Prior to becoming a mom, I was oblivious to the seasonality of motherhood. The phrase ” ‘Tis the season” has taken on a life of its own. January/February is preschool tours, February is summer camp enrollment, May is dance class enrollment, October is kindergarten tours, December is application time for private schools…etc. etc. etc. I have pieced it all together, catch-as-catch-can. I’m sure I’ll be introduced to new “seasons” as my children get older so I’m always learning.
I have friends with babies born last summer who are freaking out about preschool and are stressed with the thought of enrolling their 6-month-old baby in preschool NOW. It is hard to imagine your 6-month-old in preschool this fall. I was in the same boat. First, all moms need to be assured that this is a personal choice for your child and your family. I have never heard of anyone not getting into college because they didn’t go to preschool, have you? Heck, I didn’t even go to kindergarten because my parents didn’t bother to enroll me after we moved to a new town. I turned out fine, I think…
So, where do I stand on the preschool debate? I’m 100% pro-preschool. My daughter and son entered preschool as soon as they were eligible and are currently in their 4th and 1st year. Preschool was the right decision for my children and our family. Even with the clarity of hindsight, I wouldn’t change a thing about enrolling them that early. Our first few years of preschool, I worked full time and now I work 3 days a week. My job is fairly high-stress with travel and my mom nannies for us the days I work and travel. (the BOMB!)
I’m sort of an anomaly at my preschool because I have a foot in both the working and SAHM worlds and most of the moms stay at home. It has been an enriching experience for me to spend time with the SAHMs at my preschool. We have learned from each other and shared our perspectives as mothers – what a wonderful gift. I also recognize that I do not have the experience and knowledge to teach my children the depth of skills that they have learned at preschool…nor am I creative enough to continually expose them to the crazy fun of participating in something larger than themselves and their families.
If you have a baby that is going to turn 1 before August 31, 2011 then believe it or not, your little one is eligible for their first preschool experience this fall. Now, some preschools have a “must be walking” policy. Thank goodness mine didn’t as my daughter was a late walker. Some families wait until their children are 2 or 3 to enroll OR have their children in full-time daycare so don’t need preschool at all.
How do I know if preschool is right for my family?
Only you will know what is appropriate for your child and family. Make your decision and be proud of it!
How do I choose a preschool?
Decide what is important to you (travel time, curriculum, activities, religious affiliation, carpool availability, etc.) and choose accordingly. One of top criteria was proximity to my house. There are some families in our preschool that drive 30-45 minutes and I salute those moms. Our drive is 3 miles.
When do I get started?
NOW. Tours occur in January/February. Enrollment occurs in January and February. Each preschool will have its very own enrollment and wait list process.
What resources are available to research preschools?
The good news is that there is practically a preschool on every corner in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg area. I would not dare the attempt to create a list here for fear of omitting someone’s favorite. Our friends at Charlotte Parent have created a comprehensive list. I got lost and overwhelmed in this list so if your head is spinning, then you need to know that someone has likely done the work of culling down the list for you. So, just ask your neighbors or friends or co-workers where they go and why. Moms love sharing and are just waiting to be asked so don’t be shy!
Another resource is the NC Division of Child Development. Now, this is THE SITE to search for full-time childcare and I always send this to someone new to town but I could not figure out how to make this spit out a list of preschools.
And finally, you can also read the 2008, 2009 and 2010 Charlotte Smarty Pants articles about preschool. You may find some nuggets here that speak to you and make sure you read the comments too – it’s a collaborative effort of all moms who have walked the walk before us. While you’re at it, why don’t you give a shout out to your favorite preschool in the comments section below, or even better, vote in our Smarty Awards below!
GOOD LUCK, SMARTIES!
Smarties, don’t forget to vote for your FAVES in our first-ever 2011 CSP Awards! Support Local!