Friday, January 21, 2011

Is Preschool Necessary? (part one)

Most of you know I don’t want to send M to preschool.  Intuitively, I want to keep him with me one more year – doing what we’ve been doing all along – hopefully helping him grow into a confident, capable boy with a caring heart.

I operate on intuition a lot.  This doesn’t mean logic and reason don’t come into play when I make decisions – they definitely do.  It just means that I am comfortable listening to my feelings and examining what my heart is telling me.  I have found that, quite often, my heart is picking up on easy-to-miss little things and whispering to me to pay attention!.

Intuition has “told” me of many engagements, new lives, even deaths, before I actually heard the news.  My family is never surprised when I know something before they tell me. 

Intuition told me to stay home with my new baby and let the world of work rush by without me; that what he really needed was for Mama to hold him and love him and know him, and that if I just did that everything else would fall into place.

Intuition had me at his side those first few weeks, loving him and bonding with him, hurrying to his side whenever he cried.  And intuition is what told me that in the natural course of things he wouldn’t always be so needy, and that at 6 months I would respond a tiny bit differently than at 6 weeks, and a bit more differently at a year, and so on.  I felt, quite often at that time, that I was being judged (although it could very well have just been those hormones!) for jumping up whenever he needed me.  When I began teaching him that he needed to be patient for mama and that mama would always come, but that sometimes learning to go to sleep is important too I would let him cry for a few minutes (never much though, to be honest).  And I distinctly remember seeing looks exchanged between people, as if to say – “wow, she’s finally learned!”  But the truth is, it was just intuition telling me that a baby at one year has different needs than a baby at 6 weeks.  It was a sense of his development and just knowing in my heart what he was ready for and what was best for our family.  I would still rush to a new baby as soon as possible if he cried!

Intuition is telling me, in a bit more than its usual whisper, that preschool is not right for M.  Not right now anyway.  Who knows, things may change by fall, I don’t know.  I do try to keep my mind open and pray that what is right and best for him is what ends up happening.  No matter how much I pray though, I keep coming back to the thought that as M’s mother, God has given me this gift of intuition to help me know what the right thing to do is.  As his mother, I understand and know him better than anyone else.  I am the primary advocate of his well-being, and it’s a job I don’t take lightly.

For his sake, as well as my own peace of mind, I want to take what I am feeling intuitively, and support it with reason.  There are a few factors that I want to explore and write about in relation to preschool:

  • socialization, especially in light of the fact that he is naturally an introvert and can be a bit shy at times.
  • academics – what is being taught in the preschool that we would send him to, and how this lines up with what he needs, wants, and is developmentally ready for, as well as what we want for him.
  • the idea of “mothering” him too much – does he, at this age, need formal school time away from me?  If so, why? 

I’m trying to be so orderly about getting my thoughts put down on paper (cyber paper, that is), and it’s not an easy task for this jumbled up brain of mine. :)  Hopefully over the next few weeks I’ll be able to write posts about all of these things.  Feedback is so very, very appreciated!

Have a beautiful day! :)



  1. Wow Nicole, I just sat on my kitchen chair and contemplated the very same things!!! I am going through the same thoughts! If you want to email me to communicate some thoughts I would love to chat to someone in the same boat:
    Blessings, Daisy xxx

  2. Obviously, you've got the academics down!

    You might consider a program like Community Bible Study that offers structured lesson once a week to the child while Mom gets her own might help with the shyness...but the teachers are not trained in education. We have been quite pleased. Or maybe your church has something during church?

    I think preschool is a personal decision for each family. The mom factor is one I hadn't really considered before...but important.

    God bless this big decision.

  3. Sometimes I wished I followed my intuition more! I would have saved us a lot of unnecessary heartache. I believe in following one's gut instinct.

    As for preschool, we were told we had to apply to preschool before K was born and many people went through the trouble of researching 10 or more preschools to find the right one. I applied for one of the competitive preschools last minute and got in (economy was on a decline). We tried it for a month and K preferred to play with me rather than other parents (it's a co-op). They weren't doing anything new that I've already done at home. The new teacher was incompetent which was a huge let down. So we became preschool drop outs! I worried that we wouldn't have friends since all the kids went to preschool but now we have a reliable group of friends with whom we meet weekly. And since we're planning to homeschool, we're making new friends at the same time! I'm finally confident about our decision.

    Enjoy your time with your kids. They grow up way too fast!

  4. I think Mothers always know what is best for their children. We know them better than anyone else. And honestly, I don't believe at this young age that you can Mother too much.

