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Does Your Child Go To Preschool?

“Does your child go to preschool?” This is a question parents of very young children hear frequently. From family members to strangers in the check-out line at the grocery store, people want to know when a tot will begin attending preschool. They may even ask the child, “Do you go to preschool?”

For a mom or dad of a preschool age child, hearing this question over and over can be frustrating — especially if they have decided NOT to send their child to preschool. If they dare to say, “I’m not sending my child to preschool,” they must listen to the shock, dismay, and univited lecture such a response can evoke.

A young mother recently reported that when she replied to a stranger’s question that her child would not be going to preschool, “The woman told me that I was being ‘unfair’ to my child. She said, ‘What happens when he’s in first grade and doesn’t know what to do? He won’t know what is expected of him! You can’t just expect him to sit in a chair all day when he’s never had to do that in the past. That is so unfair!'”

Nevermind the fact that the response is irrational, these kinds of unsolicited inquisitions and scoldings can undermine a parent’s resolve not to send their child to preschool. It causes them to question their own good judgment about what’s best for their child. They think, “Everybody else is doing it, maybe I should too.”

What is behind people’s concern that a young child isn’t going to preschool? It’s fear. Fear that the child won’t know what others know. Fear that the child will be at a disadvantage. Fear that the child will fall behind academically. Fear that the child will not get an “edge” or a “head start” on the others they will have to compete with in school and life. Fear that the child will not know how to behave in group situations or crowds (“he won’t know how to sit in a chair all day”). Fear that the child won’t learn how to get along with people including how to handle bullies. Fear that the child will “miss” something. These fears are based on the assumption that the only place you can learn these things is at school.

Being like everyone else, having similar experiences, education, and beliefs (through the socialization that takes place at school), conforming to societal standards, achieving what society deems as success (good grades, good college, good job, nice clothes, nice house, nice car, etc.) — this is the designated path to acceptance, appreciation, acknowledgement, and ultimately love and happiness. Anything that disrupts the linear paradigm for achieving this goal is suspect and will meet resistance, even if the disruption DOES produce the same results (as it sometimes does) or BETTER results through an individually defined meaning of success that also contributes to the well being of other humans and creatures on the planet.

The act of not sending a child to preschool is a BLIP in the New World Order. It’s way too individualistic to be good for the masses, isn’t it? It’s way too threatening for most people to consider even though preschool has only been available in the U.S. since about 1965. If the choice comes down to preschool or “blip” — most will seek what’s known out of fear of the unknown. Four decades of preschool availability has erased the collective human memory of young children learning and growing without preschool.

If you could guarantee parents that their kids would turn out well by bucking the cultural trend of preschool, everyone would do it. What’s ironic is that preschools don’t guarantee a child’s success. They have simply been marketed to the masses that way, and, sadly, most believe the hype — regardless of the fact that there is incontrovertible scientific evidence to the contrary. In the course of the history of American education, it has only taken 40 years to convince people that government preschools are a child’s path to success. Until we can figure out a way to undo that, enlightened parents will just have to tolerate the question, “Does your child go to preschool,” and hang firm in their resolve to be a “blip.”

2 comments to Does Your Child Go To Preschool?

  • Anonymous

    My child doesn’t go to preschool

    As for the question, “Does your child go to preschool?” my standard answer is “No.” And I leave it at that.

    People don’t usually ask me why. Perhaps they shake their heads in disbelief or wonder to themselves if my husband and I have made a poor choice in not sending our four year old to preschool.

    But thanks to you, Diane, for providing this site and the many pieces of information you have shared that show us that preschool is not all the government would have us believe, my husband and I have stuck to our guns and are keeping our daughter at home, where we believe she is in the very best environment she can be in.

    Also, just to let you know, without any type of daily structure or scheduled “school time”, my child already knows everything the preschool kids know and probably even more. She is one knowledgable kid and she’s never spent a day in school.

    Meleasa Carley | 10/30/2005 1:29:52 PM

  • Anonymous

    My son is 20-months and my mother is his caregiver while his father and I work full time jobs. In the beginning, I felt pushed to say he would be in daycare by 2-years-old. Now that the time is here, I have decided that he will not be in daycare at 2-years-old. I came from a family with a stay-home mom. None of us went to daycare – and at that time – we were the majority. My siblings and I have all done well in school & in life. I worry that my son needs socialization … so we are in the process of getting him in to toddler “tumbler” classes and we try to take him to different play areas in our town. He has been out and about since he was born and is very much a social butterfly. From an educational standpoint, he already knows almost his whole alphabet and several numbers. He LOVES books & reading! Despite all the signs that he is florishing in his stayhome environment, I still worry and feel pressure from others outside my family to put him in daycare or preschool. But my “gut” says that he is fine where he is and we have even thought about getting involved in “homeschool preschool” just to broaden his horizons. Reading this article gave me the boost of confidence I needed to reassure myself that I am doing right by my child.

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