Maybe that title seems strange to you. In this day and age, why would you not choose to send your child to preschool? After all, most children do attend at least one year, and there is a lot of information out there (such as this Parents article) that lists the benefits of preschool for children, mostly such things as learning how to behave well in group settings, discovering how to be a student, and being prepared academically for kindergarten.
At the same time, there have been many articles recently in equally mainstream publications (such as this one in Huffington Post) that suggest only a small percentage of the kids who attend preschool truly benefit from it, because most who go would have received the same benefits from home. With such divergent views, it’s easy for a parent to feel tugged in both directions.
We Homeschool, But Still Chose Preschool
As a homeschooling mom, preschool for my son was not even on my radar screen. Yes, our daughter had gone, but I was still working then and we thought it would be a good experience for her, being an only child at the time. I am home now, and we homeschool. I believe strongly in a parent’s ability to teach his or her own children and in the many benefits of doing so.
The arguments for preschool that center around a child’s social and academic development are not ones that resonate with our family and the way we have chosen to educate our children. In fact, many homeschooling blogs will argue strongly against preschool, reassuring parents that if you can educate your K-12 kids (which you can), you can certainly manage your preschooler at home. And all last year, as we considered the idea, I struggled with that very argument. Surely I could give my son what he needs at home, right?
Reasons Behind Our Decision
Despite the arguments, come September, I will bring my three-year-old son and his Curious George backpack to attend our church’s preschool this next academic year. Why?
Our Son’s Specific Needs
Our son has apraxia, a motor-oral disorder that makes it difficult for him to control the muscles needed for speech and to plan what he wants to say in a way that can be understood. He needs, and gets, regular speech therapy through our public school district, which is helping greatly. But the more opportunities he has to practice the speech he is learning, the better. Of course, he practices with us, but we have noticed that he tends to try out new words and sounds and combinations with his sister even more. Our theory is that having another set of peers and adults at preschool to communicate with will also encourage that. We know there are no guarantees, but if it shaves off some of the time that it is likely to take to be able to communicate his heart more clearly, that is a win in my eyes.
Our Daughter’s Needs
Our son has taken a lot of our time lately, with regular speech therapy and doctor’s appointments and just the energy that goes into understanding his needs and wants on a regular basis. Our daughter adores her little brother, but some of her recent comments have shown me that perhaps she is longing for some individual attention. Having our son in preschool will let us spend some one-on-one time together, whether it is doing her school work together or running errands. I’m looking forward to that time.
I am SO not a morning person. And while I do not homeschool only because I would hate getting kids to school early, it is a side benefit to be able to set our own schedule according to what works for our family. So getting my kids up early-ish several times a week this year is actually not something I am looking forward to. But that doesn’t mean it won’t be good for me to have a little more structure in our schedule this year. I might even participate in a Body and Soul aerobics class that meets at the same time!
We love our church’s preschool. It is familiar to our son, because it is the same wing where he attends Sunday School and other children’s events, and it is familiar to us, too. Our daughter had wonderful teachers who loved on her, we like the curriculum they use, and we like the environment. We trust them, and that is huge in choosing to send our son to preschool, especially with his special needs. It also has a schedule that works for us — not all day, and not everyday.
Is Preschool Absolutely Essential?
Well, no. We could probably skip it and still see my son make great bounds in his speech, and find other ways to give our daughter extra attention, and I could learn more personal discipline in other ways. I will never know what would have happened this next year without it, something that bugs my perfectionist self who always wants to make the BEST choice.
But it is not a bad choice, and it is even a good choice, one that we are comfortable with in part because I am learning as a parent that there are no perfect choices. There are just choices we make, weighing the needs of our children with the needs of our family and the resources that are out there. I’m excited to see how this one plays out in the coming year.