When my son was little, I was all about doing all the "right"
things with him. We did Mommy & Me swimming lessons, joined playgroups, signed
up for art classes, read books, played at the creek and signed up for preschool
as soon as he was old enough. I had all the mom worries about making all the right choices for him. But sometimes all the right choices aren't right
for your kid—and that's why we quit preschool.
My son's very first preschool experience was at a wonderful
co-op not far from our house. The youngest class they offered was for 2-year-olds and it was just two days a week, two hours a day. The short schedule was perfect for my son, who loved to
play with the dinosaurs, paint and listen to stories at reading time. I loved
that I was able to volunteer in the classroom, too.
After a few months, we moved to a city about an hour
away and had to leave our favorite school behind. After we settled in I found a
very similar program that he could start the following fall, when he was 3.5.
I looked forward to working in the co-op school again, hopeful that we would
meet some nice moms and kids as an added bonus. And that first year was great.
It had just become a thing we were expected to do rather than a positive experience for him.
But halfway through his pre-K year we quit—it had just become a thing we were expected to do rather than a positive experience for
him. And I have never regretted that decision, because it was what was best for
my kid. Here's why we quit.
While my son was playing with others and getting along, he wasn't really attached
to any of his classmates. I had hoped for a buddy or two to invite over after
school, or to meet up with at the park. I know he was learning valuable social
skills, but he hadn't found a BFF in the mix—or even just another kid with his same
The co-op preschool followed the Reggio Emilia method, which sounds amazing on
paper. Children are encouraged to explore their questions and ideas, which
often makes the curriculum feel like a giant rubber band. But for a child who
loves structure and routine and feels more comfortable when there are rules, this wasn't the best placement. Which led to the next problem.
3. Meddling parents
Yep. Helicopter parenting wasn't a thing
back then, but looking back I can see that it was just beginning to bud. The
concepts of the co-op school and Reggio Emilia method left way too much
involvement from parents and teachers for my taste. While the concept of
child-led discovery and learning seems pretty cool, what I experienced were
parents with their own agendas for their 4-year-old kid. And with so many
parents volunteering in the classroom each day (six to eight) it was difficult to see
how any of the kids were learning to be independent.
4. Ready for kindergarten?
Could my son sit still in a circle on the rainbow carpet for a story? Check.
Did he know how to wait his turn for the drinking fountain? Check. Colors,
numbers, letters—check. Please and thank you? Most of the time. So when it got right
down to the whole kindergarten readiness argument, he was more than ready.
So we quit. We had six months until kindergarten started,
and we never looked back. On that first day of kindergarten, he was ready and
excited for his new adventure. And as my son has grown, I have taken more
chances with what's "expected" and instead chosen the path that has been best
for him. And he's turning out just fine, thank you.