The Preschool Pressure - PDX Style
We've heard stories about the preschool frenzy in cities like New York where waitlists are eons-long and parents wake up at the crack of dawn to spend days in lines to sign kids up for preschools. Here in Portland, is the story the same? After the recent post on the Portland Preschool Scene, Tracy got to thinking:
The recent question about preschool has me thinking about a bigger issue, which is why the pressure to start kids in preschool at age 3 anyway? I'm a mom who has arranged life to avoid group care settings for my little ones on purpose. I've really struggled with whether or not to send my oldest (age 3) to preschool next fall and get all kinds of messages that I'm missing something if I don't. He gets plenty of social opportunities through Parks and Rec classes, play groups, etc where I'm present to help him work things out and develop social skills. He gets all kinds of exposure to letters, numbers, books, etc at home. I have no doubt that at age 4 he'll go because I don't want kindergarten to be his first school experience. But does it have to be so soon? My solution has been to sign up at a cooperative so I'm part of the program, but I haven't fully committed to sending him yet. I'd love to hear what others think and whether or not I'm the only one questioning this pressure.
Not only do we question the pressure, we also wonder whether all children will have access to the same resources, regardless of familial situation. Kris recently emailed:
I am a mother of an 18 month old girl and have amerced myself in everything motherly including reading mommy blogs, having regular play dates scheduled, being a part of several moms groups, and basically just networking with other mommies like crazy. On a regular basis I find myself upset and confused on the issue of single mothers unable to find quality daycare that they can afford. I myself am married and we do well financially, well, we make ends meet anyways. Daycare is hard enough for us to pay for and I know, because I have met some, that for single moms without a lot of support it gets close to impossible to afford good care. I know how hard it is to leave your child with another person and couldn't imagine having to leave them with someone that I didn't feel good about. I am wondering if anyone knows how to get active on this issue. Are there single moms out there who have any ideas on how to make good care for their children an option?
Mamas, what say you? What are your thoughts? Is it a matter of the "haves" and the "have-nots"? Do you feel like these differences are less pronounced here in Portland?