In Which I Remind Myself It’s Only Preschool

Rewind to early December. One morning, as is customary, Jack Henry’s preschool handed out the class offerings for the following year. I grabbed the paper after dropping him off, and took a look at it in the parking lot before heading off for errands.

And then I had a minor hyperventilation session.

In the 4 offerings for 4-year-olds, there were no morning-only or afternoon-only classes. So I called the school right away, and verified that I was reading it right. Sadly, it was correct.

The new offerings for 2012-13 were:

2 days of 9-2: $222/month
3 days of 9-2: $278/month
4 days of 9-1: $355/month
5 days of 9-3: $525/month

Gasp.

First of all, I realize that what I want for preschool is not what everyone wants…I get that. Because I’m a stay-at-home mom, I don’t want him gone all day…he has the rest of his life to be in school and be gone. I also understand that the preschool (located in a church) likely made the switch because the school district in which it’s located (and therefore, gets most of its students) just switched to full-day kindergarten. I’m sure that the reasoning is that they feel it will better prep kids for full-day kindergarten.

I fully understand the intention. I really do.

I just don’t like it.

I don’t like that kids are pushed so hard at FOUR to make it through a long day. Some will argue that kids who are in daycare are gone all day anyway, and I will press back that that is different. Preschool and daycare are different. Yes, in daycare you do learn skills about getting along with others, etc., but the atmosphere is typically more relaxed and less structured than a preschool day.

Besides, the preschool we use is play-based, which I LOVE. My background is in early childhood, and I am a firm believer in play-based preschool and its benefits. A child’s play is his work.

Play-based preschools do wonders in preparing kids for kindergarten. Some may disagree, but I think if you walked into any kindergarten classroom at the beginning of the school year, you’d be able to tell which kids have been to preschool and which haven’t. Preschool is a wonderful prep tool for school norms readiness…learning to stand in line, wait your turn, raise your hand, speak one-at-a-time, take turns being line leader, and the list goes on. Just so we’re clear where I stand on preschool…it IS important. But it is what its name says: PREschool. Trying to stick to my life theme of major in the majors, minor in the minors, this is a good thing to keep in perspective.

As I’ve mentioned, I have adored our preschool: the director, the teachers, the amazing music program. Luke did a 2-mornings-a-week class there at 3, and then a 3-mornings-a-week class at 4, and Bennett did the same. Both went on to half-day kindergarten and did very well. With Jack Henry, I knew I’d maybe like to make a slight modification if it was offered, and have his second year be 3 mornings a week plus a lunch bunch* one day a week, just so that he could get the feel of staying at school a bit longer once a week as a point of reference when he heads off to full-day kindergarten in 2013-14.

But the offerings, plus the price increase, just weren’t going to work for our family. I *may* have been able, at some point, to get comfortable with 3 days from 9-2 even if I didn’t love it, but not for the price.

So with one year of preschool remaining, I had to find a new school for Jack Henry. Ugh. I really can’t tell you how much I hated to do this…it just stinks to have to leave a place we liked and totally leave our comfort zone. Of course, he doesn’t know it yet; he went and checked out the school with me, and I was very vague about why were there (“hey, I just wanted to see what this school is like!”). It seems very similar in theory to our school, and the director was definitely on the same page as I am regarding what feels appropriate for 4 year olds. I’ll tell Jack Henry about the change this summer, when he’s finished with his current school year.

There is a bright side to this story: I was able to get what I want! His preschool will be 3 mornings a week, and he’ll get to do lunch bunch one day a week. All for quite a bit less than the least-expensive option at our current school. Plus, I have the benefit of knowing a couple of kids and their moms who have used this preschool and really liked it.

Bottom line: I don’t like change. Not many people do that much. By September, I know this will be all be fine, but I’m still sad to have leave such a good thing behind.

*staying at school to eat lunch and play a little more, usually an extra hour or so after the regular day ends

16 responses to “In Which I Remind Myself It’s Only Preschool

  1. I’m with you on all this. Our preschool is high scope and I love it. We are dealing with what to do with Luke next year in kindergarten. He can get free full day kindergarten because he’s in the speech program but I don’t know that I really want him to go full day.

