to teach at home, your child needs to know colors, letters and numbers from 1 to 10
  3. as I mentioned, forcing independence on children that are emotionally not ready to be independent doesn't produce good results
  4. moms are the best teachers, little children learn from everyday life, free play and time outside are the best for their age

Misconceptions about preschool

These are common and very heavily rooted in our society misconceptions about necessity of preschool in our society:

  1. a child must be socialized from an early age or she will never learn to be a productive and well behaved member of our society
  2. a child must be in a preschool because that's where he will get ready for kindergarten
  3. a child needs a preschool to learn how to be independent from family
  4. a mother won't be able to stimulate and accommodate child's growing need for learning, physical activity and friends

Image: Maggie Smith /
Image: Maggie Smith /

Too much rush for an independence in children

Nowadays, parents are in a great hurry to have their children grown up and independent. There is a strong societal pressure to have a baby sleep through the night at six weeks and play independently, sleep independently, eat independently as soon as possible. Historically speaking, mankind wouldn't survive if our ancestors expected their babies and kids to be independent as we do. Babies needed to sleep next to their mother to be safe from wild animals and warm at night. Toddlers and young children needed to stay close to their parents for their own sake. Today, with an advent of modern gadgets, parents are very concerned that their children are too attached and not independent enough. To teach them life and toughen them up we are sending our little ones to a preschool to provide them a safe, fun and learning environment. If you ever talk to any preschool teacher she will tell you how great is child's lament when he is left there for the first time. She will also tell you that relatively soon, perhaps after a few times a child will stop that nonsense and learn to enjoy this new place. Young children usually react very vehemently when they are left by their mother. Interestingly, some will cry for an extended period of time and won't be easily comforted, some will subdue earlier. Do you think they actually stop crying because they enjoy the preschool? No, they give up! They give up because they see no hope. They adapt to a new situation because there is no other way.

Things to do with your young child:

These are simple ideas to keep your child stimulated:

  • go to a nearby park to play, you may be able to make some friends there, too
  • look for a playgroup in yahoo groups to find a good match for your parenting style or at
  • go to a local library for a story time and don't forget to check out books, too
  • read to your child
  • take your toddler with you grocery shopping and let him help
  • start a co-op preschool
  • go for a nature walk and show her birds, rocks and plants
  • cook together, children love to participate in baking muffins, cookies and helping out in kitchen


Take charge of your children

Instead of delegating power to a stranger to be your child's first teacher try taking charge of your child's behavior, learning and manners. If you expect your children will have better manners because they are sent to a preschool, then maybe you should rethink it. How do you want a 3 year old to learn from a teacher if there is also a powerful example of other children in his group... Children learn by copying behavior and learn very fast that kicking, pushing hard to grab your toy is the way to go, they may repeat that action to achieve desired outcome. Parent is better equipped to do a job of a preschool teacher, as a parent doesn't have to watch a whole room full of toddlers and pay attention to all of them at once. You may choose your strategies wise and simply model. I never had to persuade my children to say thank you, please or sorry, they heard me using these polite phrases countless times and chose on their own accord to do so, early, at age of three. If you invest more time at an early age in your children's happiness, well being and attachment - there will be benefits. Good manners is just one of them. Respecting parents, as long as you give them your love and trust is another one. Surprisingly, my children who were allowed to be with me at all times, never have any trouble to seperate from me now when they are a little older. They happily participate in extracurricular classes and sports. I am able to leave them in a class and there is never any fussing, they don't cling to me. I have given them time to grow up and be emotionally ready to be independent. They are super confident and outspoken, brave and compassionate. They have friends and love spending time outdoors, learning and making art projects.

This are my own observations. I know this is a controversial subject and many will not appreciate my stance on it. Preschool is believed to be a perfect solution for parents and a child and it is hard to be heard when you go against the mainstream crowd. My thoughts are that in many poorer countries there is no room for such luxury as stay at home mom without a child at home. Women who sent their children to preschool are working moms. Moms who decide to stay with their children take full responsibility for them, there is no money to even flirt with a thought of doing so. My idea is to debate the long sanctioned need for sending toddlers to preschool because there is an alternative. Some parents sacrifice some other things in order to attain to society standards and send their beloved to a preschool. Some first time mothers ask whether they have to send their offspring to a preschool and the answer they usually get is that indeed they must. Keeping your child at home will save some of your money and will make you better connected and more in charge of your child's behavior.


