Wednesday, May 4, 2011

To school or not to school, that is the question.

When Griffin was two years old, I remember scooting him into the door of his preschool classroom and having him look at me like I was a traitor as I blew him a kiss and walked away. I heard him call for me as I made my way to the gym to hide out. An unsuspecting mom walked by and I snatched her up, begging her to check on my son. She reported back that he was sitting in the teacher's lap and crying. It was horrible and I remember feeling like we weren't quite ready for the separation. Of course, all the moms in my playgroup were putting their two year old kids in school too. Yet somehow, I was the lone mom that lingered in the bushes for the majority of the first day. It just seemed to be expected that it was time to start but I felt a gravitational pull to be near my toddler. Not wanting to be "that mom" I had to let him go. After a long adjustment and many tears on both of our parts, he learned to tolerate being shuffled off to preschool a few days a week.

Now Koen is two years old and although I have him enrolled in a sweet preschool just up the street, I am reluctant to actually send him when September rolls around. Maybe it is because he is my last baby but I just don't have the desire to push him out the door just yet. With Griffin graduating Kindergarten this year, I know how quickly these early years can pass by. Sometimes I wish that I could go back in time and spend just one day with a two year old Griffin. Although I am so proud to be the mother to a big six year old, I sometimes feel that I let those early years slip through my fingers. I try to treasure every single moment that I have with my children.

The truth is that if I send Koen to school then he would be gone from nine to noon, three mornings a week. He would come home, eat lunch, take a nap, and then it would be time for Griffin to come home. We would get one hour alone together as we ate lunch. I would lose all the precious one on one time that is so rare to find when you have two kids. My heart is telling me to enjoy having him at home one more year. I am a firm believer that children can learn just as much at the grocery store as they can at school. We could visit story time at the library and various other activities to get him socialized around other children.

Sometimes I feel resolved in my decision to keep him home with me but then I watch him interact with other kids or enjoy an activity that they would perform at school and wonder if he would really be happy going to a little school a few days a week. I ponder if he will get bored at home with me as he grows over the next year. I never want to hold my children back because of my need to hold on. What if I start to feel like I wished that I had those few mornings a week to myself while he would be off at school? These thoughts make me question myself and it's such a tough choice for a mama to make. I have yet to call and take him off the list at his little preschool. I'm holding out a bit longer as I'm still not sure what the right move is for us.

I'd like to know your thoughts on this quandary.
Please take a minute to take this poll
and leave a comment if you have thoughts to share.


Mary Jessica said...

The poll isn't working for me, so I'll just be a windbag in your comments, cool? Cool. I'd say do what you feel in your gut, regardless of what other people are doing or even what you've done in the past with your older sweet boy. He'll get plenty of socialization either way. T didn't do any daycare or formal "schooling" (if you even want to use that term) until a few weeks before his 4th birthday, and we had lots of opportunities to play with friends before that happened. If he does go to school in the fall, he'll be fine, too. These kinds of decisions are so hard for us, and yet I think the kids often deal a lot better than we do, after that first adjustment period. Love you!

lauren said...

Hey Leigh... my personal experience has been that, unless YOU need the break for sanity or work, a 2 year old doesn't "need" school. I don't think they really start enjoying school till 3 or maybe 4. I try to make sure that all my kiddo's go to some sort of preschool (we have a great 2 day a week program) their 4-year old year so they're ready for kindergarten. Other than that, they're good to go. Go with your heart... you'll be happy and so will he!

The Knitty Gritty Homestead said...

Follow your heart, sister. I'm working half time to be home as much as I can with my 2 year old..we've taken a real hit financially, but I know I won't get this time back. As far as socialising goes, on the one day a week that my girl goes to daycare, she's just as likely to be bitten by another 2 year old as learning to share. If you feel it in your heart, and if you're able to stay home with Koen, do it. An older woman once said to me, "You'll might regret sending your child to daycare when they're older. You'll NEVER regret keeping them home a little longer". The exception to this rule would be parents who plonk their tot in front of the tv all day. If your little man goes to the grocery store, plays outside, has cuddle and story time, and time to splash in water/play in sand/build things/colour/scribble....he's in the best care possible: with you!

R Montalban said...

I know you will make the right choice, as you seem to me to be a really lovely, thoughtful mummy who is looking out for what is best for your children. I have confidence in your abilities :-)

Much More Than Mommy said...

I think it's just a decision that every mom has to make for herself and for her child. My girls both started preschool at 2, and this year my now 4-year-old was in 5 days a week, a year earlier than her sister started going that often. *But* for ME (just for ME), I'm not crafty, I'm not creative, and I am not an educator. I feel like for us, she's getting so much more out of going than she would if she were to be home with me, and obviously I felt that way with both of them. I love the social interaction, and again, just me, I love someone else letting me know how my kid is doing. I wouldn't have a clue.

But my little one stopped taking naps last summer, so we still have one-on-one time before her big sister gets out of school (about 2 hours worth each day), and The Husband and I try to alternate "dates" with the girls individually.

But at the end of the day, it boils down to what you want to do and what's best for you and your little guy!! <3

Caroline Ray said...

As a preschool teacher and a mother, I think you should enjoy your little guy one more year. At this age, they learn so much from their parents. I am sure you could do as good or even better job at home! Enjoy him while you can. He can go next year!

Anonymous said...

Unless he's needing to study for the SATs already, keep him home with you.

You feel strongly about this, and he's, you know, yobaby.


Scarlet said...

you know what I think--I too kind of regret pushing my little guy into school when he was two. I think the key is balance. You can gently expand Koen's world with story time and puppet shows, trips to the pumpkin patch, good old fashioned play dates, come and see me and Alex at the Mothers' Center. I'm definitely not ready to usher little Allie off to school.

Janet said...

Please keep him home, Leigh! You will never get this time back. I look at my years at home with my children and they were the happiest years of my life. I will never regret not sending them to preschool.

Caroline of Salsa Pie said...

Leigh, just follow your heart and you'll make the right choice. There is no wrong choice here.

If there is a pre-k program that you like and he likes, then why not? Extra time for ourselves is always a nice balancing factor.
Financially, we can't afford any kind of paid-for pre-k program, but if we could I would probably consider it if only for a few hours of free time.

As moms we are often expected to be superhuman: we cook, clean, mother (which includes endless job responsibilities as you know) and on top of that we are supposed to be good wives, friends, stay organized, stay on top of school homework and extra curricular activities, handle some church volunteer stuff maybe, have time for friends, find time to shop for food and clothing for our children, pay our bills--the list goes on. and on.

There is SO much more to being a good mom that whether or not we send our children to pre-k.

If your heart tells you to keep him home and snuggle him as much as you can--then do it and your heart will be glad. If you really feel like his personality will benefit and the quiet time will feed your soul--then go with it.

Either way is the right choice, I say.

Sending love.

Linda D. said...

The consensus of your wonderful and wise commenters seems to be "follow your heart". So, it's not just a matter of pushing your baby bird out of the nest but whether you, momma bird, think that baby bird is ready to try his fledgling wings. My heart tells me that you would both enjoy "nesting" for one more year.

KT said...

I agree with the consensus. Do what you think is right for both of you. You are His mama. You know what is best.
I never sent my kids to preschool because I wanted them home as long as possible. They are all doing GREAT in school. I probably would have sent my youngest to preschool at 3 or 4 because he was definitely ready, but I watched another child during the day, I was providing learning experiences, and I felt like he was getting plenty of socializing that way.
It so depends on you and the child.