Attending preschool, daycare, or any other childcare setting is optional. However, this means that every parent has a critical decision: should you send your kids to preschool or keep them at home?
Is Preschool Necessary?
- Do you think the primary goal of preschool is to prepare children for kindergarten?
- Do you believe that "earlier is better" when it comes to academic instruction?
- Do you think the current emphasis on academic learning in preschools is supported by research?
If you are nodding in agreement, you're one of many in our country who's bought into the false notion that early academic rigour results in more brilliant youngsters and a better society.
While parents in other countries savour each stage of their children's development, moms and dads here seek to accelerate them.
Nowhere is this more noticeable than in our nation's preschools, with their increasing academic focus and obsession with preparing kids for kindergarten.
Data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NECS) shows that 54% of all three- and four-year-old children are enrolled in preschool.
So, whether you choose to send your child to preschool or keep them home, you can rest assured that plenty of other parents are arriving at the same decision as you are.
Choosing to skip preschool and wait until compulsory education begins is fine!
However, it's essential to consider your decision carefully to make sure that it's the right one for your child, as well as the rest of your family.
Studies have shown that attending preschool has many benefits for children. Yet you will also find that there are benefits to keeping your child at home until they're older.
If only there were a simple Yes or No answer to whether you should skip preschool!
The benefits of having your child attend preschool or pre-K mostly centre around social and academic development — chances are your children will increase with formal instruction and lots of interaction with other kids.
However, skipping preschool or keeping your child at home has plenty of benefits, too — you'll be able to give them more individual attention and enjoy better flexibility in your schedule. You'll save a ton of money on tuition, too!
Let's take a closer look at the pros and cons of skipping preschool with the help of some child counsellors and other experts.
Pros of Skipping Preschool
First off, let's take a look at some of the reasons why you might wish to skip preschool and keep your child at home with you…
Preschool Can Be Expensive
The average cost of enrolling a child in preschool or daycare is higher than the cost of college.
While the exact cost will vary depending on where you live, the type of childcare, and the child's age, preschool is one of most families' most enormous bills each month.
If sending your child to preschool lets you earn more from your job or business, enrolling your child can be a savvy financial decision.
But for stay-at-home parents, it can be hard to justify the high cost of childcare.
Skipping Preschool Can Give Your Family More Flexibility
Preschools, unlike daycare classrooms, have set times when children must attend, and it can be tricky to get these to align with your work schedule.
A six-and-a-half-hour day doesn't leave much time to get to the office, do your work and then return to collect your child.
As well as this, preschool holidays can be lengthy, and you also won't be able to send your child if they're sick.
There are many advantages to skipping preschool.
Not having to adhere to a preschool schedule can provide your family with more flexibility and make it much easier for working parents to coordinate childcare and their day-to-day as a whole.
Kids May Get More Attention at Home
One-to-one time is essential for young kids, yet this is something that preschools are unable to offer — even when they try their best.
Although preschools have lower student-to-teacher ratios than schools, teachers' attention can be divided between twenty children.
If you've ever taken care of nieces and nephews or friends' kids in addition to your own, you'll know that with more than a handful of kids to each adult, it can be impossible to give each child as much individual attention as you'd like to.
Keeping the kids at home with you allows you more input into the attention and one-on-one instruction they receive.
Not Every Child Is Ready to Learn at a Young Age
When deciding whether to enrol your child in preschool or not, it's important to remember that every child is unique.
While some children thrive with a structured routine and are eager to learn about numbers and letters, none are.
Pushing children to learning subjects like reading, writing, and math before they're read can lead to frustration and make them avoid learning altogether.
It's just as, if not more, important for kids of this age to learn through play and socialisation.
Cons of Skipping Preschool
Now, let's take a look at some of the things that your child might miss out on if you decide to skip preschool altogether.
Preschool Is a Great Way to Socialise With Other Kids
Socialisation is one of the main reasons to have your child attend preschool. If your child does not engage in activities outside of the home with similarly aged peers, it is very beneficial for them to attend preschool.
Of course, many children socialise with siblings, neighbours, and kids that they meet at sports or dance classes.
