Thursday, August 26, 2010

My soapbox

I am having an inner struggle lately.

In a few weeks I am participating in a preschool co-op. I am excited for a number of reasons.

1. Isaac will love it
2. I get to teach every few weeks and I love that
3. I love and trust the women that I'm doing the co-op with. I have been in each of their homes and have complete confidence in sending Isaac to their homes to be taught in a safe, loving environment.
4. I haven't had as much time to devote to teaching Isaac as I had to Will (that happens when you have multiple children).
5. Isaac is not as confident in himself as Will and this should be really good for him to learn on his own.
6. I believe Isaac needs more preparation being away from me than Will did. Just a few months ago Isaac's teacher at church was sick and didn't show up. Isaac refused to go to class. He threw the hugest fit on the planet and I ended up in the hallway with him until I couldn't handle his irrational behavior and sent him to Mike to deal with it. He has since improved and is doing fine when his teacher isn't there. But, he definitely has a harder time with change and uncertainty than Will does. Therefore, preschool should help him make the adjustment for kindergarten.
7. I get to have more time to spend with Eli (his brothers pretty much dominate the activities and get to say what they will be playing. This way Eli gets a chance to play things with me that he otherwise wouldn't have a chance to play).
8. The co-op is free!

So, what's my problem? Why the inner struggle? I just can't shake this feeling of unease. Because let's be honest, I really think when it comes down to it that preschool is a waste of money and time. I recognize that there are in fact, some children that really do benefit from preschool. When I taught at Headstart there was a little girl that I visited every week (I was in a homebased class so I went to their homes and taught them there). One day she wasn't home when I went to see her. I tried calling her mom and couldn't get an answer. I called her father and was informed that one day her five year old brother came home from kindergarten to a locked house. He stood outside on the busy street not knowing what to do when a police officer showed up. Come to find out, the little boy and his sister (who was at someone elses house at the time) had been ditched by their mom while she went on a drug binge. She came home a month later, never once checking on her children.

This little girl was in desperate need of preschool. Most mornings when I'd show up she would still be in her pj's and hadn't had breakfast yet. At four her mom expected her to get her own breakfast. Her mom was usually asleep the entire session. This little girl couldn't tell the difference between red and yellow. She couldn't count to 10 (I'm not sure if she could even count to 5). She needed the extra help preschool provided.

But most kids are not like this. Most kids have mothers that love them and pay attention to them. So I don't understand the need for preschool. I don't think preschool needs to be the main source of socialization. I absolutely don't believe your kid will be behind if they don't go.

A friend was shocked when she discovered Will hadn't gone to preschool. She said, "Is he going to be ready for kindergarten?" Um yeah. I'm pretty sure he will be ready to spend two solid weeks learning a color a day.

I guess I can see benefits to preschool. I know Isaac will love it. He will have fun. He will learn. But is that the best thing for him? Isn't that best thing for our children to to spend time with them? President Hinckley said, "...enticed our lives to pack our lives with so many activities and pursuits that too many of us have lost sight of something that is of critical importance to families--time together. If our children are really our greatest treasures, it stands to reason that they deserve our greatest attention." So why am I seeking to spend less time with him?

I have five years (or more if I were a homeschooling mom) where my influence is the strongest. I have three boys that need to play and run and have fun. I want them to be kids as long as they can. I do want them to learn along the way but does that have to happen in a preschool setting?

My gripe is this: If I weren't doing the co-op and I wanted Isaac in preschool, I would have to pay an average of $100 a month to send him somewhere. He would come away from preschool learning something. Then he'd go to kindergarten and spend the entire year learning what he should have learned in preschool. So I've wasted an entire year of money.

I'm shocked that with so many children attending preschool, they come away knowing so little. And, if that's not the case, then why aren't kids expected to know more by kindergarten?

The final part of my soapbox is this:

President Hinckley said, "Increased interaction leads to increased sentiment. The more time we spend together, the greater the potential for deepening bonds of love, loyalty, trust, and devotion."

