Even Before my son could take his first steps, I tortured myself about when to begin his scholastic journey. Initially, I was convinced that the earlier he started preschool, the better. I was delighted to learn that a nearby school had just begun a full-day program for 11⁄2-year-olds. However, after consulting the experts (read the Internet), I began to entertain some doubts.
According to babycenter.com, a site I stumbled upon during my cyber wanderings, “Readiness for preschool has more to do with where your child is developmentally. Is he socially, emotionally, physically and cognitively ready to participate in a daily, structured educational program with a group of other children?”
Um … no.
After nixing that notion, I set my laser-like focus on a two-day-a-week morning program. Yet, part of me still questioned his readiness for such a structured environment. I turned once again to the trusty Internet for answers, typing “preschool readiness” into my browser. Babycenter.com popped up on my screen again, this time offering a fool-proof questionnaire:
1. Is your child fairly independent?
That would be an affirmative. Let’s take a recent visit to Build-a-Bear. Rather than getting ecstatic about the innumerable array of bear permutations, he fled from the store. When I caught up with him he was standing with the mall’s handymen, wistfully ogling their cart of tools. And he certainly plays to the beat of his own drum in music class, where he remains determined to open the brass latches on the teacher’s guitar case while the rest of the class sits quietly on their mommies’ laps, clapping their hands.
2. Has he spent time away from you?
He can’t wait to get out of my clutches, whether it’s wriggling out of my arms, racing down the driveway toward the street in search of oncoming cars or pulling a large rubber beach ball from the oversized metal bin at Target and kicking it around the store as I chase wildly after him.
3. Can he work on projects on his own?
Anytime the house is too quiet I am sure to find my son working independently. Whether it’s drawing on the furniture with a pen, crawling up on the kitchen table to play with the dimmer, yanking down my purse from the counter to find my iPhone or dumping a box of cereal onto the floor — he is indeed a self-starter.
4. Does he have the physical stamina for preschool?
He has enough physical stamina to complete an Iron Man triathlon. Whether it’s scaling the walls of his crib or defeating every baby-proofing system we have installed, he is always ready for his next adventure. No naps needed Mom, thank you very much!
5. Why do you want to send him to preschool?
With each new purchase, I hold out the hope that I have finally unearthed the perfect toy, DVD, CD or book that will captivate my son’s attention for hours on end. It is time to expand my son’s horizons.
He’s ready to broaden his social circles and engage in an explosion of parallel play, and in the process, hopefully his eagerness for exploration and stimulation will be channeled in a positive direction. Perhaps he’ll even form friendships.
However, just in case he’s not completely ready for preschool, I’ve decided to enroll him in a one-day-a-week parent/child program. I’m sure the teacher could use an extra set of hands to gently redirect my little guy.