    Do you attend a church or playgroup so he can get socialization there?

    My son is very very shy but we started Awanas at age 3, he did kizlovesoccer starting at age 2 and now we attend a homeschool co-op. None of that took away his shyness. It helped him socialization with kids, but the shyness remains. I think sometimes it's just who a person is and other times it can be outgrown.

    Good luck in your decision!

  5. Hi Nicole.
    First off, I'd like to say that you do not have to explain your reasons for parenting the way you do to anyone, as long as YOU understand why you're doing things the way you are. It's good to get your thoughts straight, but would you have to defend your actions if M WAS going to preschool?
    Second, way to go you! Listen to your heart and look at your child and you will make the right decisions. I wish more people could realise this.

  6. I had been thinking about this in regards to my own son, of late. Intuition led me in a different direction. For him, it has been the right thing.

    Posted about it here:

  7. I am inspired by your way of thinking! I have a young daughter who I am working with and have many of the same feelings that you do. I think that the world as a whole has made us think that there is something wrong with us if we want to say home with our children and teach them what we feel is important. I think you should follow your feelings, they are what God has given us to lead us. you are doing a great job, keep it up! I love seeing what ideas you have about teaching! thanks! :)

  8. Hey Nicole!! This was a huge topic in our house too, and after much discussion and prayer, we decided to send Maddie 2x/week (for 2 hours each session). It was NOT a decision that I took lightly, as I was previously content to keep her home. However, I will say that it was the socialization aspect (and God speaking into my heart) that SLOWLY changed my mind. She's the type of child that wakes up in the morning and one of her first questions is ALWAYS, "Who are we playing with today?" She craves social interaction and I just felt like I couldn't completely provide that for her through play dates and dance class.

    Anyway, I will say that the decision to send her was hardest on me. Fortunately, we found a sweet church preschool just across the boulevard (we could walk... if I had the motivation, haha). It's a nurturing environment, she's thriving and I love building off/extending what she's learning and doing (I will say that I did NOT put any heavy emphasis on academics at this stage; they DO letter reviews and early writing and math, but that wasn't my focus).

    I'm rambling. Haha. Listen to your intuition, pray and talk. My friend started her son the same time I started Maddie (same preschool, too) and she JUST pulled him out. She felt like it just wasn't working for them, but said she's still happy she tried. It's so different for every child, you know?


  9. I didn't go to preschool, and nor did any of my siblings. Somehow we all made it to adulthood =)

    My kids haven't gone to preschool yet, either. I feel like there are other ways to help them learn independence and socialization, and academics can certainly be taught at home, to the extent that they are necessary at this age!

  10. It's all about what you feel is right for your family. Your child won't be behind if they don't attend a formal preschool. Fill their lives with the things you feel are important and all else will fall into place.

  11. I totally agree with many of the above comments. I am a grandmother of 3 and a mother of 2. I didn't listen to that little voice about my son until 8th grade. It was really too late for really good academics by then, he hated anything remotely school, even homeschooling, but I am happy to say that he is now a well adjusted man of 30 and has a good job in the computer programming field...self taught I might add (he knew more than his College teacher). You know your son better than anyone, and you know what is good for him. Listen to yourself.

  12. What a great, great post!:))) I believe each child learns at different times and at different circumstances. Other peoples experiences are not the same as yours or your childs. I do not believe forcing them if it is not necessary it may alter their learning experience and growth. I totally agree with listening to your own intuition. Also, I believe when a child reaches the right age for things there should be encouragement and forcing to a certain extent when the age is appropriate for the situation. Thanks for such a great post!:)))

  13. I have the same intuition and feel that I was put here as a mother to stay with my kids until they are ready to go to school. I have even contemplated homeschooling until grade 5, but haven't figured that one out yet.

    My oldest is a late august birthday so for my husband and I it is also about readiness emotionally (as school starts 3 days after his 5th birthday). My husband was sent to preschool and kindergarten young and he swears he is still scarred from it. We will probably hold J back a year and start him in kindergarten at 6 instead of 5. If this does happen I might put him in 2 days a week of preschool just for the social aspect to help him prepare.

    But unlike some of my playgroup mothers I will NOT be putting him in preschool "just because" I chose to stay home and if I send him away, in my mind, doesn't that defeat why I quite my job???

    Do what is best for your family, as you all are the ONLY people who matter!