But, if your child doesn't interact with other kids for at least a few hours every week, then attending preschool could be worth it to give their social development a boost.
Preschool Makes the Transition to Kindergarten Easier
Starting kindergarten is a critical juncture in a child's life.
When kids first step foot in a kindergarten classroom, it can be a very unfamiliar world regarding social, behavioural, and academic expectations.
While parents can do a lot to prepare their children for kindergarten (in addition to applying on time), attending preschool is one of the best ways to prepare the foundations for kindergarten learning.
Education aside, preschool teaches kids so many skills.
From using the restroom and washing their hands, throwing and catching a ball, and noticing when a friend appears sad, a preschool education can help kids prepare for school on many levels.
Preschool Can Give Kids an Academic Head Start
Academically, children are expected to know a good amount of information before kindergarten.
If you do not provide this academic support to your child at home, preschool can help.
While many parents love to teach their kids to read, write and do simple maths, teaching these concepts to very young children when you've had no training about how to do so is something that many parents find challenging.
Enrolling your child in preschool can give them an academic head start, leaving your time free to be spent on the fun stuff, like playing soccer or baking cookies together.
Preschool Keeps Kids Active
The CDC recommends that preschool-aged children should be physically active throughout the day.
This is something that can be very hard to do in a home setting.
It can be tempting to let kids watch TV or play video games while you focus on your never-ending list of chores.
The most crucial factor that preschool provides is the space and opportunity for active sports and motor activities.
These activities play essential roles in improving children's overall health, creative skills, cognitive skills, and personality development.
Is Preschool Mandatory?
Preschool attendance is increasing, but although it isn't mandatory in most places, parents seem to think it is.
However, our ideal vision—children painting at easels, playing dress-up, riding tricycles, and digging for dinosaur fossils in a sandbox—is slowly fading away.
In its place, we have academic preschools that reduce the once-broad scope of early childhood education to one goal: preparing youngsters for kindergarten.
Large-minded objectives such as getting kids excited about learning, helping them build friendships, and promoting their wonder about the world around them have been eclipsed by narrow skills such as reciting the alphabet, writing numbers, knowing letter sounds, and counting to 100.
Should Preschool Be Mandatory?
If you have tunnel vision for your children, then getting them ready for elementary school might be your primary concern, and today's academic preschools might satisfy you just fine.
However, suppose you have a long-range vision for your children and want to help them become healthy, creative, independent-minded, and well-adjusted individuals who contribute to society. In that case, today's academic preschools will leave you sorely disappointed.
When Are Preschools Doing More Harm Than Good
Unfortunately, we can no longer guarantee the bare minimum in early childhood education: Not harm!
Preschools are now doing lots of things that hurt children's love of learning, squash their innate desire to explore and play and stunt their budding creativity.
There's no doubt that children in poor socio-economic circumstances are hurt more profoundly by the new obsession with early academics than those in wealthier areas.
Sadly, the worst restrictive, standardised, drill-based education is happening in our most impoverished communities.
More often, the teachers in these underfunded schools have less training. As a result, they are more dependent on the standardised tests and scripted curricula and more willing to impose them.
These teachers haven't learned what they could do instead of the drills and tests, and they haven't learned how harmful these approaches are for kids.
Reasons to Skip Preschool Altogether
Is sending your child to preschool expected? Or are others considering skipping preschool, too? Here we found some pretty convincing reason for skipping preschool altogether.
Preschool Doesn't Guarantee Future Academic Success.
Early exposure to academic material does not expedite the intellectual development of young children. On the contrary, if preschool provides them with an educational advantage, those skills seem to fade entirely by the first grade.
When comparing the performance of kids who had been enrolled in preschool with those who hadn't, their research found they performed the same in the future.
Play Is Learning
Learning is not confined to the classroom. Anyone who takes the time to watch their toddler experience the world can see how valuable free, independent play is to growing and developing minds.
Without preschool, children have the option to spend that extra year or two learning outside of the classroom; they can romp around outdoors for hours, observing and taking note of the way the world works.