I have precious little time left with Isaac. Before I know it he will be in school and my influence, while still the most important, will not be as strong as it once was. Isaac has always had Will around. Will is more confident than Isaac and therefore, he takes charge. It has only been in the last few weeks that Isaac has finally had the chance to be the big brother. I am already seeing changes in him. I feel like out of all of my children this quote applies to Isaac the most. Isaac needs the increased interaction he would get by being home with me. So why am I sending him away?

I am confident I will find the right answer for me and Isaac. In the meantime, I'm planning on doing the co-op and hope that I will feel more peaceful about this.

24 comments:

politicchic6 said...

Amen and Amen. I did not go to preschool. In 3rd grade I read at the level of Senior in High School on my comprehensive exams. I was not behind when I started kindergarten (though I could not tie my own shoes, I must admit) I was ahead. Why? Because my mom cared about us, read to us, spent time with us, and had a natural love of learning that we picked up by example. If my mom didn't know something she'd say, "Lets find out." And that is the way it was. If other people want to send their kids to preschool, fine with me, but it is not something I'm going to do with my own.

Katie said...

You're right--I do agree. And then some.

When I first became a mother, I remember reading responses to the argument that attachment parenting created "needy" kids (self defense...my mother still gives me crap for carrying my children "too much" and letting them sleep with us as babies). They (the attachment parenting people) talked about studies that had been done showing that kids who felt secure when they were young were more likely to be independent as they got older. Sometimes, trying to nudge them out of the nest before they are ready can make them cling to you even more tightly.

Ultimately, you will know what is best for Isaac. Try it and see how he responds, if you think it will help his confidence. If it doesn't, you can always stop. You'll figure it out.

Marcy said...

I'm on the fence about preschool for my little guy. This post is making me lean even more toward not.

I had a tough time deciding about sending Ali to kindergarten last year (she's small, timid and has an August birthday). I had so many preconceived ideas about her forging on in life. I had a friend tell me that Heavenly Father would let me know what is right. It almost seemed like a silly thing to take to the Lord--even though I WAS (casually) taking it to the Lord. Anyway, I made a decision, prayed about it, and then in the Temple I realized that I was still not feeling good about it. I realized (big revelation!) that I was experiencing a stupor of thought. I changed my decision and have felt since that it was the right one (it was to keep her home with me another year).

So, I pass on the info (reminder) that God will tell you what is right for your child. :)

Nolo and Lauren said...

I agree with you - even though I don't have kids of my own yet. I don't think kids need to go to preschool if their parents are involved with their development. After all, isn't that part of being a parent: raising your child. You know what's best for your child and each child as an individual.

Gillian and Kevin Mohlman said...

Adrianne, I think it comes down to the fact that some moms want time to themselves, so preschool is a way for them to get a break. I don't really think it's so much about the kid learning, because if it was, they would keep them home and do it themselves. I completely agree with you.

But- I do think some kids do need to get invloved with other people to get used to being away from mom. There are some preschools that have some great programs, but heck, Adrianne, you are such a good mom and do so many activities with your kids. You don't need a preschool for your kids.

I think playgroup is plenty enough.

Michelle said...

Preschool definately has it's benefits. Social interaction and learning to share. And maybe they learn their numbers and colors before kindergarten. Alyssa loved preschool and at times the other children liked it. More often than not they would each say they didn't want to go that day. So I think it was too many days a week.

Preschool has advantages of making new friends, learning to read at an earlier age and so many other things, but has it's disadvantages too, they learn about fighting, mean and hurtful things and learn things that they never would have picked up at home, and they are away from their family who are their best teachers.

However I see it this way. Looking back, each of my children went to a year of preschool, in Brenden's case he went to two years. Brenden is my furthest behind academically, and socially seems immature for his grade. Yet he is the one who went to the most preschool. He also entered school at the youngest age, he had just barely turned 5. I spent the least time with him. If I had to do it all over again I wouldn't have sent him to any preschool, he clearly needed me more.

Then there's Caleb who only turned 5 two weeks before school began and had 1 year of preschool and excells at everything he tries.

