Saturday, September 20, 2008

Opting out of preschool

[Previously published for sfgate.com/moms]

I am going through some sort of journey that I never thought that I'd take. I went from working when Mikey was only three months old to quitting completely when he was just over a year. I had him signed up for preschools when he was one month old and now I've decided preschool can wait.

Mikey is 2.5 years old and it seems that every child his age in San Francisco is in preschool some part of the week. I only know one other mom who doesn’t have her child in a school.

Our weeks are free from commitments. We have no plans and therefore the space to live life slower.

I am so happy that I don't have to rush out of the house every morning. I love playing at the house until Mikey is ready to do something else. I realize how lucky we are to be together all day. He says to me, "Mama, Mikey is happy."

I want to give him what I didn't have. Like most parents, my parents worked. I was shuffled from school to the babysitter. We spent two hours a day in the car commuting back and forth into town. I had to wait for happiness, which I found on the weekends and in the evenings while reading bedtime stories with my dad.

The concept of choosing not to send Mikey to school doesn't seem that earth shattering, but for me it is. I am choosing a path based on my intuition as a mother. I am trusting my feelings and making big decisions based on them. I am not doing what everyone else is doing but doing what I want to do for my child. I can identify with how homeschooling moms and dads must feel. It takes a lot of courage to defend my decision. Although from reading this article, it seems all too clear that our boys are feeling school burn out early.

In this culture of working parents and scheduled activities, I am taking a different approach. Like the slow food movement, I am starting the slow kids movement!

(Mikey is now 3.5 years old and he started at a preschool this Fall (2009). It felt totally right, but it didn't work out for him. Among other major behavior changes, he went on a hunger strike. I spoke with him about it and we decided that he still liked preschool, but he wanted something less noisy, fewer toys, fewer teachers, fewer kids etc.)

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