Sunday, February 8, 2009

To Preschool or Not?

"Oh, my child is turning four! I must send her to the best preschool. She's been on the waiting list since my husband and I started trying to conceive...but I am still worried that she might not get in for this year!"

I really DO NOT want to be that mom. Natalie is three. She goes to daycare... against my better judgment but that's not a battle I want to have with the dear ole hubby again right now. Two weeks ago the daycare owner told us that if we hoped to get Natalie into the public (free) preschool for the fall that we needed to get her application in by the following week at the latest. Gosh, don't you love deadlines?

So this got the gears turning in my head. Should Natalie go to preschool? I did. My husband did - but we had totally different experiences.

More than that, should Natalie go to public school? I have absolutely no faith in the public school system. I am sorry to those few wonderful teachers out there trying to make a difference. The problems with the system are too big for a handful of great teachers to fix, IMO. Once upon a time I wanted to be a public school teacher. Then I started getting into the school system and actually reading about it. So I changed my major. (I'd much rather be a librarian and/or do art preservation.) And I knew that I did not want my child to go to public school.

I don't want her to go to a snooty school like the one the mom at the beginning of my post is trying to get her kid into.... first of all, we're middle class. We can't afford $1000 a month for a preschool. If I were to send her to a private preschool, it would be a Montessori school. I love the Montessori methods and have studied (and applied) them extensively.

So I asked my husband what he thought. I told him that I did not want her going to public school - and I am not wavering on that - and I told him how much our local Montessori school costs ($6000/year!) and I asked him what he thought we should do.

He thought about it a little while and here is what he said:
Natalie's a smart and curious kid. We're both very educated. I have a degree in theater and creative writing. I have a strong background in language arts and social studies. You have a degree in English and are only a few credits away from degrees in Early Childhood Education, History, and Art/Art History. You have a solid background in educational theory and practice and I am getting a stronger background with every class I take. Why not home school? Maybe try it for the "preschool" years and see how it goes.

Well...... that's really not what I expected my husband to say! His biggest concern is that she will be "weird" and I think that means unsocialized. But I really think there have to be ways around that! Don't you? So there it is... stewing on the back burner. I have some more reading to do, but I've been thinking about it. I still have really another 2 years before I HAVE to send her to school (according to SC laws) so why not give it a try? Maybe like a pre-test before the exam? Oh, and believe me.... this is something that I never expected to even consider!


Erica said...

Melissa, have you read "Dumbing Us Down" by John Taylor Gatto? If not, it's a must. I have no issues with 95% of the teachers out there, I do have issues with the way schools are run in general.

Another good book is "The Well-Adjusted Child" by Rachel Gathercole. It will help you out with the socialization aspect.

I think socialization is a major reason why we finally decided to homsechool, the socialization in school is not always positive! Now, I've had to put a lot more effort into planning outside activities and getting the boys our and around other kids, but I think it's worth it in the long run :)

I'm happy to see you may be going on this journey!

Melissa said...

Erica, I haven't read the Gatto book. I have looked at the Gathercole book though. My issue with socialization is that so many kids have such negative experiences in public schools - I know BOTH Jason and I did.

I don't have issues with most of the teachers either - and there are some great teachers out there. But there are some who are not. My fourth grade teacher, for example, spent six months of the school year teaching us to sing Whitney Houston songs. We learned how to order a hamburger from McDonalds in Spanish.... and that is ALL I remember learning.

My seventh grade Geography teacher taught us handwriting and states and capitals... in a whole year. I was in college before I realized that Pearl Harbor was not in Massachusetts. Yes, I know. But I do know better now. :)