Is Preschool Worth It?

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Marjorie writes in with a very interesting question:

I’m a single mom with a four year old daughter. Each weekday, I take my daughter to stay with one of my aunts so that I can work to earn a living and keep food on the table. After Christmas, my mom sat down with my aunt and I and gave us a bunch of information about a few great preschools in the area. My aunt told me later on that she’s supportive, no matter what I choose. So, for me, the real question is whether or not my daughter would get enough benefit from preschool compared to days with my aunt to make the extra costs worthwhile.

I live next door to a single mother and I see time and time again how she is forced into making difficult choices about the devoted time spent with her children. Does she make a nutritious home-cooked meal or does she spend an extra half an hour with her girls? Does she spend some time in the yard with them or does she get some of the never-ending household chores taken care of? This comes in on top of the prerequisite day of work for a single parent, after which they’re exhausted but also often wanting a strong connection with their children. On top of that, there’s the money concerns – a single income household in the modern world is never easy.

When it comes to a choice between preschool and other child care options, I don’t think there’s a simple cut-and-dried answer to this because there are so many factors involved.

The first one – and the most important one – is your child. Is your child outgoing around others her age? Is she intellectually on par with other children her age – meaning is she capable of holding a writing utensil? Can she count to twenty or so? Is she curious about the world around her? If these things are all true, preschool likely doesn’t have a great deal of value for your daughter.

When things get murkier – in my opinion – is when several of those questions have negative answers. This can indicate a lot of things, from something as simple as social anxiety to a learning disorder or simply more focused one-on-one time. If you’re witnessing these issues and you genuinely feel concern about your daughter’s intellectual growth, I would lean more towards preschool. If not, I would lean more towards maintaining the caregiving situation with your aunt.

What about the money, though? Is the extra cost of a good preschool worth it when compared to a normal daycare if your child is socially thriving and developmentally on pace?

In a word – in my opinion – it’s not, unless the difference in cost makes no difference in your life. Here’s why.

If you spend that extra money to send your child to a top preschool, you’re putting an extra financial burden on yourself. This has several effects on your life. You’re more tied to your job than ever before because you can no longer afford to lose it, which means your boss has more power than before and your job is more stresful. You also have less money to spread around in other areas of your life, like an emergency fund or on something as simple as a stop at the ice cream shop with your child. On some level, these things are given up to afford that high-quality preschool – and these things have a negative impact on your child’s home life.

This basic idea is true no matter what you’re looking at in life. When you bump up the financial cost for something of higher quality, you’re paying an additional price beyond the dollars and cents. You pay the personal costs that go along with maintaining that higher level of income. If you can’t see the benefit in doing so, don’t do it.

To me, that’s an exchange not worth making unless there’s a clear and dramatic benefit from the higher-cost preschool. Never forget that early on, you’re the biggest impact and influence on your child, and if sending your child to the higher-cost preschool will put stressful burdens on you to disrupt that in any way, there had better be a big reward. If your child is doing fine, then I don’t see the benefit there.

No matter what you choose, however, do not let others make you feel guilty about it. Simply by asking questions like this and seriously considering the answer, you’re looking at the unique situations, gifts, and opportunities in your life to make the right decision for your daughter. You obviously love her. You obviously want what’s best for her. Never let other people attempt to use guilt or shame or other tactics to guide your choice.

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36 thoughts on “Is Preschool Worth It?

  1. When my son was little, I did send him to pre-school; however, I was not in the same situation that Marjorie is in. At the time, we lived in a rural area, far from town, and my reasons for sending him to preschool were to help him get ready for Kindergarten (because kids are expected to know more entering Kindergarten than you or I had to know) and for him to have the opportunity to make friends and be around other kids. Other than that, my son was around adults more than other kids. To me, the question of whether to send a kid to pre-school or not goes beyond money. If the benefit to the child is far greater than the money spent, then the benefit to the child would take precedence for me, because the reward will come much later. I would find a way to make it work.

    I’m not sure what Marjorie’s income would be, but she might want to see if she qualifies for something like Head Start.

