By Megan E.
It’s chilly and breezy outside when I exit my car with my children and head in to the preschool for drop off. I enter through the main play room, pausing to speak with the Teacher Assistant as I disperse items throughout the preschool space: Lunch and cup in the snack room fridge, clean diapering and changing supplies in the designated changing area, jacket on hook right above her bag. I give a quick rundown of the morning, how she slept, when she woke up, how well she ate that morning, then I say my good byes and head out. My daughter sometimes waves but often just continues to play with whatever she’s already walked to. She does not say good bye back to me as she has not learned to say that yet. My daughter turned one year old last week, a couple months after her first day in preschool.
When people discover that I’m a stay at home mom who put my infant in preschool, I can expect one of two reactions. Either people think I’m joking, or they remark how much I must need a break. Both responses are understandable, but I always feel compelled to set the record straight! The quick answer is that I have two older children, one in second grade and one who is four years old and also enrolled at The School of Grace. By having my third child in a two morning a week class, that gives me one morning to spend helping out in my oldest son’s elementary school class (a class with no Teacher Assistant), and one morning to be Helping Parent in either of my younger children’s class. Though I will admit, I do get at least one morning a month “off” which can be quite nice!
It is pretty easy to see why adding some childcare into the schedule made sense for me. I wanted to spend some special time with my older two children and help their classes. But why preschool? Why not hire a family member or neighbor, switch off childcare with a friend, or utilize another childcare option such as a daycare or hiring a morning babysitter? I will say that we researched these options and to us the preschool won hands down. While the cost for a 2 morning a week infant program seems daunting at first, the “hourly rate” of childcare itself comes out to roughly the same or even more expensive, depending on who you go with. Beyond cost, there’s reliability and stability. Switching off childcare with a friend or asking family to help may work well most of the time, but what happens when it falls through? What happens if a car breaks down or someone feels sick or there’s an appointment someone has to make? While there is always the possibility of a last minute change of plans, the preschool works hard to provide the same level of care no matter what happens. For the children, even if there is a substitute teacher they usually know the substitute already and they are in the same space with the same toys and books, the same schedule, and the same friends.
The last component to why I chose a preschool is the aforementioned level of care. In fact, this isn’t just why I chose preschool for my infant, but why I chose THIS preschool for her and her two older brothers. My oldest became a student at age 4, when our middle child was only a few months old, and we saw positive changes in him pretty much instantly. The School of Grace focuses on social skills, art, music, nature, and lots and lots of learning through play. The instructors really get to know the children they are with and communicate readily with parents. Parents themselves are asked to help in the classroom on a regular basis, seeing the children and other parents on a regular basis. The result is a real family feel, with parents and children who all know each other’s names and see each other regularly. Children learn by doing, by singing and dancing and playing, and everything is age appropriate. Having watched my two older children grow and flourish at The School of Grace, it was not a tough choice to put my daughter in the program, even if she was at a much younger age than I would have started the boys in a preschool program.
We are so very, very happy with our choice to send our daughter to The School of Grace. No she may not be able to tell me long stories about her day or share her own writing or sing full songs like her brothers did and do, but she is happy and safe and loved and it really shows.