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      Ninie 2 years ago

      Its my 12 year anniversary this year too!! I was 21 about to turn 22!!! I cant iianmge being with anyone else but my Jez!!! But 21 was really young to get married!!! LOL[] Reply:March 4th, 2012 at 2:23 pmI know! I look like a baby! Ha! Congrats to you too.[]

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      Raquel 2 years ago

      My anniversary is in two weeks and we will have been mairred for 23 years! I also love my husband more now than I did back then Happy Anniversary Katrina and cheers to the many many wonderful years ahead. xxSomething Gorgeous recently posted..[] Reply:March 4th, 2012 at 2:22 pmThat's lovely! Thanks so much.[]

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      Charish 2 years ago

      If we are talking about old scohol, kindergarden times then any and all of the Clifford the Big Red Dog books (partially because I alwasy wanted a dog and parents never let me). If we are going by elementary status then Where the Red Fern Grows (again partially because of my love of dogs. If we are talking middle scohol then the Ender's Game series, mainly for is philosophical innuendos. Good question. April 01, 2011

    • Monisajda profile image

      Monisajda 6 years ago from my heart

      BizGenGirls, thank you for your comment. Interesting, isn't it?

    • BizGenGirl profile image

      Bema Self 6 years ago from Seattle

      Another great hub! I want to add also, that sending kids to preschool or even kindergarten is a great way to get your kids diagnosed with issues they probably don't have. Especially when they are still so young and in development.

    • Monisajda profile image

      Monisajda 6 years ago from my heart

      Thank you Stacie for your comment>

    • Stacie L profile image

      Stacie L 6 years ago

      preschool is an individual choice...not every child is ready for socialization and education at 2-3 years of age..

    • Monisajda profile image

      Monisajda 6 years ago from my heart

      beingasha, most likely the schools in India give preference to preschooled kids because they believe they have been doing some academics there vs at home where children are more likely to help with chores. Thanks for your comment.

    • beingasha profile image

      beingasha 6 years ago from Australia

      Homeschooling is not very popular in India as well but yes preschools are becoming more popular and you will find so many preschools mushrooming in the city these days as it has become a very lucrative business for some. Parents don't mind paying good sum of money for their kids education. Also these days regular schools seem to give more preference to kids who have gone to preschools compared to kids who were at home.

    • Monisajda profile image

      Monisajda 6 years ago from my heart

      Learn Things Web, yes, I view it as a waste of money that can be put towards some other things for your child. Average parent should be able to stimulate her child enough that preschool is not necessary. Sending kids to preschool is something so common that nobody even questions that. Thank you for your comment!

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      Monisajda 6 years ago from my heart

      Thanks crystolite for your comment.

    • Learn Things Web profile image

      Learn Things Web 6 years ago from California

      I sent my daughter to preschool because my husband insisted on it. If you stay home with your kids, it is largely a waste of money. You spend a fortune to have your kids play with other kids when you can take them to the playground for free. If you teach your child a lot at home, they don't need whatever academics are offered at the preschool. Preschool can be very beneficial for disadvantaged kids or kids who aren't getting a lot of stimulation in the home. But it isn't necessary for all children.

    • crystolite profile image

      Emma 6 years ago from Houston TX

      Nice info,thanks for sharing.

    • Monisajda profile image

      Monisajda 6 years ago from my heart

      Sarah, thank you for your comment. I have heard that there are some homeschoolers in UK but maybe they are not very popular there. Homeschooling isn't very popular in US although it is becoming more acceptable, I think. Most people are polite enough not to look shocked when we talk about our experience but they hardly ever would homeschool their kids. Most often, I hear, "yes, it is nice but I wouldn't stand my kids all day long" or something like this.

    • smackins1974 profile image

      smackins1974 6 years ago from UK

      Hi, I quite agree I am a stay at home mum in the UK and at the age of 3yrs the children here are entitled to a certain number of free nursery hours to encourage parents to enrol children and conform them ready for school. As a full time stay at home mum I really dont see the point in rushing around to drop off and pick up a child for the sake of a couple of hours playing when I can take my child to several choices of days out myself where she can interact with myself and others around her. I wish homeschooling was more popular in this country as it is people still think it a strange behaviour in the UK! but what sounds stranger - sending your child into a room of 30+ children with 1 adult to watch them and expecting them to learn something or 1 to 1 learning with the parent they have spent the 1st 5yrs of their life with!!??

      Great Hub