Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Choosing How Much Time to Send a Child to Preschool

Back in August, I wrote about a dad who was struggling with the amount of time he would send his toddler to preschool. He was choosing between sending his three and a half year old daughter to school three days or five. With a six year old going to the same school his daughter would attend, it would be convenient to take both kids every weekday. Having a two year old at home also meant that it would be easier to have the two older siblings out of the house each day.
Yet, five days just felt like too much school to this dad, and he wondered if three would be better.

I suggested that whatever decision he made, it would likely be right - and the best part is that his decision wouldn’t be irrevocable in the chance it didn’t work out. I would equally weigh two factors. First, his daughter’s temperament. If she’s a go-with-the-flow kind of kid, she will likely thrive whether she goes 3 days or 5 days. The second factor is his wife’s well-being. If she is not ready to give up her time with their daughter and she would love to spend those two days with her, that is really important.

On the other hand, if the baby is keeping his wife busy and it will be difficult for her to keep both girls occupied in a really positive way, five days might be a better choice for the family. The fact that his son will be in the same school will make the transition even easier for his sister, knowing that her big brother is in the building if she needs some reassurance.

Whatever decision he made, I urged him to give it a few weeks before pulling the plug. If after three weeks she seems irritable or overwhelmed, back her down to 3 days. In my opinion the decision is less about age than the child’s temperament and the family’s needs.

They decided to send her for the full day, 5 days per week. Though it seemed like a lot of schooling for a three and a half year old, in the first month of school, she thrived. She really enjoys the school and looks forward to going every day. In the end, this decision worked out well for the entire family.

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