It’s hard to believe that our daughter (who will turn three in June) will be going to preschool in September, but she is. It was also even harder to believe that we had to register for preschool in February. I had no idea that many preschools register in January and February for September. It can also be difficult to get a spot in many programs and can involve having to show up an hour (or more) before registration begins to get a spot in line and get a spot in class- who knew?! I most certainly did not, but luckily I had friends who gave me a heads up and we were able to get the preschool and class/time that we wanted for our daughter.
At first we didn’t plan to send our daughter to three year old preschool, and figured we would just start at four years; do one year of preschool and then head off to Kindergarten. Here’s why we decided to enroll her at three years instead.
1. We added to our family. In August, our second child was born (exactly 26 months after our sweet girl). As a mom I want to provide what is best for both of my children and giving our son some one-on-one time at home as an infant and young toddler is just as important as it was when our daughter was the only child. I also think our daughter could use a break from her little brother and get some of her own special attention.
2. Socialization. While we have our daughter enrolled in dance, take weekly classes at the Little Gym and go on playdates – We think it is important for her to learn to get along with other kids her age in a more structured school environment as well. It will also be a good experience for her to do more without mom and dad (and little brother).
3. Independence. I will be the first to admit that my daughter can be a sassy one. She pushes her limits daily and is very independent. I think preschool will allow her to foster her independence and learn how to better regulate her emotions.
4. Learning environment. We can only teach her so much at home. While I do have a teaching background it is in secondary education, and I am not always the best at determining what is best for teaching a toddler. I think it will also help and push her that her learning experiences will come from another adult.
5. My needs. While this one may sound a little selfish, being a stay at home/work at home mom means that I spend a lot of time with my kiddos and preschool will give me a small break each week. It will allow me time with our younger (see point 1.) and also give me some more time to work.
When we were picking a preschool it was important to us that the preschool focused on play, socialization, and gave the kids an opportunity to make their own (guided) choices. An outdoor space (that was fenced in) was important to us as well. We was looking for not a daycare, but preschool where real learning was being done, but through play and experiences rather than worksheets and teacher-centered lessons. We also made it a point to take our daughter on preschool tours with us (which I highly recommend touring a few places). It was interesting to see her reaction to the different preschools and the one we picked she jumped right into and joined the class as we were taking with the director. We knew instantly it would be a perfect fit.
A few other things you may want to consider:
• Daily communication: Do the teachers e-mail, text message?
• How are daily lessons/plans communicated?
• How is the day structured?
• How much time do the kids get outside?
• Are there field trips/special guests/events?
• What do the other age level programs look like? – It wasn’t just important for us to love the three year old class, but we wanted to see the four year old program as well, as this is the class she will take right before Kindergarten.
I’m happy to say that while I will miss her terribly and it will be difficult to give her up for three afternoons a week, I am so excited to see how our daughter thrives in the preschool environment.
When did you/are you planning on sending on sending your kid(s) to preschool? What are/were some of your preschool expectations?