Friday, February 26, 2010

Preschool Pressure

Well, Silas will be three in a month (gasp!). Yeah. Tell me about it! I'm already feeling some pressure regarding preschool. My cousins have put all their kids in preschool (if not daycare too). I have a relaly hard time explaining why I won't put Silas in preschool without stepping on someone's toes, or sounding judgemental. here, on this blog, I'm just gonna write it out without a worry and maybe it will at least by complete and honest.

1)I don't believe in sending kids away from their families at the tender age of three (or even earlier in some cases!). I don't believe that independence is such a blasted good quality in a toddler for crying out loud (the kind of independence where someone reasons that a kid needs to "get used" to being in a large group without adults to answer his every whim). Why? Why is it so important that he not have his needs met? And why does that have to happen at three when it will happen naturally at four or five or six or seven or whenever he's ready? This is the first step in peer dependence, where you show him that connection with family isn't as important as connection with people the same age. He's not gonna want to go into that busy room of preschoolers and yet I'm gonna push him into it and walk away. In my mind that's practically cutting the bond with a pair of scissors! It's telling him that OUR connection isn't as important a the connections I expect him to make at preschool. Then I'll be mad at him when our connection is no longer important to him? How's that fair, right or positive?

2) I don't believe that sending a child in a roomful of kids all at approximately the same level of development, with ONE adult for every EIGHT kids, is going to help him out at all. If there are eight kids and one adult, who do you think he'll learn social skills from? I used to be a daycare worker, and I've worked in preschools too, and I've met some phenomenal teachers. But even they can only be with one kid at a time. That's it. It's just science!

3)I don't believe that in order to succeed in the world Silas needs to know his alphabet, how to stand in line or paint with a group of kids. He'll do all of this in his own good time, probably with me at home. He doesn't need preschool for this! I strongly dislike that curriculum is trickling down. What used to be taught in grade one is now being taught in kindergarten. Just recently the BC government has created a "curriculum" of sorts for preschools and daycares. Right now it's just "instilling a natural love of learning" and the like (completely appropriate), but now that it's in place it's only a matter of time before preschoolers are going to be expected to know the alphabet to enter kindergarten, or to raise their hand before answering, or be able to paint six vertical lines in three different shades of puce (slightly bitter here?). I'm not against early learning, and I'm not against better late than early either. I'm mostly FOR following a child's lead and letting the learning stem from his or her own show of readiness and interest.

4) I definitely do not believe that only a trained, certified and liscensed ECE can teach my children the skills they need to meet BC learning outcomes. That's nonsense! Haven't I already taught my son to get himself dressed? Haven't I already taught him not to kill the dog? Isn't he learning things every day about himself and the world around him? It's absolutely ridiculous that so many parents are getting the rug yanked out from under their feet once their child hits the age of 3, 4 or at the very latest 5.

5)Finally, I just don't want to. I've been an ECE. I know that most really and truly want what is best for children in their care. But there are such limitations on them that even the most dedicated workers provide what's at best mediocre care. Budget, numbers, laws, rules, liability and logistics just flatten the snot out of a great idea for really interesting learning. I don't hold the worker's/teacher responsible. It's just the way it is. Kids come on, two or maybe three at a time for a reason. They need that individual responsiveness that no classroom can recreate.

And that's that! If my cousin were ever to ask, I'd probably send her here as I could never get this all out without offending her somehow. I'm not so good with face-to-face passion!

Oh, yeah, and don't forget: There's nothing in preschools I can't do better at home!