Should I send my child to preschool?
The decision to enroll your child in preschool or homeschool them through the early years can be a tough one, for those who have the choice.
Every parent you talk to will have an opinion on it.
Since I am fortunate enough to have the choice, I have chosen to homeschool my kids till kindergarten. This decision came after a very brief enrollment in a Montessori program for my daughter. (Well, I was leaning towards homeschooling anyway, but thought I would give a half-day Montessori program a try.) It turned out to not be the best choice for our family. (I will discuss more this later on.)
But that doesn’t mean it isn’t the best choice for your family.
Let’s go over some pros and cons of brick and mortar preschool versus homeschool preschool.
Is homeschooling what I want?
Not everyone is keen on hanging out with their pre-school age child all day, every day. It’s completely natural to want to be a parent and to maintain your autonomy and career.
If you homeschool, there is no drive to work. No stopping for breakfast and coffee, kid-free. No lunch breaks with co-workers. No ecstatic greeting from your little one after a long day of communicating with other adults.
Heck, there may be no other adults in your radar some days.
Homeschooling is not for everyone. And that’s ok!
On the flip side, many parents don’t enjoy being separated from their kids, and have the confidence and desire to homeschool, and that’s ok, too!
How much does preschool cost?
Neither homeschooling nor sending your child to preschool is free, if you factor in the money you won’t be making if you aren’t bringing in income.
From State to state and locality to locality, the price of childcare differs, as does the pay rate for jobs.
So, for example, if you have the earning potential of $15/hour and the cost of full-time preschool is $10/hour, that would leave you with just $5/ hour. After deducting the money you spend in gas, time off for sick kids, take-out and easy-cook meals, you would probably be left with very little money. If your earning potential is greater and/or preschool is less expensive in your area, then you would be left with more. If it’s worth the money and it’s something you want, go for it!
Of course, if you have more than one child, that could be the deciding factor. Childcare isn’t cheap and it doesn’t get cheaper the more kids you have, that’s for sure!
Kids in preschool get sick more often
I know I will rub some people the wrong way with this one, but kids in daycare and preschool do get sick more often. This is a rock solid fact. Kids are gross and they can’t keep their hands to themselves.
I mentioned earlier that I briefly enrolled my daughter in a fantastic Montessori primary program. While she enjoyed it, it was a nightmare health-wise for the whole family. Everyone in the house was sick during her attendence period at the school. All of us. For months.
I know what you are thinking. If kids get sick when they are younger, they will get sick less when they are older.
Now, there is a shred of truth to this claim. Whatever viruses your child comes in contact with while in daycare or preschool, they will have some defense against. But out of the hundreds, possibly thousands, of viruses in existence, the dozen or so they get immunity to won’t make much of a difference. They will be suceptible to viruses they haven’t been exposed to just like any other child.
In any case, I was pregnant with our third child and had a one year old to care for. To say this wasn’t a good time to have repeated illnesses spread around our house would be a gross understatement.
It was bad. Indescribably horrible. Like, really, really bad.
So, if you are prepared to weather the storm of viruses that will be coming home to you, you are braver than I! Just know, you will be missing work, and if you are a stay at home parent, you will have your preschooler at home, sick, fairly often.
How do I socialize my young child?
Many parents send their kids to preschool for the socialization aspect. Kids really can learn from each other. My 4 year old has taught my 2 year old most of what he knows, if I am being perfectly honest. And teaching him reinforces her own understanding about things. It’s pretty cool to watch! So, I do value socialization among kids. I’ve seen its benefit!
Another thing my son learns from my daughter is behavior, though. Fortunately for our household, my first born is relatively calm and well-behaved…most of the time, anyway. And her negative behaviors don’t go unnoticed by my son, and is sure to imitate.
Just like the neat phrases and songs your kid will learn in preschool, and those nasty viruses that will inundate their tiny systems, your child will pick up behaviors.
Little Johnny doesn’t hit? Give him a few weeks, he will. Sweet Sarah has never screamed at you? Just wait. It’s completely normal for kids to copy each other. So, I’m not knocking preschool at all. It’s just something you may want to consider, especially if your preschooler has younger siblings at home.
Does my child need preschool for socialization?
No. Socialization doesn’t need to happen in a classroom setting. We socialize everywhere we go! We talk on the phone, have conversations with family members in the home, speak with people at grocery stores, the library, the bank, ECT. There are ample opportunities for kids to socialize throughout the day, and in more natural, real world situations.
As far as children “needing” to socialize with kids their own age in the toddler and preschool years, which is a common sentiment, I disagree strongly. I do see benefits to children socializing with kids their own age, but I see no harm in waiting until they are no longer throwing, biting, hitting, screaming, and acting like wild chimpanzees. I think a fine time to encourage socialization between peers is when they have a little more self-control.
Am I qualified to homeschool my child?
Some parents would rather leave the teaching to the professionals, and there isn’t anything wrong with that! Many preschool teachers are well-educated, highly qualified, caring individuals who genuinely love what they do and are thoroughly invested in making sure that your child gets a quality education.
On the other hand, there are many parents who have different thoughts on what and/or how a child should be learning in the preschool years. If you are interested in a more “organic” style of learning for your child, based on real world experiences, and you feel like you have the knowledge and energy to implement this style of learning, go for it!
There is so much to consider when making this decision! I hope I’ve given you some perspective. Obviously, I have made the decision to homeschool during the preschool years. Does your child stay home or attend preschool? What was the determining factor in your decision and what do you like (or dislike) about the situation? Hoping to get some feedback!