When Sweetheart was a baby I signed her up for Gymboree classes. I was a working mom so I had to go to an evening class. My co-teacher brought her baby along and we had a great time. During the summer we went to the daytime classes. I don't regret going to Gymboree (and wished I could have taken Little Bit too) especially since our house flooded that summer and Gymoree was about the only place she could play and walk without Sheetrock dust, nails, wet paint, and hard concrete under foot!
But the reason I signed her up for those classes (which were a bit expensive) was because I felt she needed to "do something." When she was 2 and 3 years old she didn't do any extra-curricular activities that I can recall. She went to the baby sitter's house every day and they lived life. So, she got to go to the dollar store, the post office, run through Sonic, whatever...every day. I was glad she wasn't just stuck in one room of a day care all day, even though I wished it was me running errands with her.
Then came the great Kindergarten dilemma. Sweetheart's birthday is late in August so I knew I had a decision to make. I knew from teaching that late August babies are not often top of the class. In fact, whenever we would go over data from our state's test, I would notice every August birthday. It wasn't very reassuring. Still, all my friends told me she would be fine to start school. She's a girl, they said. She's your oldest. She'll be fine, they told me. I wanted to believe them. She certainly seemed smart enough.
Still, if I was even going to consider putting that child in Kindergarten, I knew she would need Pre-K. I mean, you have to get kids ready for kindergarten these days, you know? I even bought this book. Which is a good book by the way. I looked up every checklist I could find on the internet about how to tell if your kid is ready for school.
So I found a preschool I liked. It was developmentally appropriate. They didn't have a "curriculum." They didn't do seatwork. It was great. They had an opening for Tuesdays and Thursdays so we took it. She really loved going. I thought it was a good experience for her. She could learn to get in line, listen to the teacher, follow directions that are given to a whole group and not just her, and have some fun. It was a little expensive, but I mean...you just can't drop kids into kindergarten anymore! You have to prepare them!
On a side note, when I was student teaching I spoke to one of the veteran teachers one day. She said when she first started teaching, the first day of first grade was often the first time children had been away from their mommies. They walked up clinging to mommy's leg and they spent the first part of school learning their ABC's. Nowadays, she said, these kids have all been to daycare. They know their ABC's and a lot of other things too. They have essentially been in "school" their whole lives. BUT, they don't have any social skills. The students of old had respect for teachers and mommy had taught them manners before they began school. It's a different age now.
That's why I thought I needed her to go to pre-k. How could she keep up with all the other kids who had been to daycare and preschool if I didn't?
And, as it turns out, I was kind of right.
...to be continued...