Sunday, February 27, 2011

Preschool Pressure.

In the past week both Cameron & I have been asked why our kids aren't in Preschool. Multiple times.

   Cameron was confronted by a woman in the grocery store who had a look of disgust on her face after she asked about Mae going to preschool and Cameron said she wasn't a pupil yet. Really? She's 2 1/2 and there's no place on God's green Earth that she would rather be than with her family. While she truly loves marching into Sunday School or playing with kids at a park, I can guarantee that she'd rather be home (or with her family) than elsewhere.
 We went to the bank on Friday to fix a couple of problems and to open the kids savings accounts at our new credit union. The banker was a woman who had an 8 year old son. Since it was quite obvious that I was not working on a Friday afternoon and she was, she asked if I worked. "No. Well, I do. I'm a stay at home mom." Blank stare on her part. She later asked me after I told her I use to work at a bank if I missed working. I literally let out a guffaw. Not on purpose, not to be snotty, but I snorted and guffawed. "No. Not at all. I get to be with my kids all day." Then she brought up the Preschool Pressure.  I told her neither of the kids were in preschool & that I used free curriculum online to teach them the basics. She looked back at me like I was a member of the FLDS and I was wearing a prairie dress. When I said something about just having moved here and not knowing people that could watch the kids (except Sarah May and she works during the day!), the banker said "Well, you know you have to leave them with other people so that they learn to socialize and listen to other adults." My eyebrows arched up. "My kids are often left with others. They have been since they were babies. They go to Sunday School every week. They know how to interact with others." I wanted to tell her about how social Josiah is with other kids. He will go up to a kid at Disneyland and ask their name or what character they like. His best buddy might live in Lake Havasu, but he talks about him constantly. Mae is sweet and gets worried if she sees another kid upset or in trouble. Then again it's not just about the superficial, it's about your child's heart. I don't know any place other than the home and between Mom & Dad that character can be built well. That's what we were made for. That is our mission and ministry in every step of parenthood.
   Now, before you say "My kid is in preschool and I work! You're just biased." I understand that is working for your family. That's not what's bothering me. It's the pressure on people like me to place my kids in preschool/childcare/daycare. My children are not going to grow up disadvantaged because I didn't pony up the cash to send them to preschool (The average cost of full-time preschool here in California for a 4 year old is $8,234 a year and we're not eligible for Head Start).
   When I was a kid, my parents gave us the choice: Home school or Public School.  I even managed to go to private Christian school (which seemed to me to be somewhat of a nightmare). When we chose home school, we did not lack for friends or getting out and seeing the world. We went on far more field trips while home-schooled than I ever did through my whole public school experience. I had fantastic friends at church, some of whom I am still friends with. We had activities galore and never lacked scholastically. My Mom made sure we got stuff done, even when it was difficult for her and us.  When I went to high school, I did well in most of my classes (except math, I'm terrible at math and always have been). I graduated in the top 10% of my  class, I was in Speech & Debate (where I won some tacky trophies for being dramatic), I was in drama (DRACULA!), I was in student council and I helped to lead the Christian club on campus for awhile. While I've seen many former home-schoolers flourish in their lives, I'm also keenly aware of the stereotypical home-schoolers. The ones that give the rest of us a label.
 My point in all of this education rant is that you need to do what is right for your family, for that individual child. Every child is incredibly unique, someone that was hand crafted a particular purpose. Sending your kid to preschool is fine if you can afford it and if that's where that child will flourish. I know that right now in our lives, that's not for us. I don't need any judgement for my decisions. I need a fellow Mom to be encouraging and helpful no matter what.
   In the end, we all need to be good parents at home (something I'm not always good at). Here's a quote from one of my favorite dead guys: C.H. Spurgeon:
Let no Christian parents fall into the delusion that the Sunday school is intended to ease them of their personal duties. 
We can replace Sunday School with preschool/Christian school/public school/home school. Regardless of your educational choice for your child, you are the most important teacher your child can have. Especially when it comes to learning about what matters most: Jesus.


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