Preschool Pros and Cons

I don’t normally waver in parenting decisions: I’ll do my research, discuss with my husband and together come to a conclusion fairly easily. When it came to sending my toddler to preschool, however, I couldn’t come up with an easy answer. I would read an article about the benefits of preschool and feel convinced to sign him up right away, only to question my choices when reading another article on the reasons not to. This wasn’t going to be an easy decision.

Preschool: Yes or NoBelow are the different preschool pros and cons my husband and I discussed when deciding to send our child to preschool:

  • The cost of preschool. Sending our son to preschool would increase our childcare/educational costs.
  • His readiness and willingness to attend. My toddler isn’t used to other kids, so I wasn’t sure if we should wait a while before sending him.
  • Potential benefits he may receive from attending preschool. When I toured the schools, I was impressed with what the kids were able to do and realized that preschool could offer a thriving learning experience.
  • How to fit our work schedules with those of the preschool’s. Some preschools ended at different times of the day and we needed one with a flexible schedule that works with our office hours.
  • Our preference that our toddler be potty-trained first. Even though some preschools didn’t require potty-training, my husband and I still prefer that he know how to use the potty before going to school.
  • The increased sicknesses he’ll likely to succumb to. As a three-year-old, my toddler has impressively only been sick a handful of times. I’m pretty sure that once he’s around more kids he’ll start getting sick more often.
  • Our desire to expose our toddler to other kids his age on a regular and scheduled basis. I’ve always wanted my baby-turned-toddler to have one-on-one time with an adult, but he needs regular time with kids as well.
  • Whether school would limit his “free” childhood. At the same time, I didn’t want to steal his childhood and enroll him into school too early. I still want him to have the ability to more or less decide how he wants to spend his time.
  • And even something simple as whether I could pack hot lunches for him. I love how my toddler eats healthy food and didn’t want to resort to processed food for his lunch and snacks. I feared he would eat school lunches or cold sandwiches every day.

Choosing a preschool was going to be difficult, so I narrowed my search with greatschools.org where I found three nearby preschools that were well-rated. The first was a Montessori school whose positive aspects included a quiet classroom and involved students, but since each class was in one singular room, they still seemed crowded. They also didn’t heat the children’s food and even encouraged outside vendors to sell lunches. Since I’m all about home-cooked healthy food, this wasn’t too enticing.

The second preschool was by far the worst match of the bunch that I toured. The place seemed rowdy and uncontrolled. The rooms felt crowded with kids and teachers. The noise level was too high. Plus, they had “computer time,” which for me isn’t a benefit and instead a detriment to kids this age. None of this matched too well with my son.

So imagine my delight when I toured a third school, also a Montessori school like the first, but nearly perfect for our needs. The facility had several rooms so that teachers could break up the students into smaller groups. The students were also quiet and well-behaved instead of running around (unless they were outside playing or responding to story time). I liked how they didn’t have any computers, and they even heated up whatever food parents brought.

In short, I imagined my son thriving in this environment. I was impressed with the skills that the other children had acquired, and that each activity had a purpose, whether it was to practice their handwriting skills or learn the meaning behind numbers. The schedule was very flexible, and the location conveniently nearby.

I sent in our application but delayed his admittance since he has a few more years before starting kindergarten (due to when his birthday lies in the school year). He’ll also hopefully be more ready and willing to go to school and socialize with others his age when he’s a bit older.

Whether to send your child to preschool or not lies on several factors, from major ones like cost and the child’s readiness to miniscule details like whether they’ll heat your kid’s lunches. And each preschool may serve different kids’ needs: some are loud and boisterous just like some children while others are more focused and calm like others.

I want my son to benefit from preschool while still striking a balance with him having an unstructured childhood. After all, he’s going to be in school for several years ahead. But I also feel like preschool would offer him room to grow and thrive.

Are you sending your kids to preschool? What are your reasons for doing so or not?

