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I know this has been discussed a lot but I have some specific questions about the length of time a 3 y/o should be in preschool. I have a few options I'm comparing.
1. Gymboree preschool - 2 hours per day, a few days per week, but the times are really weird and inconvenient with my work schedule. The good part about this is that Juliana knows the place and the teachers really well and I'm sure she would have no problem adjusting. I definitely would still need a nanny. This is the furthest away (about 15 mins).
2. Montessori preschool - 5 days per week, either 4 or 5 hours per day. The main class is 8:30-12:30 and then I can add an extra hour. I feel like 4 hours is plenty, but if I add the extra hour it will go until Juliana's nap time and I can avoid having a nanny at all. I think this would be by far the most convenient option with my work schedule (it's also right next to DH's work and 7 mins from my house) but I worry about the adjustment period and I worry about it being too long. Since the school is new, they have a low ratio (5:1) but they can go up to a max of 10:1, although the teacher says she doesn't plan to.
3. Home-based Montessori - 5 days per week, 2.5 hours per day. I'd need a nanny to come for half days. Concern would be her adjusting to the new place. Ratio is 8:1, which is a bit high. The best part is that it's in my neighborhood and less than half a mile away.
I've toured all of the schools and like them all. My guess is that Gymboree would be the highest quality, and it's what I would do if I was a SAHM, but I'm not and that has to be factored in.
To cut to the chase, I'm basically wondering what you all think about a longer preschool (4-5 hours) vs. 2 or 2.5 hours.
By the way, we have always had a nanny but a couple of times per week our nanny will have her out of the house for 3-3.5 hours and once in a blue moon, a longer trip like the zoo for 4 or 5 hours. She's always been totally fine.
Personally I am planning to send my not-quite-2 year old to a Waldorf-inspired home-based preschool around the corner, for their standard "morning" half-day, which I believe is 4-5 hours (still waiting on her sheet of specific times and rates). And that is for 2 days a week.
From talking to the teacher and some other more experienced moms, doing preschool too little can be confusing for the child. Like they have to readjust every time (if you only go once a week, say) or they have to leave right as they are getting settled and comfortable (if it is only 2 hours long). Especially in the Waldorf system where they have a large chunk of unstructured free play, bookended by more structured circle time and activity time and meal time, you really want them to have the time to experience that whole cycle. So personally I feel very comfortable with the longer time period, though only 2 days a week for M right now. Juliana is a year older and I would not hesitate to send her to a more full time program for 4-5 hours a day if M was that age. The transition is only temporary so I wouldn't worry about that, I would worry more about the vibe of the place, do they seem to "get" your kid (and kids in general) in a way that feels right to you, does it logistically work for your schedule.
I also can't say what YOU should do bc I know a lot of moms are not as comfortable sending their toddler off to school as I am. But M's personality is so big and outgoing and she has such a need for stimulation and "input" and social interaction, and a ton of energy to burn and I just feel intuitively that it will be right for her, I really love this place and the people are so awesome. She will get something there that she can't get at home. So that is my take. We are planning to start in April so she has time to adjust well before the new baby arrives
If I was thinking about sending Eleanor at 3 years old, I wouldn't worry at all about a 4-5 hour long day... once she got into the routine, I think that would actually be a good period of time to have some play time and some structured learning time. I always think it's weird that places have just 2 hour sessions... it doesn't seem like time to settle in and do anything. Even the kindergartens here have like 3 hour days... it seems so short!
But personally I don't think I'd need her to be in a 5 day a week program at 3 years old. I am planning on staying home, though, so the nanny vs. preschool is a whole different decision that is just up to you. I think my ideal preschool at 3 would be a 3 day per week, 4-5 hour program. I don't know if those exist though
I would go with your instinct- it sounds like the Gymboree really doesn't work with your schedule, though. So maybe choose between the other 2?
I could make Gymboree work if I really wanted to. There is a 9-11 am class on Friday, so DH could go to work late and drop her off on the way. The other days the classes are 12-2, so I'd have to pick her up or maybe pay someone else to, and hope she falls asleep on the way home and stays asleep for the rest of my work day. It would be hectic. I'm not sure that it would be worth it.
Hard to say, since I home school, but if *I* were in your situation I'd do the Montessori school for 4-5 hours a day. That doesn't mean that you in your situation would choose the same though! Do what feels right <3
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