Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Preschool Debate

Somehow, today on Facebook, a comment I made led to a small debate about preschool.  I am never quite sure how 22 comments later the entire point of the message has changed, yet it manages to happen.  My status update was as follows:

"Today Charlotte's preschool is coming over for the home visit they do.  I have to say, I am totally second guessing preschool at 3.  I mean seriously, she is 3!!  Why are we all forcing our kids to grow up so quickly?  I might need some convincing..."

Let me begin by saying that I had not really second guessed this at all until this week.  I was filling out her assessment that the school sends out and she far exceeded everything they asked for except for jumping on one foot.  Literally, every single thing they asked she was at the highest level on.  And, to clarify, obviously I believe my kids to be the most awesomest kids ever to be born and obviously very bright and exceptional, however these questions were not subjective.  It was a clear, definitive answer.  My child does this all of the time, most of the time, some of the time, rarely, or never.  And, like I said, she was all of the time in every box (3 pages worth of boxes) except for hopping on one foot.

It didn't take Jim and I both long to look at each other and think, "ummm...., is she going to be bored?".  No, she probably won't be, but the thought still entered my head.  I couldn't help but wonder if we should send her at all.  I mean when she is 4 and in the pre-k program I would be totally for it, but the 3 year old preschool I just started feeling unsure.

My feelings are, our kids have their whole childhoods to go to school.  They start at the maximum age of 5 and go until they are 18.  Parents pack their kids' lives full of activities often missing dinners and family time to make it to sports practices, dance classes, team events, tutoring, study groups, on and on and on....   I am guilty of this as well.  Charlotte has attended some type of class since she was about 6 months old.  We have done Kindermusik, infant swim, dance class and more.  We have also made the choice to allow only one activity at a time.  Who needs more than that at 3 years old?

Sometimes I think we are so busy moving from one thing to the next that we forget that our kids are kids.  They need a childhood.  They have their entire lives to be go, go, go so why should we start it so early?  I know this is a choice, but we all know it is far to easy to get sucked into what it happening all around us.  Kids are not little adults.  Kids are kids.

The first few friends who commented were very positive and spoke about their own kiddos who have been to 3 year old preschool.  Others who knew Charlotte commented how much she would love it.  And eventually, somewhere it turned into people thinking I was doubting the importance and often necessity of preschool and that somehow I didn't understand what she might get out of the experience.

The thing is, I do know what she will get.  I know she will love it.  I know that if we didn't go to preschool this year, all I would hear for the next 365 days would be "Mom, when do I get to go to preschool".  I know that one of the things she needs most, which I alone can not provide, will be provided there; interaction with kids her own age.  I know that she will have fun.  I know that she will learn and grow and quite certainly be better next year because of it.

But I also know that I am a selfish Mom (it's true, I admit it).  I can't help but think that it is happening too soon and that waiting another year would be better...for me.  It is only 2 short mornings a week, and I am sure I can hang in there.  Regardless I just want to be able to give her the best childhood possible.  To postpone being a little adult while still allowing her to grow up.

I have no doubt that my girl will love preschool (after all, she is her Mommy's daughter; her Mom who threw a giant hissy fit as a little girl when she tested out of preschool even though she was eventually allowed to go when the class didn't fill up).  She loves to learn and she adores showing off her skills, especially for some praise, just like her Mama again.  She will do great and I will survive.  I can't even imagine how I am going to be come kindergarten.  Ugh! (just a sound effect folks, don't go getting up in arms that I am anti-kindergarten now as well).

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