Looking back, I wish I would have had an option to have them go to a pre-school ony twice a week, thus giving them that option to make friends outside of their siblings and neighborhood, but also still getting to spend a lot of time with them. Instead they all went to an every day preschool and I really don't see how this helped them be better academically, socially or anything.

I'm probably not helping at all, just wanted to share what we did. So it comes down to this. I believe they should be in school, but not necessarily pre-school.

I know the Lord will help you decide what's best. It might be that you have to start going because you feel that's right and then it may work out and you will be so glad you did that, or you will start feeling that the decision is wrong and you can pull him out.

Dave and Tana said...

I'm the bomb and I never went to pre school. haha (in a semi joking way) Social interaction is learned at church.

Saimi said...

Speaking as a preschool teacher I'm all for it, but our program is for kids with delays. With early intervention the kids get a great start.

Speaking as a mom, I believe as long as they have the love and support and their needs are being met, I don't see the benefit for preschool.

Most moms do it for the daycare, or their children are ready for it.

I know times have changed but when I was younger, Kindergarten was optional it was more like preschool. But even kindergarten has changed, the children are expected to know so much more it's not all about color and cut anymore.

Every child is different and only a mother knows whats best. You'll make the right decision.

Mike and Adrianne said...

Saimi,

I used to teach preschool as well, and like I said, I do agree that some kids really need it, socially and mentally. I saw a great deal of benefit from preschool in a large majority of children in the Head Start program.

I don't know what kids had to know for kindergarten before, but I have done some research and they just did the test on Will a few weeks ago. They wanted him to count to 20, know his basic colors, know how to write his name, recongnize his letters, and know his personal info. Right now in the second week of school they are doing a color a week and a letter a day (which is quicker than the school my friend's daughter went to--they did a letter a week). So, right now (and again, it's only the second week so it might change, they don't have to know very much).

Rachael said...

Hey Adrianne. I think it's funny that you thought you might offend the majority of the people you knew. You are entitled to your opinion and every child and situation is different.
Ginnie is beyond thrilled to start in a couple weeks. She's always been independent, big for her age and really advanced. She's ready to be away from home and make new friends, learn some things (not much since she is doing second grade work like it's nothing)-nonetheless, you are the parent of your children, and the Lord lets us know as parents what is best for each of them.

You will get an answer. I don't care whether or not my kids go to pre-school, but if they express a desire, then I'm all for it. I say as long as there's open communication within the family setting, no matter what things they learn at school, parents can be the ultimate guiding source.

Besides, I'll still have two little ones at home, and hopefully not be quite as overwhelmed as I've been.

The Duke said...

When I served as Stake Relief Society President, Ezra Taft Benson was the prophet and leader of our church. He gave a talk to the church calling mothers to come back home. He also, in an earlier talk, told mothers not to send their children to pre-school but to keep them home for the short time they have with them. I was shocked at how many women mumbled, "He's an old man. He doesn't know what's really happening any more." I did not see a decrease in working moms - I did not see a single change that came from those talks.
Just thought I'd throw that out there.
I was so happy to have my kiddos home with me as long as I could have them because I knew once they went out the door to school things would change. They did but my kids turned out well and not a single one had pre-school. I didn't need a babysitter so I could get a break from them, either. Some women choose pre-school for that reason.
You choose with counsel from God and you'll make the right decision. It doesn't matter what any of the rest of us think.

Michelle said...

I never knew that there was a talk given by the prophet about not sending children to pre-school. Otherwise I wouldn't have done it. I really didn't know. Obviously Jason didn't know either, or he would have said something. I did know that we should be home with our children and not send them to day care (if at all possible) which I did for all my children until they were in Kindergarten. I feel like I've totally screwed up now. Especially since I regret sending Brenden to pre-school. The other children loved their short time in pre-school and I spent a bunch of time as a parent helper there at the school with them.

Joe and Liz said...

