Not Doing Preschool

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Is preschool really necessary if you're a SAHM?

Feb 2015

I am curious about the merits of attending preschool for a child from a family with a SAHM (or dad or relative). My daughter enjoys learning and is readily accepting of new activities and concepts in a wide number of areas including reading, numeracy, nature and science. As a SAHM I am able to spend time to promote her areas in interest, as well as gently guide her to learn new ideas. For example, i made up a bowling game, each pin has a number, and we add up the numbers to practice addition. She likes the game and is learning at the same time. Anyway, point being, I have had time to help her along academically and she has mastered a lot of the skills at the Kindergarten level already. She goes to art, gymnastics, music, swimming classes etc so has extracurricular activities as well. She also does play dates and birthday parties, maybe on average twice a month. She has a friendly personality and will usually make quick friends at the park, in class, etc.

As such, I am wondering what are the benefits of attending preschool in her situation? I'm inclined to feel it would largely be for the social aspect and being in a classroom setting to prep for kindergarten. If so, would 3 days a week of preschool be enough? She will be off to kindie this fall. I understand that studies have been conducted showing a boost in academic performance for kids who go to preschool, but the population that preschool makes a difference for seems largely to be the underprivileged kids in these studies. As a single income household, we are not rolling in the dough but would definitely not be considered underprivileged. And I really do want my child to pursue her own interests and find her own path so I'm not particularly keen on enrolling her in extra preschool just so she can get a ''leg up on the competition'' at all. She has been attending preschool since just before turning three, but I feel like I'm better informed now and would not enroll my younger kids at such an early age. Anyway, just wondering if the wonderful community! of BPN had any insights or knowledge I'm not privy to. Thanks! Just wondering…

The advantage of sending your daughter to preschool would be for her to get used to being away from you, learning from someone other than you, and working out social issues without your involvement. You're going to have to cut the apron strings soon, it might be helpful to ease into it. And please, don't be one of those parents who hangs out all day in the kindergarten classroom. We had one of those in my son's class and the SAHM's inability to separate from her daughter did not do her daughter any favors. Independence is a good thing

I was a SAHM and my kids attended Children's Community Center, a co-op preschool. Our entire family learned so much from that experience and I can't imagine what our lives would be like without CCC. I am still close to the parents who shared the same participation day, and our kids are now sophomores and they're still friends too. It's wonderful to see those same kids at Berkeley High, almost grown up. Just the other day my friend shared a photo album with me of the day our kids did a Jackson Pollock-esque activity by laying face down on the tire swing, taking a paint brush, getting a (gentle!) push by a parent, and brushing/splattering/dribbling the canvas on the ground below them. The resulting artwork was presented at the Annual Art Show. I showed the pictures to my son, and he said, ''Man, I miss CCC. It was an amazing place!''

This is not just a plug for CCC, but a plug for co-ops in general. Not all programs are run the same way, but generally there are opportunities for parent education about cognitive development, discipline, anti-bias curriculum, etc. as well as potlucks and art shows. I would recommend preschool not just for your daughter's enrichment, but for your whole family's.

FYI I attended a co-op preschool and I'm still friends with some of my classmates -- and we're over 40 years old. And my mom has a monthly lunch date with the moms she participated with on her day. Laurel C

Can't afford preschool with baby on the way

Nov 2009

I want to preface this by saying that I am a normally pretty relaxed momma who is beginning freak out BIG TIME about pre- school. I don't think I felt as anxious about choosing my own college or grad school. My almost 2 yr is thriving now in our nanny share with our dear nanny but I am looking for pre-school for next year so he can socialize in a group. He is a happy, social, verbal child who also loves gross motor activities, music, animals, books, general silliness, and being outside.

My big problem is cost, we are planning to try for baby number #2 and there is no way that I can afford to pay our nanny and even part-time pre-school. I really can't believe how much Bay Area parents are paying. Some full-time schools are as much as $1700 per month and many part-time programs are about $800 per month. As a full-time working mama with a commute, I can't really swing the coop thing. I keep thinking that maybe we could transition #1 and #2 to pre-school at the same time but most pre-schools don't accept toddlers.

