Getting schooled

Watching Liv learn new things is one of my favorite things in my life. There is nothing like watching those beautiful huge eyes open wide and take it all in.

Today, we went to the Children’s Museum and the second we walked into the baby room, her eyes immediately went up to the rainforest ceiling. It’s like I could see the question marks and light bulbs going off in her brain.

Childresn museum

She was in heaven. Each room of the children’s museum has a different theme, and when we walked into the animal room (you can wear a lab coat and pretend to be a vet, taking x-rays, giving the plush animals baths, examining them, etc) she talked, screamed with happiness and kicked her legs for at least 5 minutes. This is the good stuff.

Childresn museum 12

It makes me so excited to take her back, especially with Tom. While we were there today, a summer school group walked through, and my thoughts immediately went to school plans (or nonexistent school plans) which has been on my mind a lot lately.

Childresn museum 24

Whenever I think about sending Liv to school, it makes me sad. A lot of trust goes into having someone else take care of your baby (even if by that point, they’re not technically “a baby” anymore), and it would be different than having the fam with her (mom, nana and Tom watch Liv on the days I teach, and my brothers or Trev’s girlfriend will watch Liv for date nights). I would have to research and feel confident with wherever we decide to send her when the time comes.

It may seem like I’m jumping way ahead here, but many preschools have long waiting lists (some you have be on the waiting list when you’re pregnant, so thinking of it that way, I’m already late), and some also offer infant and toddler classes. We have class at MyGym once a week, and often make playdates with my friends and their babies, but after seeing her with her cousins this week and how much she’s been babbling and “monkey seeing, monkey doing” with them, I can see how it will be beneficial for her to interact and learn with other kids on a regular basis. Selfishly I want to keep her here with me forever. Preferably in a bubble.

Childresn museum 11

Deciding on a school is something I wonder about, but there’s not much that I can do until I know where we’ll be living. I don’t really think there’s really a purpose of this post, other than to see what fellow moms have done to find a school they love. I know we’ll have to take a tour, see how long waiting lists are, costs, etc. and it’s a decision that it may take a while for Tom and I to figure out. For now, I’m extremely thankful that I get to be home with Livi most days, and when I’m working, she’s with the family. She’s a lucky girl to have so many people that love her and take wonderful care of herโ€ฆ I’m hoping we’re as fortunate with schools we choose.

How did you decide on a school or preschool for your kids? When did they first go to school: in preschool or kindergarten, or much earlier? Any homeschooling mamas out there? Fellow military wives, how did you find good schools on short notice during the PCS process? The amazing thing is that every family is so different, and every family has made the right decision for them. It’s just a matter of seeing what ends up working for us.

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66 Comments

  1. @pluvk on July 24, 2012 at 10:42 pm

    No children for me… yet… but I was a homeschooled kid and I LOVED it. My parents did a great job, and I feel it really prepared me for college because I had to be self-motivated. Not only that, it allowed me to form a close bond with my parents that I still have today.

    But on the subject of kids, my hubs and I both agree that we’re sending our children to an immersion preschool. We’re both bilingual, and we want our children to also be able to speak in both languages. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Cerissa on July 24, 2012 at 10:48 pm

    School is a big decision. You are wise to already be mulling it over in your mind. My husband and I decided to homeschool our four little boys (2 of which are school age) and I am so happy with our choice. It is difficult at times (okay, everyday), but I really think it is worth the effort. And I do love the bond we are forming with the extra time we spend together as a family. They grow up so fast ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Lena @Fit on the Rocks on July 24, 2012 at 10:49 pm

    On a waitlist while pregnant? That’s so crazy! I’m sure that you’ll find a great place for Liv when the time comes. There are so many more options out there now than when we were toddlers, so I can only imagine how tough it is to decide.

  4. Amanda on July 24, 2012 at 10:51 pm

    It’s funny because I actually had an interview today to be a preschool teacher. I really think it is super hard to let your child go into a setting that is different and one that you aren’t too familiar with. BUT once you find an establishment that is clean (passed all health inspections), has great reviews, focuses on developmentally appropriate practices, and is a loving environment, then I think it is an experience that children can really grow from. Having Liv interact with other children her age and have new experiences will definitely prepare her for kindergarten! Good luck!!

    • Julie on July 26, 2012 at 12:10 pm

      Good luck on the job!

  5. Stacy on July 24, 2012 at 10:53 pm

    I don’t think you need a purpose for a post like this. It’s awesome that you can share what you are thinking with us. It seems like a normal thought process that everyone goes through. Good luck with that process!

  6. Sana on July 24, 2012 at 11:15 pm

    My mom home schooled my sister for a year and they both decided that public school was the best option for the both of them..LOL.

