I’ve got to hand it to one of the moms who commented on Lisa Emmerich’s recent Bad Parent: Preschool Hysteria.
She managed to equate well-respected institutions of learning across the nation with something cooked up by Bernie Madoff.
Her exact words for what preschool amounts to in her book? “What a racket! I cannot believe you people pay someone to teach your child what you can teach them at home.”
Way to insult every mother and father who actually work outside the home and CAN’T teach their children at home. Not to mention those of us who are mindful enough of our own shortcomings that we don’t try to teach our kids at home; we put our kids into a program where we feel a certified teacher is providing a headstart for kindergarten while they get to have fun and interact with other children of the same age.
I am a huge proponent of the home schooling movement. But I’ve got to tell you, I can’t do it. Call me a bad parent, but my patience wears thin after the fifth time my daughter looks at me after I’ve asked a question and says “I don’t know. Tell me.”
Yes, I teach her little things, the “unschooling” method does have
merit in the fact that we count out the number of plates coming out of
the dishwasher, and she learned her shapes by identifying road signs
while we’re out riding around.
She knows her alphabet. She’ll recite the whole thing to a stranger at the grocery store. But at home, where she’s interacting with a mother with a very similar personality (we are, after all, mother and daughter), she opts for game playing. For pretending she needs help with simple tasks. When push comes to shove – she shoves back. And I’m PROUD of her for it. But it means that we are not meant to be in more than a mother and daughter role.
The issue of home schooling, plain and simple, is not that it doesn’t work but that it doesn’t work for everyone. Putting aside the fact that the majority of two-parent households in America include two working parents, a lot of parents are still uncomfortable with the idea of being their child’s primary source of education. Simply put – if we felt we could be teachers, many of us would have gone to school to be teachers.
I went to school to be a journalist. Faced with a room full of squirmy children, I can play games and sing silly songs. I don’t have the patience of Job that my daughter’s preschool teacher fortunately possesses. Nor do I have the early childhood development degree that she’s earned. I can’t get ten kids to sit around a table and draw the letter P and glue feathers to the page to make a parrot. My daughter loved making parrots.
I’m not convinced that kids need to be in a nursery school at two. We waited until my daughter hit three, and even then, we opted for a half-day program just two days a week. For us, it’s daycare – I work in a newspaper office while she’s at preschool. It’s also a place where she spends a fair portion of the time playing with other kids, learning about sharing and picking up on social cues from kids her own age. They’re there for social education more so than your traditional academic education at this age, and they’re fostering their independence in a safe setting. My daughter feels important learning outside of the home and telling me things – things she doesn’t think Mommy knows. At this age, I don’t think kids need much more than the basics, and preschool settings that are fairly laissez faire work best for all involved.
It works for us. We knew exactly what we were signing her up for, and why we needed to do it. If that’s a racket or a scam, I can only say I’ve bought it, hook, line and sinker. Oh, and my daughter? Has learned to stop resisting me when I suggest she was her hands after she uses the potty, found some best little buddies for playdates and draws the letter “P” like a champ.