I have enjoyed doing "School with Mom" with both my girls. They have never done preschool and never will. We are the minority here not sending kids to preschool...and a lot even send their kids at age 2! Everyone is different, but this has worked great for us. I really enjoy spending that one on one time with my kids and they really look forward to doing school with me. My oldest had no problem adjusting to kindergarten and still loves school to this day. I've still made sure they have times where they get to play with friends and they've loved that as well. Good luck with your decision. I'm sure he'll really enjoy the time with friends.

Mommo said...

I am interested in the "talk" from Pres Benson in which he "told mothers not to send their children to pre-school but to keep them home for the short time they have with them." I have NEVER heard this and quite frankly wouldn't believe it unless I saw it myself.

Adrianne. Do what is best for You and Isaac. Have you asked him what he wants to do?
Keep in mind, it is 4 hours a week and honestly more like a "playgroup" with about 1 hour or less of "teaching + craft". It is with classmates from Sunbeams or nursery. We all have the same standards and ideals you hold. With similar goals for our children.
I know you felt "pushed" into doing this and nobody will be upset with you if you choose not to do it.
Do not let it stress you out. We love you and Isaac no matter what you do.

Andy Laura Nick and Noah said...

I imagine that this is the talk.
He doesn't say "Don't send your kids to pre-school" but the quoted sentance at the end of my comment leaves little doubt in my mind about what he thinks of it.

The Honored Place of Woman
President Ezra Taft Benson
President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
November Ensign 1981

"It is a fundamental truth that the responsibilities of motherhood cannot be successfully delegated. No, not to day-care centers, not to schools, not to nurseries, not to babysitters.

We become enamored with men’s theories such as the idea of preschool training outside the home for young children. Not only does this put added pressure on the budget, but it places young children in an environment away from mother’s influence."

Jess and Jen said...

I think you're getting too excited over a small thing. Like has been said, you're essentially sending your kid to playgroup for a few hours a week. Not really a big deal.

None of the Clark kids went to preschool and each of us turned out okay. Preschool doesn't make or break a kid. Parenting does. Spending hundreds of dollars a month to teach your kid the primary colors is silly; but sending your kids to a co-op or a sort of preschool isn't going to get anyone thrust to hell. Remember, this isn't boarding school!

Another Pres. Hinckley quote: "In all of living have much of fun and laughter. Life is to be enjoyed, not just endured" (Stand True and Faithful, Ensign, May 1996, 91 [for Mommo, who needs proof]). It sounds like you're trying to find reasons to feel bad about your parenting. Have fun and let Ike learn how to have fun, too.

(The tone of this comment is supposed to reflect an older brother full of opinions who tends to look at life way too relaxed and who loves his little sister Adrianne.) -Jester

Mike and Adrianne said...

Jess,

You are right, I do get more anxious about things than you do. For you, it is a few hours a week and you made the decision to send all your kids to preschool and you and they are happy with that choice.

This isn't about me saying I think anyone sending their kids to preschool made a bad choice (unless they spent thousands of dollars on it and then I just think they are silly).

I just want this to be the right choice for us. I don't think anyone should feel bad about a choice they made, even if it turned out to be a wrong one later, if they made it looking at all the options.

Also, I fully intend to send Isaac to preschool and it is only because I have been feeling a fair amount of unease about it. If that feeling didn't exist, I wouldn't be questioning sending him.

I found the quote mom is talking about and have thought about it and I really don't think that anyone should feel guilty about their parenting choices hearing that quote because, I believe that things change: in 61 they came out with a statement about birth control that changes the way each person should view it. It used to say don't use birth control and that is no longer the stance. Plus, this quote is not an official statement from the church.

However, I don't think there is any problem with the quote and questioning your intentions and why you really ARE sending your kids to preschool. If you are sending them because you want to get them out of your hair, that's wrong in my opinion.

While this might seem like a small issue to you, I still feel as though it is something I ought to think seriously about and pray about.

P.S. It's too bad you think I don't find joy in life. I agree with Pres. Hinckley's quote. We have fun in our home and when we live close enough and you get to visit you will see that. If fact, that is one of Will's biggest complaints about going to school--"I have more fun at home." I try to make our home an environment where we can play and have fun and love each other and yes, learn too.

