This post originally appeared on JMB in August of 2011. All of Cristie’s kiddoes are happily enjoying life beyond preschool and she still maintains their success in school is in large part to what they learned in Pre-K.
As an educator I was totally aware of the importance of preschool. Quite simply, the students who came to my school with previous classroom experience fared better academically, maybe not always in the long-term, but their Kindergarten year always started easier than those kids who were experiencing it all for the first time.
You would think that when it came time to send my own kids to preschool I would have been completely on board. And yet, like everything else with parenting, when it was time to send my oldest I surprised myself with my reluctance. I wasn’t ready to let go of my baby even for a few hours a couple of times a week. I didn’t want her exposed to other kids. I didn’t want her purity tainted in any way. Up until that point I controlled everything from what she saw and heard to what she ate and drank. She didn’t want juice boxes because she didn’t know they existed. Now, there might be juice all around! Whatever would I do with these new-found influences that would surely be more powerful than me? I could teach her everything she needed at home right? Where I lived, a lot of people did it and their kids were great.
I almost kept her home-forever. Luckily for her, I came to my senses and sent her off. Then I did it again with my second and now I’ll do it again with my third. This time, I am pushing him out the door and not just because I’m itching for kid-free time. No, I have learned (or should I say I’ve had the knowledge reinforced) how important preschool is for it has provided my kids things I never could at home. Of course my kids are exposed to early literacy and math skills at school, but to me those are secondary. What has really counted are the lessons they learned specifically because of what I feared the most- their exposure and interactions with other kids. My children have learned persistence, patience, courtesy, conflict and time management all because they have had to learn how to co-exist in a classroom and they have been gifted with teachers who are masters at facilitating that coexistence. The schools that I have chosen have emphasized learning through play which naturally leads to social and emotional “learning”. I am thrilled with the people my kids are turning out to be and though my husband and I can take some credit, their preschool teachers and classmates deserve the lion’s share.
So for all you moms who may be sending your first out the door in the next few weeks. I feel your pain. I know you’re up worrying and second guessing and doing all those things we moms are great at doing to ourselves when we’re facing change. Let me assure you, the kids are alright. Enjoy the waning days of summer and know that even though you are still the greatest teacher they have it never hurts to learn from others too.
This is an original post to Jersey Moms Blog by Cristie Ritz King. You can also find her at www.thetravelingcircus.com.