  2. I struggled with this as well, Nicole. I was not happy with the offerings overall, but felt we could work with the three day. However, not being a member of the church, we pulled a pretty cruddy lottery number and the three day was full by the time our number was up…and there were already five people ahead of us on the wait list. I totally struggled with the remaining options…the four day seemed too much, so at first I thought we’d go with the two day. But Michael is young…we’ll be on the fence about sending him ahead to kindergarten. And i thought if we do only do two days and he DOES end up moving on, that will be a major shock. So we went with the four day. I’m still not feeling great about it, but it is what it is. This post resonated with me because a number of times during our discussions about what to do, I said to my husband, “It’s only preschool. It shouldn’t be this difficult.” I just keep telling myself that overall, this decision about how many days to send him will have little affect on the rest of his life. Good luck at the new school next year…I know you weren’t alone in your decision to move. We almost did.

  3. I would’ve done the same thing. I’m curios what the prices you listed are for… month? week? year? Seems crazy. I pay $90/mo for Blake to go 3 mornings a week. It’s on the high side for Effingham, but we all love it!!

  4. I don’t “get” prepping pre-school kids for all-day kindergarten. They’re still in pre-school. When it’s time for k-garten, they’re a year (or more) older; that’s soon enough to stay longer. By then, they’re physically & mentally ready for the change. (Or at least more ready; I’m still a bit old-school about k-garten and can’t get used to it being all day! So the idea of all-day pre-school is awful to me.) Glad you told me about all this when we were there last month, and I’m glad you found a good place for JH to go next year. Just hate it that he’s having to make a change (even though he’ll be just fine).

    • Exactly. Another year, from 4 to 5, makes a huge difference developmentally.

      You know I’m not a fan of full-day kindergarten, either, but we really don’t have much of a choice, unfortunately. At least in Jack Henry’s case, he’ll be almost 6 when he starts full day.

    • My thoughts exactly Nana Jo – on all counts!
      I think most day preschool or even 5 day a week preschool is too much for kids that don’t “need” it. Let them be little!!! Our KT will go 2 days a week in the afternoons to prep for classroom behavior and she already told me “she is too shy to learn” so this ought to be interesting come September!!! – PS Nicole- the prices – in your area – holy toledo!

  5. I am struggling with this one too. I haven’t found a preschool yet for 3 days a week that is not under $230-400 a month. I just don’t like that. I am contemplating not doing preschool and having her in other activities (sports, Church programs, gymnastics, and other things). then work on letters and such at home. She still gets play learn and time away from mom in structured programs. I just don’t want her to be behind but I agree that it is only prep for school and if I have her involved in things then hopefully she will be fine. What do you think? spring for the school or as long as she is involved in things then she should be fine?

    • For one, knowing you, I think she’s going to be fine…you’re very much on top of things and you know your kids!

      Involvement in structured activities away from you is good prep for school. Being that my background is in early childhood, I will always argue for actual preschool experience when it’s doable, but sometimes it isn’t, and I understand that.

  6. Big bummer for sure. It broke my heart in a thousand tiny pieces to leave our STL preschool. I loved Bonhomme so much and have been so sad that Landon hasn’t had that experience. But, good news, I found a preschool for him for next year that reminds me so much of Bonhomme. It’s five mornings a week and, even better, the state of Florida pays for every child, age four, to attend prekindergarten as a state initiative to prepare them for school. I might have jump for joy when I found that out. 🙂

    Good luck finishing out your year. I would hate those changes too. I’m right on board with you on what preschool should be.

  7. It is so hard/stressful to switch kids when they are little (more so on the parents than the kids). I totally get that being a stay-at-home mom you wouldn’t want him JH gone for 5 hours a day, especially his last year home with you. I do have to disagree with daycare being structured differently than preschool (at least in my kids’ instances). Of course their school was considered a daycare/preschool, but it was very structured all day long. This would not have been my choice if I was at home, but as a working parent, it was ideal for me. I didn’t have the ability to do 1/2 day programs. When we moved back, I was so concerned that there were no NAEYC accredited places around. However, my boys are both doing wonderful in school thanks to their daycare (and maybe a little bit of what I’ve done with them). I hope the transition goes smoothly for your family.

    • It sounds like you had a great preschool/daycare! In my experience, the daycare I worked in was not structured for much of the day, and the in-home care that my boys received (and that a few people I know provide) is much more relaxed. Which I preferred at the time, especially since they were so little.

  8. This blows my mind, on the prices. We are in Collinsville (across the river) and our preschool is two hours, either two or three times a week for between $90-$110 a month. It’s an amazing experience- small and through a local church- and both of my children have thrived there.

    I’m with you though- let the kids be little. They have the rest of their lives to be in school ALL day and only a short window to be primarily home with mom..

  9. You and I are so much alike. That’s all I have to say.

    Well done mom.

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