Delaying School Decreases Chances of Hyperactivity in Children
Skipping preschool and even delaying kindergarten for a year may be significantly more beneficial to children than early exposure to academic information.
According to a recent Stanford Graduate School of Education study, children who wait until age 6 to start school saw reduced levels of inattention and hyperactivity, traits of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
Devote Time to Developing Good Habits
Education expert, Charlotte Mason, believed strongly that children should not be in school before the age of 6.
This is because she saw the benefit of devoting ample time to teaching children essential habits before they begin school.
Good habits associated with the basics of everyday living were essential to the future success of every student.
A Stable and Consistent Home Life Increases Likelihood of Academic Success
Children who have a stable, consistent and engaging home life are most successful in kindergarten and the following grades.
Time at home with involved parents is an integral part of developing a healthy sense of self and strong habits that will play a role in future academic experiences.
They Are Only Young Once
Children are only toddlers and preschoolers for so long before they quickly move on to elementary school and then the adolescent years.
If keeping your child at home is something you want because you and your child are not ready to end your time at home together, then listen to your gut and keep them home.
Ultimately, the decision is yours, and you know your child and their needs.
Other Considerations Before You Decide to Skip Preschool
Deciding whether to send your child to preschool isn't always an easy decision as many factors to think about.
The Different Types of Childcare
The decision to enrol in preschool usually isn't as straightforward as 'preschool versus staying home.'
Your options may also include pre-k, a daycare centre, in-home daycare, a nanny, or babysitter, as well as staying at home with a parent or grandparent.
Which is the best option depends on the needs of both the children and the parents.
As your child gets older or your working hours change, you may decide to switch from one type of childcare to another.
How Many Hours Per Week?
While daycare centres may be open from around 7 am until 6 pm, offering up to 55 hours per week of childcare, preschool hours are often much shorter.
Most preschool settings offer the option of part-time care, either mornings or afternoon sessions only or just a couple of days per week.
You can mix two or more childcare options, perhaps using a babysitter for hours before or after preschool.
Be sure to look into all of the options in your area to find what works best for you.
The Age of Your Child
Although it's possible to send your child to daycare from just a few weeks of age, many children don't start until two years old, and even more, begin to attend preschool at around four years of age.
There's no 'best age to start preschool' as it's a personal decision that will be different for every family.
If you decide not to enrol in preschool, for now, you may choose to revisit that decision in a year if your circumstances change.
Preschool Is Optional, Don't Forget!
Remember, parents, sign their children up for preschool because they want their kids to learn something or develop skills and the like.
Today, there seem to be some "aggressive super parent" types who aren't satisfied unless their child is working on academics (ABCs, 123s, etc.) and who voice their opinions.
Therefore, directors and teachers are being monitored in a much different way than they originally signed up for.
Why should a preschool teacher be pressured to teach kindergarten level stuff?
Nowadays, we've tried to silence those who've spent a lifetime working with and studying young children.
We've pushed common sense to the side and replaced it with fear—fear our children won't be smart enough, fear they won't succeed at school, fear they won't get good-paying jobs.
We've let these worries overcome us, stopping us from doing what's best for our youngest, most vulnerable learners.
Attending preschool is not mandatory. Instead, compulsory education for children begins somewhere between the ages of five and eight, depending on the state.
It's beautiful and extremely common to have your children skip preschool or pre-K and keep them at home until they're ready for kindergarten.
The benefits of opting out of preschool include:
More flexibility in your schedule.
- Saving tons of money on tuition.
- Giving your child lots of valuable one-on-one attention.
However, if you can afford those high preschool and daycare bills, your child will experience excellent social and academic development in a more structured school environment.
Whatever you decide is OK — the experts say so! You can always mix and match different childcare styles and change your arrangement as your life and schedule demand.
Preschools give children an opportunity to socialize, and to develop skills that will help prepare them for kindergarten and elementary-school success, such as listening, talking, sharing, being patient and following instructions.
“Some of the most widely cited benefits to preschool include increased vocabulary and other pre-literacy skills as well as the development of pre-math skills like counting, sorting and recognizing patterns,” she said, noting this is in addition to the social and emotional benefits that occur.