I can't believe the time has already come to think seriously about this. But she'll turn 3 in July, and local preschools are having their Open Houses now (we missed one last weekend) for kids who will start as 3-year-olds next fall. Registration opens in January/February. I always knew this would be a tough decision for me, but has it really arrived already?!?
Some of you more experienced parents (or aunts/uncles/etc) might think I'm making too big a deal out of this. Let me explain why I feel it's a dilemma, and then you all can tell me what to do.
- I didn't go to preschool. My mom argued that we had to be on a set schedule for the rest of our lives, so why not enjoy our freedom for the 4 short years we have before kindergarten? There's a lot I like about this philosophy. I feel like I can teach Eleanor a lot that she could learn in preschool, so I'm not entirely convinced that she would be behind for kindergarten.
- Many people argue for the "socialization" aspect of preschool. On the one hand, Eleanor plays with her cousin Gavin twice a week, every week (during the school semester). She lives on a street with at least 10 other children under the age of 4. We have many playdates; I know that she's learning how to play with other kinds. But on the other hand, she's not learning to play with them in a school environment, where she has a teacher and doesn't have a parent there with her. Is this something she needs to learn now?
- On the other other hand, I'm sometimes wary of what socialization she will learn. Will she learn that girls should be quiet? Will she learn about how to deal with a bully? Or that teachers don't always listen to children? These are aspects of our society I'm in no hurry for her to learn.
- I have no idea how much it costs. Again with the finances! But it is a consideration. What if I end up working Mon/Wed and she's scheduled for preschool on Tue/Thurs? That would mean missing even more time with her AND paying separately for childcare and preschool.
I am considering the compromise of possibly sending her to preschool at age 4. But unfortunately, we found out that our local kindergarten (maybe most, these days?) is a 5 full day program. So I don't feel like we can go from zero school days to a full week of long days, with no transition time.