Nina

Nina is a working mom to three boys—a five-year-old and toddler twins. She blogs about parenting at Sleeping Should Be Easy, where she writes everything she's learning about being mom and all its joys and challenges. She also covers topics like how kids learn and play, family life, being a working mom and life with twins. Download her free ebook, "Time Management Strategies for the Overwhelmed Mom" for more tips.

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  1. says

    Congratulations on finding a school you’re comfortable with! It really makes a difference.

    Preschool in England is funded by the government after a child reaches 3 years of age, up to five 3-hour sessions per week. I’m very excited to take advantage of this while we’re here. That said, we’re paying for our ~two-year-old t0 soon attend a nursery that’s attached to a school two mornings a week.

    We’re very excited about his school, which is tiny and surprisingly diverse for where we live. I see that he’ll benefit from being around other children his age (something I didn’t have before I began kindergarten, which was a big social disadvantage), and from being exposed to new ways of learning through play that I just can’t imagine.

    I don’t look forward to the inevitable sick days, but at least we’re building up his immune system!
    Lynn recently posted..Take Me Back to the North ShoreMy Profile

    • says

      Lynn, I totally understand your excitement. Of course he’s learning at home, but I also feel like a preschool would give my kid opportunities that I couldn’t do even if I were a stay at home mom. For instance, they have a ton of science supplies and do all sorts of experiments. I’ve done some of these at home but not in the regular basis that I’d like my kid to start getting into.
      Nina recently posted..Preschool: yes or noMy Profile

  2. says

    Baguette’s day care is excellent–the one thing I’d change is that I think her current class is too large. When she moves to a 3-year-old class, I think we’re going to ask for her to be in one of the smaller classes. The only downside to this that I can see is that she may not be able to be in the same class with her best friend.

    Also, I think that individual immune systems are at least as important as the plethora of germs. Baguette has been in day care since she was 4-1/2 months old, and has not had very many illnesses. In fact, she has yet to have an ear infection, although I’m sure that day is coming (probably soon, since I’m having the audacity to type this). So if your son is generally healthy, he may also be healthy in day care.
    Tragic Sandwich recently posted..How Was Your Weekend?My Profile

    • says

      I feel you on the large class size. I know my toddler wouldn’t do well in that situation either.

      And thanks for reassuring me about Baguette’s lack of sicknesses despite being surrounded by other kiddos (here’s hoping she doesn’t get that ear infection)! I’m hoping that my kid’s immune system will still work well even with the extra germs.
      Nina recently posted..Preschool: yes or noMy Profile

  3. Teresa Cleveland Wendel says

    When my kids were small, not many went to preschool. Not so with the grandsons. In this town, the public school district has a wonderful, affordable preschool program which really benefited the boys.

  4. Ana says

    Hey Nina! Congrats to you and your family on this big step! Whether you guys decide to do preschool or not, it’s definitely ok. We’ve had a positive experience so far with Lucas and I couldn’t be happier with our decision of taking the Montessori route, especially with his school. I was thrilled to read that you guys checked out Montessori schools too so that’s awesome. When it comes down to it, you will always do what’s best for your family.
    -Ana xo
    Ana recently posted..Life Lessons with PapersaltMy Profile

    • says

      Ana, it’s also interesting to note that even though I checked out two Montessori schools, only one of them really clicked with us despite both of them being Montessori. Both had the general philosophy; it was just more the set up that was different and their own staff rules that set them apart. I definitely liked the Montessori setting though, and am glad to hear that Lucas is enjoying himself in his new school :)
      Nina recently posted..Preschool: yes or noMy Profile