    • Sara on July 24, 2012 at 11:40 pm

      Haha. I’m sure that would have happened if my mum had tried it too…

  7. Averie @ Averie Cooks on July 24, 2012 at 11:21 pm

    Oh boy, could talk forever. At Liv’s age, we were going to homeschool our daughter for the exact reasons you spelled out, wanting to be with her, bring her up and teach her with our values, etc. Then, life changes – both parents have to work, can’t easily be at home during the day as teacher, child grows, mom’s reins loosen, mom grows, baby grows, and school seems fine. That’s sort of our progression in a nutshell.

    We are currently sending to private school. Live urban and public schools are not acceptable in this area. We are paying more for kinder and 1st grade tuition than I paid for my 4 year university tuition. It.is.mind.blowing. So not only should you be saving for college, you should be saving for kindergarten unless the public schools are a good option for you.

  8. Katherine on July 24, 2012 at 11:33 pm

    As a child care provider (assistant Montessori teacher), I just wanted to offer the opposite perspective: what an honor it is to have parents place their children in my care. I was “just” an assistant teacher, so often parents never even took the time to ask me my name or anything about myself. They rarely even made eye contact as they swept in at the end of the day to pick their child up and leave as soon as possible. That always really blew my mindโ€”I was with their children for more hours during the work week than they were, and they weren’t interested at all in who I was or what I was all about? I felt like, “Sure, I cleaned up after your kid all day long, and taught them to be curious, kind and creative, but yeah don’t even acknowledge my presence.” They weren’t all like that, but most were, so I think it’s awesome you’re caring so much, so soon.

    Also, I have to put in my plug for Montessori. It’s awesome ๐Ÿ™‚ Also very expensive of course, even though they paid me next to nothing. That said, I’ve also worked in public school, and that experience caused me to quit my public school teacher certification program. Enough said, I think.

    • Fitnessista on July 25, 2012 at 1:27 am

      i’m actually going to look at a montessori school here within the next couple of weeks! our little cousins go to a school in florida and love it, but the price killlllllls me. if we love it though, we’ll make it work.

      • Leslie on July 25, 2012 at 9:00 am

        I was homeschooled and loved it. I still got plenty of social interaction through community groups, church, sports leagues, etc. So it seems like a natural thing for me to homeschool my little girl.

        I do not really like the public school system. I have learned so much about Montessori and Waldorf education in the past year and it just seems to be a more loving, nurturing, and growing atmosphere compared to public schools. BUT, they do not have them in my area, and the Montessori school there is, the tuition is super expensive.

        So homeschool for us it is. For now. It may change, just as Averie mentioned it does, but I feel good knowing that right now, I can teach her a certain way that’s truly best for her (and keep her closer for a bit longer on a selfish note!)

      • Allison k on July 25, 2012 at 9:03 am

        Yes! Montessori! I attended Montessori preschool and kindergarten (the only levels available in my area at the time) and I will testify to its greatness. I loooooved it, kids really learn a lot of personal responsibility and independence. Every single person I went to montessori with was in honors/ap classes in high school, and most of us tested out of first grade, and could have gone straight to second if our parents wanted. Firm believer in it. I hope when my son is old enough we are living in an area with a good Montessori option!

        • Laura on July 25, 2012 at 10:14 am

          Montessori is GREAT, but only for studnets that can handel it. Some students excel and can motivate themselves, but others will say oh I don’t have to do math well I’ll go color a picture and not learn skills they need.

      • Brigid on July 25, 2012 at 2:06 pm

        I was in Montessori from K-7th grade and LOVED it. I really want to find a way to make the finances work with my (future) children because I believe so strongly in the method.

        • vicky on July 25, 2012 at 7:17 pm

          I’m also a Montessori teacher’s assistant, and I went in skeptical of the method, but now I’m really amazed at how much the kids absorb, and how far they can excel. I’m not entirely sold it’s the “best” method (particularly for the $$) but I can’t knock it.

      • Amanda on July 26, 2012 at 3:05 am

        I actually went to a public Montessori school. It was a charter school, so my parents had to drive me, but compared to the prices of most private Montessori schools–they didn’t mind one bit.

    • April on July 25, 2012 at 9:06 am

      Hi Katherine~
      My 9-month old is in day care right now, and i totally understand what you are saying about the parents who don’t take the time to get to know you, or even interact with you and the other teachers, that breaks my heart.
      I am extremelely thankful to have such caring women taking care of my son every day – it was important for me to get to know each teacher and spend time there with my son AND the teachers. I am probably that ‘annoying’ mom because i am SO involved with the day care (i call it ‘school’), ha ha. I am actually attached to the teachers myself because i have gotten to know them so well:)
      And it IS true, my son spends more hours during the week with his teachers than with me (which bums me out of course:(, but you better believe i appreciate EVERYTHING they teach, all the love they give and the confidence i feel knowing he is good hands all day, nothing beats that!
      My son is the most well rounded, happy, social guy already and i love it! Even though the parents don’t show it Katherine, i am sure they are thankful for you:)
      And Gina, don’t stress about it, it will be a transition but once you find a place you like you will find it to be a great experience for ALL of you, good luck!!!!
      And oh yeah, the $$$$ of ‘school’ is crazy!

