I recently read something on Instagram that said, “I always wondered why people couldn’t control their kids in public, then I became a parent”! and I thought man, that is so darn true! lol! — You see, there are so many things that take place in life (as actual parents) that we just can’t understand until we become one. And that’s because children are far more complex and uncontainable than we can fathom until we are living & caring for one of our own. They cannot be so easily managed, handled or put in a box (wrapped with a bow) as you might think. And quite literally, all they know to do at a certain age is to color outside the lines. They are little people, with moods, real emotions, and original personalities. And some traits (like being a child) you just can’t train out of them before it’s time. Ha!
But I’m going to be really honest here, and say that for me, preschool was also one of these things I didn’t get before becoming a parent! Although I am a huge proponent of education & its power to change ones life, for the life of me, I just couldn’t understand why parents would want to start implementing such traditional forms of education on their children so early. My philosophy was, a kid would have his whole life to be in school, so why rush it? I also thought it was just some parental ego thing and a product of our societies obsessive drive to have genius babies/kids. Yet, here we are, the day my daughter starts preschool, and she’s two years and 4 months old. Go figure!
So here are 3 of the reasons why I felt like it was time she start preschool now and why my thoughts surrounding it has drastically changed:
Although I’m am riddled with emotion about the prospect (and reality at this point) about her being cared for by someone other than me, her father, or anyone other than a family member (this is a huge milestone for us), I am also so excited about all the good that can come of this experience for her. You see, we both can use some practice in trusting others to care for her. My goal as a mom is to love her endlessly, cuddle her, and protect her, but not to cause her to be fearful of being without me. And sometimes that struggle is just too real since she has mostly been with me since birth. Often times she still gets anxious with being left alone with close family members she knows she can trust and she see’s regularly. (It’s like groundhog day, she has to force herself to be familiar again.) And I believe this is because she doesn’t get enough regular practice being away from me.
I know she will be well cared for at her new preschool three days a week, and I am encouraged by all of the fond memories I have as a kid of some of my favorite teachers throughout the years caring for me in my moms absence. I’m also happy that she will be looked after by one of my daycare providers as a kid/preteen and that there are a number of “kids” who went to daycare with me that now send their kids there. (This spoke volumes to me). And lastly, just as important as our due diligence in selecting a good fit, I ultimately trust God & His ability to care for her when I am not present. This is such good practice for us to exercise our faith.
You see, little did I know back then that there are so many skills, not related to learning numbers, the alphabet, reading & writing, that I’d want her to learn at an early age that can be taught in an preschool environment. I can already see that much of her academic learning comes easy to her but there are other things like sharing, caring, relating, listening to her instructors, and key social skills that she can’t being at home as an only child of a stay at home/work from home mom.
I’ve recently enrolled her in dance classes, I often take her to the park and we have such fun play dates with new moms and their kids there, and we have weekly rendezvous with her cousins each week at church, but I still have noticed that she craves more social interaction. So I know a healthy dose of regular play with her peers at preschool will do her good!
3. Too Much Screen Time
I’ll admit, my kid has been indulging in far too much screen time lately than I’d like her too. She’s never been into watching television (she only recently developed an affinity for Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood) but in the past year, she learned all of her letters, numbers, endless phrases, how to spell her first and last name, and my cell phone, all thanks to YouTube! So we’ve allowed her to watch it in moderation throughout the day. However, in the past couple of weeks it seems to be the only thing that will keep her attention for more than a couple mins and allow me to get some work done. And after putting together endless craft ideas, activities, outings, and lessons (I’ve actually tried this), I get the feeling she’s still bored. I want her to continue to maintain an healthy balance between enjoying technology and real play, so school is a great solution.
My little lady was such a trooper when I dropped her off for the first time this morning. She jumped right in and wanted to play with the other kids as soon as we arrived. I tried to mentally prepare her for school all last week leading up to this day. I reminded her that although I would drop her off at school sometimes, I would always be back later in the day to pick her up. I’m sure they’ll be some growing pains with this new experience for both her and I, but in the end they are all for the good. My only compliant for her first day was that (like Richard Parker in the Life of Pi) she “said goodbye so unceremoniously”. lol!
I can’t wait to give her a big hug at pick up time and to hear endless stories about all the activities and new friends she has made!