Deciding where and when to enroll children in a preschool or parent's day out program is a personal decision which is made for reasons unique from family to family. As I consider the options for my own children (two-year-old twins), the following are some of the "Pros" and "Cons" that our family will consider. What reasons make your list?
Exposure to a stimulating environment. The preschools (also known as Parent’s Day Out programs) that we have looked at appear to be fantastic. I have more than one glowing recommendation from fellow moms for more than one option. The idea of my children spending time in an environment which will reinforce social skills, encourage play, and inspire their inner musician (among other enriching experiences) is truly appealing.
They will have some time away from mom. While I am very grateful to have the option to choose to be a stay-at-home mom, I do feel that it is important for my little ones to have some time with other caring adults. We currently spend our mornings at play groups, music class, and the library on a weekly basis, but they are always with me (as well as other adults and children). I want them to know that that even when I am not there, they are loved, can be inspired, and that I will come back excited to hear about their day. And, then of course, there is that ever-present desire to one day return to my career. Tick, tock...
I could actually make it to see my "lady doctor" this year. I know, I know. While we all dread it, we all need to go. And last year, I didn't. Shame on me. Though not nearly a good enough excuse, we don’t have the luxury of having a lot of family live near us. While I do consider myself blessed to have a few trusted occasional babysitting options, the process of having to call the doctor, consult our crazy calendar, and then find (and pay for) a sitter with an open schedule often just keeps me from making an appointment for the doctor, to cut my hair, or to..ha!...get a pedicure. (Trust me, my feet cannot remember that last time they experienced that luxury.) While some of these things can be done at night when my husband is home from work, I am usually tutoring, at a church meeting, or occasionally even cherishing a rare night when we can all spend a few hours together as a family before bedtime. So, yes, I will admit that I selfishly desire some “me” time…even if it is for those dreaded minutes in the stirrups.
Cost. Preschool is not free, nor is it cheap – especially since we will be enrolling two at once. (However, I’m well aware that this is just a preview of what the twins' Freshman year of college will do to our pocketbooks…yikes.) It will definitely take some financial planning on our end - something which we have already considered.
Illness? Although I’m sure my boys have had just about every version of “kid crud” they can get (knocking on wood as I write this), I know that as soon as they go to school, they will surely get a whole new crop of crud. Perhaps delaying their exposure for a year would allow their immune systems to mature, but I have to be honest in saying that I fall into the “they’re gonna get sick anyway, have to build up that immunity sometime” camp. In other words, I have (gently) tossed my kids into the germ pits...I mean ball pits...on more than one occasion, and I admit I have not wiped down every surface they have ever eaten off of with alcohol wipes.
Other Questions. Such as, am I pushing them to grow up too quickly? Will they both be ready? Could I send one twin without the other? Will one or both be potty trained or in the throws of potty training drama? And maybe most importantly, will I know what to do with a quiet hour or two?
What factors do you consider when deciding when is the right time (if at all) for preschool away from home? And, what are the critical elements that you look for in a first preschool? Share your thoughts in the comments below, or take a few minutes to describe your ideal Parent's Day Out and Preschool program with this quick survey about a New PDO and Preschool potenitally coming to the Plainfield area.
Take the survey here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/PlainfieldUMC. Thank you for your time and feedback!