      • Michaela on July 25, 2012 at 7:29 pm

        I loved how you said “if we love it, we will make it work”, Gina!
        Montessori is a great option from my experience and well worth the money. With school system these days, I find it SO important to try reach out to some more alternative options.
        However, every child is different and in the end, it is important to see what is best for your child (for example, I was totally fine in a regular school, bc I am very type A, ambitious, etc, but my brother needed more time and was therefore lost in the regular system).
        I am sure you will find a great school once the time is there ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Sarabell on July 24, 2012 at 11:34 pm

    Adorable! I teach in a summer program and I loved taking our kids to the science zone here, but I don’t think there was a baby room. That’s a great idea.
    … and on that note, being a part of the program has made us decide that we definitely want to home school when we have children. It would be hard to leave our babies at school, like you said, but I’m just so concerned by a lot of the things I see and hear from the kiddos all day.
    I think you could easily plan training appointments around family’s schedule and teach classes at specific times each week and stay home with her, if that’s the route you chose… but socialization is important too and you research everything so well, whatever you choose will undoubtedly be the perfect plan for her.

  10. Sara on July 24, 2012 at 11:37 pm

    The important thing, IMO, is a strong family, then you can deal with whatever schooling issues pop up. Just being close with your child, you can know if she is thriving there or having issues. You can’t predict how it will go, so I’d recommend not overthinking it.

    With J, we started her in one pre-school, which was fine until she went up to the 4 year old class and started having a stalker issue. She was miserable every day because another little girl had latched onto her and wouldn’t let her have any other friends. One day she came home with bruises from being pinched and I stormed in there (having made two ‘nice’ visits previously, to point out the issue) and was told that basically they were too understaffed to deal with it and that they were kind of glad that the little stalker had someone to play with. .. So, I got her out of there and into an ‘eco kindy’ (worm farm, vege garden, songs about gaia and nature – quite a change from the previous one, which was christian). She loved it there.

    Then she went back to her mum and moved overseas, adapting easily to a foreign language playgroup, kindy and now school. When she comes back to NZ, she goes to the eco-school near our house (it is an amazing school, but holy hell, does it cost….) and fits right in. She really is the most social girl, makes friends easily, adapts quickly. I worry that the lack of stability will make her insecure, but she seems to be thriving, in two languages and two countries. The important thing is the consistent love of an extended family and caregivers that are responsive to the child.

    Of course, I’m fully expecting this to backfire badly when she hits 16 and announces she’s off to backpack around the world for the rest of her life. I could just see that happening, with her independence, worldliness and ability to fit in anywhere…..

  11. Elizabeth on July 25, 2012 at 12:10 am

    One thing my mom has said to me many times is that her biggest regret is sending me and my siblings to preschool. When you think about it, you send your kids away at such a young age, and they’re forever in school after that. She said she wishes she’d had us home bonding with her that extra year, cause you’ll never get your little one back again. Cherish the time while they’re young.

    Of course do what you think is best, but it seems you’re reluctant to send your kid to preschool, so know that you don’t really need to if you don’t want to. You’re not hurting her learning by keeping her out (and you might be helping her by letting her spend more time with mommy!) It’s not like you really learn anything in preschool anyways. I remember all I did was play around with puzzles and paints. That can be done at home:)

  12. Jaime on July 25, 2012 at 12:27 am

    I don’t think you always do have to spend a fortune on a great education- for preschool, anyway. In my town, we have several preschools that require parent participation, in exchange for reasonable tuition. This is a win-win for us, because I get to to see the class in action once a month (or more, if I’m motivated to be involved!), and the price is not bad. Maybe this option is not available everywhere?? I would recommend looking into it though. At the least, it would be nice to find a school where parents are welcomed into the classroom! Sometimes there’s a waiting list, but not always. It’s best to try to sign up in the spring (rather than summer) for the following fall if you can.

    • Fitnessista on July 25, 2012 at 12:20 pm

      i would love to find something like that.

    • katie on July 25, 2012 at 1:49 pm

      We have a faith based program in our area that is like that. The parents/guardians are required to attend monthly educational nights and volunteer so many hours a year. There is another church that offers discount tuition if a parent works in a classroom. You could always look into parents day out or mother’s day out rograms that are reasonable and part time. I agree with the socialization part. My daughter is 9 months and was with a friend who has three barely older children. We decided to move her to our house and have someone come to us, but on one of her last day’s at my friends house she hadn’t seen the kids in about 5 days and she panted and squealed with excitedment when she saw her kids. It was cute. I didnt realize she even cared about them being there, but I think she will miss them!

