Inside: This post was originally published 2 years ago, my daughter is now 6 and scored above grade level on all standardized tests in her entire class… even without formal preschool learning. I didn’t write this to convince anyone not to send their kids to preschool, but to offer my own perspective and opinions for those who are wavering in their decision and need some encouragement that, perhaps, they aren’t the only ones.
From Kindergarten to Senior Year, kids will spend around 11,700 hours in school. And that’s a conservative estimate.
Kids gotta learn, right?
Of course they do.
They’ll learn to read, write, do math, and (hopefully) name all 50 states in alphabetic order through song. They’ll learn about crushes, friendships, and how to handle homework.
They’ll think about clubs to join, getting their driver’s licenses, taking standardized tests, which college they want to go to, and figure out what they want to be when they grow up.
One day we’ll be packing up and sending them away to start life on their own.
But that day is not today because my daughter is only 4 years old.
We hem hawed about preschool. Visited preschools (on two continents), talked about it ad nauseum with anyone would listen (or pretended to listen) and debated.
How many days should we send her to preschool?
Should we send her for just the morning or for a full day?
Two days in a row?
Being from a small town, there actually weren’t many options. Most preschools were 5 days a week or, if you wanted to go less, you pretty much paid the same amount.
I know preschool is great for some kids. I know most people send their kids to preschool. I know it’s even seen as a ‘rite of passage’ to some. I get that and believe wholeheartedly that each family is different and knows what’s best for them.
But after talking, thinking, praying, and budgeting we decided that we won’t send her to preschool right now. And I’ve committed in my heart to do some other things instead.
(Note: Hands Free Life helped give this decision legs).
So what will we do instead?
What We’ll Do Instead Of Sending Our Child To Preschool
These are just personal to us, and part of our family culture. What you would do if you didn’t want to send your child to preschool might be different.
And that’s okay.
We’ll sleep late and snuggle.
My kids wake up around 7:30 am each morning and have since birth. It is possible to get your kids to sleep later, and it’s so nice. We will (and are) starting the day slow.
The older kids have to “make” their beds before they come out of their rooms in the morning, then they come to our room. We all laze around on the bed and tell the baby how wonderful he is, we talk about things like dreams, plans for the day, and what they’d prefer for breakfast.
It is SO nice not to have to start the day rushing.
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We’ll have laid back breakfasts.
This’ll be my last year without having to worry about rushed mornings.
No hurried “get dressed” and “finish your breakfast” or “where’s your backpack?“
We can mosey on down to the kitchen by 8 a.m. and drag out breakfast until nearly 9 o’clock.
In our pajamas. And, if inspiration strikes (or maybe if it doesn’t) we can stay in our pajamas most of the morning. Not because we’re lazy. Or because we are slobs. But because this is a super short season of life where we won’t “have to.”
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We’ll spend time with family.
There are family members who are already retired, and we’re going to spend time with them. Just yesterday my aunt made biscuits and tomato gravy for her farmer husband’s lunch, so we all piled up, went over, and visited.
My daughter won’t be able to do that next year, except on weekends, so we’re going to take advantage of spontaneous “I’m making your favorite meal, want to come over?” phone calls mid-day.
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We’ll be busy outside.
We’ve started a garden a ways away from the house. We treated the soil, set up the sprinkler, and are busy growing seedlings in the barn before we transplant them.
One day we spontaneously made a scarecrow (seen below) and most days we walk around quite a bit. I try to get my steps in which means we’ll just wander aimlessly but fast. Look in the pond, at insects, and the kids will get filthy and dirty. I love it.
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We’ll enjoy long naps.
Afternoon pickup: the death march for baby and toddler naps.
Instead of waking up 3 kids to do a preschool pickup… we won’t.
Some days the kids sleep until 4, 4:30 or even 5! If they nap late we might move back dinner and bedtime a bit. There’s no rush to do this, rush to do that.
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We’ll do school for fun.
My kids love ABCmouse.
The kids get to create their own learning path and do lessons that are interactive, fun, and suited to the child’s level.
