Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Preschool Proposition

There's been much talk lately about preschool programs and whether or not they're actually helpful in your child's life. With the Obama administration discussing government-funded preschool, parents and critics alike seem to be debating this issue. I'm a proponent of preschool. My almost 3 year old is just finishing up his first year of preschool, and I think it's done wonderful things for him. Of course, I have nothing to compare it to, but he's learning to speak French, he's very verbal and he seems very happy when I pick him up from school. On the other hand, he only goes to school 2 mornings/week and he still, after 7 months, gives me a hard time about going. He tells me he wants to stay home with me. I think if he went to school every day, it would be easier. He would know the drill: he goes to school in the morning and comes home with me in the afternoon. I simply don't think 2 days is enough of a routine to get him wanting to go. If he were to go next year, he would go 3 half-days/week. Herein comes the dilemma. We are all victims of the economic disaster wreaking havoc on our country and, quite frankly, the preschool the little guy attends is rather expensive. This is where government-funding for preschools is a good thing. It would help during hard economic times. It would give every child a fair shot at learning the same thing at the same time instead of just the well-off families with the ability to pay for preschool. Here's the catch though. With government-funded preschool, everyone would be paying for it instead of just those who actually choose to send their children to preschool. On top of that, I wonder what government-funded preschool would look like. I doubt the little guy would be learning French. And I'm not so sure how verbal he would be in a large class. I'm at a cross-roads with what to do with the little guy next year. Some people believe kids should stay kids for as long as possible since they have many years of schooling ahead of them when they HAVE to go to school at the age of 5. I've been told preschool is just glorified, expensive babysitting. I really don't believe that, especially the school the little guy goes to now. I suppose I could find a French babysitter, or a Chinese babysitter, or an any-language babysitter, but it's just different. The interaction is different with one babysitter vs. a teacher and 10 children. The earlier children get used to classrooms and structure and other children, the more well-prepared and well-rounded they will be later in life. By the same token, I can do without the constant runny nose and coughing. But that's a whole other topic . . .

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