  2. Marjorie:
    You kind of answered your own question. Your mom obviously wants your daughter to go to preschool. If it’s important to her, she’s welcome to pay for it…

    But seriously, I think preschool at age 4 has definite value, particularly if the aunt is just letting the child do her own thing, and the child isn’t interacting with other kids very much.

    Learning-wise, she can learn everything she needs to learn from Sesame Street and a handful of free kids’ websites. The social experience is a different story, though. A child who doesn’t socialize with other children before kindergarten may find it quite difficult to socialize and fit into a framework later on.

  3. I would look into what programs are offered through the local school district. My son is able to go to an early childhood family education (ECFE) program two days a week (3 hours at a time) for just $300 for the entire school year. My two younger sons (age 2) also attend school one day a week for just $120 a year.

    The quality of these programs has been amazing, and in the case of 2 of my three boys – allowed them to get extra help for free. (One boy has a speech delay, the other has ASD). I’ve also enjoyed being able to connect with other parents in the program – it’s been one of the best decisions we’ve made for our kids.

    I also agree with the previous poster – Marjorie’s income may qualify her for other programs like Head Start or other TRIO programs – many of them high quality and minimal (or no) cost.

  4. Seconding and thirding looking into Head Start or their like. For the most part pre-school is all about getting to interact with kids of the same age.

  5. “If these things are all true, preschool likely doesn’t have a great deal of value for your daughter.”

    I disagree, if only to say that it depends on the preschool. If it’s just about counting and cookies and naptime, then maybe yes. But I went to a Montesorri preschool 25 years ago which really was pre-SCHOOL and learned math, reading, etc as well. If the child is curious and shows early signs of giftedness, nurturing that is the best thing the mother can do for the child – and a good preschool can certainly do that better than Sesame Street and Dora.

    It’s about finding a good fit between the child and the school. A daycare-type preschool is not going to provide the same benefits as a school-type preschool.

  6. We sent both of our kids through expensive preschool’s even though my wife stayed home with them. We could afford it so I don’t really regret it, but I doubt it was worth it. If you can’t afford it or it would be to much of strain then don’t feel bad about it for one second.

  7. My what a difficult choice to make for the single parent. I teach 1st grade. I think for the 3 year old who is around other children learns to share, and has good behavioral skills then it is not important. At age 4 there is much a child needs to know to enter kindergarten. If….your aunt takes your child to the library and other activities to help socialize him then and works with him with the Kindergarten workbooks that are found at Staples with the state standards listed then all should be ok. I know what it is like to live on a small income. To have to decide everything based on money. It wears you out and school will cost plenty at least it does here in Indiana when he gets into first grade. It would be a good idea if your mother would pay for it. But not if like mine it makes you owe her. Because that just accumulates over time and there is no way to pay back and causes hard feelings.

  8. Pre-School is certainly worth it. Somehow this article chnaged from whether PS is worth it to whether an “expensive” PS is worth it. For those commenting who actually have children (this makes one a bit more of an authority), you’ll note that upon entering Kindergarten, there are several skills and begaviors the kids are supposed to gave coming in that they are unlikely to learn at home in front of the TV as a
    prior commentor opined.

    To be honest, I didn’t know it was even a common question; I just thought all children went to PS. For those who can’t afford it, many areas have assistance and many PSs that are affiliated with churches, etc. will take your child for free or a significantly reduced price. Lastly, it’s often a
    question of priority. We have an acquaintance that skipped one year of PS for their kid “due to money” but they just recently bought a $600 SLR and have an iPhone. Was it really a lack of money? Or a choice.

    Most importantly, take a look atthe data in performance of kids who did vs didn’t attend PS. Statistical difference in perfomance in school. I don’t have the link but 20/20 did a full segment on it a few months ago.

