Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Good Preschool = Good Future

by Naomi (Urban Mummy)

...or so some people believe. Personally, I think it's a big joke!

The other morning my husband went to line up to enrol our 4 week old son
in a mom & tot program, for next year. That's October 2007. He will be
1. Just.

At the same time, people were lining up to enrol their children in
preschool for the same year. Unfortunately for the, the preschool was
full, and they were lining up to get on the waiting list. Did I mention
that the first person in line had been there since 4:30 am?

What is up with that?

Am I the only one who thinks it is absurd to have to line up 11 months
ahead at 5 am to get my child into preschool? These are 3 year olds,
people! What is the urgency? I don't understand it.

Do people really think that it makes such a big difference? What is the
deal with the competitiveness to get into preschool around here? It's
PREschool! Not even REAL school! Do people really think this is going to
affect their child's life?

As a teacher, here's my perspective. You can agree or not, either is
okay, and I'd like to hear your thoughts.

Preschool is about socialization. Teaching children how to behave around
other children. That is all. It's all about learning not to throw toys
at the other kid's head. Not to bite, poke, hit, kick, take toys, et

Preschool is not about academics. It isn't important that they learn how
to read, or do math, or build bridges. Really, by the end of first
grade, (almost) all children will know how to read. What is the rush?

Preschool is about having fun.

Okay, so learning about colours, how to count, and perhaps even the
alphabet? A bonus. Not required, but nice. In my opinion, these things
can, and should, be taught at home, by the parents. Parents need to be
involved in their child's education from the start.


What do you think? Do you think the "right" preschool is necessary for
your child's future? Do you think preschool itself is even necessary? Is
it difficult to find/get into good (any?) preschools in your
neighbourhood? I'd love to hear your thoughts.


Urban Mummy is a thirty-something mother of 2 young boys. In her various incarnations she’s a schoolteacher, an artist, an entrepreneur, and a mom.


Mother Bumper said...

Wow - very timely for a mom like me. Bumper is 15 mths and it seems like all the other moms are asking me "when/where/which preschool are you registered in?". to me the important thing is that Bumper learns to spend time with others, be independent of me, and maybe just maybe learn to follow a simple schedule of activities. That can be done in almost any safe and clean environment as far as my unexperienced parenting skills can tell. Bumper has many years of organized schooling ahead of her so why start the pressure early. Right now we are doing Early Years and Toronto Rec classes (galore!) so she can start learning social skills and that will do (golly, I hope I'm right). I think it's completely absurd to line up at 5am 11 months early for preschool - I might do that for a concert - no wait, I gave that sort of thing up when I became a parent.

something blue said...

My daughter is in the Senior Preschool group at Daycare. We lucked out with this placement because I had originally wanted a home daycare provider but couldn't find a suitable match. We somehow got into a daycare with a huge waiting list but we had the right timing.

She has art classes and has even been taught some French. They have been practicing writing the alphabet and just this week she came home counting syllables. Of course they do spend time outdoors, sing, dance, have stories read to them and even do some baking. We couldn't be happier with this daycare.

I really want to be able to keep her here but I'm at the point that I need to register her for Junior Kindergarten. The school by her daycare is not in our riding so we have to go on a secondary waiting list. I fear that we will get turned away and have to place her in a school close to our home and find a new daycare for her.

Really I don't think that all the extra stuff that they do in her Senior Preschool group will turn her into a rocket scientist. However since I do work it was important for us to find a great care provider, one that didn't just plop the children in front of the TV for half the day. (Sorry I think this is my longest comment ever.)

Mouse said...

Something Blue touches on what's most important for us too: having a great care provider. We were at a disadvantage when we moved to Toronto. We decided we were coming here in about March and immediately signed him up for the waiting lists for the university centres--and were told we should have signed up before I even submitted my grad school application.

We tried a few days in a daycare near campus that had several openings due to reconfiguring (or additional space, something like that). It was a hard decision, but we pulled Scooter because we found the head teacher abrasive and impatient. Even a few minutes in that setting magnified Scooter's insecurities and neediness. He was overwhelmed and melted down. As much as we wanted/needed the daycare, we knew it couldn't be that one.

