The Preschool Debate
A lot of moms ask whether they should send their kids to preschool at 1.5 or 2 or 3. All of a sudden an influx of comments come in, exclaiming:
“Are you serious”
“That is torture!.”
There is another image circulating that says “Ban Preschool culture in Pakistan. Stop sending 2.5 and 3 year olds to school. This is insane.”
It isn’t insane. At all. Let me explain why.
First off, you don’t know the situation a mom is in when she’s asking such a question. You don’t know if she is a SAHM, a working mom, a single mom, mom in a joint family, mom in a nuclear family, mom who is expecting another child, mom who can see her child needs more stimulation, etc. You don’t know. So simply saying NO, doesn’t really make sense. Maybe explain to her why you are saying No, and in what circumstances she should not be considering playgroup or pre-school.
Some of the common points raised are:
1)“A child should not have to get up early and follow routine.”
Waking up early and having a routine is healthy! Your child should ideally go to bed early and wake up early regardless of whether they are school going or not. Preschools usually start at around 9, which isn’t early at all.
2) “Children get sick in school.”
Exposure to viruses early in life actually builds a child’s immunity. If they do get sick because of school, their body is accumulating a lot of anti-bodies that will help them NOT get sick later on in life.
3) “A child should spend all his time with the mother.”
In an ideal situation, maybe yes. But, again, you don’t know the household setup. You don’t know how many responsibilities a mother has. If she lives in a joint family, she might not be able to set up a schedule of her own choice that enables her to give proper attention to her child. If she works from home, all of her responsibilities might be overwhelming her.
4) “Children do not need activities and socialization at this age.”
They do not need to be in front of the tv all day either, which is what happens most of the time when mom has chores and other work. Interacting with other kids in preschool helps them a lot too. They develop social skills, empathy. Different arts and crafts activities help with expression, motor skills and so much more. Not every mom can do these activities at home all the time, it is time consuming to prep and exhausting too.
There are kids, who don’t want to go to preschool, who cry in the morning and cry in school too. Don’t pressure them. But don’t assume that all kids are the same. Some kids love school. They want to go on weekends too. As long as they are happy to go, there is no harm.
If you think children should not go to formal setup this early, don’t send yours. Skip preschool. Send them straight to primary school at 6, no one is telling you not to do that. But why say NO when you yourself have absolutely no experience with sending your kids early. How can you have a negative opinion about something which you haven’t been through personally?
What I don’t understand about this debate is, why do people want to make a blanket rule about it? If you don’t want to send your kid before 6, don’t. If you have the means to facilitate their intellectual growth at home, do it. Why judge those that do send their kids earlier? There are a thousand factors that come into play here. Bottom line is do what you think is best for your child. Please stop trying to make everyone agree to whatever your opinion is.