So you know those John Mellencamp lyrics “I fight authority, authority always wins”? Well, this is pretty much the theme song of my life. I am a rebel at heart. I want to voice my own opinions and do my own thing, yet somehow, authority always wins. Call it lazy, call it giving in too easily to social norms, or maybe I’m just not passionate enough, but authority always wins.
Case in point: I’ve always been indifferent to the idea of preschool. I get it, there’s benefits to social development and Heaven forbid we discuss the achievement gap of a four year old entering kindergarten without a preschool education. But I just always felt it was unnecessary, yet I sent my first two to preschool programs in town. And I was a preschool teacher. So, now I’m on my 3rd preschool aged kid, and authority is NOT gonna win this time suckers! Well, I’m not actually saying that in my own head. I just thought I’d give this no preschool thing a try. What’s the worst that could happen? I’ll ruin her chances of getting into Yale? No. More realistically, we will both get sick of each other, and she may not recognize the letter X as well as the other kids. But who uses X anyways, am I right?
You know what, I’m going to take my chances. Because here are somethings that will happen:
Less rushing. Rushed is our family’s descriptive adjective. So it’s been kind of nice to not have to rush to preschool three days a week and then scramble to do my 3 hours worth of whatever and then rush back to pick up. Measuring my life in terms of drop off and pick up times is one of those things I could do without. Call me selfish.
She can stay in her jammies. Georgia can sleep in and miss the whole scramble to the bus that my older kids go through in the morning. She can stay in her jammies all day if she wants. She can eat breakfast when she feels like it. We don’t have to for this small window of time, so I am going to take full advantage and let her be little one more year.
Family. The main benefit to preschool is socializing. But hell, I’m a person to socialize with. So is her dad and siblings, and friends, and extended family. Kids go to preschool for new experiences and to be exposed to a larger vocabulary, but why can’t they get this from home for one more year? I can talk to her and get to know her more before I have to ship her off for the next 16 years to school everyday. Again, call me selfish.
Outside. We can walk and explore and find bugs and clean horse poop and ask a million questions about the tree with warts on it. When my other 2 were in preschool, they’d come home exhausted, want to nap, and then the older kids would be off the bus before you know it and I missed this outside exploration so much.
School for fun. School is not going to be fun forever. Going to school will be a requirement for the rest of their lives. How about making it a choice that they want to choose? Setting them up to want school instead of forcing it. If she wants to learn a letter that day or do a project, we do it. If she wants to read, we read. And I can tell you from our own experience, she is thriving from this self guided learning. In just two months, she has learned the entire alphabet, and is recognizing sight words. She is soaking up the individual attention that she needs being a middle child of four. And I am soaking up this last year with my baby.
Life. How about a little life learning? We cook, we clean and fold laundry, we pay bills and do bookwork and go to jobsites and meet tenants. Don’t get me started on what’s lacking in youth today, but life skills and a hard work ethic are my other life anthem aside from the Authority Song. Did Mellencamp ever sing a song about the importance about not being a lazy asshole? If he didn’t, he should.
Now, I’m not throwing shade on preschool programs or sending your kids to one. My first two went and are doing great in school. I get the benefits. I get that sometimes you need a place for your kid to go and that I’m lucky to be flexible. I get that school is moving at a faster pace and kids are learning so much at such a young age. All I want to do is say I am going to try it this way and if you’ve thought about it, you should give it some more thought. Children learn by doing. They learn by exploring the world around them. By being talked to and read to and by hands on experiences but most importantly, by being given the time and the freedom to enjoy it. Discovery, learning and play can happen with or without formal schooling, especially at 4 years old.
“When you teach a child something you take away forever his chance of discovering it for himself” –Jean Piaget
Now, if the only thing you got from this post is ‘The Authority Song’ in your head all day then I’ve done my job