  13. Katelyn @ Chef Katelyn on July 25, 2012 at 12:55 am

    Adorable. Your baby child is perfectttt.

  14. Christine @ BookishlyB on July 25, 2012 at 12:57 am

    As a public school teacher I’ve seen everything from fantastic to less than stellar. When I do have kids my husband and will have to use daycare and the preschool, which of course we’ll be selective about but at $700-$1000 a month price is a definite issue. My kids will absolutely go to public school for kinder on- there is no way I’d shell out private school tuition when my taxes already pay for their schooling and I can supplement anything I feel like they’re lacking in terms of academic content.

  15. Michelle @ Turning Over a New Leaf on July 25, 2012 at 1:14 am

    I started out in public school (kindergarten) but was homeschooled 5th grade through high school grad. Loved it! My husband and I plan to homeschool, and he is en route to becoming a navy pilot, so even though we would have decided to homeschool if we were going to stay put our whole life, we figure his career choice is just one extra good reason for us to homeschool. ๐Ÿ™‚

  16. Andrea on July 25, 2012 at 1:50 am

    Luckily I had a family friend that I reconnected with shortly before my oldest was ready for school. He was in her preschool class at a local Catholic school for two years. The first year (he was three and a half) he went tues/thurs from 9-11:30 which isn’t very much AT ALL. The next year he went M-W-F but same times, those two hours flew by! Plus, I knew he was with someone I trusted completely and who loved him like he was her own.

    Now, don’t get me started on the fact that he is starting full day kindergarten soon… I may start crying! I think every stage where they pull away from you a bit more and become their own person is just so bittersweet.

  17. Donna on July 25, 2012 at 2:13 am

    As a military family, finding the perfect school in some not-so-perfect areas has been difficult. I currently have three children, ages 14, 12 and 11. There school isn’t the best, funding is a bear and my oldest didn’t even have a desk or book in most of her classes last year. BUT, what I have learned is the school itself is not a reflection of the staff and teachers. The schools themselves suck here, but the staff is ah-mazing. I have found volunteering often (I even work at the school) and getting to know those people around your child helps a TON. We love our husbands and travel the world with them and have to learn to be flexible in ways we don’t want to…education is one way we have to adapt and overcome…be involved and for shortcomings in the school, find ways to transfer education to the home! Home to school is very important ๐Ÿ™‚

  18. Melissa (Better Fit) on July 25, 2012 at 3:37 am

    I suspect you summed it all up in your last line! You’re always so good at planning, researching and organising- I know you’ll find a wonderful spot for Livi where she’s safe to learn, have fun and grow!

  19. Amy on July 25, 2012 at 4:46 am

    We tried public schools, but even the “best” ones around here we found to be academically unacceptable. Our oldest also has Tourette Syndrome, Asperger Syndrome and ADHD so we home educate him. His Neurologist suggested that we do so because of the TS, the tics tend to increase during puberty . The other two children are 3 and 1. This fall when we start homeschooling again #1 will be in 7th grade and #2 will be officially starting pre-K since he’s asked for it.

  20. Jackie on July 25, 2012 at 6:31 am

    I don’t often comment, but I wanted to give my two cents.

    I think the most important thing in your child’s development is how you and your husband raise her, the values you instill in her, etc. I was born in the early 90s, so I know things have changed, but I was never pre-schooled and I went to public school in one of the worst school districts in the state of Texas. Luckily my parents made sure that I always did my homework at a young age (and thanks to sports) and I always had a feeling that settling wasn’t enough. I didn’t have to achieve as much as I did during my years of school, but I was raised and in environments that taught me that I can do more with what I have.

    Just know that you don’t have to do what every other parent does and shell out big bucks before your child is even in kindergarden. I think another commenter said it, but these kids are only 3-4 years old when you send them off, and after that they’ll be in school until they are 18 and beyond. An extra year at home (if you can manage) is really okay and a good thing. ๐Ÿ™‚ The most important thing is that you do what’s right by your family and your values…you guys seem like really strong, loving parents, so anything after that is what other people think about your decisions.