When our current place had an opening, we went in to ask questions. Having been told about "curriculum" everywhere else we'd looked, I asked about theirs, feeling like it was an "appropriate" question. The director told me that they had themes, but not a set curriculum since they preferred to let the kids play and take their cues from the kids' interests. I am much happier with that approach.

kittenpie said...

I like our daycare for the fact that it is a happy environment, a large and bright and clean place with a nice rotation of various toys so the kids don't get bored, and they have lots of different experiences like cooking, science, arts and crafts, gyms time, and music.I don't expect them to teach her much beyond that, though the fact that they pretty much took care of toilet training was a sweet, sweet bonus.

But I've certainly seen this attitude - in New York, moms were known to be hysterical about getting kids into library programmes so that they could show some circle time experience which might help get them into the right preschool, which would then lead into the right school, and so on up into their Ivy League College. Yeah. If your child's future really hinges on a simple storytime and singalong at age 2, there mgiht be bigger issues at hand, people.

Haley-O said...

I have SUCH an issue with this lining-up thing. I REFUSE to do it. There are sooo many great -- i.e. FUN and educational -- programs out there. I REFUSE to stand in line at 4:30am. I totally REFUSE. My friends are all like, "it's so worth the wait." I just refuse out of spite. It's not necessary. There are enough schools out there for all of us. And, no, I don't think academics is the main concern in preschool! No matter what people sending their kids to, i.e., Montessori (sp?) tell me. ;)

Haley-O said...

great post, by the way. such an issue!

Sandra said...
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Sandra said...
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crazymumma said...

My girls loved (after the first week of killing me with their sobs)their preschool but they only went two days a week. I am not even convinced about how much school matteres aside from the social aspect. I say that if a child likes the experince great, and if it gives a parent a much needed break, better still. Otherwise no need to push it.....

Sandra said...

Not all parents have the ability to "choose" if their child goes to a preschool or daycare or not. In families where both parents work out of the home and a nanny isn't in the budget or family aren't around to help, then daycare/preschool are it.

I haven't (but would if it were necessary) lined up for a preschool for my son. But I do strongly believe that it matters a lot which early environment he is in. Not because of the "right" reputation or the academics or any of that stuff. But defiinately the right fit.

We were on a waiting list for one place before he was born. And it ended up being awful for him (like Mouse described) and so we pulled him out.

We needed him to be in a place that was right for his needs and personality. I wanted a nuturing environment and didn't care about the "academics" so he went to a place that was just that. They actually had NO curriculum and taught the kids nothing. But fun. And that's what he needed ('cause he was learning all the "schoolish" stuff on his own).

It was an important time for him to learn how to socialize and build self confidence and feel loved and have fun. Being in the wrong place for him would have been awful.

It gets even more stressful figuring this all out beyond preschool. He's about to go into grade one next year and he has special learning needs and I have an ulcer just trying to figure it out. Because it does matter. Not because something is "right" but because it needs to be right for him.

Thanks for raising this.

penelopeto said...

Someone at work recently talked about getting her 18-month old son on to the kindergarten waiting list of a very snobby private school in toronto. her reason for wanting her son to go there? the contacts he will make.
I almost fell off my chair laughing. how 'bout if we let kids be kids, and look for the preschool with the biggest sandbox, not the biggest alumni average salary. sheesh.

metro mama said...

Like others have said, I just want a good fit for Cakes. I want her to have fun and socialize. I can do the "teaching" at home.

Amanda said...

I wrote a post on my blog a while back, about, you guessed it, the differences between Kindergarten and daycare. Your post has some similar ideas to it. BTW, what grade do you teach? Preschool....hmmm...the importance?! The biggest thing is the socialization. I'm sure there are good and not so good preschools, but come on, lining up at 4:30am?! WOW! That must be one amazing preschool. Do they serve gourmet food or something?

Lisa b said...

Ok my first thougth was "holy-crap I missed pre-school registration". Its not so much my wanting to get my daughter into pre-school but rather worrying maybe everyone else knows something I don't.
More likely though is that being high-school teachers we share that perspective that there is lots of time for them to learn.
Its also my experience that finding a good fit for your child is so important and I worry that people lose sight of that.