Today marks the first day of the second year James Michael is attending school. (I highly recommend Summit Baptist Christian Academy if anyone who lives in Kennesaw is interested!) Last summer, a month after Beau was born, he headed off to school two mornings a week as a 19-month-old, and loved every minute. Most days, he came home so exhausted that he skipped lunch and wanted to go straight to ‘nappy.’
This year, he’s going three mornings a week and could not wait to meet his new teachers last week. My how much he’s changed in just a year. Those little baby cheeks have definitely faded and the hair has all come in now.
I thought this might be a good opportunity to address why JM goes to school. There are so many differing thoughts out there on preschool, so I thought I’d divulge my own reasons for sending JM to school.
First off, I do realize that we are in a very fortunate situation where I am able to stay at home and still send JM to school a few mornings a week. I feel so strongly about the benefits he’s gained from attending that we’ve budgeted for his tuition by prioritizing it over extra expenses of lesser importance.
If there is an opening for Beau in January, after baby girl has arrived and Beau is 18 months old, we will also send him to school two mornings a week. He is not quite the social butterfly that JM is, but he also never attended daycare like JM. Instead, he’s been with Mama the majority of the time, and it shows as currently he is a Mama’s boy. And that’s ok, because JM is all about daddy. But I think school will benefit Beau this winter.
Why JM Goes to School
- He’s a social creature. Every child is so different; personalities and preferences vary. I can see that just between my two boys. JM has always been a social little guy. He thrives from social interaction and wants to be right in the thick of things, knowing exactly what is going on and participating, too. If I had the energy, time and money, he’d prefer to be out and about all day long, meeting up with friends, running errands, exploring new places, etc. Lately, one of his favorite questions is, “What do we do now?” And let me tell you, my answer of “Just play at home” always returns a furrowed brow.
- He really is learning. Contrary to what some may think takes place at school, kids really do more than finger paint and play outside. Sure, he started school last year learning simple things such as colors and numbers, but this year he’ll kick off the year learning days of the week, months and elements of time. And though I will definitely supplement his learnings at home (we love counting while cooking and baking–and breaking eggs in the process) Mama doesn’t have much spare time to devote to an at-home preschool. As awesome as it could be, I know without a doubt my calling is not homeschooling.
- He learns about God and Jesus. In a few years when JM is school aged, we plan to send him to public school. Until then, I love that he’s attending a Christian preschool, learning that God made the world around him, giving thanks before snack time, singing Bible songs in music class and truly celebrating Christmas and Easter–and doing all this with his friends at his side, as if it’s the most natural thing in the world.
- He learns to obey and respect authority. As much as I can try to teach JM to respect and obey other adults, until he’s in a situation with Mama and Daddy removed, you never know just what will happen. Preschool will do a great job prepping him for elementary school in this regard.
- He learns how to get along with kids his own age. As much as JM loves being around other kids, he’s still a 2 year old, with toddler tendencies. At school, he learns to share with kids his own age (not just little brother), interact and play with others, take turns, work together, etc.
- He enjoys things I can’t give him. JM’s school offers special time for Spanish, music and library. Even though I can count to 10 in Spanish, that’s about the extent of my knowledge since I took Latin in college (we see what that dead language is doing for me now 🙂 ). And singing some kid songs with Mama is nothing compared to doing so with friends while playing noisy musical instruments. We do read books quite often at home, but it’s mostly reserved for before bed or nap time because otherwise, Beau will rip it right out of our hands. I can’t wait for the day when we can read to both of them.
- He thrives from the structure. I’ve always heard that kids thrive from structure and routine. And even though we have a loose routine at home (meal times, play time, nap time), they really have it down to a science at school. JM’s three hours at school are broken down into 20 minute blocks (sometimes less), perfect for the attention span of a two year old.
- It gives Mama time to spend with other babies. As much as it would be awesome to drop JM off at school and spend the next three hours getting my nails done, meeting a friend for coffee or even taking a nap, I promise you those will never happen. After all, I’ve still got Beau the Bruiser at home with me. Now, we may run errands since there’s one less child to keep up with, but other than that, pampering myself is not on the agenda. And once Beau starts school this winter, I’ll have baby girl to tend to.