  21. Karen on July 25, 2012 at 6:47 am

    I am an oddball. Only one of my four children went to preschool. I think it is not necessary. You have an environment rich in learning in your home, among your family and friends etc… My oldest was a December baby and “older” than his classmates when he started Kindergarten because of how his birthday fell. He went to a local co-op type preschool the year before he started school and really liked it. I was a SAHM with the first two and even homeschooled for one year (second grade) when we moved to a really, really bad school district because of my ex H’s work and I just couldn’t stomach sending my child to an “at risk” school in a state that was 49th out of 50 in education in the United States. Our homeschool year was awesome and my son scored in the 95-99th percentiles when given a standardized test at the end of that year. Other than that my kids have gone to public school. My children are all honor students (well the youngest just starts Kindergarten this year), the oldest is a College Junior and I don’t think that the lack of preschool hurt anyone. If I had the money or desire to do preschool I would have investigated co-ops, Montessori, Waldorf schools and other similar environments. I would look less toward “academic” environments and more toward “natural” environments. Many local churches offer good programs if what your main intent would be is socialization. You are a great Mom and you will do wonderfully by Liv. She will thrive in many different kinds of environments which is exactly what being a military family is all about ( I was a Navy brat). Be picky, do what feels right to you, including not doing it at all if you don’t find what you want.

  22. Roselyn @ A Balanced Fit on July 25, 2012 at 7:12 am

    Fellow military wife here…when we moved to MD in 2010, I knew I’d have a pre-Ker and a year later he’d be in Kindergarten. This was the first time I had to think about schools. 2 great resources for finding a good school: greatschools.net and other military wives you had lived in the area. Great Schools will give you statistics on any school in the area (student-teacher ratio, test scores, etc) and other military wives will let you know which schools to stay away from.

    I did a lot of research before we moved and contacted schools while we were still living in FL. By the grace of God, we got into one of the BEST preschools in the area and have been locked in since…my youngest now goes to the same preschool. We also moved to a neighborhood that was zoned to the BEST elementary school in the area…we got super lucky this time around.

    My kids both started school by age 3. As a SAHM, I knew I wouldn’t be able to provide everything they needed to know, especially socially. I wanted my kids to learn from someone other then me; learn how to sit in a classroom quietly, learn how to walk in a line of kids, etc. I’m a teacher and have my M.Ed, so I am more than capable of teaching them academics, however, I wanted my kids out there in the real world; you know, life skills. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Fitnessista on July 25, 2012 at 12:19 pm

      amazing tips- thank you!
      and i totally agree. she’ll need more than what i can give her, especially socially.

  23. Michelle M. on July 25, 2012 at 7:48 am

    My baby is now 3 1/2. He doesn’t start pre-k this year but NEXT August. I seriously start to hyperventilate thinking about it. He has been in an in home day care with someone a friend of my father recommended , since he was 6 months old. before that My cousin or Father watched him while I was at work. It was hard to let someone else keep him but she was someone that had an amazing reputation and now she is like part of the family. But the whole Pre-K thing still freaks me out. I have no idea how I am going to make it through it.

  24. Emily on July 25, 2012 at 7:49 am

    My kids are almost 8 and 5, so we have already done the preschool things AND are now into the elementary school thing. They both attended (first, 2 mornings a week for a year, then 3 mornings a week for another year) an amazing church-run preschool. We have NO regrets. The environment is loving and nurturing with caring, professional teachers. In August, our daughter is starting second grade and our son is starting kindergarten at our local public school. (I’m a SAHM.)

    My advice is this: do your OWN research. Public schools sometimes get a undeserved bad rep. Private doesn’t always equal better. (Of course, sometimes it DOES. But you know what I mean.) Go on tours, talk to principals, meet with teachers. Don’t rely on those school-rating websites.

    • mary on July 25, 2012 at 10:16 am

      I agree.

      I’ll add- I’m suspicious of what a costly, wait-list preschool could add over a ‘regular’ one offered from a say a local church. The main thing is that the kids get to be around each other and around things like the alphabet and colors and such. It’s not Harvard Law. And the people who work in preschools all seem to genuinely love the kids, not be closet haters or anything scary.

      Though I did use a day care once for SIX days only (Tots Unlimited) and was very unhappy and never used a daycare again.

      I’m lucky our public schools are good. I think it’s important that education not be 100% academic, though. I like that my daughter is around kids of various ethnicities and socioeconomic backgrounds (though it’s mostly pretty middle class/affluent, so the parents are pretty involved in the schools, and supportive of them).

      • Fitnessista on July 25, 2012 at 12:14 pm

        that’s very true. i was telling tom about how much it costs and he was like “triangles and shapes! come to my preschool, it’s $10. i’ll teach you about triangles!” haha

    • Fitnessista on July 25, 2012 at 12:18 pm

      hose are great tips. i’m going to be sure to talk to parents with kids who go there, too

  25. Danielle@cleanfoodcreativefitness on July 25, 2012 at 8:14 am

    Livi is the cutest!!! She’s getting so big and the jeans!!! So adorable! Totally random but your hair in that picture looks so perfect! I love it! No babies for me yet but I have to say as a child I was painfully shy! I had a difficult time leaving for preschool in the morning, says my mom, but the only memories I have of it were the friends I made! It was really great for me to socialize and meet other kids and am so happy my mom put me through preschool!

