Owen’s parents are thinking about preschool.
I know it would be great for him. I want him to love it. I sure will miss him!
Seriously, how can I be feeling sad about this when he won’t possibly go until next year?
Change has never been easy for me! I loved every stage of my own children and never wanted them to grow up! But of course they did. And then I found out how much fun it is to be a grandmother! I always say I am the luckiest Nana in the whole world. My wonderful son and daughter-in-law generously let me invade all the time, and willingly share all the exciting marvelous wonderful things these three little beings do. And this time around I have all the time I want, to listen and play and just be with them. See how lucky I am?
So with the whole issue of choosing a preschool being discussed I have started thinking and reading about how to choose the right preschool. It can be overwhelming! I will be writing more about that process very soon – but today I wrote a letter. It is written to Owen’s future preschool teacher, telling her a little of what I hope he will find in her classroom.
I know that preschools are a business. In a sense they are in competition with other preschools, so they must make some decisions based on gaining students. Parents approach this whole process of education in so many different ways. Some parents demand a preschool that will push academic subjects and they are happy with worksheets and homework. I understand this, but I also think that all early childhood teachers are responsible for educating parents about child development and how children learn too.
I started thinking about what I would want in a preschool for Owen (and I do realize that it is not my decision, his parents are very capable!) At three Owen already recognizes upper and lower case letters — he learned them through everyday experiences, like looking at STOP signs and reading alphabet books, and talking about what is on his cereal box in the morning. He knows sounds too – I’m not really sure how he learned those! He was interested, he asked questions, luckily he had lots of people ready to respond to him. He LOVES numbers. He notices them everywhere – on piled up warehouse boxes at Costco, on weather forecasts, and on his favorite matchbox cars (he calls any car with a number on it a race car!) I know he doesn’t need a preschool that focuses on drilling letters and sounds.
Research conducted by the National Association for the Education of Young Children has shown that children who enter kindergarten knowing at least 8 letters are usually successful. That means they know important letters – like the ones in their name and a few others – maybe the T of Target and M of McDonalds. It certainly won’t hurt them to learn about letters and numbers in preschool – but I hope that doesn’t become the focus of what goes on. Especially for children like Owen who have a late fall birthday. We have a Dec. 1 cutoff date, and I have encouraged his parents not to send him to school when he is still 4. If he does wait, and goes to preschool 2 years, and then Kindergarten – I am concerned that he will be taught and retaught letters and numerals that he already knows!
So why should he go to preschool now? I think he needs to be with peers – his little sisters are quickly growing into worthy play partners, but they are younger and littler. I think he would love all the experiences and fun of going to school. Anyway, all this thinking is what led me to write this silly little letter to Owen’s future preschool teacher. I would love to pin it to his shirt on that first day of school, but I won’t. I will share it with you, some of you will be meeting, hugging, playing with other Owen’s next year. Maybe you will take a minute to listen to one child’s Nana.
Here is a printable version in case it is too small to read on screen!