Has anyone kept their older child at home with their nanny and younger child and skipped pre-school or waited until just one year before K. If so, how did it go?

We are middle-class but looking at these fees I feel poor. Maybe I just need moral support that this is ALL crazy. Back in the day (the 70's), my brother and I went to a parent participation nursery school for one year before K (I vaguely remember making paste) and we are fine. a normally chill momma who is freaking

I'm a working mom of two kids - 2y 4mos apart - and am baffled by the costs of childcare / preschool. Part of the way we've been pulling it off is by our very affordable preschool - Smiles in Montclair. It's a very straight forward, play-based with structure school with teachers who've been there a long time. Full time is under $1000. That being said, I just went to an open house for a pre-K program for my son who will graduate from smiles and am not even sure if we can afford it - since we'd also send his younger brother there too (for logistics sake). It's like having a second mortgage payment! In retrospect, I would have given more thought to spacing my kids out more so that we weren't hemorrhaging financially in these few years.... Looking forward to public school....

Our almost 4 year old isn't in preschool for the same reason you are describing. Since we have a baby and her, we couldn't afford daycare and preschool. Our daughter's doing just fine and we just make a bit more effort to make sure we get together with others who have kids her age. We've let go of all the ''preschool'' stress and have confidence in the fact that there is no one ''right'' path in life. Good luck

My son did three years of preschool and is thriving in 2nd grade. My daughter did one year of preschool and is thriving in kindy. Yes, one year of preschool is definitely enough if you believe that's all you can afford. Another middle-class family struggling to afford childcare


Considering not sending second child to preschool

April 2004


We are contemplating sending our second child to preschool and I am looking for input from people on both sides- those who believe in it and those who do not necessarily think it is needed. We sent our first child to preschool and although it was a good experience we find ourselves wondering if she would have benefitted just as much by being home and engaged in more playgroups and activities. Our plan was to start sending our second child who is three years old to preschool during the summer along with our five year old daughter so he could gain a comfort level while his sister was still attending. However, our beloved preschool is closing in June! And, we are expecting a third child in July/August. So, I would love any input on the following: 1. We are concerned about the adjustment in August when we have a new baby, our daughter is starting kindergarten and our son is starting preschool. Some schools have summer openings to help our 3 yr old adjust to the idea of it before the baby comes but the preschools we really like either are full for the summer or are too costly for us. We thought about waiting several months into the new school year but we fear that we would not get in to any decent preschool considering all of the long waiting lists. 2. Cost versus benefit. Our three year old is involved in two regular playgroups, a gym class and a music class. If we added one more activity for socialization would that be enough socilization? Preschool is expensive considering he would only be there about 6-12 hours a week. 3. Does he need to be away from mom/baby and develop independence? This is the big question for us and we are really stuck on this one. We thought about joining a local health club that offers a great, structured childcare where we can leave him up to two hours a day (the baby too which would allow Mom a bit of ''sanity'' and much needed exercise time too). Would this allow him the opportunity to learn to be away from Mom and gain enough independence? We are comitted to sending him to a pre-K program next year but we are really questioning what to do this coming year when he would be age 3 to 4. Thank you so much for your advice! Conflicted parents

I believe that the benefit to preschool is much more than for socialization. It teaches your child how to ''go to school''and better prepares them for kindergarten...where they are expected to sit at one desk, preform certain tasks, stick to a routine, etc....I think if your child doesen't go to preschool s/he would be much less prepared for that environment. Secondly, the odds that s/he will go to college are greater if they go to preschool, which let's face it, in this day and age, is needed to survive in the world. I hope this helps in your decision.... Preschool Fan