    • Fitnessista on July 25, 2012 at 12:17 pm

      thank you, friend! and i love the little shorts she was wearing- i die

  26. Jessica on July 25, 2012 at 9:12 am

    I live in a town of 5,000 people and is either a public school or Catholic, which we are not. We are lucky enough that our public school is pretty good. My oldest is six and we started her in school at 4 years old in preK. She has done well, last year was Kindergarten and she went from knowing letters but not being able to put them together into words, to being able to read an entire Curious George book. It is so freakin awesome.
    I cannot imagine the frustration of not knowing where you will live, therefore not being able to look for a good school.
    On a side note, your hair is SO gorgeous! If only my hair held a curl for longer than 3 seconds ๐Ÿ™

  27. Kirsty on July 25, 2012 at 9:22 am

    I went to a private school from a young age, then at high school age we moved homes and the only 2 options available to my parents was either the local high school or a boarding school, 67 miles away. I was transferred to the local high school and at first found it really hard to transition from all girls to mixed sexes.

    However, I feel I got more of an eduction in that school than I did in the private school I attended previously. I was interacting with children from all backgrounds, not just the ones who had parents that could pay a fee, I was learning of different cultures and religions (my previous school was catholic and only allowed catholic pupils) and I was giventhe freedom to try new subjects and steer my learning where I wanted to go.

    I dont have kids , but I’ve always said that I would try my hardest to get them into the best local high school I could. I doubt I’ll ever have the funds to pay for a private eduction for my children so I’ll have to ensure when the time comes I am in the correct zone for the correct school.

  28. Samantha on July 25, 2012 at 9:36 am
  29. Laura on July 25, 2012 at 10:11 am

    I am a teacher and so was my mother, but when I was born she stopped teaching to stay at home with us. From my experiences even if you do have help or can stay at home alot of the time it is still best for chidren (and I mean little ones too) to go to a preschool at least some of the time. It is a great learning experience and teaches social skills so having a child attend a mothers day out program 2 or 3 times a week when 1-3 is a perfect. Kids need to learn rules, sharing, how to act with others, and get new experiences, and a school routine down.

  30. Melodie on July 25, 2012 at 10:39 am

    my oldest is 4 and it has snuck up on me quickly. and the older i get, the more “old fashioned” i become. it just seems like as our culture advances, in many ways our society suffers a little. in the area of nutrition i’ve become more old fashioned, stepping away from convenience, processed foods that i used to consume. and in the area of parenting and decisions about school, i’m becoming that way. homeschooling used to be the only option and it worked well for our society and for families. it’s scary to me, but i’m leaning that way. eek! i’m still putting alot of thought into this, but it’s very common in my area. i think i’ll have much guidance and contacts if we choose to go this route.

  31. Debbie on July 25, 2012 at 11:43 am

    It may seem early but believe me it goes by soo fast! My daughter started pre-school last year at age 3. We have her in an integrated public pre-school which just happens to be right behind our house, which is nice. I thought it would be harder, but she loves it so much, she ran right in and never looked back! It is hard to trust others with your children, but you have to remember they are well trained and have nurses on site and these days they overcommunicate with email, phone and websites…so you are always on top of what is going on. The only reason that I don’t believe in homeschooling is that at age 3 and 4, I feel they learn so much from being with other kids…social skills and learning to be independant are just as important as reading and writing and I believe they get more of that by being away from mom. It is also so much fun to hear about her day (which is really only 2 hours ๐Ÿ™‚ she tells me all about her teachers and the kids at school and we have gone on many playdates…I even made mommy friends through her school! She only goes a couple days a week for a couple hours…I think it is good to start them slowly…they have their whole lives to go to school! I like the integrated pre-school concept. She is mixed in with other children that may have learning disabilities or need help with social skills. She is considered a “mentor” to them. She also does not know that they have any issues. She will grow up to not notice the differences.

  32. Kim@hungryhealthygirl.com on July 25, 2012 at 11:55 am

    Love taking my kiddos to the children’s museum! The school thing is a tough one. Your very lucky that you have family around to take care of Liv. It really takes alot of worry away. I think a preschool that is just a few days a week is good at age 3-4, just to give children the experience of being around other kids there age and it also aclimates them to the routine of how school works. Just a thought……there are so many options.

    • Fitnessista on July 25, 2012 at 12:11 pm

      i think that’s what we’ll probably do. as much as i love having her here with me, it will be good for her to be around other kids.

  33. Irene on July 25, 2012 at 1:16 pm

    Agh!! I don’t even have a baby and this sounds like so much to think about. I will be interested to hear how all of this goes for you and Livi Gina!

  34. Helen on July 25, 2012 at 1:51 pm

    My son won’t be in preschool for two more years due to his birthday, but I am going to start looking soon. I know most enrollment happens in March before they start in the fall! We have good public schools here and plan to use them, so I actually just emailed today to ask what options they have for preschool since it wasn’t on the district website.

