Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Preschool is for play, not academics.

We sent our daughter to Preschool when she turned 3, her birthday was in July so she went to school as an "early" three. My husband and I were filled with excitement and trepidation at the big "first day of school".  It was emotionally a rough day for me as she was my first child and she was going off to virtual strangers. I felt very comfortable with the school, I met the director and we went to the open house so we met the teachers. We saw her class room and where she would hang her back pack. All of my worries went away that first day when she came out of school and she LOVED it. She had a wonderful day and she liked her teachers. Each day that she went off to school and came home with a smile, my worry decreased. I gave myself a mental high five and felt proud that we picked the right school for our daughter.

Starting at week three after my child was in school for a total of 18 hours, I was sat down by the teachers and told the many ways my child wasn't measuring up. The list contained learning to social skills to concerns over physical development. Needless to say my husband and I were floored. We were asked to have our daughter assessed and we quickly made an appointment. The first was a concern over speech, I listened to what they had to say and got an immediate appointment with the Speech therapist. After the appointment the therapist gave us three minor items to work on and was mildly surprised that we would be sent to therapy. Two weeks later we had these small "quirks" fixed with our daughter. I gave the report to the teachers and left feeling confident. Our therapist had no concern and stated our daughter spoke well for her age. One month later on a conversation with the teacher I was asked if I trusted my therapist. Did I trust my therapist? Um, Yes I really liked her and thought what she had to say was very appropriate. I was gently pushed into getting my daughter evaluated again. At first I didn't want to, I didn't understand why they didn't trust the first evaluation but the teacher listed off brand new concerns and again we decided that we would get her evaluated. Early intervention can save children extensive therapy later and I wanted to be objective so we went, again. We used the schools this time at the behest of the pre-school teacher and once again our daughter was fully assessed and she tested well above her age group and above the average for kids her age. The specialists saw no reason to continue therapy after the appointment. I have given the report to the teachers but we are on Christmas break so I await a response. I am not sure what I am looking for from them but I have spent my first few months of preschool worrying that I missed something with my daughter. Each of the three people we have spoken with were very surprised at what the teachers had to say but in return each of them stated the same thing.
The preschool curriculum that is being put up on our daughter is well above her age group and that perhaps we should look at other options. 
My heart hurt for my daughter and after all the negatives. I finally asked the teacher if she could tell me anything good about my daughter. Tell me is she kind? Does she like the kids in school? Does she listen well? What does the enjoy most in school? I was given an abundant list of the good things my daughter loves and how kind and compassionate she is with others. As her mother I already knew all of this because she is my daughter and I know her down to her soul but it was nice that her teacher was able to say things to me that were good in my child.
The above mentioned specialists all stated the same thing, that in the United States we create learning disabilities with how our curriculum works. That we are forcing education on children so early that they don't actually have time to learn the other things important to life. Social skills, playing and creating. My daughter's teacher always says "everyone but your daughter". I say my daughter is shy (true) and she rebukes this, I say she is cautious and she comes up with why she is different in a negative way. I say "all children are different" and she finds reasons this isn't true. I respect our preschool teacher and the fact that she seems to love all the children and actually care for them and that she is an expert when it comes to preschoolers. We aren't switching schools right now because she comes home every day with a smile and she can't wait to go back. My husband and I talk about our feelings and concerns and we speak of them only when she is asleep at night. My mom feels the same way and my friends with kids in preschool have been floored at these stories I have shared. I am slightly heartbroken at our first experience with school and teachers. My daughter is funny and kind and smart and a totally normal 3 year old little girl. I already knew this about my daughter but now we have two evaluations that agree. These things she can't do are above her age group and I have had 2 teachers tell me the "work" they do is at Kindergarten level and would be difficult for any three year old in preschool. When my mom found an article she gave it to me in hopes that it would ease my mind and the inner struggle I was experiencing about school.
Please take a moment and read this article, we are grateful that if there was anything wrong with our daughter we would have been alerted immediately and been able to help her. We were surprised that our first evaluation wasn't taken seriously and that our teachers didn't trust where we chose to take our child. They were concerned at the speed that I got an appointment and for that they questioned the evaluation.  I am frustrated and dismayed that when we went into this new stage of life with our daughter we weren't aware of the measuring stick that would be used. Even more the concern that was initially caused by these teachers had my husband and I in a mild panic. What did we miss? Did we not see something we should have? We have 5 more months to go for our first year of preschool and instead of looking forward to going back after Christmas break, I dread it. What will they say next, what is the next note I will get home? Will they not believe this assessment either? My best friend jokingly calls our preschool the "Harvard" preschool and is continually floored at these stories. Teachers have a hard job but we put our three year old in preschool to get her feet wet in school, make some friends and learn mainly how to be in a school environment. What I learned is that the days of PRE school are over, learning to make friends and not eat paste are a thing of the past. Its the CORE curriculum at the early age of three. Two assessments later and being assured our daughter is not just at the normal range but often above the range we hope the rest of the school year is more of what we originally had hoped for. Unless of course the teacher doesn't believe the assessment either. My main worry is how Preschool changed and how the hell we can change it back for all the kids that will start school!


  1. This breaks my heart. As an early childhood educator and a mommy of three, I hate hearing stories like this. It is so true that our children are being forced to learn well beyond their development and study after study proves the harm it is doing. I faced a lot of bewilderment when I kept my 2nd daughter out of preschool at the age of three when most children in our area begin. And after a year of preschool, a year of pre-k and a year of kindergarten with our first, this year we decided to begin homeschooling. My girls are both July babies as well I couldn't stand seeing my child struggle with the unrealistic challenges and expectations that have become American education.

  2. Thank you for contributing to Motivation Monday!