From the Archives:The Power of Preschool

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.

Cristie Ritz King

About Cristie Ritz King

When Cristie was relocating to New Jersey from the suburbs of Washington, DC she wondered why all her neighbors who were native New Jersians were so vocal about their envy of her move. She had been in the Garden State for just over a year when she started to get it. I mean who doesn’t love a place where you never have to pump gas in the rain? Relocating her three kids, while filming a reality television show for HGTV inspired Cristie to start blogging at The Traveling Circus – there were just too many crazy stories to share. In her previous life, Cristie was both a public school Reading Specialist and Private school 8th grade English teacher-which may not be obvious when she overuses punctuation and makes up words on her blog. After baby number two, Cristie realized she personally couldn’t take care of her own kids if she kept leaving her heart at school with her classroom kids, so she left the noble teaching profession and has never looked back. Now, Cristie shuttles her own cherubs to and fro in Monmouth County and attempts to maintain her sanity while “keeping house” and running a business that thankfully forces her to stay up on current fashion and gets her out of workout clothes every (ok, most) day(s). Cristie now writes about everything from the music that fuels her, to parenthood to pop culture, including the MTV and Bravo reality shows that she watches to unwind, (Don’t judge.) on her personal blog The Right Hand Mom, a style collective called All Things Chic and From Left to Write, a collective blog for book fiends like her. She has written for the former Silicon Valley/New Jersey Moms Blog, where her work was syndicated in newspapers owned by The McClatchy Company. Cristie is a member of The Yahoo! Motherboard and was featured as one of Yahoo! Shine’s Reinvention stories in 2010 for her Year of Evolution. Cristie shared her story of how she turned around her family’s near-dire financial situation and set them on a path toward financial security and growth. This money evolution also spiraled into a total makeover that got this self-proclaimed gym hater up and exercising daily. The total makeover (well, mostly makeover) inspired Cristie to become a Certified Health Counselor and open RealLifeWellnessNJ.com, where she provides people with guidance and strategies for living well in real (hectic,crazy) life. Cristie’s is thrilled to be a founding member of the fabulous community that is Jersey Moms Blog and proud to call New Jersey home.

Comments

  1. Teicia says:

    I remember so well this same fear and reluctance as I sent my first (now a 1st grader) off to preschool at Goddard in Tinton Falls. While everyones experience is dfferent, ours was very positive. We were grateful for all the “reinforcements”, especially when it came time for potty-training. I am well aware that most of the credit should go to Miss Stacey of the Radishes Class for her no-toddler-left-behind approach to potty training. What I feared would take forever, turned out to be a very natural and stress free experience. I attribute that to the care and patience of a great daycare staff. We’re hopeful for the same with our litle one.

  2. Jerseygirl89 says:

    I love my kids’ preschool and I’m so glad I sent my kids when and where I did. Great post!

  3. SchoolsNMore says:

    Great post! There seems to be a lot of research that supports the fact that pre-school education plays a very important role in the social and academic development of a child. For me, the initial weaning was tough but I really haven’t looked back after I put my older kid in a Montessori. It’s worked wonders with both my children and has made me a complete believer in the system. Have written more about it here:
    http://www.schoolsnmore.com/articles/article/49-what-is-montessori-a-personal-experiencehoolsnmore.com/admin/articles/edit/49

  4. julia says:

    I like the post. Going to preschool is a big step to me and my son. we all experience the new challenge

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