Monday, July 12, 2010

So about nursery school

Where I grew up the birthday cutoff for school was the first day of school, here its December 1st. Seems a bit arbitrary to me, even crazier is how they do school districts here. At home it was an entire country comprised a school district, here its done by the town/village so we could stay in our county and move 10 min away, to an entirely different school district where the birthday cutoff is September.

Makes no sense. But that doesn't so much have to do with my issue at hand more just that I think its really weird. Right up there with Smart cars and mullets.

Anyways, the cut off is December 1st. Dash-2 misses it by FIVE days. That's right. FIVE.

I've heard that with boys sometimes being the oldest in the class versus being the youngest isn't such a bad thing, what with the whole boys-mature-later thing, but five days is a bit of a kick in the teeth. Especially with such a bright kiddo.

The in thing to do is to send your kid to a nursery school program which is for three year olds, typically a 2 day program for 2 and 1/2 hrs. Should Dash-2 go he'd go Tues/Thurs from 9-11:30.

Then the next year is pre-k , which up here is not provided by the school district. So the year after this year, Dash-2 will go to pre-k which is either a 3 day or 5 day program again from 9-11:30.

There is a great debate going on in the flyboy household. To send or not to send?

I'm not opposed to sending my kids to school. They get great skills from interacting with the other kids and learning to be away from mom. Plus the whole educational aspect of it.

Or so I thought.

Then I spent $1200 bucks on nursery school and 1400 bucks on prek only to be scratching my head wondering what the hell my kid learned.

Well he did learn the words to the dreidel song. Which, given that we are Episcopal isn't too useful. But I'm sure he'll file that away for later in life.

Seriously though, we don't know what the hell they taught him and what are they going to teach Dash-2?

I'll admit I think dash-1 needed some work on social skills and interaction, but not so much dash-2. He's one of those kids who can sum up a situation and adapt to it, ie the kid is a people pleaser.

{You might find this hard to believe but he gets that from his mother}

We recently got dash-1's progress report and things back from his school year, it was interesting, virtually identical to that at the begining of the year. He went in knowing all his letters and knowing about half the sounds, his handwriting, it could have been copied it was so identical.

Now I know that as parents we bear responsibility for working with our kids at home. I hardly figured his preschool would teach him everything he needed to know.

Frankly, most of it was learned at home and seeing as though they said he was one of the brightest kids there I do tend to attribute more of his academic stuff to us not them. I am just curious, what did he learn there?

Most of the time was spent in "free play". Free play is not what I was paying for. Free play is important and necessary, but not as much as they were getting.

Teach my kid something. And not the dreidel song, I want a song about counting and letters dammit. He's going into Kindergarten next year not having any real "group instruction time" and I'm not pleased about that. They did circle time as a class but rather then ever work with the class as a whole they would simply pull them during free time to color their letters or whatever.

Small instruction time is useful but so is group time.

We were told by the school that they since he was so far ahead they would be working on sight words and word recognition with him. That never seemed to happened. I'm not sure why.

But they giant six act nursery rhyme play that took two months to prepare for did.

I do know he didn't really like going there. For some reason it wasn't so much a fit with him.

Or with us.

The other parents sing the praises of the two teachers and flyboy and I have always felt very eh about them. Nice enough but I'm not sure what all the hubbub is about from the other parents.

They were plenty nice but something didn't quite seem to click with us and them.

So now here we are, Dash-2 is supposed to be starting the three year old program this September and we are wondering.... why bother? He's already counting to 15, shoot he can do some simple addition and subtraction, he recognized a fair number of letters, he can spell and recognize his name, his handwriting needs work but, we are working on it.

I am hardly an advocate for homeschooling.

Quite frankly the thought of my kids being home with me when they could be spending all day in a classroom is enough to reduce me to tears. Despite having some classroom experience I'm the first to say I'm not equipped to teach my kids. That's what schools are for.

But I'm confident I can figure out nursery school.

Surely my college education can not be out done by a three year old.

We are thinking that perhaps we should put the tuition money in his college fund and I can just get some books {do they make homeschooling programs for nursery school?} to work with him at home.

Maybe our expectations where too high? We've been told we have that problem sometimes.....

To those of you out there, would you or did you send your kids to a three year program? Should we just go with our gut and keep him home another year?


  1. My son is the same age as yours. I have him on a preschool waiting list for the fall. My main reason is social. He seems to know a lot like colors, letters, counting and all that. But I feel like he needs more of the social.

