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I’m having a bit of a deliberation about preschool. We are Home educating dd1 who isn’t actually statutory school age until 1st april next year, due to her birthday (she’s 5 in february). So I was thinking about sending dd2 (3) to preschool for a few mornings a week to give me some time with dd1 (and baby but can concentrate more on dd1, as dd2 is the most demanding) where we can concentrate on slightly more formal learning (not super formal, just helping her learn to read/write really) and so dd2 could benefit from the structure of preschool - she needs to learn to listen more and needs some more interaction with other children to learn to share more and be a bit patient. Anyway, I then looked into things more and I think (I could be completely wrong) that dd1 would actually still be eligible for a funded place at the preschool too, as the gov website says places are for 3 and 4 year olds up to statutory school age. Now, I know dd1 would love this for a few mornings a week, plus it would cover the worry of socialisation a bit, and she loves being with her sister, however then I don’t get the time just with her (although maybe I could do something at the weekends, or after tea but before bed?). Also it would give me a bit of a break, which would be nice with all the preg tiredness, plus would get the chance to plan a little for her learning, as I’m sooooo tired in the evenings at the moment. And I’d get a bit of time just with the dd3. I just don’t know what to do? It sort of feels like its against the whole idea of HE as I would be sending her off somewhere, but I think I would have been happier with school if it wasn’t full days every day at such a young age (our current plan was to HE for a year or two and see where we are then - I just feel 4 or 5 is too early for full time school. Any thoughts or observations very much appreciated to help me see all the different sides of this What would/ have you done?
I don’t want to be patronising at all so please ignore me if it comes across that way. Honestly, even your oldest is so young. I honestly do not see much value in formal education at 4/5, IME it takes them ages to learn stuff that they will either have picked up themselves or that they will understand almost as soon as you explain it by age 7 (which is when a lot of philosophies start formal teaching). I’ve done NOTHING with my kids til around age 7 (got cold feet with ds and started him a little earlier but my god did that backfire!).
IME quite a lot of HErs use playschool etc, it is a different matter to school. Imagine a school organised like a nursery! I’d be totally happy to send my kids somewhere like that part time (actually I do, to age 7).
Truly, I remember that sense of feeling I should be Doing Something with my preschoolers but I think at this age your energies are better spent making it easy for them to play, modelling a calm and happy home (ha!) and generally enjoying yourselves. Play really is their work at this age, IMO.
Thanks for your reply Edith. Don’t worry, it’s not patronising at all. When I say formal, I don’t mean sitting with reading schemes, etc, just recognising letters, and more because dd1 likes doing it, but I don’t get the time to encourage her/ dd2 distracts her normally. It’s reassuring to here someone say they haven’t done things with their kids til 7 except let them play, as that was my initial thought about HE. But it’s so nerve wracking thinking I’m not really doing anything!
you’re doing a lot. There is no way on this earth that a caring parent with 3 kids is not doing a lot, plenty, more than enough.
Of course you need to do what makes you happy and reassured, and - again this isn’t meant to be patronising- I think there’s actually a very well trodden path in HE circles where people tend to do a lot with their first and then kind of slack off as time goes on and with the younger ones. Now my second child is 7, and I’ve seen this twice now, I’m so much more confident believing that waiting and letting them play is the way to go.
Personally-and this is just me-if she’s interested in letters and so on, I’d absolutely work with her-but only to the extent that I’d work with my kids on anything they found interesting. When my ds was 4 and showed an alarming lack of interest in anything academic compared to his peers, our routes to and from the shops were dictated (in a nice way) by various ants nests he would sit and watch for as long as he was allowed, feed them (I’m sure our neighbours loved this), he was totally obsessed with them for ages and we indulged this. To be honest now, at age 9, I don’t think he’d have the same way of approaching things-not that he is not still creative (and obsessive) but his way of approaching things is different, far more intellectual, far more information seeking and that much less reflective.
I guess I’m trying to say, I have never, ever, looked back on the time we spent with the ants and thought “I wish we’d spent that time on phonics”. I don’t think you’ll regret those years playing. All I’d say is I personally (with 20/20 hindsight!) would not make a decision re nursery based on a sense that I needed my child to learn phonics.
The other side to your post though is that perhaps you are looking for some 1-1 time with her? I used kindergarten partly in this way, to get time 1-1 with my 3 kids, and it was great (except that they prefered kindergarten to mummy time…but hey). I might have missed something but can you not just send them different days, with one overlapping, say? I used to do this to an extent,have one in two days and the other in three, for example, do an extra one off day every few weeks, etc.
(if it helps at all, my youngest is exactly the same age as your oldest-and I’m semi-fighting her desire to sit and do workbooks a little. She wants to do them because her siblings are doing a few hours sit down homeschool work now, but I regret the loss of her playing time, and I’m trying to find ways to make playing not sitting and working more enticing to her. I truly think its THAT valuable. If she truly really wants to be reading and counting then I’m not going to stop her, but I want it balanced by a lot of playing)
I would not have sent either of mine to the local preschool but only because I do not like it. I also know that would not accept a child of your eldest’s age in our local preschool, they would insist on her attending school. This is partly because they are usually full and would not have room and also because the school does not get as much funding per child in preschool as in full time school.
I did use a local private nursery for a few hours a week for my eldest after my youngest was born as they accepted the nursery vouchers so I did not end up paying. There was one adult for four children which my eldest was much happier with, our local preschool is one adult to sixteen children where he lasted one morning.
I think it really does depend on the child, I am not going to send my youngest, same age as Merri, as she would not be happy away from me. I agree with the playing until at least seven, my eldest stills wants to play most of the time and is nearly eight!
I used my local pree school until their vouchers ran out but then I approved of mine!!! Old fashioned style with a ‘painting table’ and paying lip service only to early years goal. And they could go as much or as little so they did a couple of mornings only-although DD asked to go more towards the end of hers.
Again for me it was about being able to get some one on one time with other children and knowing that older ones got their painting and things whilst I was entrenched in new baby days-now it is flipped around and it is about getting time with the older ones-when we can do more messy older crafts like papermache or candle making-or we go to the cinema etc
So DS3 -whoa officially should be being marched to school (at 4 and 6 weeks) is instead returning to playgroup for another year-or certainly next two terms and they welcome him too-they enjoy having older ones-in fact my older two HE kids often wheedle a half hour out of me at drop off- they have become very efficient at diving into the box modelling stuff and producing creations…..
Starring members of the Cast:
Sebastian (2004), Felicity (2006), Tristan (2008)
Home educating, thought provoking parenting, healthy eating trying to be locavores- but following our own way
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Thanks for your replies everyone. I think because dd1’s last preschool (we tried it before we moved but took her out as she wasn’t thriving) was attached to the school and treated as a school class - she had to attend 5 mornings and even wear the school uniform, I was feeling a bit concerned, but, sustainablemum, your comments reminded me that this one is separate to the school - more of a playschool really. I’ve checked with them and they are happy to take dd1 until April with funding, and dd2 def gets funding We are going to check it out on friday and see what we think. Thank you for putting my mind at rest that I’m not copping out on the HE front by using a preschool (if we like it).
Do you have any local HE groups?
They might have some activity groups, play groups etc and they’re also a great place to socialise with other kids