Choosing not to send my child to preschool

We decided early on that we would home educate our children or at least give the option a good look-in. The choice is finally starting to feel real. While other parents with children who’ll be four next academic year are starting to look around at schools, we’ll be ignoring the letter inviting us to apply. You might assume that this meant we wouldn’t consider preschool, either, but we did.

From 18 months, Talitha went to a childminder one day a week. It gave me a chance to work, her a chance to have fun with someone else and us both a break. For various reasons, a few months after Ophelia turned up, I couldn’t manage to take her to the childminder anymore. Suddenly the weeks felt LONG.

I felt so guilty about this but it’s hard looking after a three-year-old and a baby all week. I won’t pretend it’s the most difficult thing in the world but it is a challenge. Even looking ahead to each week and trying to schedule enough play dates takes its toll. I guess the thing is, in a village-days-gone-by setting I wouldn’t need to. There would be other children around to play with and other adults to share the parenting. But that’s not the way we live.

So I started to think again about nursery. I talked to home educators who’d sent their kids and those who hadn’t. Their perspectives offered me points I hadn’t considered. Bit by bit, I did what I do and made a list to weigh up the pros and cons.

Pros:

  • Time with just Ophelia
  • I might be able to work in her naps
  • Time apart from Talitha, helping me recharge for time with her
  • She wants to go (or thinks she does, anyway)
  • She loves that kind of setting so she’d likely have fun

Cons:

  • She might find it tiring and, on some level, stressful
  • Ophelia is six months old, doesn’t always nap reliably and is trying to crawl – I probably wouldn’t get any work done
  • Might it make her want to go to school when the time comes?
  • Sessions would dictate what else we’re able to do
  • I don’t feel completely happy about it

I was still undecided about it so applied anyway, thinking I might as well get on the waiting list for a local nursery. Their admin through that process was so disorganised that it put me right off. It made me pause enough to listen to my instinct and decide, once again, that preschool or nursery is not for us. Not right now, anyway. Probably not ever because if she’s not going to school then it does seem an odd route to take. I rang up the nursery on Friday to tell them that we no longer required the place.

As soon as I hung up the phone, I felt both relieved and daunted. On one hand, I am so glad to have rested the case in my mind. On the other, I’m looking ahead to weeks that feel…long…

I know we will get into a rhythm. I know I need to organise our time, start going to home ed groups more regularly, actually do more of the stuff I’ve pinned on Pinterest, get my calendar out and plan those play dates, and accept that moments of boredom are also a part of life, especially life with a baby.

Maybe we will eventually look for a home educating childminder or a babysitter or Laurence will work less or we will find some sort of flexischooling solution. I don’t know. I’m not going to think about “eventually” right now. This is what we’re doing today. As with everything else in family life, we’ll take it one day at a time.

Choosing not to send my child to preschool-2