Preschool: How much is too little?
As Truman is heading to kindergarten next year, he's going to be ending his preschool journey in June. He's in an MESD program at Grout, meant to provide an opportunity for children qualifying for early intervention to learn alongside "peers," kids who don't qualify but love the $5-per-session (and less for those on low incomes) rates. It's lovely: close to home, with caring teachers, FREE. But it's on a two-hours-and-twenty-five minutes timetable, three days a week. Just barely enough to give him a chance to learn a little bit about letters and numbers and seasons and how important it is to follow rules about cleanup and sharing: not enough to give me a chance to actually get anything done in the meantime.
Typically, I treasure the days, like today, that he's off school; in order to get him in the door at 11:50, I'm feeding him a snack at 11 and doing the get-ready dance for him and Monroe for the next 20 or 30 minutes. By 1:45 I'm looking at my watch every two minutes, interrupting any train of thought I'd been able to establish what with Monroe, longing for the human interaction he craves, holding his hands on either side of my face asking me to look at something -- his nose, a Pokemon card, a Hot Wheels race car.
As Monroe will be three this summer, when his big brother is heading for kindergarten I'll be left to decide whether to put him in preschool. I definitely don't have room in my budget for any longer, less public school-y preschool program; it's the MESD seven or eight hours a week, or nothing. Today, loving the flexibility of my time and the space I have to let my trains of thought play all the way out before I interrupt them for snacks and bike rides, I'm leaning toward foregoing preschool altogether for my third kid.
But... Truman's definitely benefited; he really needed the "discipline," if you can call it that, preschool provides; the structure is something he craves and I'm not great at affording; the social opportunities are hard to live without. Life without preschool for my youngest would require at least a little investment in playdates and a mama who could promise herself to dedicate a little time each day to crafts and books. (I love them. I just don't always manage to fit them into writing-housework-bills-errands-bread baking-chicken feeding-etc.)
What do you all think: how much preschool is too little? Have any of you let preschool be when faced with such a decision (and only one child still at home)? How much "curriculum" (hah) do you do? Crafts and books and seasons, oh my? Do you paint with your young child? Schedule many playdates? I'd love to hear how you've organized your life around preschool, if you too have decided "that much is not enough."