Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Preschool woes

I've never been one of those moms who want to hold onto the "baby" in their child. In fact, I think it may be against all Mom rules to say this, but. . . .

I don't really like the baby stage.

It's too clingy and demanding. There is just too much that has to be done for and with a baby. Peanut, at 15 months old, is just now coming into the stage that I like. Yes, she (and Bjorn) are whiny and demanding and tantrum-throwing, but they also can do some things for themselves.

Bjorn can get his own snacks and drinks. He can go to the bathroom by himself, pick out his own clothes, and remember to put them in the hamper when dirty. That's something most 30 year old men haven't figured out. My 3 year old is ahead of the curve.

But I really enjoy watching both of them grow up, and all the new and exciting things that come with each stage. I rarely feel sad or nostalgic when looking at baby clothes or old pictures; I get excited thinking about all the things we can now do together.

So I'm surprised that I'm in such a quandary about preschool.

For a variety of reasons, right now we are sending the boy (and Peanut) to daycare, not preschool, when I work. Since I only work three days a week, and not the same three each week, this gives us the flexibility to choose when he goes to daycare and when he stays home with me.

But he is not getting any education from his daycare.

He has friends there, and he is learning the "social education" that is so important (so I'm told) for children this age. But he has always been good at socializing; he shares, plays and makes friends with every child he sees, everywhere. Seriously. He sees a little boy or girl across the store and the next thing you know he is shouting "Hey, friend - do you want to play with me?!"

I think he's socialized.

Now I would like to get him more formally educated, with letters and numbers and songs and activities. I want to go to a Christmas program where he sings "Jingle Bells" and bangs on the triangle. I want to have notebooks sent home with drawings of his hands like a turkey and a Christmas tree and a heart.

There is just one little problem.

I don't want him to go.

I mean, I do. I do want him to go. When I'm working. I want him to go three days a week, when I am working and he needs to be watched by someone, so it might as well be a fun, school environment.

But I want him home with me the other times. I want to take him to the zoo and the space museum and the park and the store and the gym. I want to watch movies and play cars and yell at him for being constantly at my feet when I am trying to get stuff done.  I want him to play with his sister and his dog and his cars at his house. Because he has the next 13 years of his life in school, plus 5 years of college, if not more. He has the rest of his life to learn and go to school, and I only have this time to spend as much time as I can with him.

But I also want him to learn and have fun with his friends. I want him to love school, like I did, and love seeing his friends and his teachers. I don't want to slow him down developmentally just because I, selfishly, want these last two years before he is required, by law, to go to school.

So that is my quandary. My problem. Do I send Bjorn to a preschool that he would, most likely, love but lose that last little bit of time with him? Because of my work schedule, I would have to pay for full time preschool, but I could use it as part time, only sending him when I am actually at work. Would that be too awkward a change for him? Would he then be behind in preschool because he is not there everyday; would skipping the days for learning "m", "r" and "y" put him behind?

I need help from moms who have been here. Moms who put their children in preschool. Moms who want their alone time, but also want their time with their kiddos. Moms who work. Moms.

Any thoughts?!


Elizabeth & Chad said...

I don't have any advice for you but THANK YOU for saying that you don't love the baby stage! I was feeling guilty and like the only one who doesn't feel cuddly and snuggly and hold-on-to-this-moment-foreverish. Maybe it's because I'm in the leg clinging alternating with back arching stage :)

kderoll said...

I really don't have answers for you. You are ahead of me in this game and I am hoping that you have the answers and pass them along.

I can however just talk about myself and how I feel. The last week before she started school was the worst. I felt this impending doom. I was losing my little buddy that was with me over the past six months and then ten months prior to that. She and I went everywhere together. At the end of the day, I'd be spent, but whenever anyone asked if the "nanny" was coming the following day or whether I needed someone to watch her, I always said no unless I had a meeting because I wanted her with me. She wasn't even that all exciting yet.
Even the days that someone watched her for me, I could always just come back home and she would be there. I was afraid that I would hate that she was going to be in school five days a week, most of every day. We pay for five days a week, 7:30 to 6:00 p.m. That is a long time. The normal school day officially starts at 8 and goes until 3, then she is in an after-school program.

However, once she started I realized how much happier and probably a better mother I am now. I don't need that end of the day hand off, "here, can you just take her." I don't get as much time, but it is definately more quality time.

Your situation is different; they go to day care. You still get the break, but you also have the flexibility to have the days during the week to do things.

Everyone kept reminding me that I could pick her up whenever I want, I could keep her with me. I think that knowing that helped. With their early child-care program and up until kindergarten the "being there on time" and "absence policy" is more flexible, I think to account for that.

I have no idea what day care is like, or if it is even any different.

At our school, the day itself is structured. It is a part of a private christian school that runs through eigth grade. They say the pledge and have announcements every morning at eight. Everyone in the room, albeit they can't all say the pledge, are to stop what they are doing, attempt some sort of focus, and pay attention. They have a curriculum, but I honestly don't know exactly what it entails, at least at this point.
We get daily written reports that tell us what she did that day. Yesterday, for example, we did:
Dramatic Play

We read "A Dragon in a Wagon" about modes of transportation. We read "If Jesus Living Inside my Heart" about showing Jesus through your actions. We used textured balls and danced and moved to music. We sang "If Your'e Happy and You Know It."

They've got everyone on a schedule for meals and nap times. Everyone eats together and naps together at the same time.

And at the end of the day, it works for us. The reality is that I can't be with her everyday all day.

Also, though, you've got two. Having Bjorn in pre-school would give you more one-on-one time with Peanut, like you had with Bjorn before Peanut was born. He also gets to be one of the big kids and go to "school." There are always school holidays and the summer.

You could always try it and if it doesn't work, then go back to what you were doing. Either way he'll be fine, you'll be fine.

Jillian said...

I don't love the baby stage either!! And now that I'm in it again, I have to keep telling myself "it gets better... it gets better...".

Madison's day care actually has a preschool and Kindergarten as well, so she will transition with the same kids she has been with since she was 3 months old. She is also currently full time there, so I don't have much advice for you on that front.

I would say that our quality time on the evenings and weekends is superb. We go to the gym, the park, read books, have play dates, go grocery shopping, ect. We do a lot of the things SAH moms do during the week, only we fit it all in on the weekends and after work. It's a very busy life, but we're having fun 80% of the time. And many of our play dates are with her friends from school. It's great to get to know the parents of the kids she plays with every day.

Also, just like us kids need a mental health day every once in a while. So if you take him out to play with you instead of being in school once a month or so, he's not going to fall behind in his education.

I hope this helps!! Good luck!

Melisa - Mommy This & That said...

I truly had no problems sending Spencer to school last year or this year. Yes, I miss him and miss that what is Daddy's only time home Spencer is gone but it's only twice a week for a total of 8 hours. The most 3 year olds go here is 3 times a week. It isn't until they are 4 that they go for a full week (if the parent wants) so I am sure Bjorn will not be missing too much. Plus if he already knows his letters and numbers, he is ahead anyway.

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