I am a stay at home mom. My husband and I choose to send our daughter to preschool. We do so for several reasons, as we believe there are many practical benefits of our children attending preschool.
This decision isn’t one that we came to lightly. After all, preschool is not cheap! But, the benefits of sending our daughter to preschool, were worth doing some searching for an inexpensive preschool option.
Had we not been able to find an inexpensive school in our area, we most likely wouldn’t have been able to enroll our daughter in preschool- especially since I am a stay at home mom, and we are down one income. (See below for some inexpensive preschool options that are in most areas).
Preschool is not something that I think is a need.
I do, however, think that there are at least 7 amazing benefits to having your toddler attend preschool, and for starting starting preschool early.
7 Benefits of Preschool:
1. Mama Gets a Mental Break
I can’t imagine there is a stay at home mom out there that doesn’t need a mental break. It is exhausting raising a child. It is 24-7 with no breaks. Not even a break to use the restroom by yourself.
Nap time, rest time, and independent play time are all good times to get in a mental break, but nothing is as good as 100% true child free time.
I felt guilty for wanting this at first, but the reality is that everyone needs a break from their job. Even if they LOVE their job. We all need a moment to catch our breath.
2. Time Away is Healthy for Your Toddler
Your child gets to experience the world for a moment, without you by their side. They need to learn how to interact with others, listen to other adults, and even take a moment to learn about themselves.
I think we all learn a great deal about ourselves when we are on our own for a bit. It’s when you learn if you’ll step up. You learn if you have the confidence to do things.
Teacher’s tell us about Caroline’s behavior…
I’ve learned that she says please and thank you when I’m not around.
I’ve learned that she doesn’t speak up when she needs something because she gets nervous.
I’ve learned that she gets nervous interacting with other children in chaotic, loud settings.
I’ve learned that she helps other children when they are struggling with something.
I’ve learned that she solves her own problems and shares well.
I’ve learned that she likes rules and is great at following instructions.
I’ve learned that she’s quiet, but focused and taking it all in.
I’ve learned that she participates when she feels confident in her abilities.
I’ve learned that she builds others up and compliments them when they do a good job.
And so much more…
If I’ve learned all of that, it means our daughter has learned all of that about herself as well. What a great experience for her to learn so much about herself.
I take Caroline to most appointments. There are some that I just can’t bring her to, however. And others that I could, but they are such long appointments it would be miserable to have a toddler in tow.
As a stay at home mom with no family close by, my options are to hire a babysitter, impose on some other mom friends, or bring her to my husband at work.
Hiring a babysitter is expensive. I hate to be the one that is asking favors all of the time. And my husband takes her when he can, but he’s working! He can’t always have a toddler with him.
Having a time built into our schedule is ideal. Preschool provides just that. I schedule any appointments she can’t attend, during preschool time.
4. Micromanaging – both parties come to expect it and rely on it
I try really hard to not step in and be overbearing unless I need to. There’s the fine line, however, between teaching your toddler acceptable behaviors, and allowing them to work things out on their own.
Do you ever notice, when a mom is close by… children run to their moms to fix everything. Moms often step up to fix things before their child has a chance to ask for help.
But the point is, that kids can come to rely on reminders and help, and moms can tend to give them too quickly.
When your child is in a preschool setting, they have a chance to solve problems on their own. They have a chance to interact with other children and apologize, say thank you, please, etc. on their own.
They have a chance to try! If mom is around, it’s just so easy to default to mom. It’s just so easy for mom to fix fix fix.
Our daughter came home from school the other day and told us that another little girl didn’t want to share with her. Instead of getting upset, Caroline explained that she’d take a turn, and then give it back. The girl agreed. They played together as a result!
Had I been there, I would have probably told Caroline it was fine if the other girl didn’t want to share, and that she could find something else to do. She wouldn’t have had a chance to solve the problem.
She wouldn’t have had the chance to play with this other girl. That would have been, and probably often is, a huge missed opportunity when I am around. She’d come to me for help, and I’d offer my help willingly.
5. Socialization With Other Kids The Same Age
Let’s face it, toddlers do not know how to socialize. They don’t know how to play together. They often just play next to one another.
They are focused on themselves and what they want to do.
They get upset easily, and aren’t always aware of other’s feelings.
Starting around the age of 3.5-4, however, they really start to be intrigued by the whole idea of playing with other children.
I think this is the age where they start to really notice other’s emotions, and relate to it as well.
I love that our daughter gets to experience playing and talking with children her age at school. She doesn’t get that at home. Sure, we can set up playdates, but the preschool setting is wonderful for a true group of children at the same age.
6. Time to Learn in New Ways
Teachers are teachers for a reason. I have a masters in education at the secondary level. I learned SO much about just how to teach in that program.
Elementary level and preschool level teachers are experts in how to deal with the little ones! Everything from how to handle their behaviors, to fun ways to get concepts across, and activities that are simply amazing.
They know what they are doing.
I am not big on the “book learning” at this age. I don’t really care if our daughter knows the letter sounds yet. But she LOVES learning. And, as a result, she’s learning so much. More than I get through to her at home.
Last year, she learned all of the letter sounds. She learned about patterns and rhyming. She has fun learning, and that’s what it’s all about.
7. Preparation for the long day of Kindergarten
Most programs now have FULL day kindergarten programs. Full day! That’s a lot. One of our goals with doing preschool, is to slowly get our daughter used to the long days. I want her to be physically, mentally, and emotionally prepared for being away at school all day.
We started when Caroline was 6 months old. She did a mother’s day out program that was 1 day a week, for 4 hours.
We then moved her up to a preschool program that was twice a week for 2.5 hours.
Eventually she’ll be in a program that is 3 days a week, and we may extend her day back to 4 hours in preparation.
I think this slow progression just helps in the long run.
Inexpensive Preschool Options to Look Into
These options are very inexpensive, and many of them are free! They can take time to research, but they are out there!
1. Recreation and Community Centers
3. County Based- through local elementary and high schools
4. Church Preschools
5. Mother’s Day Out/ Parent’s Day Out Programs
Babywise Friendly Blog Network Day
Today, the bloggers of the babywise friendly blog network are all writing on the topic of school. Here is a list of all of their posts and links today:
Christine Keys: 5 Thought Provoking Reasons to Boycott Preschool
Chronicles of a Babywise Mom: How to Maintain a Sleep Schedule Amid School Disruptions
The Journey of Parenthood: Reasons Why it Benefits Your Child to Ride the Bus
Team Cartwright: 3 Little After School Questions That Have a Big Impact
Twin Mom and More: 6 Reasons to Choose a Play Based Preschool
Other Posts of Interest:
M is For Mama (structured learning)
Teaching Numbers To Your Toddler
Breakfast Math- A Preschool Math Activity
Taking the First Step to Finding Childcare
First Day of “School” (Mother’s Day Out Program)
First Year of School “Halfway Report”
School Lunch Ideas (see “Eat” page under the toddler section)
Year 2 of School (Mother’s Day Out)- How we stopped the dreaded drop off crying!
Babywise Friendly Blog Network