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Why We Completely Changed Our Mind About Preschool

Photograph by Mary Sauer

Six months ago, I had decided against enrolling our oldest daughter in preschool. In fact, I did my research and came up with a whole list of reasons why I didn't think preschool was a good fit for our family.

I wanted her to be home, just being a kid, for one more year.

I was hoping to spend some time focusing on building some good habits, unrelated to her education, before sending her to school.

I wanted her to have plenty of time to play outside before she started spending long days in the classroom.

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I was really, really confident in our choice—until I completely changed my mind.

It started with my mother-in-law, who brought up checking out an open house at a local preschool. I totally shrugged it off at first, but when a few things changed in our life I started to reconsider.

I wasn't completely sold on starting preschool. Maybe all I really needed was a babysitter?

First, my daughter dropped her naps. Honestly, this has been a huge source of frustration for me as a work-at-home mom. Nap time has always been a chance for me to cram in two hours of work during the middle of the day, allowing me to get to bed at a reasonable time instead of burning the midnight oil. Ever since she stopped sleeping, I have been struggling to keep up with my work and struggling to maintain my patience with her. Even so, I wasn't completely sold on starting preschool. Maybe all I really needed was a babysitter?

And then after the first of the year, we started to notice some changes in our daughter. She has always been a huge fan of routines, but she started to exhibit a lot of anxiety surrounding big changes or unexpected alterations to her routine. My husband and I had some concerns about throwing her into the deep end of kindergarten, which is five full days a week where we live. She has never been to daycare and we were worried the transition would be really difficult for her if this new-found anxiety is here to stay. So we started to toss around the idea of using preschool as a means of gently working up to being in school five days a week.

In the end, I think what really sealed the deal for us was her desire to learn. In a single morning, my husband taught her to write the alphabet—except for G, which she insists is too hard. She is starting to pick up on the days of the week, right and left, and how certain letters sound.

With a third baby on the way and a full-time, work-from-home gig, I am not sure I can do a good job keeping up with her desire to learn new things or to make sure she has plenty of time to socialize with other kids her age.

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We decided to start with a tour. We weren't ready to commit, but we wanted to check out our options to see if the nearest preschool would be a good fit. We sat in on a few minutes of class and I watched my daughter light up at the sight of the other kids. It was easy to see she was thrilled to be there. She made sure to point out her favorite decorations on the wall and bragged to the teacher about knowing the first few letters of her name. After we left, she wanted to call her grandma to share in great detail every cool thing she saw at the school.

Leaving the school, my husband and I both felt like this was the right choice for her. I think she will enjoy her time there and it will be a good way to introduce her to the structure of the classroom without the pressure of attending five days a week. Will we send our younger kids to preschool when the time comes? Who knows, we're just taking it one year at a time.

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