Is Pre-school 3 Really That Important?

Updated on February 26, 2010
C.P. asks from Houston, TX
13 answers

I'm a stay at home mom with a 3 year old boy and a six month old baby girl. I always planned on sending my kids to a 2 day a week program (that's what he's in now), then a 5 day half day pre-k, followed by kindergarten. Well, he hasn't even been there very long, and all he does is get sick. I feel like he's always missing school because he's sick. The main problem for me though is that he's bringing stuff home to the baby, and the poor baby is getting sick ALL the time too. Should I keep him in the two day pre-school, or wait until he's 4? By that time the baby will be older, and not so bothered by being sick. How long does this usually last? I have friends with kids in school, and I feel like everytime I talk to them, their kids are sick.
I really would only send him for social reasons, but we go places and do stuff each week. But, he is never in social situations without me. My parents watch him sometimes, and he's perfectly fine with this. When we go play at the gym class, he is always hanging out with the teacher. I was just wondering if he should be eased into school instead of being thrown into pre-k. Is he going to have a harder time adjusting to pre-k 4 if he doesn't go to pre-k 3 first? Help!

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answers from St. Cloud on

I would skip school for now. It's really just play time anyway. Kids learn best through play is the new motto.

Just find another mom and do some playdates together. Or look for a local moms group that you and the kids can attend.

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answers from Indianapolis on

Wow. No one is going to agree with my position on this one.

I am a working Mom. I had no choice - I am the main breadwinner, and I have to work. Our first child was home for the first 2 years with a babysitter who came to our house. Our daughter started at Day Care at 9 weeks along with her brother at 2.

They are in full-time day care which is different than preschool.

I say yes, you should keep him in preschool. Even if you are doing Mommy/Kid activities, you're preoccupied by a 6 month old who has much different needs. Being in a class without Mom present will tremendously help his independence and socialization (plus get him accustomed to being in a learning environment for an extended period in Kindergarten).

At 3, our son is far advanced over his friends who don't attend preschool in his cognitive abilities. He knows all his letters/numbers (written and in sign language) and is learning to read/tell time. Our daughter (22 months) knows all her colors and is learning her letters in sign language. We expect our son will know how to read shortly after his 4th birthday with the encouragement at day care and the reinforcement we provide at home. I know I would not have done that well on my own had I not had them in Day care.

Everyone is correct about the exposure to germs. I can't argue with someone who's a health care professional, but our kids are going to be exposed to these germs eventually. The younger they get the exposure, the sooner their bodies will have the opportunity to develop antibodies.

On a personal note, I lost my immune system when going through chemo. I started treatment when my daughter was 11 weeks old and already in day care. For 5 months, I literally had no white blood cells - my kids were in day care the entire time, and I was in and out of doctor's offices during flu season (professionally) several times/day. The advice from my Oncologist? Wash your hands and use hand sanitizer. We were diligent in making sure both kids were wiped down before they came into the house after day care. I never once got sick.

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answers from Nashville on

Jane M. is right on with what our pediatrician said as well. We started our firstborn in daycare when she turned two. She spent the first year sick. She caught everything under the sun. But now, she's in kindergarten and has perfect attendance. She has the immune system of an ox!!! =0) When my son was born, he was exposed to the things she would bring home from preschool and he was sick as well. He started daycare at age 1. But now, he's about to turn 4 and is very very VERY rarely sick. My personal opinion is that it's best to get them over these sicknesses and their immune systems built up in preschool rather than in kindergarten when all those absences count against their permanent school record. Plus, both my kids adore thier school/preschool/daycare. They have tons of little friends and are just little sponges soaking up all that they're being taught. This morning on the way to my 3 1/2yr old son's preschool, he was telling me all about the letter "p" and things that start with "p" and even how to spell it. So, they do learn lots in preschool/daycare. And they really thrive on it. =0)

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answers from Victoria on

if your 3 yr old were the only one involved, then i would say go for it, but as someone who has worked in the medical field for over ten years, I must say that he germs out there is stronger & scarier than when we were kids & your oldest has received immunizations for some that your infant has not as odf yet, but there are some you can't immunize for that are just as scary. RSV being one. you never know how your children will fair with it till they get it, but I've seen some do fine & some that were near misses! Dr.'s have a harder time with infants due to reduced medicine choices & doses, so unless you really have to, I would propbably pull him from school & maybe check into mommy & me group playdates. I found that most moms don't participate if kids are feeling unwellsince they are stay at home, where preschool parents tend to send child anyway since they work. PreK is really for socialization & yes a good program will teach abc's & days of week, months of year etc....but you can do that at home as well. My 3 year old likes doing his school work on the he was in preK private school when I worked now he's home with me. I've asked him which he liked better & he says home. I think it is just less stress. No rushing in the morning to get out the door. He often mention arguments with other kids. He's pretty laid back & usually lets kids take toys from him without fuss, but I think it was happening too often for even him. He loved packing a lunch & snacks though. LOL. So, here is just another option to preschool with less germs. Even waiting till prek4 will put your infant to toddler before the germs come into the house. Best of luck to you & your two. BTW, when my did start prek, they did gets sick during the first 10 months or so, then it plateaued off & now they rarely do. i was able to dodge the scary stuff by teaching both of mine really good handwashing habits. There is chemical free hand sanitizers that I use as well. Best of luck.

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answers from Dallas on

Unless you need childcare while at work, I see no valid reason to put your child in pre-school.

You are pretty proficient in the alphabet and counting, as well as your colors and shapes. I would say that you've known those things long enough to be able to teach your children. You could teach them plenty.

