I have to say, when I had my first child, I didn’t want him to go to preschool. Nope, I wanted him all to myself until the day he had to go to Junior Kindergarten. I’m lucky, as a stay-at-home Mom, I got as much time as I wanted with my kids.
But then, in Ontario, full day Kindergarten happened. I realized even though I took my child to playgroups, and exposed them to plenty of people and activities…the switch from being home with me all day to going to kindergarten from 9:00AM – 3:40PM might be slightly drastic.
I know parents who put their children in (ridiculously expensive!) daycare were cheering…I understood the happiness there…but me? Nope. I was looking forward to the long drawn-out process of half day kindergarten. Bringing them home for lunch and having them tell me all about playing with blocks and doing crafts. Walking them to school, and taking a wagon home because they’re so tired from being stimulated for two and a half to three hours.
So I looked into preschool. Now, preschool is different from daycare. Some would argue with me. But if they stepped into the magical place that my boys had the privilege of going, and my daughter currently goes three mornings a week, they would understand.
This preschool, named “Kinder Connection” is in Petawawa, a mostly military town in the heart of the Ottawa Valley. It is run by a woman named Kathy with three wonderful people to help her. Louise (or as my kids call her Woowheez), Janet and Linda.
I don’t know what cloud these woman fell from, but they are amazing. They have the patience of ten mothers, encourage without judgement, and laugh and play without hesitation. Plus they are firm in their rules and schedules. They are who I want my children to be around while they learn important things, like…sitting and waiting…or washing their hands…or making decisions and following through. Fine motor skills, working with others, being polite, using quiet voices and gentle hands.
This, to me and my children, is preschool. A safe place for my child to learn and grow. And do they EVER!
How do you know if your child is ready for preschool? That can be difficult. I’ve come up with five ways to know they could be ready for preschool, but ultimately-you know your child-and you’ll know if preschool is right for them…and you.
1. They are bouncing off the walls no matter what you do.
I pride myself in the fact that I have a pretty regular schedule with my kids. They thrive on the routine and we all know it’s important. But when what you’re doing isn’t enough to keep their attention…maybe it’s time to change things up. That’s where preschool can be SO helpful. Not only will it stimulate your child and expose them to new experiences, but they will be surrounded by other children who are in the same boat.
2. They ask to play with sparkles, glue and paint…all the time.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I like doing crafts with my kids. But sparkles? I’m in the process of selling my house. Sparkles and glue are not allowed here right now. You know where they are allowed? Preschool. Go nuts. Bring home the artwork, leave the jars of mess behind.
3. Kindergarten is looming.
This is inevitable, I know. Kindergarten will happen. But depending on your child, they might need some practice. Going to school and being okay with you leaving. Putting on shoes without your help. Sitting and waiting for the teacher to speak. Putting their hands up to talk. Asking to go to the washroom. These are valuable lessons that don’t NEED to be learned before kindergarten but are certainly beneficial for your child. The independence they learn from doing simple tasks on their own are priceless.
4. You need preparation too.
If you’re like me, sending your child off to school is upsetting. It’s a new frontier and you will cry. Well, I cried with the first two…by the third it was no big deal (sorry sweetie). I didn’t want them to go. It meant they were growing up, and needed me less. But it also meant they were learning new things and the time we spent together was even more precious. Plus I now have some time to myself three mornings a week. I haven’t had freedom like that in YEARS!
Let’s be honest. A “playdate” before the age of three is parents having coffee. At preschool, your children will make friends…maybe not lifelong friends…but my daughter came home the other day with a boyfriend (to the MAJOR discomfort of my husband)…but then the next day they weren’t together anymore. Oh the drama. The cute, three-year-old soap opera drama. They giggle and play with other children their age in a way that they will never play with you. Sorry, it’s true. And it’s sort of awesome to watch.
Ultimately, it’s your decision. You know if your child is ready. Every situation is different. Are they in daycare? Are they being looked after by family? Are they independent? Do they need more stimulation?
No matter what you decide, check out various preschools before you pick one. If they really care about the children they teach, you will know. You should leave there with a warm and fuzzy feeling, knowing your child is safe in the hands of the people who run the preschool.
I never thought I would do it-but I did. Have an open mind and you’ll make the right decision. Good luck!
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