  9. What a difficult decision! I am a stay-at-home mom (former 1st grade teacher) who sends her 3 year old to an expensive Montessori school. She loves it and is learning a lot. We’ve also decided to pass on the free, but overcrowded public preschool program next year and continue to send her to her Montessori school. But we can afford it…
    Kindergartners are expected to know so much now. It is not the intro to school that it used to be but an actual academic grade. Kids are generally expected to enter knowing how to sit still, listen to a teacher, and interact appropriately with other children.
    I agree with looking into free or subsidized programs. Also, in our area, there are free or low cost pre-k gym classes, library programs, art classes, and playgroups. If the aunt is willing, attending a few of these, while not as good as a preschool, will give the child a chance to practice social skills and listen to a teacher. And regardless of what is decided-READ, READ, READ to the child. Talk about books-the plots, the characters, the pictures. Create a love of literature.

  10. First and foremost, always look our for the child’s best interests. If your daughter is well-rounded, gets loads of exposure to academics (spelling, writing, science, etc) and has the chance to be around others her age, then she may well be in the right situation as is. My sons have gone to ‘pre-school’ and pre-k. It wasn’t academically strenuous, but provided instruction in every area possible even including the importance of days like Veteran’s Day and providing public service such as food drives. It gave them a leg up in many ways. We live in an area where there are no children their age in the neighborhood and at six years apart in age, they needed friends their size. Do what’s best for your daughter–you are the expert on her needs— and just pray about the rest. It will work out fine.

  11. We’re expecting our first and it’s going to be a financial challenge–though one we are up for. I’m not planning on pre-school, unless it’s free, but I’m not worried about it. I’m a teacher myself and I’m sure I can teach my child the things they need to know before kindergarten, along with my hubby.

  12. With my oldest daughter we sent her to a very expensive, posh preschool. With our younger two we have sent them to a very inexpensive program via our parks and recreation department. Honestly I feel like their preschool experiences have been the same and I would never consider spending so much money again. On the other hand, I stay home with the kids and “preschool” was really only for their social development. If I needed a full day care program so that I could work, I would be much more choosey.

  13. I sent one of my kids to preschool and didn’t send the other. I’m with Trent on this one. If your child plays well with other children and loves to learn new things, she doesn’t need preschool.

    I think we push kids to learn too much too soon and don’t give them enough time to just be kids. After volunteering in both of my children’s kindergarten classrooms, my opinion is that preschool or no preschool, all the kids tend to even out by the end of the year, unless there are underlying problems.

  14. I also agree with Trent on this one. Ultimately I think what matters most is to have parents who interact and read with you than it is to go to a academically focused preschool. I’m disturbed by how we as parents are concerned about giving our five year olds a “leg up” in school. I don’t doubt that Montessori schools are enjoyable. I would prefer that parents send their child there for that reason rather than to make them better in school some day. Socialization is important, but there are many ways to get that – playgroups, next door neighbors, church nursery, etc. If money is at all an issue, she should not feel bad about opting out. Although I do agree that she could look into scholarships or funding that might be available.

  15. I don’t know if there was more to the letter, but your response assumes she is living on a tight budget. I don’t know that that’s the case (as it is not with all single parents), and I’d also want to know if her daughter seems happy or bored with the aunt, and whether the aunt does any kind of activities, classes, etc. with the little girl.

    You also assume preschool is expensive, when in many cases it can be quite affordable. Especially if the mom has a lower income there are many options.

    That said I don’t think there is much benefit to so called “schools” that are really daycares with an academic environment. The major benefit my kids have had from preschool is to get them out of the house on a regular basis with other children. We kept my oldest at home, and I did all sorts of activities with him, but looking back I think he would have benefitted from the social interaction (which is an issue for him).

  16. It is a tough choice. Kelly makes some good points, though – it can be affordable, and while it is an added expense, it isn’t clear that it is one the mom cannot afford.

    I do think it is tough for small children to transition to a full-time school environment without any experience in a group setting. But if the financial burden is too great or the fit feels wrong, there are other ways to get it – story times and other programs offered through libraries and local parks departments, a once-weekly music class or tumbling class or even just finding other like-minded caregivers and having a regular playgroup.

