Tuesday, August 19, 2008

pre-formal education angst

two days from now is the official "meet the teacher" day at timmy's new preschool. yikes! we've already met his teacher, miss brooke, earlier in the summer, but this official meeting marks the end of his toddlerhood and the beginning of his preschoolhood (is that a word?)

i haven't even gotten over the end of his babyhood yet and now he's starting his formal education. look at him - does he look like he should be leaving his mommy for 3 hours twice a week already?  

well, after he helped me make bierocks sunday, i admit i may have been ready for 3 hours of timmylessness. but only so i could clean my kitchen. i swear!

note: my sister-in-law, taryn, is to blame for the end of my baby's toddlerhood. my 4yo nephew, ethan, needs preschool this year so he'll be ready for kindergarten next year. oh, he's smart as a whip and already knows a lot of things, but he has trouble with transitions. and since our school district just went to all-day kindergarten (don't even get me started on that mess!), he really needs the help . . . but, back to the  point: stinkin' taryn! since ethan stays with me while his mom and dad are working . . . well, it didn't seem fair to take ethan to preschool and not let timmy go, too. stinkin' taryn.

i've had this undefined dread about preschool for a couple months now. even as i type this, it's not yet defined (although my hope is it will be by post's end). i am not so much worried about him being away from me for the first time (except for 3 days of vbs this summer, during which he did just fine) because he is not a clingy, needy boy. i am sad for me, of course, but that's not it, either. he is polite and respectful and he gets along well with other children, but he's not timid, so i'm not worried he be a bully or be bullied. 

no, i think it's . . . i'm worried about whether he will learn there. he's done just fine here at home with me. he knows, by sight and verbally, all the letters of the alphabet and all the sounds each letter makes. he can identify which letter "makes the beginning/middle/ending sound" of most words. we accomplished this through playing with foam bathtub letters and just talking about words and letters throughout the normal course of our day. we learn about animals and airplanes and money and books and history and . . . we just learn. as we go about our regular activities, while we're in the car. that's how kids learn at home, right?

but this preschool . . . it seems a little . . . weird. i wouldn't have chosen it (stinkin' taryn). the parents' manual doesn't mention much about regular school-type topics. they don't do worksheets. they don't practice writing or cutting paper with scissors. instead, there is a lot of information about avoiding gender stereotyping and about "cultural inclusiveness" and self-esteem. is this what school is about now? if not, why is this what preschool is about?

i want timmy to learn to read and write. i want him to learn proper grammar. and math. and history. government. literature. science. critical thinking skills. maybe a foreign language or two. you know. the things i learned in school and the things that will help him succeed in college and adult life. self-esteem, et al? let us handle that at home.

i swear, if i had more than one child at home now, i would seriously consider homeschooling. our neighbors when andrew and tori were little homeschooled their kids and they turned out well-educated, well-mannered and well-adjusted.

but, all this (admittedly, self-created) drama may turn out to be no big deal. because timmy's birthday is in february, he won't be eligible for kindergarten for two more years. next year, when ethan is already in kindergarten and timmy's good and crunchy (i picture the preschool administration wearing birkenstocks and pookah shell necklaces - i sure hope that is just my imagination!), i can send timmy to a more traditional preschool. but at least i feel better now that i've droned on and on about my worries. thank you, bloggy-blog!

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