  35. Maddy on July 25, 2012 at 3:10 pm

    On our first visit to my son’s preschool I knew it was “the one.” The kids all looked so happy. The teachers were warm and nurturing and play was the priority. Kids learned new things too, but everything was fun. They rarely did worksheets. A lot of the preschools in my area boast about how academic they are and how much the child will learn. My son is already motivated to learn new things with us. I sent him to preschool to make friends, to learn to function well in a group setting and to make his entry into the the world of school as pleasant as possible. The ONLY problem with the preschool we chose was it was heartbreaking to leave it! I’m actually getting tears in my eyes thinking about it because the school was that amazing. Luckily he is excited about starting K at public school and we have a great school sytem here.

  36. Beth on July 25, 2012 at 4:00 pm

    Great post! She is too cute. Trying to figure out the school thing is tough… and it doesn’t end! My sons are going into 6th and 3rd grades and we are still considering changing schools!

    Just wanted to say… you said at the bottom of a post that this was a family post… but it is in your regular section. I think you meant to put it in the family section!

    • Fitnessista on July 25, 2012 at 4:06 pm

      oops.. i forgot to tag it!

  37. Allie on July 25, 2012 at 5:21 pm

    Hi Gina! I want to throw out that I totally agree with Jackie. I went to my neighborhood public elementary, middle and high school in San Diego, where many students who live closer to the border in poorer neighborhoods were bussed in to my public schools. Like the previous commenter also said, my parents are both academics and very bright, and I always did my work, cared about learning and excelled in school regardless of what other kids around me were doing. Now that I go to Scripps College, a teensy liberal arts womens’ college mostly populated with middle-class white girls, I’m actually incredibly grateful to have gone to public schools where there’s way more of a cross-section of society! I feel way more comfortable interacting with people of all races and income levels for it, that’s for sure. I feel lucky to have learned how to relate to others from all walks of life. Especially at the high school level, I really had to be my own advocate in fighting for the classes and schedule I wanted, or making sure I got to know my counselor so he’d be able to write my recommendation for the elite colleges I was applying to. I definitely had my share of experiences with bad teachers and crummy administrators, but I also can’t imagine feeling anywhere near as capable as I am now without those experiences that taught me how to hold my own and push myself to get where I wanted to be. School should be a wonderful place, and I think public schools can be great places to learn if your child is equipped with the right attitude.

  38. Shannon on July 25, 2012 at 6:11 pm

    As someone who works in a preschool, I know we work hard to get our students ready for kindergarten, a “grade” that has become very challenging. It is a lot more structured now and in the elementary school I student taught in the kindergarteners didn’t even have play time! I would definitely suggest preschool so Livi can learn to “do school” ie: learn the schedule of a school day, learn to attend to the teacher when she’s talking to the whole class and how to play with a group.

  39. Samantha on July 25, 2012 at 6:44 pm

    You have the added challenge of being a military family. I’ve read your blog for years now and it seems like you guys move less than we do with my husband’s Navy job (Last August our move to Japan was #8 in 10 years) but that of course makes it harder to get on wait lists, find reputable programs in an area unfamiliar to you, etc. Word of mouth has been our biggest factor when finding programs in various areas. In GA we chose a preK program based on rave reviews from friends. It was one of those stories of being up at dawn waiting in a long line to get a coveted spot. It was well worth it! In the end, finding somewhere that is financially feasible (probably not much of a concern for your family), that comes highly recommended, and ‘feels’ right is a tough balance to strike but definitely doable. Listen to your gut…and your peers!

  40. Tanner on July 25, 2012 at 11:22 pm

    My son is 20 months old right now and we will be starting him at a Cooperative Preschool in a month. I am a stay at home mom, and am afraid to leave him alone for very long (he was a preemie, and I had PTSD as well as having anxiety most of my life). I am getting much better about it, but definitely wanted to ease him into going to pre-school! So nerve wracking for me personally. We do lots of playdates and such, but I would like for him to be in a classroom setting with other children his age and have the structure of following rules, etc.

    His Toddler 1 class will meet one day per week for two hours, and the set up is really cool. You are paired with another parent and child and for 30 minutes one parent goes into “session” where it’s basically a focus group where you talk about parenting topics with a leader (“adult” teacher I guess?) while the other parent watches the two kids play with all of the other children…and then you switch places for the next 30 minutes. If the child doesn’t want to separate from their parent, that is totally fine and they can sit in “Session” with their parent rather than playing. And then the last part of class is where everyone (parents and children) get together and does educational activities, sings songs, etc. The kids are playing the whole time with each other, but the parents also get to be there and learn something themselves! I love the idea of easing my son into a classroom setting, and as the kids get older and move up through the classes they work their way up to 2, 3 and 4 days per week (some days with parents and some without) until they are ready for kindergarten.

