Where I live, there are no public preschool programs except for kids who are at risk (Head Start type things). Public school starts with kindergarten. My son will be four this summer and I’m thinking of enrolling him in a private preschool, but they are outrageously (to me) expensive. The one I spoke with yesterday advertises that they’re the “affordable option” and they charge $60 per session (3 hours, 3 times a week). That ends up being more than my college tuition.

My son is a bright kid who is starting to read, likes to “do mathing” and is generally interested in learning. He’s shy in certain situations, but joins in with other kids and will have conversations with adults. He has a lot of opportunity for independent play with other kids and he also does a couple structured classes (swimming and ice skating). My main concern with him jumping right into kindergarten is that he has only been away from both my husband and me a handful of times. In fact, he’s only been away from me once or twice a week for a few hours (grocery shopping, etc.) and for the days I was in the hospital after having his brother. That said, when he has been away from us, he couldn’t care less…he looks forward to babysitters and is totally not the kid who is asking for Mommy as soon as the door closes.

I’m thinking about forgetting the whole preschool idea. I might do a homeschooling program with him just to get him in the habit of having a few hours a day dedicated to “school” and to keep him up to speed with his skills.

I’m hoping some of you will give me your experiences with having your kids in preschool. Was it public or private? If it was private, was it worth the tuition? Is it really necessary or just another activity for your kid? Anybody who just skipped it and put their kids right into kindergarten at 5?

If you need to put him in daycare for financial reasons - because you need to work or go to school - I see nothing wrong with a private daycare. If you want to stay home then doing so would be great, it appears you would teach him well. Are your worries financial or personal?

How about starting your own pre-school, sort of a co-op?

One of the church’s in our area allows them to use one of the Sunday school rooms. All the mother’s chip in for supplies, snacks and to rent the room.

I think it was three days a week and the mother’s rotated. I think they had three mother’s for each class. It gave a little break to the mother who wasn’t there and the kids loved it.

You can get all sorts of information online or from any teachers you know about what to do.

It’s wildly successful now and they have waiting lists.

I have another baby, so I’ll be home whether he’s in school or not. I’d be enrolling him for the sole purpose of expanding his horizons and giving him a stepping stone to kindergarten. The programs I’m looking at are “academic”, meaning they are supposedly more school-like and structured than daycare. I wonder, though, if they’re really used primarily as the next step for kids who would be in daycare anyway or if preschool is an essential part of my son’s education. I kind of want to know what most people do (baaaa).

My daughter goes to a daycare that is in an elementary school, so it’s very school-like.

She loves the program and we call it “school”. She is almost four and was ready to play with other kids and expand her world when we put her in the program. Ours is pretty affordable, it’s about 400 per month and it included two snacks and a hot lunch program.

They have field trips (last friday they went bowling) and play outside (weather permitting) twice a day in the schoolyard. I am thinking when she starts school it will make it much easier.

That’s a good idea, Cardiwen, and I’ve heard whispers of a co-op existing somewhere around here. I’m not sure I’m up to the challenge of other people’s kids, though. I’m one of those people who looooooves her own kids but isn’t really a kid person.

You could speak to his school about what he should know when he goes to school and work with him on your own. He’ll probably be fine without preschool.

My son didn’t go to preschool and they wanted him to skip a grade. He didn’t, and that really had nothing to do with what I did, more the person he was. I was pretty youngish when I had him.

We did sign him up for pre-school though. We were living in Princeton at the time because my ex-husband went to school there. He walked him to pre-school that was run by some dippy friend of his. About a half hour later I was upstairs and I heard the TV on. I went downstairs and there was my son watching cartoons. I asked him if his father took him to school and he said he left! He said it was boring and they weren’t doing anything so he came home.

Now he had to walk home about three blocks on pretty busy streets with traffic lights. I was out of my mind that they didn’t even know he was gone! It still boggles my mind thinking back about this 4 year old kid walking home, crossing streets by himself and no one stopped him or said anything to him. Needless to say, he never went back to preschool.

This was in the era before you heard about child snatching and schools were very cautious. My mother and his mother both went a little nuts over the incident. I think neither of them thought we were bright enough to raise a kid. :wink: After that my mother in law paid for him to go to private school.

