I remember when we contemplated preschool for Annaliese when she was a toddler. The city we lived in offered it for free and I believed that it would offer her an opportunity to learn to play with other kids, learn to listen and follow instructions, give me time alone with her younger siblings, and teach her some basic pre-kindergarten skills. Those are probably a lot of the same reasons so many parents choose to enroll their children in preschool. While I don't remember what the reasoning was behind us not sending her, I see the folly of my initial thinking today - that I needed to send her to be trained.
In studying the Biblical requirements set before parents, I've noticed that the weight of a child's education and training repeatedly falls on the parent. I'm not anti-public or private school. I see the deep need that they are attempting to fill and I have a lot of good friends who are a blessing to those institutions. If you read the scriptures though, you will see that the rabbis, leaders, and teachers of the law weren't held responsible or instructed on educating the children. The parents were.
Whatever educational choices your family makes, it is the parent who will be held accountable for the content of their lessons, the things emphasized and taught, and the spiritual environment we place our children in and all the lovely habits we allow to be rubbed into our children. This goes for both home and public schooling.
In studying early child development over the years, I've learned that boys and girls brains develop differently and at different rates. For instance, boys acquire the ability to have impulse control a lot later than girls and from a young age girls are able to absorb more information at once. This is why boys typically get into more trouble in school and why parents may feel incapable of training them at home. It is also why little girls can chit-chat with their friends and still rattle off the lesson at the end of the day. Studying early childhood development at the most basic level is so beneficial and eye-opening in parenting.
Another thing I've learned is that the ages between two and six are some of the most impressionable ages of a child. They are both like little sponges and wet cement, soaking everything in and solidifying it in their brains. This isn't my opinion, it is all in the way God has designed our children. This is also why consistency in parenting is so important.
Why? I believe God wanted those first years spent with parents to be an impressionable time, giving our children a solid basis and foundation for life. That is why He tells us to instruct our children throughout every part of the day and every activity of the day. What goes into a toddler and preschool aged child stays there. This is a great time for memorizing scripture and teaching values because they stick.
I think there is a deep level of deception that says we as parents are somehow incapable of providing what our children need and sends us searching for someone else to carry the burden of responsibility. Not that we are intentionally shirking our responsibility but we feel obligated to do the right thing and best thing for our child. It's a noble deception.
This same kind of deception that tells us that our children need to learn about God in children's church and be entertained in order to acquire a reverence for God. I love our children's pastor and his family and am thankful for them, but he knows and I know that Sean and I are responsible for teaching my children about God and he supports us in that.
Are preschool inherently evil? No. I worked in a state funded Head Start program as a nurse before Sean and I married. I loved working with the children and I can say with assurance that every teacher there was dedicated and excellent and loved the children. Is preschool the best choice?
For more information and support in choosing the best for your family check out:
Preschoolers and Peace
Home Grown Kids
Is Preschool Good for Social Skills?
Dr. Laura's Opinion
Let's Not Institutionalize 3, 4, and 5 Year Olds