    It’s one day per week for a couple of hours and our cost is $40/month – not bad! (of course you pay more as your child gets older and goes to more classes per week but it is still low-cost relative to some other options). When my son is around 3-4 I would love to send him to Montessori! I have friends who LOVE Montessori. Good luck!!

  41. Katheryn on July 26, 2012 at 12:44 am

    My kids are 8, 5, and 2 months. The first two are now in school during the day and the baby at home with me. I never did any kind of preschool with the first two. They are young for such a short time, I didnt want to give up that time and take that fun time away from them either. We went to museums, parks, library, met up with friends, played and learned at home. They are both super smart kids, both reading and doing math before starting school and do great socially. They both have loads of friends and are happy. I don’t for a second regret keeping them home with me until they were five.

  42. Melissa @ Fit 'N' Well Mommy on July 26, 2012 at 1:07 am

    Your post really hit home with me, as this has been on my mind A LOT lately! My son is turning 2 next month and we still haven’t figured out the whole preschool situation. We are totally behind, because we have friends that were on wait lists when they were pregnant. Like you, we aren’t sure where we will be in the next 2 years, so it is hard to make a decision on preschool. I’m fortunate to stay at home with him, so like you, I’d love to keep him home with me forever, but I know I can’t provide him with everything he will learn in school and from socializing with other children. We are most likely going to sign-up and place deposits on a few different preschools in the next couple of months and hopefully make some major decisions as to where we will be living. We want him to start preschool (only going 3 days a week) when he turns 3.

  43. FDH on July 26, 2012 at 2:24 am

    I love the last lines of this post. So frequently we ‘judge’ other peoples choice rather than consider their positions.

    Our progression: (daughter is starting public pre-k in the fall) I was full time SAHM for 18 months. (Then it was time for me to head back to work- I really needed adult time, I wouldn’t change those 18 months EVER, but for us, it was time, all three of us were ready.) I went back 3 mornings a week 8 to 1 and Olivia went to a wonderful home daycare that came highly recommended. I loved that when she was so young she was only one of 5 children, and could wear her slippers in the winter, and her ‘teacher’ warmed her milk one day because she was cutting her molars. It was like being at home, with a few more kids. Then at 30 months old she went to a local small day care that also came recommended 3 days a week full days… This slowly progressed (by 40 months) to 3 full days and 2 mornings. At 4.5 years old she will enter M-F Pre-K 8:15 to 3, with two afternoons in after-school until 4:30.

    Remember it also depends on the child. We joke that O was ready for school at 2. She is our social butterfly. She made the decisions about the progression easy, she has always enjoyed going to ‘school’! Good Luck, keep thinking, keep talking, keep asking for advice. You and your family will come to a decision that works best for all of you.

  44. Kristen on July 26, 2012 at 10:21 pm

    I don’t know if anyone has mentioned this, but pay attention to accreditation. I’ve worked in four different daycares/preschools and was amazed at the inconsistencies. I’m actually in grad school studying Early Childhood/Special Ed and a lot of my classes are geared towards running a preschool business. When I have children, I intend on sending them to a NAEYC certified center – nearly every accredited center that I have come in contact with has been great. Not only are they held to licensing standards, they are held to NAEYC’s standards as well. Now, I realize that there are non-accredited programs that are FANTASTIC as well as the other way around (NAEYC programs that are sub-par). I’ve just seen that their programs are consistently well-ran. You can find accredited centers near you on their website – http://www.naeyc.org

  45. Leah on July 27, 2012 at 4:33 am

    My daughter started nursery when she was 6 months old, two days a week and she was with my mother in law the other days while my husband and I work full time. She’s now just turned two and I can honestly say having her in nursery (while it was hard on me) was so good for her and she has learned so much. She knows so many numbers, letters of the alphabet, songs.. and the list goes on. We live in England and if we ever move away I think her nursery will be one of the hardest things to leave (other than family of course). We just love the care she gets there! I found it through friends who also had their children there. Nothing better than getting opinions of people you trust when it comes time to send your child somewhere.

  46. chelsey @ clean eating chelsey on July 30, 2012 at 8:38 am

    I honestly think that preschool is more social than anything – yes, they learn their letters and number. But honestly, many children developmentally aren’t ready to read by then. I’m a teacher (5th grade) but we have a program where we have “kindergarten partners”. The first half of kindergarten is SO social – just trying to teach the children how to act in a school setting, how to sit quietly and listen, how to hold a pencil, how to follow directions from the teacher. I think that any preschool would be fine to be honest with you. Personally, I’d be fine sending my (someday) kids to the preschool at my church instead of filling out applications/worried about getting accepted to some awesome preschool. Just my two cents!

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