You can't believe how much 3 and 4 year olds are capable of!!! I have my 3 yr old (just turned 3 in January) in full time preschool and she is exposed to so much--activities, friends, adults (teachers and adults who come in to lead activities), field trips, food, books, music, physical movement, and just free play time. This means that when we're home, at the end of the day and on weekends, I can just BE with her and that's cool with everyone. I also have a one year old who goes to daycare. If I were in your shoes with yet a third child on his/her way, I would let the two bigger birds spread their wings away from momma bird and make room to focus on the baby and mother's needs, which will not be insignificant especially in the first year!!! I also learned in the past year that despite all my fears and hopes to do things perfectly, that my toddler was quite resilient and stepped up to doing preschool! She's having a great time. Momma bird

Just a quick two cents on the preschool issue: very good friends of ours did not send their daughter to preschool, mostly for financial reasons (though she was in daycare for about a year, until she was 2 1/2). Instead, she spent the days with her then- unemployed father and younger brother taking hikes, swimming, going to museums, etc. She is now halfway through her kindergarten year and is doing extremely well. So, while there are a lot of positive effects to be had from a good preschool experience, it's clear that there are many other ways for children to get the kinds of emotional, social, and intellectual stimulation that will prepare them for primary school. You should choose what works best for your child and your family. (BTW, the correlational data relating preschool and college attendance that were referred to in another posting should be understood in their proper context: they were collected in homes and communities that did not provide adequate developmental support for young children -- no books, child-centered activities, etc. -- as well as having a host of other complications that affected children's health and well-being. Preschool attendance in and of itself does not guarantee future admittance to Harvard.) Lauren

My daughter (who attended preschool) started Kindergarten last Fall. All the children in her class, with the exception of one, attended preschool or a developmental kindergarten program. Well, the child that did not attend preschool, from the get go, is the most well adjusted child in the class! She is quietly confident and assertive. No one walks over her. Clearly a very secure child. Has many friends and is genuinely liked by all the kids although her personality is not out there. She has never had a day where she has had a problem separating from her mother. We still have children (who attended preschool crying). Maybe it's because her mother didn't push her out of the nest in a big hurry and when she went to Kindergarten she was truly ready. Don't be in a rush


Activities for 3-year-old not in preschool

August 2002


I'm thinking of doing some sort of very small, at-home, joy school for my three-year-old daughter. She is very imaginative, has a large vocabulary, and has a pretty active mind. Is there anyone out there that has tried a joy school at home? Any advice about activities, or do's and don't's? I'd like to work with her for a year or two before she starts kindergarten, but I don't know where to start. I'd love your advice, rebecca

Check out Before Five in a Row:

I can't recommend it specifically, but we have gotten a lot out of Five in a Row (for older children) and plan to get it.

Make books with your child. She draws the pictures and dictates the text to you.

Play tic tac toe. Good for 1)thinking skills in general, anticipation of possible moves 2)understanding symmetry (if first player goes in middle, all 4 corners are the same and all 4 non corners are the same move) 3) teaching letter writing. start with x's and o's move on to c's and l's, r's and f's, etc.

Explore the juvenile non-fiction section of your library for topics of interest --- backyard birds (get an ''identiflyer'' to learn birds and frogs by their call), dinosaurs, dogs, lizards, whatever. Try to find fiction about same topic --- talk about fact vs. fiction. My 4 and 2 year olds love the ''See How They Grow'' video series. The anthropomorphic presentation of facts about the development of farm animals, sea animals, forest animals, pond animals really appeals to them and has been a springboard for us for further exploration and imaginative play. My 4-year-old loves all the DK (Dorling Kindersley) books: Ocean, Shell, Reptile, etc. They are usually available in libraries. The Lawrence Hall of Science has an overlooked biology room downstairs with turtles, lizards, frogs, chincillas. The docents take the animals out and let you feed and hold them.

The authors of The Well-Trained Mind say that early childhood is a time for amassing information, ''pegs'' to hang other information on later,and a basis for analysis and critical thinking which comes later. I like this idea and young children do seem to be amazing fact sponges. So just find a topic that appeals and dive in. My daughter loved tidepool creatures for a while, so we learned all about periwinkles, starfish, hermit crabs, etc.with library books, videos, trips to the shore (Fitzgerald Marine Reserve in Half Moon Bay), Steinhardt and Monterrey Bay Aquaria, etc.

