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


14 Comments

  1. September 15, 2014 / 8:38 am

    I pondered this for Smallest because she is so sociable, but it would have got in the way of everything we do, so I decided against it. We’re almost formally home educating now, she’s 5 this term. It doesn’t look that much different to before the summer when she wasn’t.

    Long days can loom, and I think your point about the villages is the most relevant one. I think schools have actually damaged society, but that might be a bit heavy for a Monday morning.
    liveotherwise recently posted..Feeling blue

  2. September 15, 2014 / 9:03 am

    We sent Lola to Nursery, but that was before we’d even considered home edding… it was during that year that we made the decision. She did love nursery, we were lucky to have a lovely little one close to home. It shut down before Kiki or Baya could go, else they might have gone to… as it is they’ve never attended, and it seemed strange to send them anyway when we knew we weren’t sending them to school.

    It is hard with 3 {soon to be 4} kids home 24/7… the past couple of years G has been at college or working 7 days a week so it’s just me and them. I’ve just learnt to fit my work in as and when I can and go with the flow!
    Polly recently posted..Maternity Series – Week 26

  3. September 15, 2014 / 3:39 pm

    I thought about commenting in reply to your post in the Bristol home ed group on facebook, but didn’t, so I’ll post here instead! Have you heard of Farm Adventurers (http://www.windmillhillcityfarm.org.uk/children/farm-adventurers/)? We chose it because it’s not a pre-school, so it’s not preparing a child for school, it’s not a nursery, so it’s not just about looking after your child. The sessions are short (3 hours) so it’s not the most convenient time for getting work done, but it is incredibly child friendly. We were (and still are) totally blown away by the staff’s energy and enthusiasm for what they are doing, and just how brilliant they are with children. The adult child ratio is also really good: They have 3-4 staff for up to 16 children (and at the moment there are only about 6 children in some of the sessions!). I don’t know what area you are in, but one of the parents lives in Lockleaze and thinks it was totally worth travelling that far for! I also know there is at least one other child there who is being home educated (we are still in the haven’t decided but probably will home ed category). Oh and it’s free! Sorry to sound like an advert, but just really wanted to let you know incase it’s not something you’ve come across yet!
    Lauren recently posted..June crafting

    • September 15, 2014 / 9:41 pm

      Thanks for letting me know about it, Lauren. It sounds amazing! I’ll take a look. Windmill Hill is a little bit of a trek but I do end up in that part of Bristol a fair bit, actually!

  4. September 15, 2014 / 9:16 pm

    This is so interesting, I think it’s really hard to make all of these choices, especially when what you want to do goes against the grain. When E was born, I had my heart set on a relocation and a montessori nursery/school, but the school closed down and we decided not to relocate. So we’ve looked at a few nurseries closer to home, and it’s hard, because none of them are the montessori dream I had. Forest school would have been amazing too, but we just don’t live in the right sort of area, so it’s not an option. I’m currently spending my days compiling a list of things that worry me about nursery and school, oh joy. x
    Fiona recently posted..The 10 Worst Things About Staying At My Parents’ House

  5. September 15, 2014 / 10:05 pm

    I have always been at home with F and I admire parents who take on home schooling. Financially for us it wouldn’t work but I do find that I’m not structured enough to confidently take on F’s education and that I do need a little bit of time away from him to recharge. I think if your instinct tells you this is the right path for you then that is wonderful that you have called and now feel happier, I bet Talitha will too! x
    Lori recently posted..CAPTURING MEMORIES WITH PHOTOWORLD

  6. September 15, 2014 / 10:39 pm

    Wow, I’m very impressed that you’d even consider this. If I’m honest, it’s never even crossed my mind not to send my kids to school, and now that they’re both in full time education (as of this week!) it does feel like we’re on a very straightforward trajectory. I’ll look forward to hearing how things go for you all x
    Lottie :: Oyster & Pearl recently posted..Forbidden fruit

  7. September 16, 2014 / 9:30 am

    Boo never went to pre-school or nursery, he started reception year with everyone telling me he’d struggle, he didn’t he was confident and mixed with all the children and staff happily. I had toyed with home education but for reasons I shan’t go into here we decided to let him try school and he loves it. E is going to be 4 in January and is not at preschool, he is bright and sociable. I’ve been told by so many people “he should go” especially as i’ve “had another baby” but never an explanation of what they think he’s missing, i think people just assume you will conform to what has become the norm rather than make a choice. Enjoy x

  8. September 16, 2014 / 12:58 pm

    Ben is almost six now, and there have been so many times when he’s been at pre-school or infants that he’s said or done something that has made me question my decision to send him – but for me, the most important thing is that he gets a decent education, and as he’s on the autism spectrum, I don’t feel like I’d be able to provide that at home. He also really needs guidance with social interaction, which is something else that I’m really not qualified in. I’m all for home educating, but I think there’s more to it than running around in the forest collecting pretty leaves and making cakes, and to be honest, I don’t think I’d be any good at the other stuff! I do love reading about home ed journeys though, it’s always interesting to see what everyone else is doing!
    Vicky recently posted..found: ena and albert

  9. September 16, 2014 / 6:07 pm

    I find these posts really interesting too, I never thought I would send W to nursery but surprised myself at how perfect a situation it was for both of us. I worry a lot about school because I hated it so much and because I don’t know that that sort of learning will be best for him but we’re going to give it a go and if we find it doesn’t work think about our options then. A lot of my friends are doing half a week in school and half home ed which sounds interesting to me. I think it’s great that things aren’t so fixed and we can see what suits us and our children best. Looking forward to see you both soon! x
    Fritha recently posted..Our weekend in pictures

  10. September 16, 2014 / 6:40 pm

    thinking about it now, i don’t ever remember going to preschool, and i definitely wasn’t taught anything at home or socialised with other kids. what happened in that time? i will never know!

    anyway, i always think you just have to do what’s best for you and your situation.
    laura redburn recently posted..creative blog hop

  11. September 30, 2014 / 8:18 pm

    Woo wee! this is a big step! Really enjoyed the post and its great that you shared your thought process through it all. I do know people how home school but they are not local to me but I’ve never considered home schooling. May I ask that lead you to make that decision.

    After summer trying to go through a work book with Angelo who’s now 3 years 22 months over the summer, I’ve now decided to lay off the ‘heavy’ stuff for now but when he starts school we will get him a tutor. I want learning to be fun for him. I want him to want to learn to be curious and I think my heavy West Indian way may put him off.

    However!! The trick is find a school that will be a right fit. Already at his primary school nursery there was an minor incident that I’m still working through in my mind. It doesnt’ sit well with me but at the same time I feel its early days to go complaining. Apparently he crushed a bee in the school yard and his teacher put him on the ‘thinking step’. Now I don’t condone cruelty to animals or insects and questioning if such an action was right. It feels a bit too serious. And there in lies to conflict of trusting someone who has no invested my child to teach and nuture him as I feel he should be…

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