    And, as others have said, so much depends on the child. At 3, my son was shy and needed the boost of part-time nursery school. (He started a few months before he turned 4, and it helped him transition to PK nicely.) Our daughter is far more social, and it is too soon to say what will work best for her.

  17. As a mom with 2 kids currently in pre-school I see a huge benefit. The emphasis at this age (at least in our school) is not on “school learning” so much as “play learning”. We are very involved in our kids and teach them a lot ourselves but there are things that they learn playing with a group of kids and a great teacher that they don’t get from a parent. Don’t discount school for kids who don’t have any “problems” with learning. They get a lot out of it too.

    This is not to say pre-school is worth it at any cost. But any good school will have a benefit. Please look into headstart and other alternatives if cost is an issue.

  18. I am so happy we have free schools here in Belgium from age two and a half — and the kids love it every day!

  19. Am I the only one who thinks that maybe, just maybe the aunt was tiring of this arrangement, and called in the letter writer’s mom for a type of “intervention” to get her to consider preschool? Maybe she’s looking to go back to work or school and taking care of the little girl is interfering with that. So she calls in grandma to “gently” push her in that direction without saying “get yer kid outta my hair!”

    If that is the case, and she enrolls her kid in preschool, what kind of sick child care would she have in place? Yes, the socialization is important, but c’mon….little kids generally have questionable hygiene and can pass on all kinds of germs, especially if a parent decides to dose their kid up with tylenol instead of taking him/her out of school for a day because they don’t have or won’t use their sick time.

    (That’s why I’m passing on it for my boy…our little girl will have a temporary immunocompromised condition because of a correctable heart defect. I can’t risk her getting sick because of something her big brother will pick up from another kid. He will have to get his socialization for the next year from the small circle of “friends” he already has who know about our situation.)

  20. I agree with KoryO– the fact that the aunt and mother had this sit-down conversation to “discuss” preschool seems like there may be more behind this than just the discussion.

    I do agree with the other posters too that at age 4, one of the major benefits of preschool is to help kids make the transition to kindergarten, which is now a full school day in many areas. My two kids went to play-based programs and absolutely thrived there, and much of the benefits had to do with socialization– making peer friends, building a relationship with teachers, taking turns and playing together well, being able to follow directions and schedules in groups. For a kid who’s been relatively structureless, these are skills that will be important in kindergarten.

  21. Only one of my three older children attended preschool, and that was so that I could have some time to work at home. I don’t see that the experience was any more beneficial than the oldest two not attending. Lots of great comments here and I will repeat that if your child can interact with others well, and isn’t afraid to interact with an adult outside of the family then she’s probably socially ready. Community classes like play group, dance or swim are often inexpensive, done in the evening, and would provide a similar experience. As for academics, just read to and talk to your child. Provide them with paper and writing utensils, broken crayons are great for helping a child learn to grip appropriately. Teach her to cut with scissors. You’ll be all set.

  22. Here’s a question: has the LW been paying, or contributing, for her aunt’s expenses in taking care of her child? Is she assuming that her aunt is always willing and able to take care of her child? Why did her mother “out of the blue” bring up the topic of preschool/childcare? Is the LW perhaps taking her aunt for granted? As KoryO mentioned, perhaps the aunt asked, or suggested, to the LW mother that she’s tiring of the day-in day-out responsibility of raising her niece’s child for her. I think it’s time the LW came up with another solution to her problem of childcare.

    There are dozens of good suggestions already on the list here–however, if the LW lives in a rural area or one without much funding for low-income parents, she might have to bite the bullet and spend the cash for childcare.

  23. This is written with a grain of “never say never” salt, but I don’t think I’ll be sending my daughter (and any future kiddos) to preschool. We also live in a rural area and my daughter has little interaction with other kids.

    Sure, it’s more difficult to teach her to share. On the flip side, she’s hardly been sick (she’s 2.5) and she’s been much slower to learn naughty things! It’s certainly not worth it to me to make the 20 mile round trip to town an additional 2-3 times per week.

