The first thing everyone asks when meeting Miss H for the first time is, “Are you in preschool?” I know it’s a common question for people trying to connect with someone that they have very little to relate to. That question doesn’t bother me. When H responds that we do preschool at home, sometimes the reactions get to me. One man said rudely, “Sucks to be you!” One thousand moms have asked, “Aren’t you worried that she’ll be behind socially?” No. Not at all.
Now, as we’ve fully embarked on our preschool at home journey, I’m getting more confident. I can give a brief answer, with my head held high, that won’t leave me second-guessing my choice. And while I don’t need to defend the choices that my husband and I have made for our children’s education, I feel proud of the good work we’re doing at home. These are the reasons why we chose to have preschool at home- and love it!
Updated July 2019.
I Can Witness Learning
When Miss H was about 19 months old, my mom got her a beautiful wooden cradle for her dolls for Christmas. We hadn’t played too much baby doll make-believe yet, but she loved holding them and took her little LaLa with her everywhere. On Christmas morning, when we pulled back the blanket that covered the cradle, she started rocking it and singing, “Baby ni-night!” She ran to grab her dolly and a blanket. We were shocked that she knew just what to do with her gift. How did she know to sing her baby to sleep before tucking her gently into bed?
When my mom asked me where she had learned this, I smiled, kind of sadly, because I knew. She had learned these things at daycare. I worked full-time until Miss H was over two years old. Even though I knew I missed some special moments when she wasn’t with me, missing out on learning made me the saddest.
I wanted to be there the moment something clicked. Getting to watch her construct learning on her own, or see her eyes light up when she successfully completed a task.
When I finally got to stay home with her, these moments that I had previously missed were made even more precious. The thought of sending her away to let someone else facilitate her learning depressed me. Now, I love seeing her face light up when she hears a word that she just learned, or watch the concentration on her face as she tries to figure out if a number is more or less. Witnessing her learning is one of my favorite things about preschool at home.
We Save Money
As much as I don’t want this to be an important factor, it is. In our area, preschool is about $300 a month. Peanuts for some. For us? That made the difference in whether or not I could stay home with my children. I also like to think that the money we’re saving on preschool somehow counts as compensation for my Master’s degree. That one is a biiiiig stretch 🙂
I Can Use the Philosophy I Want To
This one was also one of the biggest motivating factors for me. There are no Charlotte Mason preschools near us (probably because her ideal was very hands-off for little ones!) Even though preschool is seen as fun and social, I was afraid that sending her to a program would introduce ideas of competition and shame. Those are so hard to erase. Giving her inspirational ideas to ponder is more important to me than introducing her to alphabet flashcards. I didn’t want her to be bombarded with worksheets and pressure to perform. Children should enjoy these young, carefree days!
Working on Habits
According to Charlotte Mason’s philosophy, habit development is one of the most important things to work on in the early years. Being with my children all day gives me plenty of time to work on habits. And a solemn thought: when they develop a bad habit, I know that it’s MY fault. I have somehow slipped and let something go. This means that I have the responsibility and ability to help them replace it with a better one. If they had gone to preschool, trying to replace a bad habit that wasn’t addressed at school would be counterproductive.
We Get to Set Our Own Schedule
Our schedule these days mostly revolve around little ones’ sleep needs. One of my children enjoys sleeping in, sometimes until 9:00! Not having to worry about preschool pick up and drop up is a huge blessing. I don’t have to wake up children to get them in the car. We started out the year getting dressed every morning, but now that it’s getting chillier, we stay cozied up in pajamas. Snuggling up next to those sweet little ones in the morning, wearing pajamas and reading a book is the best start to any day!
What I love most, though, is how much my kids love it. And, a love for learning is one of the most precious gifts I can give to my children.