My kids think it’s so fun they’ll watch each other play. The standards are up to public school level and it’s a great way to add in a bit of learning without the drama.
Psst… Get one month of ABCmouse free by clicking here.
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We’ll read a lot.
My daughter is quite bright. Okay, okay, don’t we all think that?
Because of that I know it’s good to challenge her, but I also know that she challenges herself.
We bought this Amelia Bedelia set for her first chapter books and we’re already looking forward to the next books. Kindergarten will start and with it homework and then lessons and units. For now, we’re going to read for fun.
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We’ll do life together.
As the kids get older life will inevitably get busier. More scheduled. More involved.
More will be required of the kids and therefore of myself, so this year we’re going to just do simple life. I’ll teach her (and the others) how to do more cooking.
We’ll go grocery shopping. I’ll make sure they continue doing chores, cleaning, and I’ll teach them some more personal hygiene skills. Of course kids learn throughout the entirety of their childhood, but this year we’ll do these things in a relaxed way.
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We’ll try our hand at nothing.
If we wake up to a dreary rainy day and feel like doing nothing, we will.
If we wake up and get a wild hair to do something fun that day, we will.
Whereas in future years we’ll have to go to school, honor our commitments, and do the work, right now we don’t. She doesn’t have to go to school.
I don’t have to make her.
We’ll make sure she’s prepared.
My mom works in a school and understand what my daughter needs to know before starting. She knows letters, numbers, colors shapes, how to write her name, and she’s even started sounding out letters to read a bit.
She can sit still, pay attention, and obey instructions.
If she misses anything, I’m sure she’ll pick it up.
We’ll enjoy this season.
This is the major thing I want to do. Right now I have an overwhelming sense we need to relax and enjoy this season of life. If you have not read Hands Free Life, I urge you to do so.
Next year life will be different. Next year my daughter will be one year older. Next year I’ll have school lunches and homework and pickups. It’ll be awesome in its own way, but I’m not going to rush it.
Preschool is great, but it’s not a necessity.
Learning is a must, but it comes in many forms.
Each family has the freedom of choice, and we are happy with ours.
Preschool Or Not FAQ
Do kids have to go to preschool?
No. Kids are not required to go to preschool. In fact, preschool was started to give under privileged children support so they could begin Kindergarten on grade level.
In fact, in some states, children aren’t even required to go to Kindergarten! If you teach your child the basics of counting, letters, colors, numbers, and how to sit still and pay attention, then they will be able to pick up what they need in Kindergarten.
Will kids be behind if they don’t go to preschool?
From what I’ve read, children who have gone to preschool can have a leg up on the other kids for a few months. And then, as usually happens, basic IQ, intelligence, and effort will even things out. A child might be slightly behind at the beginning of school, but be above other students after a month or two.
My daughter never went to preschool and at the end of the year scored the highest score on the standardized test in her whole class. I don’t live or die by standardized tests, but this proved to me that our decision to not send our kids to preschool was right for us.
Do your own research, but know that if you are reading with your child and teaching them the basics, they will be just fine.
Is it against the law if my child doesn’t go to preschool?
No. Each state has different requirements, but preschool is not one of them. Some states don’t even require children to go to Kindergarten, so do research for your particular state or country.
Will kids not learn social skills if they don’t go to preschool?
If you have an only child and they never play with other kids, and skip preschool, they may be more shy and have an adjustment in Kindergarten learning to play with the other kids.
However, if you have play dates with others, go to youth or children activities at your church or in your neighborhood, and your child is used to other kids, then they will learn social skills. I personally think that a lot of the socialization that happens at school is quite negative, so the idea of socialization isn’t an end all for me.
We are 95% sure we are not sending our 4 year old to preschool this coming fall, but I am terrified going to kindergarten next year (full days, 5 days a week) will be a huge shock/hard transition. Any advice?
This is a great question!
I was worried about this myself with my child who didn’t start Kindergarten until he was 5, nearly 6. In fact, my first 3 children all did NOT go to preschool and then started with 5 full days. And, you know what? They all did just fine.
They were mentally, emotionally, and developmentally ready for Kindergarten, and were able to transition well.