Thoughts on a Thursday: To Pre-K or not to Pre-K?

I may have talked about this before, I don’t know, but it’s been in my head lately…

The question is coming up with all the kids the same age as Keeley: when are the kids going to pre-K? We can’t get into public schools around here until the child is 3 as of when the school year starts, so basically, September 1st. Private day care/prek is NOT an option for us. We’d rather, you know, have groceries. The big push is ‘social’, as if all the kids that went to Kindergarten without pre-K are going to become wallflowers or una-bombers, or something. I didn’t go to Pre-K and yes I was shy, but I was shy anyway and still am– okay make that ‘reserved’. Get me on a common topic and I’ll happily sit and dish!

Back to Keeley, as it is, I’m not even sure if I’ll send her NEXT year, because she can’t be in Kindergarten until she’s almost 6 as well. Rule applies, 5 by Sept 1st, which of course she will miss by a month and a half. What’s the point of 2 years of pre-K (and running back and forth to town– even in deep snow,with a baby in the car etc)– if she already knows her colors, shapes, can almost count to 30 and is starting to read? In another year, let alone 2, she’ll probably be reading fairly well on her own, and God only knows what else. Sure, I’d love to ‘ditch’ her for a while, most parents are ready to let their kids fly by this age, and have younger kids that need one on one time,  but she already has an ‘after school’ program at church on Mondays where they do..I have no idea, paint for one the woman is VERY brave to paint with pre-preschoolers, church with nursery where they do stories on Sunday, library times including crafts (stories every week and monthly crafts) and swim lessons twice a week right now. Does she really need school right now? Does she need school at 4?

Keeley is, a holy terror a lot of times. Let’s face it. You can call it enthusiastic (thanks random lady at library), high spirited, or what have you, but to lay it on the line, she’s a nightmare sometimes. She doesn’t want to leave once we get somewhere. She doesn’t listen, she doesn’t do what all the other kids do. But she’s smart. She COULD if she wanted to. You get her one on one, and she’ll do stuff (if she wants to) just like they are doing, but in a group? Forget it, she wants to run in circles, tongue out, laughing all the way. She’s excited, she’s happy, and trying to force her into compliance just pisses everyone off. So, yeah, maybe putting her in pre-K would calm some of that down, but really? Subject the ‘shy’ kids to that? or the ones that need the help educationally and she’s there hugging them and trying to take their chair and cut in line and in general, being, well, her? Is that fair to the ‘dumb’ kid that really NEEDS the one on one time with teachers? I just don’t know. I certainly don’t think 2 years of it will do her any good at all. Educationally, she would be bored, I’m fairly certain. Socially? It might help some, but a lot of it might be alleviated by time and maturity as well.

What say you?


  1. What about a Mom’s Day Out program? That way she could get to play and do some “learning” a day or two a week. I think if I were a SAHM, I’d probably put my girls in a program for just a day or two. My mom watches them in my house now, and it has become VERY apparent by their behavior that grandma is watching them, lol. I’m very grateful for all she’s done, but they need a little more structure in their lives. Plus, they’ve only ever been around each other, so they aren’t the best at socializing with other kids.

  2. If you’re okay with her home, I’d say keep her home. At least this eyar. You can revisit Pre-K next year, by which time she may have calmed down a lot and be ready to sit and absorb and be social.

  3. Morgan did pre-K for two years. She’s an early January baby so, we missed the Kindergarten cut-off date, too. I put her in pre-K when she was 3 1/2….she wasn’t a genius child but, knew colors/counting, etc. The 2 years she had in pre-K were fantastic for her. She came out of her shell a bit; learned to have more respect for those around her and thrived in the environment. It was only 2 days/week for 2.5 hours/day the first year and then 3 days/week, 2.5 hours/day the 2nd year. I didn’t look at it from the “inconvenience” factor (the cost, the shuttling back and forth with a new baby), I tried to look at it as what it was giving HER. Her being away from me, even for the short amount of time, helped HUGELY with how she was at home. She learned so much–not just educational wise but, socially–and I wouldn’t change it at all.

    It’s a decision only you can make. If you don’t feel this year is the time, do it next year.

  4. Stacy Wolfmeyer

    Both of my kids did two years of preschool (T/TH mornings when they were 3, MWF mornings when 4), and a year of a program at the park district called “Wee Play.” I don’t think Rachel will do Wee PLay, because she’s got her big siblings and many “friends” at church, plus she’s in Jacob’s school all of the time. So she’s quite social. But if she’s potty trained at 3, she’ll do preschool for two years, and maybe 3 if she isn’t ready for kindergarten. With her August 25th birthday, we’ll need to very carefully consider if she’s ready.

    If Keeley were my child, I wouldn’t worry about anything this year. This year to her is kind of like the Wee Play class my kids did the year before preschool. You’ve got her involved in enough things for now. But next year, I would put her in something. I wouldn’t do a full 5 day a week program, or a full day program. But even though she is a smart cookie, preschool won’t hurt her. Remember Jacob. If I didn’t send him because he already mastered all of the skills they would teach, he wouldn’t attend school until at least 3rd grade. He does, however, have some social concerns that Keeley may not have. Lauren didn’t have the social issues that Jacob had, but after a year of preschool, she’s grown so much. The first month of school this year, her teacher was already commenting on changes in lauren since last year.