  14. Just to add a different perspective on socialization if that is a concern. Socialization is not just about kids being around others their own age. True socialization happens when we are exposed to all different aged people in different settings. My son is a "social bug" and only attended a Mom's Day Out program (at age 3) for a few months before I realized it wasn't for him. He is 6 1/2 now and very outgoing and will talk to anyone of any age. He is comfortable in his own skin and really knows how to hold a conversation with an adult and yet play with kids of all ages. I am confident this came from normal interactions in the store, post office, playgrounds, visiting museums, time with grandparents, time with parents/sibling, etc.

    It's hard as parents to know what to do but praying and seeking God's word will point you in the direction you should go. God bless!

  15. Hi Nicole,
    Good for you for listening to your heart and instincts and considering what works for you and for your child. As you know - I am a huge advocate for early learning as I believe that young children need opportunities to develop and grow but where learning takes place doesn't matter as much as having an adult invest time and energy into the different kinds of developmental growth and learning. So have fun with your preschooler, look for opportunities you can both enjoy and learn from. The preschool years are so precious and so full of adventure! When my daughter was little, I didn't want to miss a thing but at age three, she was ready for some new adventures so we tried a part time preschool and she loved it. Go with your instincts for sure - and have fun growing together in whatever way you find works for you and your child!

  16. What a thoughtful post Nicole. I can relate to much of what you wrote. I've often thought that the decisions about school feel similar to earlier decisions. I remember how difficult it was to decide to quit my job; now I can't imagine a better job than being home. We worried endlessly about sleep, and I do feel bad that we had to allow crying, but we are all sleeping now. The decisions that were so big are now made.

    I'm leaning towards homeschooling but not 100 percent there yet. Some things I've been thinking about:
    - Each path has it's benefits, and we'll be missing out on something no matter what we do. What will I regret more?
    - Am I making too big of a deal out if this? Do I need to just decide and move on?
    - Do I want to homeschool for my sake? Is that fair to them?
    - No school will ever be perfect. If I homeschool, I can't put so much pressure on myself to do everything right. If I send them to school, I have to give teachers slack and not be too critical of them.

  17. Nicole- follow your heart. And IF you do decide on a preschool, make sure it is a good fit. There are lots of different types of environments in preschool settings and not every place is the the right place for each child.
    It is great that you are not jumping toward a decision. Taking the time to really contemplate and determine your actions is always best.
    I passed along a blog award to you:

  18. I just got a chance to read the post, actually it's more I wanted to make sure I had time to read it properly.

    And we've emailed a couple of times about this, and I look forward to hearing more of your thoughts. You're putting it together very well.

  19. I was interested to read the post and all the comments. I agree wholeheartedly that we should both listen to our own instincts and to our children. Only you and M can tell whether he can benefit from preschool or not. Looking back, I can tell you that I would have chosen a different preschool for Anna (a Montessori school) for Anna, but that ship has sailed now, since she will start K next fall :)

  20. Trust your gut and I absoloutly agree with what Raising a happy child said.
    I gave you an awrd and would love for you to come on over for a visit

  21. How wonderful that it's natural for you to use your intuition! That will make your decision so much easier!

    I owned a Montessori school when my son was small. He loved being a student in my school until he was 3 1/2 and I closed my school to have more time for my family. I ended up homeschooling my 2 children through high school, using Montessori methods when my children were little and unit studies when they were older. That worked wonderfully for our family.

    We had a lot of outside activities like skating, skiing, dance, and homeschool co-op activities, so there were lots of opportunities for socialization. Both my children loved college and kept their love of learning. They now both have bachelor's degrees.

    I really think there are lots of wonderful options for families - you just need to choose the one that's right for your particular family. Just follow your wonderful sense of intuition and your child's needs. Wishing you a joyful journey, whatever educational path you follow!

    By the way, I think your blog is fabulous! I gave you an award at

  22. I agree with your thoughts on preschool in this post and in part two.

    Obviously, I see no need for socialization through outside school as I homeschool exclusively and plan to do this the whole way through. That said...

    My daughter went to preschool from age 2 on, and then to school through 4th grade. I can tell you, she learned absolutely nothing of socialization through any of her years in school and I truly mean that. There are much better environments to learn socialization, and IMO, the public school system or school system in general is not a positive one for this. As a family we've decided it best for our children to learn socialization first at home from interacting with their siblings, and then with others in settings we deem appropriate.

    Good luck, prayers and blessings as you continue to make these very personal decisions for you and your family. Just remember, you as a parent know what is best for your child and keep your head high!


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