Why We Chose Preschool When We Planned to Homeschool
It’s official = Camden is preschool age. Sweet boy, slow down! And while preschool was never in our plans, here I am, sharing why we chose preschool when we planned to homeschool.
Why We’re Choosing Preschool When We Planned to Homeschool
So, we’ve found a preschool for Camden to go to, which was not easy by any means (more on that below). But, honestly, preschool wasn’t originally in our plans. My plan for him was to do homeschool preschool – we do learning activities most days of the week – and enrich with library storytime, his soccer lessons, open gym, music class, or whatever else he is interested in.
But then the pandemic hit. And for an entire year, he spent almost no time playing with kids his age. He slowly became more and more nervous and scared around strangers and other kids. All the social skills I worked so hard to help him develop just disappeared.
And most of the activities – storytimes, music class – aren’t even happening at all right now, and I don’t know when they’ll return. The activities that are available, like Cam’s soccer lessons, are great for learning to follow directions, follow a teacher, work on coordination and motor skills, etc. But they keep the kids in their own little bubble, so there’s not much chance for social interaction.
With all of that in mind, we decided that preschool was going to be the best option for him to get some social interaction and learn to play with other kids. So here we are.
Challenges in Choosing a Preschool
We faced a lot of challenges in choosing a preschool for Camden, because we were looking for something very specific and not what is ‘typical’ of a preschool experience. Since, for preschool I had planned to homeschool, I had specific reasons why and what I was looking for Camden to get out of his day. Here are some of the things we really had to think through and search for.
How Many Days to Go to Preschool
So often, the question for ‘typical’ preschool families is whether to send their child to 3 day or 5 day a week preschool. But, honestly, the reason we’re planning on homeschooling is that we don’t think the ‘typical’ public school experience is the best place for Camden, especially while he’s young.
To me, a 3 year old – especially one as active as Camden – should be in a nonschool setting most of the time, playing and exploring and just being a kid. Three years old is too early to start formal, consistent schooling.
So our question was: where can he attend preschool just 1 or 2 mornings a week? We ran into some preschools only offering 3 or 5 days, or only offering 2 full days. So we ruled out a bunch that way.
An Active Environment
We have a few preschools around us that tend to be popular, but people rave about their ability to teach 3 year olds to ‘sit down and focus on work.’ Here’s the thing: I have no desire for my kiddo to suppress his active self to learn to fit into a traditional school mold at three years old. Just no.
Honestly, that’s not in the plans when he is young at all. That’s why we believe we’ll still homeschool for kindergarten and the early elementary ages. Kids are meant to move and be active while learning, and to pursue their interests.
Small Class Size/Preschool Size
The ultimate reason we chose preschool when we planned to homeschool: Camden has a lot of social anxiety, and the idea of making friends and playing with other kids is hard for him.
Being in a room with 20+ kids is not ideal for him. We looked to find a place where 10 or 12 kids would be the norm – enough to choose different kids to play with, but small enough to get comfortable more quickly.
The Preschool We Settled On
After lots of searching – and lots of waitlists – we chose a preschool. It’s an in-home preschool, run by a former teacher. There’s only about 10 kids there each day, he can go anywhere for 1-5 days (we’re doing 2 mornings a week), and she really embodies the whole child viewpoint. So Camden will get to play and learn and MOVE in an environment that is suited to his personality.
Plus, he’ll get to start this summer, so he can be settled before new baby comes in July! That way, it doesn’t feel like we’re upending his world all at once.
While preschool wasn’t our first choice, this feels like the right choice right now, based on current circumstances.
How did you choose a preschool for your toddler? Was it an easy choice for you?