    I didn’t go to preschool either. Back when we were kids, preschool wasn’t a big deal. Preschool today is what kindergarten was when we were kids. In our community, there are very few kids who don’t go to preschool for at least a year. Most of the kids who don’t go to preschool go to daycare, where they get some of the same academic lessons and many of the same social lessons. Don’t get mad at this comment, but personally, I would feel like I didn’t do somethign I should have if I hadn’t given them at least one year of pre-k.

    Even thuogh she knows the preschool materials, reinforcing it never hurts. Even though she attends some other programs, having the time to “practice” for kindergarten will be good for her. She will learn how to conduct herself when you aren’t around. She will learn how to respect others, and in turn, respect you more. She will learn how to figure out what is expected from her. She will learn there is a set of social guidelines to follow and she’ll learn how to follow them. She’ll learn how to be part of a group. A team. That will help her be part of Team Shoemaker at home. She’ll learn how not to be bored, but to go along with whatever the plan for the day is, wait while the kids who need help get help, learn how to help other kids. She needs the time to become her own little person in her own little world. She will learn how to be a friend. She will be on her way by the time she starts kindergarten. It’s nice when kids have already made the adjustments for preschool, because kindergarten is a big enough adjustment, with being gone for longer in the day, eating lunch at school, being with a larger group of kids, and perhaps riding the bus. You and Matt are her first teachers, but every other adult in her life will teach her SOME lesson, even if you can’t figure out right now what there is to learn from pre-k.

    It’ll also be good for Brennan. Brennan will be a year old if Keeley goes next year. She will get some time alone with you. She will learn that her sister comes and goes. Keeley will come home and share her day with the family and Brennan will learn more about the world out there through her big sister’s eyes. And with her being a year old, you won’t be packing up a newborn to get her to school. I did that all last year, getting Jacob to school at 8:15, Lauren at 9, and trying to nurse Rachel somewhere in between. Sometimes in the parking lot in between dropping them off or at church. It’ll be easier when she isn’t a newborn.

    And YOU will benefit from her being in preschool, too. I’ve already mentioned the time alone with Brennan. And the time away from Keeley. It’ll do wonders for you. And you will meet more people through Keeley’s school. People who you will probably see for many years. It will help you find playmates for both girls. Living where you do, the built-in friendships of neighborhood kids will be tougher. So you have to make as many connections as you can. I was lonely up until I started Jacob at Wee Play the month before Lauren was born. I finally met many other stay at home moms, and things got much less lonely.

    I don’t know what kind of public pre-k options are available. Our kids did preschool at our church, adn I paid $70/mo for 3 year olds and $80/mo for 4 year olds. Free would have been better, but what I paid was comparable to other programs around here.

    Of course you need to do what is best for your family. But as an educator and a parent, my opinion is that preschool will only help Keeley, not hurt her.

    I didn’t reread this, so it’s probably disjointed and rambling, but you should be used to that. Time to go vacuum the basement before Rachel gets up.

  5. Valerie

    One of the things that stuck out after reading this is your comment about subjecting the shy kids to Keeley. Maybe that’s exactly what those kids need! One of Addison’s best friends while in preschool was an extremely shy child, almost to the point of being socially awkward. When we sat down with his preschool teacher last year, she told us what a blessing Addison had been to this boy. Taking him under his wing and helping him to come out of his shell. Maybe that’s Keeley’s role in this world.

    Add went to preschool just 2 days a week when he was 3. Then it was 3 days a week when he was 4. He’s always been extremely advanced for his age so I knew the things they would be teaching him, he most likely already knew. It wasn’t about that. I wanted him to be around other kids his age and realize there are other authority figures out there besides Mommy and Daddy. I don’t plan on having Amarah go this year but I do plan on enrolling her somewhere next year for just a couple days a week.

    Also, my MIL has taught me to take the word “bored” out of my vocabulary. She hates it! I was so concerned about Add being “bored” in kindergarten, but he absolutely loves it! It’s all about how you approach it.

  6. I have a lot to say on the topic but no time to say it right now. Will ponder and try to get back here over the weekend.

    But you know your child better than anyone else, and you know what she needs/doesn’t need.
    I would point out that whatever you decide is not etched in stone, that you can adjust and change what you’re doing with/for her anytime. So even if the decisions you make turn out to be not what you need, well, you can fix it.

    Soon. I will ramble soon.

  7. Well – having an October 1st daughter (who also missed the cut-off) – putting her in Preschool was a good thing because she was needing the playtime with other kids (or maybe that was ME needing a little break?). I think it is a nice transition before kindergarten. Just a couple of days a week to get used to a schedule, being gone from mom, and learning to listen to another adult…..that way when they do start kindergarten, they already have a feel for it. (but there are PLENTY of kids who don’t do preschool and do fine.) My kids started all-day kindergarten, so I felt that doing preschool helped prepare them that much more.

    It’s okay that Keeley will be older in Kindergarten – because being older means being a leader among her peers. (I think the younger kids tend to act out more). I was worried about my daughter being older and being bored – and none of that came true…, I decided I didn’t want my 17 year old daughter heading off to college. I’d rather she was older when that happened!

    You know your daughter best. You are already “homeschooling” her and it sounds like she is already a jump ahead of kids. Relax and enjoy her for another year before you worry about school.

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