The Ooey Gooey Handbook is a great resource. If you get a chance to hear the Ooey Gooey lady talk, GO! She is a marvelous inspiration and a very entertaining speaker. She has ideas that I remind myself of all the time: ''Control the Environment, not the child'' is a great one. I also like ''Artwork is not a receipt for childcare'' ie, the artwork should be about material exploration for the child and not about producing some recognizable thing that the parents will appreciate!

Develop critical thinking as well as have fun by reading your child's favorite books ''wrong''. Say the wrong colors, wrong names, objects, feelings, etc. and let her catch and correct you. Kids usually love this (sometimes they get mad, though!).

Have fun! susan


Pressure from family & friends to do preschool

October 2002


Hi, I am a parent of two preschoolers and have received soo much pressure to enroll them in a preschool from family and friends. I am also a teacher but have taken the past three years off to be at home. I spend maybe a half an hour a day sometimes not even that, on fun activities that promote learning the pre-k skills. If done in fun and games they catch on soo quickly. I believe parents are the best teachers and role models for their children at this time and if given the opportunity to stay home why not spend the money on dance or gymnastic classes instead. I make sure we are doing things in the community and are involoved in a mom's club for the social interaction that I agree is neccessary. I was wondering if there are others who feel this extreme pressure to enroll their children too? It's kinda funny because a girlfriend sent her daughter to a good preschool and now that she is in kindergarten and the teacher informed her she doesn't have all the pre-k skills needed and what to work on at home-it would not have taken but minutes to teach those skills earlier. Plus it is fun to have an active part in their learning- I do believe those first years children are like sponges and as parents we should take every opportunity to fill thier minds with intrique.... please let me know if you have felt the same way. I understand working parents need to have child care but maybe a fun, nuturing environment is just as good as one that is strict and makes our children grow up to soon. Just a thought. frustrated mom

Kudos to you! I think it's great that you're staying with your kids for as long as it feels right to you!! My older child is now in kindergarten, after 2 years in preschool, and looking back I have to wonder if it did that much for him. It was fun, and it gave me sanity time, which I needed, but if he hadn't gone it would have been fine for him, I really believe. Do what you're doing!! You go! Susan

I can certainly understand your frustration at feeling pressured to put your child in preschool. It sounds as if you are doing a very good job of parenting. On the other hand, I think you might want to take a look at the reasons behind why your friends are bringing the issue up. I'm sure they mean well and aren't reflecting at all on you parenting or decisions, although they may be trying to tell you something about your child that could be worth listenting to.

Preschool is as much about socialization as it is about learning and being a day care type of option. Is your child well socialized? Does she get along well with others? How is she in a group? Is she really getting as much exposure by spending her days with you as she would be by interacting in a group situation with kids her own age? Does she seem to make friends easily? Rather than it reflecting on your parenting skills, it might be a hint that perhaps your child would do well to be in more group situations, and preschool can be a very good option. And it's really quite fun for the children, once they get used to the new routine, that is.

I found that when I finally put my child in preschool, he was genuinely happy about it, even though we had to give up our together time. He was just as loving and delightful as he was before we made the switch, but had even more people and activities in his life to make him happy. I was the one that had the tough time, frankly.

I'm sure that whatever you do will be fine with your child, but there really is a lot to be said for broadening her horizons by giving her even more than you already are. Best of luck! Been there

My opinion is that unless your home environment is impoverished there is no reason you ought to send your children to preschool against your wishes. There are many fine reasons to put your child into preschool: your child is very outgoing and loves to play with large groups of children, you need some time off. But I really cannot believe that preschool can provide children with anything that a loving parent cannot. I think the arguments about socialization are crazy. In developmental psychology (this is straight out of a textbook) socialization is: The process by which children acquire the standards, values and knowledge of their society. If you keep them at home and teach them your values and enrich them with your knowledge, you are socializing them. If you meet with families whose values your share or respect and let your children play together, play with other children and help them to learn to share, be respectful and not hurt each others' feelings, look out for younger children, say please and thank you, or whatever it is that you think is important, then you are socializing them.