    I guess my point is that Marjorie can get all the input she likes, but her decision must be based on whatever is best for her family as a whole. That includes herself! If I were her, I might “invest” a small amount of money into books, activities, supplies, etc for her aunt to work on with her daughter. And I don’t necessarily mean workbooks, but art supplies and various activities and projects. I have a lot of respect for the Montessori methods, maybe pick up some books and try to recreate some of it the best they can.

    Good luck, Marjorie!

  24. I see a whole lot of questions here! (And, I was a single parent with 3 kids for many years, now a remarried parent with 1 kid and looking after some of my grandkids while juggling work.)
    1. Why did her mother bring this up? The way it’s worded it sounds more like the mother sprung this on both Marjorie & the aunt, than that it was something both women proposed to her. Does the mother think the child would benefit more from a different situation? Does she think her sister is doing too much (from a health standpoint)? Does she have no interest in taking care of the child so she assumes the aunt shouldn’t either? Does she think there’s something wrong in how the aunt is taking care of the child (maybe lots of TV & junk food, not necessarily how she disciplines or whatever)? Does she think Marjorie is taking advantage of the aunt?
    2. How does the aunt feel about the whole situation? Is she tired of it and wanting to change the deal? Does she feel taken advantage of (and not able to say)? What’s her relationship like with the mother & is this more about that than about Marjorie & her child?
    3. Does the aunt get paid for this? If not, is it because she doesn’t want to get paid or because Marjorie doesn’t have a lot of money & she feels guilty about asking for payment?

    As for the question of preschool, I’ve had 4 kids in various preschools, and granddaughters in a couple of others. Yes, there is a superficial sameness about the types of activities they all do or say they do. No, they are not all the same. Yes, I’ve unfortunately found that more expensive preschools are better.

    For example, Montessori preschools have been mentioned. I had 2 of my grown kids in 2 different certified Montessori preschools over the years and was very pleased with both of them. They weren’t cheap but the equipment and teachers were excellent.

    Before I enrolled one child in Montessori I went to check out several other available ones. I went to a less expensive preschool in a community centre in a poor area of town (but only blocks from where my office was at the time). It was dirty, the attendants were more interested in cleaning up from snack than interacting with the kids and the head of the program had to leave me abruptly in the middle of our talk when a child caught himself in the closet where they kept the pads the kids napped on! I walked out and nobody even noticed me go.

    My grown daughter also moved her oldest from the very affordable community centre program a couple of blocks from our house to the centre where she herself used to work (expensive). Why? The program was very so so and she didn’t like the language. In the centre she moved her child to they speak in a very precise, positive way to the kids at all times, even when they need to correct their behaviour. They never put the child down or allow the children to say negative things to each other. And they keep track of the kids. The local centre claimed that only the specified person could pick up but we had up to 4 different people who might be doing pickup and no one ever asked us who we were, even the first time we came to pickup and when we weren’t the person who had dropped off that morning! Very, very dangerous.

    The moral of the story is to really spend some time checking out the places in person (sometimes very hard to do as a single working parent) and to look beyond the shiny doll corner and toy-filled sandbox to what they are teaching and how they are teaching. Do they look at the children when they talk to them? Listen for tone of voice. Look at how the children interact and see how the staff deals with a problem between 2 kids. Yes, money definitely comes into it. If you can’t afford it, don’t put yourself into a risky position. But don’t put your child somewhere if you have any red flags popping up.

  25. Sounds to me like she may be taking advantage of her aunt a little. The fact that her mother and aunt sat her down to talk about this seems to imply as much. Also that they didn’t want to hurt her feelings by saying it outright.

  26. Well, I do think that preschool is important for children if only to get them ready for kindergarten, which requires more from kids now than in the past. Many daycares include preschool in their cost. In fact, my son who is now in first grade, went to preschool at his daycare (they started at age 3) and that was when we found out he had autism. He just wasn’t playing or learning like the other kids. Because of this, we got him early intervention and he was sent to a special ed preschool until he was ready for kindergarten.

