Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Toddler Transitions Mini Series Part I: Preschool, Not for the Faint of Heart
For the next few weeks I hope to do a little mini series on the transitions that our toddlers face and the way we as parents can make these transitions a little easier for our children and ourselves. The first transition I want to deal with is preschool. Preschool is not a mandatory transition as some of the others are. All children eventually have to learn how to use the potty, sleep in a bed that no longer offers the security of a side, and get rid of their beloved pacifiers. Most children will inevitably go into a school setting at some point, but not all will go to preschool. This is a decision in itself. We always knew that we would send Nick to preschool. Being that he has a December birthday and the cut off in Connecticut to go to kindergarten is December 31st, we already had a difficult decision to make. Will we send him when he is 4 turning 5 or wait an extra year? As of now we are pretty set that we will wait the extra year. Because of this, we now have to decide whether to send him to two or three years of preschool.
Nick is a pretty smart little man. Well, that's what we think...don't we all think that of our children? He knows many a song, knows how to count to 13 (why he stopped there we have no idea), knows a few colors etc. On the other hand he is also very tiny for his age, shy, and really really loves being around his mommy. If we started him in September he would be going to preschool with children who are almost over a whole year older than him. I was always dead set on sending him the day that they allowed me. That was of course before the decision was imminent and I thought of my little boy being devoured by a 4 year old who was double his size! Of course this is quite the exxageration but is definitely something to consider, aside from him actually being eaten by a four year old. My little guy barely knows how to defend himself against a nonsharer on the playground let alone a whole class of children who are most likely further along socially and academically because of their age and their advanced degree of pottyhood.
After months of going back and forth on this issue we have decided against sending him to a formal preschool in the fall. Two years seems like it is plenty enough. There are also numerous programs in the area that are similar to a preschool where we will send him. There is a local children's museum that offers a drop in preschool class a few hours a week and the local high school has a preschool class taught by the high school students every once in a while. This will give us the time we all need to adjust to the idea of preschool and take our time with potty training, separation anxiety, and of course, growing. Everytime I hear another mother talking about their child starting in the fall, though, I still wonder if we are making the right decision. Maybe he would excel and learn more at school than he would at home? Maybe he would learn how to better control his emotions and develop better socially? The truth is I have no way of knowing any of this. None of us do. As with all decisions that we have to make for our children, we just have to go with our gut and what we think is best for them and hope for the best.
What I have to keep reminding myself is that this decision will not make or break my son's future. He will be fine either way.
Next Wednesday we'll talk about the transition of potty training where you get to learn all about my son's regression and what we plan to do about it. Hopefully I have some idea by then!