Thursday, October 23, 2008

Preschool and I should maybe commit this quote to memory

Kevin and I have never sent our kids to preschool. We feel like children are little for so short a time. I want them to just enjoy being a part of the family. Going to the grocery store, playing with their baby sister, playing independently, being HOME. We've always felt this way. I never foresaw myself needing to give a defense for this position, or that it was somehow controversial--I just thought some kids went, and some kids didn't. No big deal.

Anyway, recently someone (who happens to be in a teacher credential program) asked me where my older three attend preschool. I politely said they don't go, that they're home with me. This person literally gasped, half-laughed and said, "They don't go to preschool?!"

During Yosef's evaluation, it seemed clear at two different points that one of the evaluators sees parents as somewhat incompetent to raise educated children. This made me wonder how many well-meaning experts have essentially disempowered already-intimidated parents, making them feel like they can't in any way contribute to their child's education. Hmmmmm.

I truly have NOTHING against public schools, or preschools. Most kids I know have gone to preschool and I think that's great! But this idea that kids NEED to be away from their parents earlier and earlier seems really wrong to me. I know all about the research touted by proponents of early education--but there is also research demonstrating that the early benefits of preschool are not necessarily sustainable over time. That's no reason NOT to go, but in my mind it's definitely reason enough to not HAVE to go.

Anyway, I read the following words by Ruth Beechick not too long after the above incidents occurred, and the first part had me laughing (okay, so I confess that I love sarcasm. Even if it's rude. What can I say? And in the interest of full disclosure, the above picture is of my kids playing a computer game! Ha!):

Curriculum for a 3-year-old? How about a loving home life that is
somewhat orderly in normal household routines? Add plenty of playtime
which is mostly free exploration...and only sometimes guided to new
activities. Add the outdoors...That sounds almost perfect to me. The
normal home life will include some books and reading...Language learning?
Family and friends are always teaching that.


joy said...

i totally understand what you mean. in many ways, we are now conditioned to expect that our kids NEED to go to preschool. i don't think that's true either! it definitely has benefits but i know lots of kids (like ages 5th grade to post high-school) who have performed very well in school without preschool. all that being said, yes i did send eli to preschool last year. but i will say that i really want my kids to have only one year of preschool. i get sad thinking that if my wiggly 3 year old were in preschool, he could be getting disciplined for not sitting still during story time or whatever. anyway--i love that quote and who needs preschool when you have a computer, right? ;)

Karen Wall said...

As a recent preschool drop out's mother I appreciate your quote. I have just begun homepreschooling my son and it is a blast! I am using a sort of Montessori-ish (I am certain that is not a word) approach and it is mostly just he and I learning about life together. I agree with the pressure, though. I have gotten tons of it after I withdrew him! :)

Anonymous said...

I taught preschool for years before having my own kids and I don't ever recommend sending kids to preschool. I was a great teacher and I truly loved the kids in my class but it can never match the bennefit of being home.

Mike and Rachel said...

I plan on sending Aubrey 2 days a week next year, but not for the learning benefit, but more for easing her into the expectations of school (sitting in a seat, raising your hand, floor time).

We had discussed putting her in this year because of the speech delay, but I just couldn't stomach the thought of paying someone to do what we already do at home. And she never stops talking now so it seems that she didn't "need" it.

Aubrey loves her "school" time when I am at Bible Study so I know she would enjoy it a few morning's a week. The new dilemma is whether to go with the public school option or a Christian Pre-School. If we have to pay for it anyway, maybe I would prefer her to at least learn about Jesus.

It seems like you are a magnet for negative remarks. I wonder when people are going to learn think before they speak.

Brian & Rachel Davis said...

Amen to your post! :-) (I won't post where I stand, because we're even more radical.) hehe

Tamara said...

I totally agree, when we decided to pull Gregory out of the Deaf/Hard of Hearing preschool, they were incredulous and said "YOU won't be able to teach him to read, there is special training for that". What she said did intimidate me. But I sat there and thought, well gee, I have got this kid breathing, not seizing, almost eating, walking, talking, dressing himself, out of diapers, playing, socializing, etc. I didn't get "special training" (well, besides the oxygen tanks) for any of this. At what point did I become too stupid to teach him anything else? And before schools were the norm, who directed a child's learning? Their FAMILY.
I think preschool is a good option for many families, but it seems like this day and age public schools are trying to make it the new kindergarten. That is not good because if you defy a child's natural development, and skip important development that isn't strictly "educational" (playing, exploring, learning from their important adults) you will set them up to be "failures".

Lara said...

I wish we were told about research results correctly. Going to pre-school does help kids do better in kindergarten. Going to kindergarten does help kids do better in first grade and so on, but going to pre-school doesn't help kids do better in 1st grade because the non-preschool kids catch up. So it's totally not necessary. It is fun and beneficial for kids who are really social and/or are really interested in crafts and things, but not necessary.
I watched those "First 5" commercials on TV that tell us that going to pre-school will help your kid go to college and I was totally convinced it was true until I was re-educated on the subject.
There is so much miseducation out there, it's sad.

Kate said...

we totally agree with you guys. i love the reality of having them with me at least during these tender young years. there is no place like home. :)

Brianna Heldt said...

Rachel, ha, a magnet! I'm really not easily offended, but after getting two seperate preschool comments within a 2-week period, I HAD to blog!

