Liz' s Musings's

Liz's musings on life – mostly her kids though.

06/25/08 Preschool??? June 25, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Liz @ 8:38 am

Thomas and I have been talking about preschool for Christopher. I think that is a big reason why Thomas is pushing for Christopher to be potty trained (not something that is happening at a very quick pace). Five years ago I never thought I would be thinking about preschool for, not one, but TWO kids!!! So in a funny serendipity one of my favourite bloggers, CitiMama did a column today on a preschool blog that is going local in many cities (no Oregon cities yet!) She’s got a give away going on if you link back to her post so that’s why there’s all of that link love in the previous sentence. I am hoping the new site will give me some help in this area. It looks like a hard decision! I didn’t have any trouble finding a daycare provider for the kids. Another mom from our church called me when Christopher was about 2 months old and told me that her old daycare provider had an opening and did I need daycare? Woohoo! Problem solved. She was a mom who had 5 or 7 kids and I figured she knew how to pick out a daycare so after meeting Ann we were sold. No problem there.

So now to the preschool thing … I figured Christopher could stay at daycare until he needed to start kindergarten. Heck, kindergarten is only two or three hours a day here so he’ll be going to daycare for more than half of the day anyway. Why confuse the kid by putting him in preschool all day then have him go to kindergarten for a few hours then to daycare again. It boggles my mind, I’m sure it would totally throw him. My MIL thinks he should be in preschool now. Thomas thinks maybe in a year. What do you all think? I’m totally at a loss here … this is SO not my area of expertise. Now if Christopher needed his taxes done I am so on it!

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10 Responses to “06/25/08 Preschool???”

  1. Julie Says:

    This is certainly my area of expertise, but I have questions first! Is he currently in a “home based” child care – cared for in someone’s house in a “homey” sort of atmosphere? If so, then can I assume he is in a mixed aged grouping – she cares for children probably ranging in age from birth to 5? And finally, if so, is it a pretty small group – likely not bigger (I hope) than 6? The deal is that if all the above is true it does not mirror at all what kindergarten is like. In K. the children are all of a similar age, and there are 20+ (?) of them. Also, does she have a consistent schedule – snack/activities set-up, etc. all at the same time everyday? Home child care tends to be more flexible – mirror home life more than school life, which is (to me) optimal for infants and toddlers in care. Does she have a lot of quality materials (no order, just typing off the top of my head) – painting easel, wood blocks, scissors, playdough, glue, writing implements, puzzles, dress-up clothes/furniture, books, puppets, outdoor climbing structure, etc. (I could go on….)?

    In general, I think it’s fine for a child to have just one year of preschool before entering kindergarten. A preschool *generally* offers more stimulation (you hope, in the form of highly trained ECE professionals, quality environment & materials) as well as a group and environment that mirrors more a kindergarten. And yet, if a child is in a child care situation that is not very stimulating (e.g. care giver is loving, but not necessary knowledgeable in child dev.) or care environment does not have quality toys/environment (it would be another essay for me to describe THAT 🙂 then I may recommend the second year of preschool. It also depends on the child. If your child seems happy and stimulated in the current situation then perhaps one year is fine. If however you, as the person who knows your child best, suspect that he would thrive in a more stimulating, preschool-like environment then, again, there’s nothing wrong with preschool at 3 years old. Of course if by “preschool” you really mean “facility care” all day from 7-6, then I think the home care environment is likely preferable. On the younger side, for parents who have to work all day, I think the perfect situation is a home child care provider that is willing to take the kid to a 3 hour preschool.

    It’s been so long I can’t really remember… I think Rebecca just had one year of preschool (average 3 hrs./day for 3 days/week) before kindergarten. Part of that was financial – I was home and could not afford much preschool. Veronica went 2 years because I had found an inexpensive co-op and I knew she loved the stimulation after being around it all with Rebecca so much. She went 3 three hour days/week at 3 yrs. old and then 5 three hour days/week at 4.

    It is a tough decision and involves weighing multiple factors. Good luck! I’m happy to answer any other questions you have. You know where to find me :)))

  2. Liz Says:

    Julie, I was hoping you’d weigh in on this 🙂 Christopher is in an at home daycare with kids ranging from birth (Sarah) to 4 during the day (no more than 6 is Oregon law) and in the afternoon after school there are a few older kids but they’re in a separate area usually (her house is a bi or tri level so it’s separate but not). Ten kids is the maximum by state law.

    She does have a schedule. It’s not rigid but it is consistent. She has everything you listed except the painting easel. She also has an enclosed deck so when it’s yucky the kids can get some fresh air without getting wet. She also is very knowledgeable in child development. She doesn’t have a degree but has taken a lot of classes. When I mention things about development at X age she knows what I’ve just read at babycenter.com and more.