  5. says

    We are also in the middle of this decision. Pre-children I had never thought I’d send my kid to preschool. I want to homeschool and especially wanted my kids at home learning with me when they were very young. Then my son needed early childhood intervention for developmental delays. I really needed the help of specialists because I had no idea how to go about addressing his needs for speech therapy and occupational therapy on my own, and learned much from his wonderful therapists that I could then begin implementing at home. As he has improved we’ve moved him into the preschool setting at the same intervention center, with many of the same therapists. He LOVES it there! When he turns 3 the regional center that has been funding most of this will no longer be paying for the services. If he still qualifies for help (which is actually a big if because he has improved so much over the past year!) he will move on to the program at the local school district. While this will still be free to us, there are quite a few considerations. One is that the school district doesn’t allow parental involvement, which I take great issue with. Another is that it is a special ed program. My son was diagnosed last Spring with severe Autism, but since then we and all of his therapists think that the diagnosis is inaccurate, at most he has a mild form, and maybe not even that. (We will eventually get him reevaluated, but in the meantime it made no difference to his current treatment so I found I really needed to take a step back from the whole issue for a while.) If I put him in the special ed program for preschool he will get the continued therapy but will also not be in an environment where he will be surrounded by children with stronger social and language skills than he has, which is what I think he needs. I’m not sure we will be able to afford to send him to a private preschool as my husband is presently out of work. Our baby will be born the same week (give or take) as his third birthday so I think being in preschool will be good for him as he loves the routine and people there, and it will give me some one on one time to focus on the baby (and perhaps even sleep when the baby sleeps!) In the end I know we will figure it out, as will you, and our children will do just fine!

    You may be interested in harvestingkale.blogspot.com. She did a series of posts throughout the summer of healthy, unprocessed lunches and snacks she sent to school with her son (who is also in Montessori, she has a lot of posts on doing supplemental Montessori activities at home as well). These were cold lunches, but always healthy, homemade, toddler-friendly and delicious!
    Karen recently posted..Sewing Again… Pajama BottomsMy Profile

    • says

      Karen, I thought about your situation when I wrote this, because I remembered we talked about the benefits of sending kids to preschool or something regular when the new baby comes. I think it’s a great idea, that way Eli can still have “his thing” to go back to when things at home with the new baby can seem so confusing to him. Too bad they couldn’t continue his current program past age three! That would be ideal.

      Thanks for the website. I will definitely check it out, since right now I just pack his leftovers, but we’ll see how feasible that is once he’s in school.
      Nina recently posted..Preschool: yes or noMy Profile

  6. says

    Hi!
    You know what I’m going to say as a tea her, right? :-)

    Preschool offers so many benefits! 1) routine. When I taught in Tokyo, I was floored by how well kids as young as 2 looked forward to and knew their little routine: after art we have music!

    2) preschool isn’t really school. There are so many fun things to do!!! This is what my son says and he also did Montessori.

    3) socialization
    If your child isn’t seeing other kids on a regular basis, or even other adults, he can really benefit.

    I really believe it “takes a village” to help teach your child. I love learning from my son’s teachers and love when HE teaches others too.

    Good luck!

    • says

      Betty, I love hearing your son’s take on school and how excited he is about it! That’s exactly the attitude I want my kid to experience at his preschool. Especially since this school seems like such a good fit for him, I can already imagine him coming home telling me about all the things he did with the other kids. Thankfully my kiddo gets a solid routine even without school, but he could definitely benefit from the many fun activities that preschool could offer, and of course ease him into socializing with other children his age. Since this school has smaller class sizes, I think he’ll fit right in. p.s. And no worries about the typos; those darn phones aren’t the best to type on lol!
      Nina recently posted..Preschool: yes or noMy Profile

  7. says

    Have you been listening in on the conversations in my head? This is exactly the topic we’ve been trying to figure out at our house, so thanks for the timely thoughts.

    Like you, our little guy just misses the school cut-off (by one day! had I realized this, I would have gotten induced a few days earlier, but anyhow…), so although he’s 3, we still have 3 more years until kindergarten. He also is not potty trained, so that limits preschool options here. I think the socialization is the key piece he’d benefit from, so I’m thinking we may look into starting at a daycare/preschool in January…when he’s potty trained, I hope! Good luck with your choice!
    Lynda @ Rhody Reader recently posted..Toddler Book CraftsMy Profile

    • says

      Lynda, we have the same situations! I’d like to enroll my toddler sooner, even if just a few days, but he’s not potty-trained yet. And yes, he totally misses the cut-off so he has three more years til Kindergarten. Hopefully my little guy will be potty-trained soon too!
      Nina recently posted..Preschool: yes or noMy Profile