    Anyway I think you just have to go with your gut. Could you start him and then see how it goes?

  2. My kids have early birthdays, so they are the youngest in their classes. Personally, I thought that preschool was great for my two. Then again, I'm not one who could homeschool very well. My son did his through a daycare and my daughter through a private church co-op preschool (didn't have to be members and it was cheap). They both enjoyed and needed the social interaction. To me preschool is more a social thing. I wouldn't expect they'll learn a whole lot. Pre-K is more an intro to class rules and again it's about the social aspects. Kindergarten is really where it all comes together and actual "school" happens.

  3. I didn't go to school until I was in kindergarten (the cutoff was December 1st there, too). I didn't suffer ANY from it. And both my parents worked.

    And I still ended up in the top 5% of my class. My parents worked with me when they were home.

    I don't see how school before kindergarten is really very relevant for the normal kid with parents who work hard to teach them except for the social aspect. But I had cousins and neighbor kids to play with.

  4. Back home in NV and in CO our daughter met the cutoff where she should be starting Kindergarten this fall (like in 7 weeks!) but when we moved to TX, she misses it by 2 weeks!!

    But because I thought she would be in PreK this past year I worked with her at home. Lakeshore is an awesome store!! Full of resource books and ideas, and you can google worksheets and they have some for holidays and stuff and that is how she learned to write her letters and numbers. So I kinda did 'homeschool' her so she would be prepared. It wasn't that bad, we had fun doing it together.

    Now she will be in pre-k and she is going to be so bored! She already knows how to read and write simple words and do simple math. But hey, that just makes me look good, right? :)

    And I am so NOT for homeschooling! My kids need the interactiona and time away from home and me!

  5. you know i love homeschooling :)

    that aside, even if i didn't i still think preschool (and to a certain extent kinder) is a joke - its not necessary. it was invented for working parents. i'm not saying its BAD, 'cause its not, but its not NECESSARY, especially academically. it IS stuff that parents teach their kids (parents who work with them) and you don't need a classroom environment for that.

    and for $1200???? SHOOT. save the money, get a couple of work books and see if you could enroll him in a class or two a week if you're interested in "out of your hair" time (like gymnastics, etc ) you'd save TONS.

    if you really are interested in something more formal (which can a) be overwhelming for him and you and 2) be more work that its worth - all of this i am saying because of his age) - they DO have preschool curriculums you can order. PM me and i'll find some if you want :)

  6. Pocket the money and spend it on something more useful like visiting me. :)

  7. I was able to relate with you on so many levels in this post. Today is July 12th; the kids starts school July 26th. All I have to do is make it 2 more weeks of summer.

    On the other hand, I'm not a fan of pre-school or pre-K. My kids get plenty of socializing with each other (there are 6 of them), at church, at the YMCA pool, with family, etc. I think the year or two of knowing numbers/letters/colors/name ahead of time will kind of even out in the wash.

    School deadlines drive me batty though. My second child, a beautiful blond-haired, blue-eyed girl, had a birthday 8 days after the cutoff for kindergarten. She's smart and tall AND I couldn't do a darn thing about it.

    But when the next year rolled around, I met with the 1st grade teacher, the school counselor and the principal. I told them that she was going into 1st grade and not kindergarten. They advised me not to, but said that legally they couldn't stop me. I told them to trust me and trust her. Sure, she started off a little behind at the beginning of the year, but by the midpoint, she was caught up. And at the end of the year, she was above average.

    Anywho.... I hate these decisions. These are the ones your brain constantly gnaws on. "Are we doing the right thing? Are we damaging them?"

  8. I don't have children so my thoughts are going WAY back to when I was a kid. We did it old school and just jumped in at Kindy and it worked out just fine. I get the social skills part of it and getting use to being in a group/learning atmosphere but for parents that are engaged with their kids like your family is and with the basics that come along with that, if your gut is telling you it's not necessary then save the money! The kiddos will be just fine and ready to roll when they start school.

    My vision when I do have kids is that I might need a little break by then…. I’m just sayin….

  9. My perspective is not as a parent, but as a kindergarten teacher. In my experience, if you work with your child and your child knows his numbers, letters and sounds, he is good to go. Most of the students that I had that had never been to any school before did not have parents that worked with them. My only concern would be how he interacts with other children and how well he follows directions. Prek-3, and even PreK-4, would probably bore him and he'd probably end up in more trouble.