At preschool they learn the standards, values and knowledge of preschool society. I am not particularly impressed with preschool society, as preschool knowledge seems to consist of rhymed taunts -- here's one my friend's kids came home with: ''Babies drool and big kids rule.'' Their values are ''Lord of the Flies'' where even the sweetest kids at the best schools (another friend's daughter) come home saying, ''I hate you'' and ''I am going to kick your butt.'' Of course, they do come out of it ready for school in the sense that they know how to stand in line, raise their hand to talk, and learn that the world is full of rules.

I have had bouts of sending my 4-year-old to preschool (because I want some time for my own projects) and I looked around at many options and tried two that seemed to be among the best. Some of the very best programs are full time and I was not interested in full time. THe first was very Lord-of-the-Flies. There were lots of sensory tubs, free crafts, playdough, manipultives, but the kids ran wild and the full-time kids ruled the roost, pushing smaller kids down and throwing sand in their face, not letting new kids into the clique.

We took a year off preschool. My daughter is now going to preschool that is ''more structured''. She says she enjoys it, she likes the ''crafts'' (teacher makes sure they come out pretty so the parents will be pleased with their children's art --- ugh.) The other day my daughter listed all the rules at her preschool: No throwing sand (fair enough). No playing with sand on the jungle gym. No playing under the jungle gym. No toys on the jungle gym. No climbing up the slide. Only good kids get a treat. Bad kids don't get a treat. I just hope that 6 hours/week there won't squelch her independent spirit!

I think both kinds of socialization (by kids a la Lord of the Flies) and by teachers (follow the rules, raise your hand, don't do this, don't do that) can easily wait until kindergarten, or, actually, forever. susan


Are we the only ones who haven't signed our kids up for preschool?

February 2002


We are feeling like we're the only parents in the Bay Area who haven't signed our kids up for preschool. There is so much talk of preschool in these newsletters, on the playgrounds, and in the Mothers' Groups. Are there other stay-at-home parents out there who plan to give their pre-kindergarten kids the basics at home? My oldest daughter is 24 months, and speaks in 5-7 word sentences, knows the alphabet, colors, counts to 20+... I know that socialization is a big reason to send kids to preschool, but with all the classes & activities available in this area (kindergym, music, Habitot, etc., at the Y, libraries, etc.), I feel like she gets that without having to spend hundreds of dollars (some preschools charge more in tuition than my state university did!) every month. Any feedback will be greatly appreciated. Thanks, a Berkeley mom

Hi. Our daughter is three and we're just starting her in preschool. She is also very verbal and smart and knowledgeable. We're doing it for a few reasons. One, we don't have the time and resources to engage her in as many projects as preschool will. Two, we want her to make friends and learn to spend time with the same children on a regular basis. Three, we haven't been able to get her into all of the programs out there that we'd like to (like those that you mentioned) and want her exposed to all of those enriching things. Bottom line, though, is that you should do what you feel is right for your child and definitely not put your daughter in because you feel any type of peer pressure to do so. Good luck! Laurel