As far as social things go.... pre-school isn't the place for social development, and either is school. My son learned some pretty horrible things from pre-school (I worked full time as a single parent) and public school. When I had it to do over again, I never left my daughter in daycare, preschool, etc. I taught her everything on my own. When she went to kindergarten, she did great but ended up with a horrible teacher, so I pulled her out and started teaching at home. Her social development comes from all kinds of activities that we are involved in. She takes all kinds of interesting classes, now that she is older, but before that, we just got together with others and played. She is an amazing little girl who will walk up and introduce herself to another kid, ask them if they want to play, and decide that they are her new friend. No social issues here.

I think being in school is unnatural, and they are more likely to spread illness. They are indoors, in a small room, all together. Children are not clean - they pick their nose, cough without covering, put their hands in their mouth, spit, etc. If they were with groups of children out in the fresh air and sunshine, like humans should be, they would not be getting sick so much. My son was constantly sick, and at times it became life threatening. My daughter, who has not been in daycare, but takes classes and spends a lot of time at parks with friends, is hardly ever sick. Her immune system is amazing too. We get exposed to stuff now and she doesn't get it at all, or runs a fever for a day then is fine.

Anyway - I say do what you feel comfortable with, but keep in mind that he will learn and develop either way.

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answers from New York on

preschool is not mandatory nor necessary. i skipped pre-k for my girls (age 4), my kids started kindergarten better prepared than kids who went to both. i decided to keep them home for several reasons, but the main was the constant sickness and because i did not like any of the places i toured. they started kindergarten and yes they get sick a lot of times.



answers from Boston on

I think you'll get a whole bunch of answers on both sides of the fence, but as far as getting sick goes: my pediatrician told me that the first year kids are "out and about" in the world (daycare at 6 months or kindergarten at 5 years) they get sick an average of 10 times that last 10 days each. Miserable, right? But then after that it drops off dramatically. This is certainly what I've seen with both of my kids who have gone to daycare. So if you think he's otherwise enjoying preschool, my inclination would be to "bite the bullet" and just deal with him being sick now, because otherwise you'll just be dealing with it later. The upside is that hopefully your little one will have caught a lot of the bugs already, so when she goes to preschool she won't get as sick as her older brother. Good luck with your decision.



answers from San Antonio on

Your son is only going to be little for a little time! Enjoy him while you can. Keep him in a mother's day out program a day or two a week. Socialization is certainly important, but just becasue you put him in a place more often doesn't mean he is going to LIKE it. And if he doesn't like it, what benefit is her getting other than everyone saying "socialization is so important". My daughter was in mother's day out one day a week and she had a fine time, but never really connected wtih the other kids. There was one little boy she came to like and we got together a couple of times, but the rest of her friends came from church. It's not that any of the kids at her mother's day out were mean or horrible or that "church kids" are WAY better than everyone else, it's just happens that that is where she found her friends. She also did gymnastics and the same thing. Nice kids, but she liked hanging out with the coach and talking to her. That's OK. Fast forward to elementary school. She has one girl she likes and does things with from school and another she will see occasionally, but the rest are not on her radar screen. So, don't get caught up in the hype of socialization and pre-K is a must for successful Kinder. My daughter didn't go to any pre-K, just two day a week mother's day out. I taught her to read before Kinder (and no, my degree is not in teaching I'm just like you, a stay at home mom her loves her kiddo!) and she did fine. There will be plenty of time for school- goodness twelve years worth- why do you want to rush them? ENJOY your son you love him the BEST!


answers from Dallas on

There is no rush. You certainly don't have to push a 3 year old. I think it is great that you are willing to fight the wave of pushing our kids to hurry up and grow up. Each child has their own pace. There may come a time when you do have to push a little, but not yet. If your little guy is happy at home then why hurry him along?

I have some great vitamin ideas to help prevent or lessen the illness. That's what my business is. If you would like to know more just contact me.
When my kids were young I thought they had to get sick to build their immunities, but that just isn't true. Good vitamins can do that. Wish I'd known.



answers from New York on

well, from a teacher's perspective, i would say to send your child to a pre-school. it isnt' so much about the academics in pre-school, but i think it is the social aspect that is a big part of school experience. i teach first grade and i see a big difference between students who attended pre-school vs. no pre-school when it comes to behavioral expectations. students with pre-school experience is well-trained in following directions, working in groups, working independent and so on. so if you find a school that teaches good social skills, then i would say that that experience will be helpful to your child's school career.



answers from Tulsa on

You have a good point about next year the baby will be older but I think it will be the same thing then as it is now. All kids pass around the current illness and it seems to cycle from one thing to another about every 6 weeks. So,she may be older but he'll still be bringing illnesses home to her and to you.

I think since he's already going I'd just continue it.



answers from Albany on

I home educate my 3 children. They are 5 3/4, 4 1/2 and 3 years old. My 5 and 4 year old know how to read, know some sign language, know some words in Korean and know some songs in Korean, can write simple sentences, knows how to add numbers to 20 and subtract numbers under 10, skip count by 5 and 10s and more. My 4 year old knows all about elephants and beluga whales. My 5 year old knows all about dinosaurs and can count beyond 100.

My 3 year old knows her colors, knows some sign language, knows some words in Korean as well as some Korean songs, can write a few letters, knows her alphabet, and more.

They interact with other kids through their religious ed classes, sports they are involved in and more.




answers from New York on

With my children also the first year out was the worst for getting sick. If I were you and had the luxury of a decision I'd wait until next school year. Even though there isn't much more you can do treatment-wise for the baby when she's a year versus 6 months old, her nasal passages will be bigger and her immune system a little better developed, so she will be a little less uncomfortable and it may not last as long.

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