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?