    Now, it seems like maybe this single mother’s aunt may have been hinting to the child’s grandmother that she needed a break and they may have hit on the solution of preschool. If so, I hope she looks into head start or something like it so her child gets some preschool in preparation for kindergarten.

  27. I think it is interesting that we are pushing for earlier and earlier education for children in our country. Why is this?

    Many years ago it was customary for children to go to school much later than they do now and they turned out very educated – how about our Founding Fathers? I never heard of Thomas Jefferson attending preschool.

    I don’t think that preschool is going to affect a child educationally – long term. Unless the child either has an exceptionally bad experience and dislikes school or has a very great experience and find out that learning is wonderful and exciting, I think, it won’t make much difference.

    I also don’t believe that pre-schooled children are more educated than non pre-schooled children. If a parent or caregiver takes some time each day to read to and work with a child on numbers and letters they will thrive on the one-on-one attention and do fine in kindergarten.

    The most important thing for that child is to be where she can be well cared for by people that love her.

    If the aunt neglects her and let’s her watch 5 hours of TV a day – then sure she’ll be much better off in a structured educational environment.

    But, if the aunt interacts with her and plays with her. If she is read to and taken to story times at the library or other activities to meet with children and have social time with friends she should be fine.

    It’s really a decision only the family can make – but I don’t think it’s a decision of educational importance – it’s a decision on where the child will be happiest spending her day. Where will she be loved and cared for the best? Where can her imagination be challenged to grow?

    It may not be an easy decision for us because we don’t know the situation – there are too many variables. But, if the Aunt truly likes watching the child and is a good caregiver to the child and the child is happy with her – I think she should stay with the Aunt. I think the attachments of family (or at least 1 consistent caregiver) are very important to the development of little ones – she’ll grow up soon and go off to school soon enough, why rush it?

  28. My son started kindergarten this school year. He did not attend preschool. I work straight night shift while my husband works day shift. My mom babysat him prior to his starting school. My sister’s three girls also live with my parents so he interacted with them on a regular basis. The youngest girl is his same age so they played together all day. She did not attend preschool either.
    There was a free preschool program available in our school district but it did not coincide with our work schedules. Plus it was only two hours a day.

    My son is thriving in kindergarten. His teacher says you’d never know he did not attend preschool because he is performing as well as if not better than some of his classmates who went to preschool for two or more years prior to coming to kindergarten.
    In my opinion, if a child does not do well in kindergarten, they can repeat the grade. That’s the attitude I went into this school year with my son. Fortunately, I don’t think that will be necessary.
    I really don’t think preschool is necessary if the parents work with their children at home.

  29. Don’t forget all the free or nearly free enrichment activities the aunt and mother could take advantage of – library story times, children museums, walks around town, play groups with other little ones. We even have a place near us that provides a free playroom and schedules play times (a group started the place from grants from the government and local donors).

  30. Ditto what Karyn says…with my girls, we were rarely at home due to all of the opportunities in our area. Most were free or very lowcost. Our local park system offered regular programs for young children, library story time, our local pre-school PTA (find out if there is a similar group in your area…they can connect you with the right age group for the girl). We also organized a 3 year old cooperative preschool.
    But by 4, I think children should be experiencing a regular structured (but playful!) environment. There will be few other kids without that experience when she goes to K next year.

  31. First of all, I think preschool is extremely valuable but I don’t think it’s the end of the world if a child doesn’t go. My best friend never went to preschool and she always excelled at school and has a Masters degree. I went to preschool and did fine too.

    Second, I have the impression from this woman that she is viewing this as an either-or situation. There are 2 types of preschools in most places – preschools that are also daycares and are open all day 5 days a week, and preschools that are part-time, usually half-day, and cater more to kids with stay-at-homes or nannies. If her aunt is willing to drop off and/or pick up the child from preschool she could do one of the half-day preschools, which are usually 2 or 3 days a week and not too expensive. As others have mentioned, they may also have financial aid available. My town has a public preschool which is fairly inexpensive in addition to many private ones.

