Many parents spend hours researching the best preschool for their children. Not me.
It’s not that I don’t care about my little angels. Like all parents, my greatest desire is for my kids to be happy (and for them to sleep through the night). But for my eldest – an outgoing kid without any developmental issues – choosing a preschool was as simple as taking a quick look at two options and, after a ten-minute chat with my husband, choosing the closer, cheaper option.
And while I’m sure that details like educational philosophy and curriculum content matter, when making a preschool decision, I couldn’t be bothered to worry about them.
It’s only preschool.
I don’t care if preschool teaches kids how to read, as long as it familiarizes the kids with the letters of the alphabet and exposes them to the joy of reading.
Similarly, I want the teachers to put numbers in context by counting kids in the room and crayons on the table, but I have no expectation that they teach addition or subtraction.
Young children (and adults) learn best when they are actively engaged in the subject, and play is what engages children.
It’s about socialization.
Kids need to understand how to get along in a group before they can benefit from formal instruction.
Imagine a child entering kindergarten without knowing how to take turns, wait in a line, or speak with an inside voice. The time and energy the child and her teachers spend resolving those issues can’t be spent on academic learning.
My daughter is making friends.
My daughter loves her school friends. But sometimes they hurt her feelings. Most of the time, I would appreciate a diagram to explain who is friends with whom on any given day.
The fact is, social dynamics among women – even at this young age – are complicated, and according to the teacher, this playground drama is healthy and normal. These challenges give my daughter opportunities to navigate the complexities of female friendship when the stakes are low, hopefully giving her the confidence and resilience to deal with the “mean girls” she will inevitably encounter later on.
My kid’s school serves a hot lunch.
Maybe it’s strange that my daughter eats a full meal at 10A.M., but this means I don’t stress when she eats a small breakfast or if I forget a snack when I pick her up less than an hour later.
Also, my daughter’s teachers exclaim about her gusto for eating lunch with them. If it’s wrong to be proud of her appetite, I don’t want to be right.
The classroom features a Pinterest-worthy reading corner.
There’s a rug, a beanbag chair, and several low shelves of books, begging you to cozy up with a story. If you’re not a book lover already, this reading nook is all it would take to convert you.
The classroom could be devoid of toys, music, dress-up clothes, puzzles, and crayons, but as long as it had that reading corner, I’d still be thrilled to send my daughter there. My secret fantasy is to sneak into her classroom on a Friday night with a stack of my books and stay holed up in that reading corner, by myself, all weekend.
The teacher is amazing.
My daughter’s teacher was put on earth to teach preschool. You only have to watch her with the kids for about three seconds to figure this out.
She replies to my emails (no matter how trivial) with warp speed. When I am perplexed or angered by my daughter’s half-truths and straight-up lies, she emails me a great article listing the myriad reasons preschoolers lie. (Fortunately, sociopathic tendencies aren’t on the list.)
And when my daughter treats me like a kidnapper at pick-up, the teacher whispers mysterious, magical words in her ear, convincing her to go with me (albeit begrudgingly).
The student population is diverse.
Our family and the overwhelming majority of our friends are like us – white and affluent.
At least a third of my daughter’s class is not white. Several do not speak English at home. At least one of her classmates is a child with special needs. Some receive tuition assistance.
No lesson plan in the world can teach the lessons my daughter is learning, as part of a socio-economically, culturally diverse peer group.
School is more fun than I am.
I’m pretty fun, if I do say so myself. But if I’m your mom, you are four years old, and I’m trying to care for you and your little sister, keep the laundry under control, feed our family, squeeze in a workout, get some writing done, and plow (ok, meander) through my to-do list…I’m not so fun.
While I love to read stories, I avoid pretend play. I have a limited tolerance for whining, I lose my temper sometimes, and I go to the park 1% as often as my kids wish I did.
A morning at school is way better than a morning with me – if you’re four. Perhaps that explains why my daughter treats me like a kidnapper at pick-up (see #5 above)
Maybe all the decisions that came before preschool — where to give birth, which stroller to buy, how to sleep-train — sapped my energy for selecting the perfect preschool. Or maybe it was the sleep deprivation.
But, as long as my daughter is happy at her good-enough preschool, I’d rather save my decision-making resources for choosing how to spend my newfound free time.