P.P.S. I wish I had your ability to let life happen. I really admire it. It is something I pray for every day and wish I didn't feel some of the anxiety and indecision that I feel. I married a man like you and he balances me out wonderfully.

Adrianne

Mike and Adrianne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mike and Adrianne said...

P.P.P.S Your comment about me looking for something to feel guilty about makes me irritated. I feel like I can go forward in confidence in my parenting because I make it a matter of going to the Lord and any mistakes I make, which will happen, I'm not going to hold over my head. And if my kids have issues because of choices I made then I will encourage them to find a counselor. The only thing I will feel guilty about is if I'm following the crowd because everyone else does it, so what's the big deal?

Jason said...

If your kids ever have issues that require them to see a therapist due to your parenting, my kids are going to end up in the looney bin. You are a great mom. I have to tell Michelle to stop reading your blog because it makes her feel guilty about her supposed lack of parenting skills.

President Benson gave several talks directed towards mothers. The one Mom is talking about is his talk called' "To the Mothers in Zion." In this talk and at least one other I can think of, Pres. Benson stresses the importance of mothers being in the home and that the proper training of our children cannot take place in the daycare or at school or even at church. I think this was directed at mothers who place their children in daycare all day every day, not in a joy school setting.

I appreciated what Michelle said in one of her comments. She echoed the advice of John A. Widsoe when she said that you just need to make a decision and start down that path. If it is right, you will have the decision affirmed but if it is wrong, you will likewise be advised.

Mike and Adrianne said...

Thanks Jason, I really appreciate your comment. I hope Michelle doesn't use me as someone to compare to because I make mistakes as a parent daily.

Michelle said...

I think Jason was stretching it a bit when he said, "he has to stop me from reading the blog because then I feel guilty"

not true.

He probably just means I mention it a lot. I definately don't compare us, although I really do admire you and have used some of your ideas for family fun activities.


I had realized lately that when I was a younger parent (when my boys, 4 all under age 4) were little there were times I just felt that I needed a break and I was so Super Glad and relieved when they reached pre-school age so they could have other experiences outside the home than our every day stuff. I didn't realize that I should just get through that hurdle and not do the pre-school EVERY DAY thing, like I mentioned earlier, I didn't know a Prophet had said "No preschool." Or something similar. Otherwise I wouldn't have done it. But I do feel differently about a co-op type thing that is only a couple days a week, that is something I should have done, versus the every day-several hours a day.

Either way, it's all done now and those years are gone. I can't take it back that I put Brenden in a full day preschool for a year, but what I can do now is make sure I spend quality time for him so he ends up doing well in the end. As parents, sometimes we don't realize the things we could have done better until years later. And all we can do now is try our best daily by praying to do the best we can, praying to make it through the day, and then doing the best we can with what we are given and the choices we make.

I love your blog and I continue to be inspired by the fun things you do with your children.

This topic has been great I think because it allowed others to voice their opinions on a subject I hadn't ever given much though to. I appreciate that you asked the rest of us what we would do. But I do admire you that you always put the Lord first and then do what's best for you, regardless of what anyone else thinks! You are awesome!

Jenny said...

I know EXACTLY how you feel and I agree with everything you said 110% :-) I am so glad you are doing the preschool! Abbie has been telling all her friends here in Utah about her new friend Will in Ohio its so cute! We miss you guys

Serene is my name, not my life! said...

I love this! So very true. I am not anxious in any way to send my kids off to school. I could barely stand the thought of my oldest going to first grade this year! *sniff*
She never went to pre-school, and she was always at the top of her kindergarten class.

But I am trying to get my second, Joseph, into pre-school. He is very smart, but he won't let me teach him. His attention span is VERY short, he has a lisp, and he really, really, struggles with new places and situations.

The first 6 months when he left nursery to go to primary was a nightmare. No really, it was.

So I'm hoping to get him into the pre-school over at the elementary school where he'll go for kindergarten in hopes that it won't be such a huge shock or change for him next year.

He's on a waiting list so, we'll see.