Good for you for questioning the dominant paradigm concerning preschool. My son will be 3 this spring. About a year and a half ago I almost went crazy because every one I knew who had a toddler was totally preoccupied with getting their child enrolled, or on a waiting list for a preschool. Many of those moms were actually frantic about it, and I got caught up in the frenzy myself for a while. I spent a half a year researching and touring preschools, some of them co-ops, some not, about 9 total. I did not find any that even came close to meeting my expectations. They all appeared to me to be highly enriched and organized day-care centers for the middle and upper class, with prices to match! Some of the ratios were as much as 6:1, sometimes with a population of 24 children! To quote a teacher I once met at a playground who homeschooled her own children, ''children do not gather knowledge, or become socialized in a wholesome way when they are placed in packs!'' Or did she use the word ''herds'', I can't recall. This is a third grade teacher telling me this! She is not the only teacher I have met who chose to avoid government institutions when it came to their own children. So my advice to you is listen to your brain and your heart. You are your child's first and best teacher. I think that people are deluding themselves if they think that they are sending their child to preschool so that they can get properly socialized. My son meets with a peer group 3 times a week, has one-on-one play dates on a regular basis, and attends various short programs of gymnastics and music and movement. He has lots of friends of both genders, is very social, and easily shares things with others. Meanwhile, academically he's pretty much at kindergarten level. So who needs preschool?

I have a 30 month-old daughter and a baby on the way and I am not considering sending my daughter to preschool yet. I feel the way you do that with all of the available activities in the area she is getting plenty of socialization. I have been feeling the pressure since almost everyone I know is talking about preschool, but I am not ready. My feeling is that she is going to be in school for a long time, and my time with her is so precious that I want to take full advantage of it. From what I understand, one year of preschool will prepare most children for kindergarten, so if you are not in a hurry, then wait. Joan

I was a preschool teacher before my daughter was born, and I have no plans of sending her to preschool. I've ''tutored'' some other children, but really, see no need for preschool. Just my $0.02!

although we briefly enrolled our (now 7.5yo) in preschool for a couple months, we have not felt it necessary for him nor his siblings. Our 5yo has never been to preschool; nor his younger sister. So, if absolutely nothing else, you're not alone. Kathy

No, I don't think it is. I didn't go myself, and though I suffered in the socialization skills (I entered kindergarten only knowing how to be a bossy older sister. Took YEARS to re-learn social skills), I excelled academically. My son will be attending this year, mostly because it will be cheaper and more stimulating than his babysitter. Go with what suits you and your child.

Preschool is fun. I don't think there is a right or wrong choice, but I do think that my daughter (age 2 1/2) has blossomed in preschool. It is not that I cannot take her to gymnastics or to music classes, but in preschool children get the opportunity to trust adults who are NOT their parents, problem solve without the help of a parent, negotiate, bond with other children WITHOUT the help of a parent, and so on. My niece did not go to preschool, and my child did (they are the same age, 5). The way these two girls dealt with problems that arose was quite different. My niece's mother was always jumping in to work out her daughter's problems, or defend her, or simply remove her from a difficult situation because her daughter did not have the skills to deal with the issue on her own. Now that this child is in kindergarten, there is a huge change in her. She seems so much more confident (even her mother notices the change!).

Most importantly, for me, is the fact that my 2 year old LIKES preschool. She LIKES the music, the art, the mix of children and teachers, celebrating other people's holidays, and so on. She LIKES her friends, all of whom she chose for herself (rather than me choosing them for her and arranging playdates with the children I liked).

One last comment. Preschool doesn't have to be all or nothing. There are many half-day or part-time preschools around, co-ops, and so on. If you are interested in preschool, you can always find a balance that fits you and your child's needs.

With my son, pre-school was a good thing. It enabled him to learn how to get along with other kids and he needed the stimulation, plus the structure. He needed a lot of structure. He was a very active kid and needed limits. By the time he was five, pre-school had calmed him down and got him used to a school-like schedule. He could sit still and listen with the best of them.

Eight years later, we left our daughter in a home care situation so she did not start school until Kindergarten. She didn't need pre-school. She got along well with other kids and was very smart at an early age (very early reader). She had no problems with listening and was not as hyper as her older brother. If anything she was the total oppossite in that she would rather read than run around.

It all depends on your child. Pre-school is not a status quo thing. My son needed it, my daughter didn't. You can learn all the skills you mentioned in a non-pre-school environment (and I don't mean by sitting them in front of Sesame Street everyday either). From your description, your child sounds like she can already pass the kindergarden entrance test so I wouldn't worry about it. It sounds like you're doing a great job with her. a non-Berkeley mom