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Should You Send Your Child to Preschool?
Are the benefits of preschool really worth it? Should a child go to preschool to be prepared for kindergarten?
Choosing whether to send a child to preschool is a personal choice that can be very hard to make. Preschool offers a young child benefits but it can be cost prohibitive for many families. Sometimes preschoolers are begging to begin attending school and others are just as happy to stay home. It can be confusing to decide what is the best decision for your child and your family. This guide will review the pros and cons of preschool to help determine if preschool is right for your child.
My decision not to send my daughter to preschool
I had decided not to send my daughter to preschool. Part of my decision was I will admit purely selfish. I didn't want to let her go. Kids are home for such a short time and once school starts it never ends until they're out of the house. Logistically I knew it would also be difficult. I would still have my son at home so it wouldn't buy me time to get things done. Plus dropping and picking her up would require that I put them in and out of their car seats 8 times in the span of 2 Â½ hours. Not something I can't conquer but not a thought I relished. If my husband were to take her then he'd have to come back home to switch cars or else we'd need to buy a new car seat for his car.
Part of my decision was financial. I had done research about whether it was worth sending your child to preschool. I found that it did benefit a child but it was in areas that I felt I was already providing for my daughter. (I will cover these benefits in detail later) Studies show that whether a child attends preschool or not doesn't affect how they would later do in school academically. It seemed if it wasn't going to give her that edge then it really wouldn't be worth the large expense. I already had her involved in playgroups to socialize her and felt the money would be better spent saved for college or for extracurricular activities.
The other part of my hesitation was I wasn't sure whether she would be ready. She was used to being with me everyday all day. She's always been very bonded to me and I figured she'd rather be home with me. It turns out I was wrong.
"A child educated only at school is an uneducated child." -George Satayana
Tools to teach your child at home
Whether you decide to send your child to preschool or not, teaching them at home will give them a leg up when they do start to attend school. It will also help to reinforce what they're learning if you do end up sending them. It's important to teach the value of education and learning early on.
My daughter's decision to go to preschool
I honestly don't know where her obsession with school began. I once pointed out the elementary school she'd be going to and told her that would be her school someday. She'd gotten excited about that so maybe that's where it all started. Whatever the reason around when she turned 3 she started asking to go to school. She'd talk about school buses, teachers and friends. We'd had a hard time potty training her and she was still having frequent accidents with number 2. My patented response when she'd ask about school was, "you can't go until you go poo-poo on the potty EVERY time." She started asking after using the potty if now she could go to school. One day I realized I couldn't remember her last accident. Potty training had been a long tough road. I had bribed her with treats, toys, activities you name it. The incentive that worked in the end was school.
When I had made my statement about going every time I don’t honestly think it really clicked that someday she would actually be fully potty trained. Yet I'm a strong believer that if you tell your child something either in regard to reward or punishment you HAVE to follow through. So I had left myself no choice.
I asked her what type of school she wanted to go to and she said, "A happy one." I promised we'd find her just that. I did research and received recommendations from friends. I took her along with me to tour. The first one we visited she didn't want to leave. I asked her if this one was happy and she agreed that it was. We signed her up that day. I admit I cried the entire way home because I wasn't ready for this. But the important thing is that she was.
When she goes to bed at night she asks if she gets to go to school tomorrow. Every morning she wakes up excited and the first thing she asks is if she's going to school. If I mention she has school the next day she'll squeal with delight. She cheers when we pull into the parking lot. She's a happy girl when I pick her up. She wrote her name after going only 3 days. She seems to learn and change by the day. Ultimately my decision to not enroll her in preschool would have been wrong for her. I'm just glad she knew better. Maybe not every child would be this same way but for my daughter every last cent, inconvenience or otherwise has been totally worth it because it makes her happy.
Toddler backpack for preschoolers
This cute backpack is the perfect size for your preschooler. Great for either a boy or a girl!
Benefits of Preschool
There are additional benefits that researchers' state preschool education provides. Children who attend preschool are more likely to read, graduate from high school, and go to college. They are less likely to be arrested or need public assistance as adults.
Children who attend preschool are better prepared for kindergarten. I have several friends who were/are kindergarten teachers and they all agree that they can definitely tell which kids have attended preschool and which ones haven't.
Preschool teaches a child to:
Note: These lessons are in addition to the educational benefits a child receives such as learning to write, count, etc.
- Follow directions
- Take turns
- Interact with other children
- Be away from their primary caregiver
Growing and Learning in Preschool- How to Pick the Right Preschool
Discusses the benefits of preschool as well as the qualities a good preschool should possess.
The high cost of preschool and early education programs
According to a report by Pre-K Now, the cost of early education programs has increased double the rate of inflation. From 1996 to 2006 overall prices went up by 30% while the cost of early education and care rose by 60%. The report also stated that these programs often are one of the top two or three costly household expenses above food, healthcare and even in-state college tuition.
The cost for my daughters preschool works out to be $10/hour. In the end I came to the conculsion that it was worth the expense. However that's as much as many people make in an hour in which case I think it would be very hard to justify spending that kind of money. It's a personal decision that every family has to make for themselves.
Tip: If the cost of a private preschool is just too high, check out the public school system and see if they offer pre-k in your area. This typically still has a cost though there may be free options for lower income families. Additionally the cost for everyone typically works out to be much less than a private preschool, often as low as half the expense.
Decision to send your child to a preschool or early education program
The biggest reason to skip preschool is the high expense. If it's something you can afford overall it's going to benefit your child and it certainly won't hurt them. However if you can't afford the high cost of a formal early education program there are things you can do for your child at home. Medical professionals and educators agree that ages 3-5 are crucial years in terms of a child's development and education. Spend structured time at home preparing your child academically by using worksheets and teaching basic lessons. Socialize your child with other children (that are not related to them) whether it is through a playgroup, with neighbors or your friend's children.
Preparing your child for preschool
If you make the decision that preschool is right for your child and family the first decision will be to determine when to send to send child to pre school and what preschool age is the right age. Some children start preschool as early as the age of two however the traditional age is four years old. That gives them one year to prepare for kindergarten. If cost is an issue then age four really is enough time to help your child adjust and give them an edge. Going earlier than that can be fun for a child but it's not necessarily going to provide that much more benefit. If your child is asking to go to school and money isn't an issue than anything after two is great. However don't feel bad if you need to have your child wait until they're four. Another factor in determining the age to send your child to preschool is are they potty trained? Some preschools will require that kids are potty trained before attending and others will not. If the school you want has such a requirement then preschool may be postponed if your child is not yet going on the potty by themselves on a consistent basis.
Once your child is enrolled in preschool there are certain things you can do to help prepare them for the change that's about to occur in their life. The first step is talking with them and explaining what to expect. Highlight all the fun aspects such as making new friends, learning new things, getting to know teachers, doing lots of arts and crafts, etc. However also be sure to explain the expectations such as raising your hand, standing in line and being respectful to teachers and other students.
Get your child involved in the process by letting them pick out a backpack or buy any required supplies they might need. Let them select the outfit they'd feel most comfortable in for their first day.
Take your child to the preschool before their session starts to see what it also about and maybe even play and explore. Oftentimes parents will find that their child doesn't want to leave and is excited to return. This can also be a good step before even picking a preschool so you can see where your child feels most comfortable.
Reading books about going to preschool is also a great way to prepare your child. It can help clarify the expectations and what's in store for them.
Book to help prepare a child for preschool
This book about going to preschool is a great way to prepare your toddler for the first day of school.
How do you feel about preschool?
Will you / Did you send your child to preschool?
© 2012 Melissa Miotke