Top 5 Reasons I Chose Home Preschool
One of the most frequently asked questions I get from strangers or when meeting someone new is "What preschool do your children go to?" This is also the one question that gives me the most anxiety.
I know people are making conversation or genuinely interested, but I'm always a bit timid to answer and I'm usually met with a somewhat shocked look or unsolicited suggestions on where my children could attend school/school alternatives. Most of the time I end up leaving the conversation feeling a bit unsure of myself or a bit angry that home school has become so stigmatized.
Let's get one thing straight, I am all about preschool. I used to teach preschool and before we left Illinois I was the Assistant Director of a preschool. I think it can be an amazing thing for young children and there has been a lot of research done to show all the benefits it has to offer.
Choosing to do home preschool was not an easy decision for me. We live in an area that is highly focused on academics and to keep my children out of a school setting for two years prior to going to public school is a bit out of the norm. Hence the shocked looks and confusion I am met with when people find out that my children are not attending traditional preschool. I struggled with (and still do sometimes) feeling like I was going to be disadvantaging them by keeping them home. I don't want them to miss out on any of the great opportunities that their peers may have while attending traditional preschools. I would often be up late at night wondering if they were going to be totally messed up humans one day because their mother didn't send them to preschool! I spent long hours scrolling through web searches looking for the answer to all my questions. The main one being Is it okay to do home preschool? To be honest I never found the answer so I'm writing this post today for myself and for any other parent out there is who looking for validation in their decision to home school their kids. Every family has to make this decision for themselves and ultimately it came down to 5 main reasons why we chose to do home preschool.
Let's be real here people preschool ain't cheap. At least not where I live. I toured a few different preschools in our area before coming to my decision, all of which were co-ops. Co-ops are schools where parents work in the classrooms and help run the school in exchange for a cheaper tuition compared to traditional preschools. The cost per month was anywhere from $235-$500 and that was for only about 12 hours a week and I would have to work one day a week in the classroom. I was pregnant with Emmett at the time so on top of tuition for Emerson I would have also had to pay a babysitter once a week to watch my baby while I worked at the school. The going rate here is around $20/hr so we were going to have to add another $200 per month to the preschool cost. I don't know about your family but this was not going to work for us. We're a one income household living in a very expensive part of the country so having to shell out $500-700 a month on preschool was just not in our budget.
2. My Educational Background
When touring some of the preschools in our area I often thought "why would I pay for this when I can just do it at home?" Some were way too unstructured for me and others seemed more like a social club than a preschool. I couldn't help but feel that I would still need to do some at home work with Emerson in order to make sure she knew what she needed to know before kindergarten.
Like I stated before, I used to teach preschool. My degree is in Elementary Education, but I worked for five years in Early Childhood Education and worked for two years as a preschool teacher. I am definitely not an expert in teaching preschool, but I know enough to be able to teach my children what they need to know before starting kindergarten. I'm lucky in a sense that I do have an education background. I'm sure that many parents would feel overwhelmed with where to start if they chose to do home preschool. So, if you are one of those parents just know that you CAN do it. In fact you are probably already doing many of the things that a preschool teacher would do. There is a plethora of information out there now about preschool. A simple search on Pinterest will give you plenty of ideas. I plan on posting soon about how I create my curriculum, so be on the look out for that. Just know that if you are feeling like you might want to do preschool at home you are not alone and you can find a community of support to help you. You can also check out my Pinterest board Home Preschool Support for more information.
3. Community Classes & Playgroups
In my late night web searches while trying to decide if I would send Emerson to preschool I came across a ton of classes that were geared towards preschool aged kids. Most of which were at our local rec center. We have a great parks & recreation department where we live and in no time I was able to find a class for 3 to 5-year-olds. It met once a week for about 2 hrs and parents didn't stay. As soon as our decision to do home preschool was made I enrolled Emerson in the class. It was a fraction of the cost of traditional preschool but would still allow her to get used to being away from me and give her a chance to socialize with her peers.
The first two drop-offs were a bit rough and left both of us in tears, but now she knows the routine and loves going to her little art class. We also signed her up for a ballet class once a week that started this year and she loves it.
On top of the classes we also meet at least once a week with a group of friends that we met through our local mother's club. These are Emerson and I's closest friends here and she is able to socialize, play and learn with her peers. A big part of preschool is giving children a chance to understand and learn about how to communicate with others. I didn't want her to miss out on this so signing up for classes and regularly playing with children her own age has helped her to work on her social skills. If you choose to do home preschool I would strongly recommend having your child attend classes or playgroups to give them the social opportunities they need.
4. Our Pediatrician was On Board
This wasn't a huge factor in our decision, but it did help to settle the anxiety I was feeling about not sending Emerson to preschool. At her 3-year check up the topic of preschool came up and I was actually surprised when her pediatrician said that she didn't need preschool. She recommended doing some parks & rec classes, which we had already looked into and making sure she met up with friends as well. It was a bit of a relief to hear a medical professional validate what I had already been thinking.
I'll be honest, I am a bit selfish when it comes to my time. I'm also selfish when it comes to being with my children. They are only going to be little for so long so I want to soak up as much time as I can with them.
I won't be homeschooling my children past preschool. This is the only time where we can have lazy days in our pjs or take impromptu trips to the beach before they are restricted to school schedules and homework. I love that we can spend a whole day at a museum or go on an adventure to an apple orchard. I also love that we can take month long trips to visit family and I don't have to worry about wasted tuition or feeling guilty about taking them out of school. This is a luxury that we won't have next year so being able to hold on to this time with them a bit longer is wonderful.
Don't get me wrong our days are not always perfect. I have meltdowns and moments where I wonder why I decided to do this whole home preschool thing, but at the end of the day when I tuck them in bed all I want is for time to slow down. I know I won't be cool in their eyes forever so I'm going to take full advantage of all the time I get with them now.
Ultimately we decided to do home preschool because it just felt right for our family. Every family's situation is different. Whether you do traditional preschool, home preschool or something completely different it's okay. There is no one-size-fits-all way to do things, at least not in my opinion.
What did your family decide? Do you send your kids to traditional preschool or do you do home preschool? How did you come to those decisions? I'd love to hear about it. Leave a comment below to share.