Tamara, ugh, I wish the experts were better at supporting, empowering and coming alongside parents, instead of intimidating them and making them feel inadequate. No one knows your child better than you do!

Lara I remember those commercials too! They always frustrated me because they are so misleading. Neither Kevin nor I ever went to preschool, but we were both reading before kindergarten and did well throughout school. Preschool is great if you choose to send your kids, but parents don't need to be afraid if their kids AREN'T going!

shell said...

I know I am going against the grain here, but all my boys have been in preschool and it has been awesome for them. They have learned many great lessons, made friends, learned how to love people who were hard to love, shared jesus with their classmates, etc. I know it may not be for everyone, but for them, it was priceless and I would not change it. Then again, I would not say it HAS to be done. It is just what worked for our family. Just wanted to comment from the 'other' side! :)

Angelina said...

The question you may begin to ask yourself is, "So now that they are 5 (or 6) why do I now need to give my children over to someone else to 'teach' them, when I've been doing that very well for the last 5 years?" That is the question we asked ourselves when at 4 our DD was reading chapter books. We really couldn't figure out exactly what the school could teach her that we couldn't. So she stayed home, we learned, loved, played...along with 3 more kiddos too. There are some that homeschool because of a religious mandate, we homeschool because we can. And frankly with 4 kids in 5 years we enjoy the chances to bond and the freedom to not have to get up everyday to work on someone else's time table. Thanks for bringing up a great point. I love Ruth's books, awesome!

Anonymous said...

I was a preschool teacher, too, in 3 different preschools. And, I was a substitue teacher in public schools, and I did a semester of student teaching in 2 different public schools, and a ton of different practicums over 5 years... I've been there. I've seen it. I now homeschool my kids. ;)

Brianna Heldt said...

shelley i so agree that there are really great opportunities. i remember you mentioning once how it was so neat to see your little ones building confidence in going off to kindergarten. i love that.

and i am also with angeline in that i don't believe there is a religious mandate to have your kids home. i truly am just reacting to the idea that your children are deprived and automatically at a disadvantage for not going to school at age 3! :)

Dawn said...

I am a certified teacher and past early childhood educator myself, many of my friends are too. We now all homeschool. You know the group Brianna:)All I can say is this...being at home with my kids is the greatest joy in my life. All you need is a heart to be home, the resources are out there, you don't need a degree. Within homeschooling the options for "social" and "classroom " type learning are out there if you feel that will help your child, but they are not necessary. Learning at home looks like living at home.

Brianna Heldt said...

angelina, i accidentally called you "angeline" in my earlier comment--i'm sorry! (maybe if i'd gone to preschool i would be able to read/spell better....:) )

dawn, yes! i feel so blessed to be learning so much from you and the rest of the group!

darci said...

what a great quote. i have both sent my kids to preschool and homeschooled. i'll probably send my littlest three to preschool too, IF they love it and if the teacher and kids are nice. :) I def. don't think it's a necessary girls didn't learn anything there, but one morning a week just got to go and finger paint with little it was a fun time, and also a-umm-break for me. :)

shell said...

I just think as Christians we have to be careful to say something is right for everyone, when it is not biblical to do one or the other. I know that is not what you are saying, that you are just talking about what is best for your kids at this time. I know your heart and love it, just wanted to make sure anyone else out there who has chosen a different route doesn't feel discouraged!

Brianna Heldt said...

Shelley I agree. Hopefully no one would be discouraged by my sharing about my choice to keep my kids home at 3- and 4-years old! I re-read my post and I don't think anything in it was prescriptive. The quote could certainly be seen as offensive, but that was why I got such a kick out of it in terms of the criticisms I'd been getting. (And it was actually an answer to a question asked by a homeschooler about what curriculum to use for their 3 year old--it wasn't directed at preschoolers or public schoolers at all.)

There ARE those who believe that homeschooling in general IS Biblically-mandated. I think what you wrote is the very crux of the age-old argument--some believe it IS a Biblical issue to do one over the other. I personally do not. I believe Christians can raise up their children "in the way that they should go" whether they attend public school or are homeschooled. I believe both can be good, God-honoring options.

So, for me, to each his own, but I do think there's room for Christians to have strong, "this is the right way" convictions concerning what the Bible says. And we won't all agree, but I guess that's all part of that bearing with one another stuff. :)

shell said...

thanks for caring enough to dialogue! Where we live, most Christians homeschool, so it can be quite frustrating to see public schools filled with non-Christians and very few christians enter that 'mission field'. So it was really more of a frustration with people here then with you and your post. I think what you are doing is great and know you are listen to God to try and hear his voice about all!!!

Brianna Heldt said...

shelley i read in "going public" that 80% of evangelical christians have their kids in public school. then i read the SAME figure in a homeschooling book. and i have such a hard time believing that!!! i know very, very few believers whose kids attend public school. at my old church in california, and our new one here, most moms i know homeschool or plan to. so where are all these Christian public-schoolers????

i'm still sort of on the fence but am leaning towards doing homeschool w/ a one-full-day-per-week schoolday thru the public school system (though at a seperate site.)

mostly i think i want that time with my kids and a more laid back lifestyle where we're not running back and forth constantly. thru this program, the kids take classes like piano and art and choir, etc., and it's free, so they'd have the opportunity to do/learn things that they wouldn't otherwise.

i do still feel torn though. sigh. :)

i love love love hearing your thoughts shelley!!!!!!!!!!!

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