I’m surprised that none of the churches in your area are running nursery schools. My kids attend one at the Methodist church up the street & they love it. It’s $75/mo/kid, 2 sessions/week, 2.5 hrs/session. It’s not terribly “academic” per se, but I’m not worried about that right now.

There’s a terrific Montessori-at-home book that you might want to use if you design a curriculum yourself. Play and Learn , it’s called.

We’re going to visit a couple of the church programs next week…they wanted to have me come in before details like tuition were discussed. Hopefully, they’ll be a bit more reasonable. Thanks for that link. If we decide not to do preschool, that’s exactly the kind of thing I’ll be looking into. I went to a Montessori preschool & kindergarten…my mom said they paid $8000/yr back in the mid-70s :eek:.

I’m a fan of preschool, primarily because my kids have loved it, and they seem to get a lot out of it – socially, in terms of being prepared for the structure of a school day, and in terms of managing separation from their parents.

The cost is a bit daunting, but there’s the middle ground of the cooperative preschool. In ours, the parent-teaching burden is relatively light – five or six days a year – plus some additional work time that is not terribly burdensome. But I know there are some coops with much more onerous demands on the parents. It’s a question of looking around. Obviously the more populous the place you live, the more choices you’ll have.

In a pinch, you can go the route suggested by **Caridwen **above, and get some like-minded parents together. This has the advantage of being essentially free, though demanding time-wise. It’ll also be somewhat less school-like.

For what it’s worth, our cooperative preschool here near Boston is about $3,500 a year at present.

I went to a co-op in the 80’s - but my memories of it seem like it was a “real” school…it had it’s own building, playground, library, etc. It did happen to be in the back parking lot of a Jewish temple so perhaps it was started by and supported by the temple. No idea what we did there - I just remember playing.

My brother went to the Methodist church pre-school (we weren’t methodists).

But … we were very very poor at the time. So I imagine both of those options are very affordable. I do remember that my mother had to clean the bathrooms at the co-op and she says that helped pay for my tuition.

We tried our local co-op for 6 months with our oldest, but it wasn’t a good fit for us. I liked the people very much, but they wanted all your time and your grandmother’s too, and were very inflexible about any ideas or suggestions.

Anyway, I’ve been doing small co-op groups with 3-4 other moms ever since, and it has worked very well for us. Usually we pick a weekly theme and have activities and stories around that–bugs, music, and so on. This year we are very relaxed, and it’s more of a playgroup with activities, because they’re only 3; next year we’ll do a bit more.

Good books for home activities and playgroups include

Slow and steady, get me ready
Mudpies and magnets
More than magnets
The early childhood almanac
Great explorations

What I mostly did was check out all the preschool activity books from the library–art, math, science, etc.–and photocopy all the projects I wanted to do, a few from each book. Then I put them into binders by subject and used them for ideas.

My daughter started school at age 3. She attended preK3 prek4 and then Kindergarten. She is now in second grade. The school she attends is private and goes up until 8th grade. After that, she will attend the same private high school my son attended. (they are 11 years apart.)
If the issue was private school versus public school, in my opinion, there is no comparsion about the education and unity a child receives in private school. Since the issue is whether your child actually “needs” preschool. Put my vote in the no column. Children that do not attend preschool seems to be a little behind in Kindergarten but catch up within the first few months. If you have time to teach your child, all the better. I think it is more about the socialization than the cutting out circles and skipping skills. You know your kids, do what you think he needs and you will more than likely be right on the money. Good luck.

Is Preschool Necessary

Necessary for the kid? Probably not.
Necessary for mommy’s sanity? Abso-frickin-lutely!

Certainly preschool isn’t necessary for a child. But it is fun for the kid, and a nice break for mom. Personally I don’t advocate preschool more than 2-3 days per week, but 5 or none isn’t terrible.

I meant to mention that while my kids’ school is part of a church, there’s nothing church-y about it. We’re not members or anything – I’m not even really a Christian. I think they sing a little “thank you God” song when they have their snacks, but that’s the only even semi-religious reference I’ve heard out of them.

I don’t know where you live, but most counties in the US have an Intermediate School District (ISD) or Regional Educational Service Agency (RESA) that provides educational services to all public schools in the county. Find out if your county has one. If it does, they would have information on preschool programs available to the general public. They may even operate one.