    If you decide to work with him at home, find out what the state standards are for there in PreK or Kinder. In Texas they call them TEKS (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills). They are what drives teachers to teach certain material. Then, you could let that drive what materials you get. Let me know if you need any suggestions, I'd love to help. Teaching is my passion!

  10. Wow, it would only be for 2 1/2 hours twice a week?! We are putting the Wee One in a program twice a week that runs from 9am-2pm. I am stoked! No wonder Dash-1 never learned much, those teachers probably spent most of the time trying to get everyone just to quiet down and sit still long enough to do one activity. Are there any other programs in your area that can give you the things you want in a nursery program for Dash-2?

    Also, there are many women in my church who homeschool and I do believe there are resources for nursery schoolers. You just have to find a program that is the right fit for you and Dash-2.

  11. I HATE homeschooling (yup I said it) but that wont stop me from teaching my kid before they actually start school. For the situation you described I would keep him home. He can socialize at the library or other play groups.

    I also didn't know you were a fellow Episcopalian :)

  12. I would say keep him home this year for sure! I loved the idea about putting that money in a college fund for him too.

    Based on what you described I have a feeling he'll learn a lot more at home with you in the year than at the school.

    My jaw is still on the floor in regards to what you said tuition costs. For nursery school. YIKES.

  13. If you're looking for any language arts programs I HIGHLY reccomend the hooked on phonics proucts. MY daughter will be starting K in August and she finished the Learn to read Kintergarden and over half of the 1st grade edition already and she LOVES doing it. They have pre-k editions too. She is reading like a champ! (I originally started because she was getting NOTHING from her preschool. We kept her in it because she loved being there, but I do the academics with her at home.) They also have math, spelling and writing workbooks. Good luck!

  14. I never went to school until kindergarden, I did well on the educational parts, but I'm not a social person, so I don't know if the two are connected or not. I would think from the parental perspective a break from the kids is needed at times, and this could help with that, but its money that could go to better use (like visiting ABW =D [not a paid endorsement]). I'm not a parent, so the best advice I can think of is to give yourself plenty of time to weigh the pros and cons before making the final decision. Either way, workbooks and PBS are fun educational tools. Good luck with whatever you decide!

  15. We didn't do the preschool thing at all. I preferred to do more activities with them instead (soccer, swimming, gymnastics, etc.) We debated K4 this year with the middle child (she's 3 until Sept, but the cut off is Oct 1st), its 8-12 or 8-3 5 days a week, but in the end, we passed. For us, we actually asked her what she wanted to do. That probably wouldn't work for everyone, but it worked for us. If she had wanted to go, we would have sent her.

  16. Can you do both - Send him to school (or something else) knowing that it will be purely for the social aspect but also provide him with more stimulating resources at home? I know me and siblings always had lots of extra workbooks at home and we did them because we LIKED to, not because we had to (like at school). But as you know, we were nerdy kids :).

  17. My son was in a 3-day 3-year old program last year and he really enjoyed it and learned a lot. It really depends on the school and teachers. If you're unimpressed, I'd say save your money and take care of preschool yourself. There are nice preschool workbooks for sale at Toys R Us and many bookstores. I'm sure there's plenty of material available online as well. Good luck!

    Also, there is an award waiting for you on my blog. :)

  18. I agree with Amber. Teach before they go, but I think being in school is the best for kids. Hopefully you can find a new school that's better for you!

    I hope you can participate in the contest I'm hosting!

  19. ...I say put the money into his college savings. AND have some words with the teachers and/or school. It's nto about them being nice. It's abotu the fact that he knows the same stuff he did a year ago, and you paid a TON of money for him to LEARN. Not to just float by, but to learn.

    I'd be PISSED! NOt to fuel your fire, or anythig... but tht's way too much money and he won't get that time back, right? What is wrong with people?!

    PS: I miss having time to read your blog. I LOVE it!

  20. As long as you are working with Dash 2 at home, he will be fine!! He seems to be quite the socializer. I like the idea of saving the tuition and putting it in his college fund! Landon goes to Head Start program here. He has trouble socializing in large groups. His teachers told me that he hardly taks in class. WHich kills me because I can't get the kid to shutup! HA! Where as Tyler did not need the socialization at his age and I spent a crap load for PreK. UGH!!

  21. I have LOTS of thoughts on this. I'm sure you are shocked. Anyway, email me to remind me, and I will send you links, lists, ideas, and of course my personal opinions as a kindergarten teacher/homeschool hater. :)


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