    He loves daycare and *I* think it is stimulating for him. There is a good mix of activities (indoor/outdoor, active play/artistic stuff/imaginitive play). He has already learned his numbers (sort of to 20, he misses 14-17 a lot!), his colours, his shapes, and the alphabet. I brought home a drawing of H’s the other day. He specifically told me they were H’s and they looked pretty good for an almost-three year old.

  3. Julie Says:

    It doesn’t sound like there’s any rush! I do recommend it for the year before he goes to kindergarten though. It’s not absolutely necessary, but nice for him to be accustomed to the things I mentioned before entering kindergarten. That way they aren’t an issue at the time (e.g. more kids, stricter schedule) and he can concentrate on other adjustments (new kids, new teacher, new things to learn). I know what you mean about adding a step: home care –> preschool –> kindergarten, but I think it’s a smoother transition to go from pre-k – kinder. than from home care – kinder.

    And honestly, at less than 3 I’m not so concerned that he knows his numbers (certainly not to 20!!), or alphabet. If he’s having to sit and learn those things then I’d be concerned. Remember, for me “stimulating” does not equal “academic”. At 3 he should be learning songs/fingerplays, having daily exposure to some sort of sensory item (playdough, fingerpaint, shaving cream, water, etc.), hearing LOTS of language through conversation/books, having opportunities to talk by answering open ended questions/commenting on his art/stories/nature/etc. He should be exploring and interacting, not being drilled on letters, etc.

  4. Liz Says:

    I will mentally prepare for preschool for him in Sept. of 2009 then. Sounds like a good step based on what you said. I think that’s what Thomas said too.

    As for his learning … it’s been through books that we read and normal stuff that he has at daycare to play with. When I dropped him off this morning he wanted to play with the refrigerator magnet alphabet. He started putting them on the refrigerator and ended up with two S’s and he said, “Hey there are two ethes (he lisps), a big eth and a little eth.” He’s even learning some sign language letters. He doesn’t remember which one is which so he’ll hold up his hand and ask, “what’s this letter mommy?” The first time he did it, it took me a minute to realise that he was doing a letter in sign language. Now that I know he’s aware of them, when he sings the ABC song (he learned that at daycare too) then I’ll do the signs for each of the letters as he’s singing.

    He knows most of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and has been trying to learn Old McDonald. We brought out the Baby Einstein exer-saucer for Sarah and he’s been pushing the cow a lot and trying to sing with the melody. It’s him, not us or daycare! He’s a sponge, a huge freakin’ sponge!!!

  5. Rhonda H Says:

    I agree with what Julie said even though I don’t have any kids! I think the “preschool” idea is more of a training ground for the socialization for kindergarten and for school in general. It is a LOT different to learn to share with 10 or 15 (or more) kids than it is with your little sister. And he would need to get used to responding (and obeying) other adults (teachers) which he sort of gets no doubt in day care but when he sees other children also doing (hopefully) the right thing, that will also teach him… I get them many years later and wish more of them had been to years and years of preschool! LOL

  6. Liz Says:

    Ra, as you saw when you were here … he doesn’t share well yet, LOL! However he does recognize it when it happens. We “share” the glider ottoman and we “shared” the umbrella last Saturday.

  7. Julie E Says:

    Liz – apparently my comments the other day never made it online, despite several attempts to post them…

    I think one year of preschool is a good idea. I have a become a proponent of the Montessori method, where children are encouraged to learn based on their interests and developmental levels, rather than an agenda the teacher has for the whole class.

    I would start visiting schools in October/November for entry the following September. Many preschools around here take applications beginning in January and the good ones fill up by the beginning of February. I think visiting a school in Sept. is still too new to the children and teachers, and by December, crazy with holiday schedules, hence my Oct./Nov. recommendation.

    Additionally, depending on the size of the preschool, ask if you can start him 1-2 days a week next summer so he can get used to the environment with less students there. Many schools have much smaller summer programs and I think it helped both Alison and Mike to feel like they knew their way around the school and routines before the official school year started.

  8. Liz Says:

    Next question – how do you find a preschool? The yellow pages?

  9. Julie E Says:

    Yellow pages, ask other moms (at church?, the park? the boys’ friends parents?), also, if you know the elementary school where Christopher will be attending, you may be able to ask the teachers there which children are best prepared.

    Visit a few preschools, and plan to stay for at least 30 minutes each. They should make you feel welcome and should be willing to have you observe. Obviously, as a parent at the school, you should be able to drop in unannounced, but to do an observation of a prospective school, I would make an appointment to get info and observe.

    Notice the activity levels (focus and concentration, or running wild), discipline if it’s necessary, and ask about potty training. Some schools do it, some don’t. Even though Christopher will probably be fully trained at almost four, it is not uncommon for children to have accidents when they get too busy playing. Teachers may need to remind children to go, and should always make it okay to change clothes at school without shame.

  10. Liz Says:

    Holy crap that’s a lot of stuff to remember! I think both Julie’s should come up here and help me when the time comes!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂 My MIL knows a lot of this stuff too, maybe she should come.


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