    My daughter went to a preschool at a full-time daycare center until I left my job this year. Now she goes to a local private preschool 3 mornings a week. I think the socialization aspect is extremely important for her because she has a tendency to be shy, and I think at 4 1/2 she likes having a structured activity with other kids her age and she is learning all the things on the kindergarten readiness checklist.

    If the writer calls her public school district or looks at their website, they probably have a checklist for “kindergarten readiness”. It’s intended to help parents decide if their kids are ready for kindergarten, especially if they are close to the age deadline. She might want to look at that and see how she thinks her child is doing compared to what the school expects for a child going into kindergarten. It is true that the schools expect a lot more from kindergarteners than they did when we were kids.

  32. My little girl will be 4 in February, and we are beginning to shop for preschools. I am looking at preschool purely for the social interaction aspect, because Junior Miss is very bright (no mommy bias here, I assure you! Ha ha!) but as an only child she needs to learn how to play with others.

    On the other hand…
    It is nice that she never gets sick…she’s in her little bubble right now since she is babysat at her grandma’s. When she does go to school she’s going to bring home every little sniffle known to man!

    We’re probably only going to do 2 days a week for Junior Miss. Hopefully that will be enough so Kindergarten won’t be such a shock.

  33. Preschool is very important! I had one who went to a great program and one who did not..I am seeing the negative affects of it now.

    If you are able to work with your child and like one person said, get the Kindergarten readiness info then she might be ok.

    I know that as part of my sons going to Kindergarten this year he had to know his letters, his colors, his numbers, how to write his name and a plethora of other things. He would not have gotten this without some form of formal instruction.

    Do not sell your child short – let them start Kindergarten with their classmates – not behind the game. You will NEVER regret you sent her to preschool – you might regret that you did not.

  34. Emily, my little guy (just turned 3 in September) already recognizes the alphabet and numbers, can identify shapes, knows his colors and can recognize his name and a few other words when they are written out. He can tell you the names of nearly 100 animals.

    BTW, He’s never spent a day in preschool. He’s also not the only kid his general age who can do those things. (Unless somehow I’m living in a neighborhood of supergenius kids and didn’t realize it!)

    Preschool can be valid for socialization skills, but the rest of it just takes a willingness to work with a child one on one and see where their interests lie. If you have the patience for it, great! If you don’t, maybe preschool is worth it for you. But there is nothing magical about the instruction there that a parent can’t duplicate at home.

  35. Many preschools offer “scholarships” for low income families or those with special needs. I would check with a church based preschool. They usually do not require you to be a member or attend their services. My grandson began by going just 2 days a week, mostly for the social interaction that he was missing out on. Most children can learn their ABC’s at home, how to spell their names, etc. Perhaps the aunt could help with some learning games if the writer feels that her child is lacking in some areas.

  36. As a preschool teacher myself, I must say as just a general point that I take issue with anyone who views preschool as some kind of “scam” that is about making parents spend money unnecessarily to keep up with the Joneses or create “superkids.” I know many wonderful preschool teachers who are really dedicated to enriching kids’ lives and make next to nothing doing it, and they can be excellent influences for children. I would never recommend enrolling in a preschool who markets their program as one that will make children “get ahead” or become “overachievers” compared to their peers. It’s preschool, not college. That being said – it is a mistake to assume that you get what you pay for in a preschool. It is about finding the right fit for your child and a curriculum that is consistent with your values and goals for your little ones. (Sadly, many people think that choosing the most expensive school in town means a better education and/or the appearance of being more invested in your child by virtue of the money you’re willing to spend. Not the case, in my experience.) Many good points have been made about school and social readiness, so I want to interject just one thing – because kindergarten has such high standards now and teachers need to buckle down and start teaching in the fall, children would do well to be prepared to listen, participate cooperatively, and follow rules in a group setting that is not supervised by a parent or close relative. Being read to on a one on one basis is AWESOME, but it doesn’t really replicate the experience of learning to sit respectfully as part of a group and listen to a story while remaining focused and resistant to distractions. Just something to think about depending on the amount of structure a child is exposed to in their everyday routine.

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