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Monday, August 29, 2005

Preschool by any other name...

Something happened to Toddler in Chief's playgroup last week. One of the kids was missing. Her mom was missing too. There was an eerie absence to the group. It was Halloween-esque, even though pumpkin season doesn't officially start until September 22.

Our meeting tomorrow will be even smaller as the absentee list triples as two other kids start preschool. But more than just a scheduling wrench thrown to the meeting that has taken place for more than 100 weeks, I'm fascinated by the decision to send two-year-olds to school. They're two. They're still wearing diapers.

On the other hand, I totally get it.

Marketing Manager Mom told me that she just feels maxed out on what she can provide for her daughter at home. And so often she finds that she can't wait for her daughter's next nap, so that she can get a break. I can relate to that. There are many days when I anxiously await that coveted and sacred nap time or bedtime so that I can get some of my projects accomplished, uninterrupted by a little voice and sticky hands that want, want, want. And preschool will provide a stimulating environment with all kinds of new toys and new songs and new art projects (that someone else gets to clean up).

There's also something to be said for getting kids used to being in a structured environment that is run by an adult that is not a parent or family member. That's what prompted Bay Area PR Friend to sign her son up for a once-a-week preschool program.

That, and the underlying pressure from other women signing their kids up for preschool. I can't help but feel that they know something I don't know. Or that my kid is going to fall behind socially and academically because he's not in preschool and won't be until next fall at the earliest.

Still, TIC gets tons of socialization from our weekly playgroups through the mothers club and from his play dates through our shared time with the sitter. And while hours with the sitter and hours and preschool both cost a fortune, maybe its easier to justify spending money on preschool to get the dedicated and much-needed break from your kid than it is to spend money on extra childcare. Maybe it's all a mental: childcare is frivolous, while preschool is essentially?

Then again, many of these moms who are signing up their kids for preschool are pregnant. And it might just be easier to make this transition to being away from mom before Baby No. 2 comes along. They are nesting in a way that gets the kid acclimated to a new schedule, a new experience before the sibling shocker rocks the family unit. So regardless of whether the break is for mom or for stimulating educational programs for tots, breaks--in whatever shape or form--from our 24/7 job as parents are golden.


  1. Anonymous4:43 PM

    both our kids started a preschool at the age of two, but only two mornings a week for 2-3 hours. They were both ready for it and really enjoyed it. They met other kids besides the ones on our block. I think the key is to phase it in, rather than suddenly dumping them into full time school at kindergarten. Plus the preschools were very low key, not at all academic but about playing. And the break for a few hours a week was nice too...

  2. I signed up my daughter for preschool on a whim. I called the 'highly recommended' one near us, there were openings, so that's where she went 2 days a week for 2.5 hours each time. Granted she was 3 going on 4, so she was quite a bit older. But I was so glad I enrolled her, and I wished I had done it sooner. It really is playing and socialization for the most part. I thought of it as more variety in our day-to-day activities, but it was also a great way to get a bit of a break.