“Where does your child go to school?” the stranger asked.
I looked at my 6-month-old and 26-month-old nestled in the single stroller. School? Anyone could tell my children were too young for school. Who sends a six-month old and a barely two-year-old to school?
“Your children need to learn to eat and brush their teeth. Parents can’t teach that – it’s the teacher’s job to teach that,” the woman continued.
Preschool is socialist indoctrination in disguise, the same mentality as the old communist philosophy of the nanny state. It’s still there in Vietnam where I was living, despite the fact that communism had been gone for many years.
Send the mothers to work. Send the children to “school.” Parenting was outdated and second class. Preschool was the way to go.
Up to that point, I had maintained the naïve thought that parents could teach their children, not only that we could, but we were morally responsible to teach our children. Though a third-generation teacher and a how-could-I-know-how-many generation parent, I was a newbie to the world of wonders of preschool. The best I can tell, preschools all over the world have become parent, playtime, payback, and preparation.
Preschool as parent
In Vietnam, the teachers discipline, potty train, teach children to eat with a spoon and supervise tooth brushing. I learned the hard way that tooth brushing at school was a time-honored tradition. When I began teaching preschool myself, I thought it was gross having 15 three-year-olds brushing their teeth in one community sink. Toothpaste, toothbrushes, spit, dropped toothbrushes, stepped on toothbrushes. I cited the ADA that tooth brushing twice a day was sufficient and sent the toothbrushes home. Mutiny. I had a parent mutiny on my hands. Dental hygiene was a teacher’s responsibility.
Furthermore, nutrition was the responsibility of the school. At the end-of-year school program, the director read each child’s name and how much weight the child had gained over the course of the year. The school was judged by the community based on how much weight the kids had gained. (Probably a throwback to the famine years. At a time when food was scarce, weight gain was proof that children who attended were being fed.)
But I’m fairly confident that Vietnam is not the only place where preschool has replaced parenting. Preschool is socialist indoctrination in disguise wherever you go in the world.
Preschool as playtime
In some communities, a quirky cycle has developed. Since everyone sends the kids to preschool, there are no kids in the neighborhood. Since there are no kids in the neighborhood, everyone sends the kids to preschool. The administrator of the preschool where I taught encouraged us teachers to back off the academics. She frequently reminded us of how successful the Scandinavian children were who did not begin formal education until age 7. (Seems like if we really believed that, we’d close the school and send the kids home to their parents.)
Preschool as payback
Fundraisers, businesses, and educators have figured out that preschools are good money. I was a member of an American church that started a new building program. The pastor made sure the education wing met all the codes for a preschool because he knew if the parishioners failed to come through with offerings, preschool could pay for the building. Admittedly, the high quality preschool was a service to the community; but really? Pay off a church building on preschool fees?
My foreign home had a different practice. Following the cultural norm, I enrolled my daughter in preschool. I became suspect when my usually happy child commenced crying every day on the way to “school.” I asked advice of the locals. Their response: “Did you give money to the teachers?” “I paid the school fee.” “No. No. No. You have to slip an envelope (a bribe) to the teachers. Otherwise, the teachers won’t watch out for your child. Your child will get beat up by the other children. Don’t you do that in America?” I immediately withdrew my child from school.
Preschool as preparation
A Singaporean mom told me that the child’s stack of school work for the year should be the height of the child. A child needs preschool to be prepared for the serious business of kindergarten. Maybe in Singapore, but we’re not Singapore. We’re the USA. Have we have created a culture where a child can go to the first day of kindergarten “behind.” This is a mystery to me. How can a child stand at the starting line “behind” in education? The studies focus on at-risk children who are not being parented; but kids who have parenting parents ought not be considered “behind” when their formal education begins.
Parents have been duped and threatened by educators and popular opinion into thinking that preschool is essential to a child’s academic success.
Unless you’re looking for someone to do your parenting or you can’t bear the public disgrace of your child not attending “school,” home is still a great place for kids. Save the preschool fees. Preschool is socialist indoctrination in disguise when you think about the fact they’re being trained not to think for themselves and not to have family helping them with it. Routine, routine, routine. Invest that money for the next 15 years and pay for a year of university or trade school. You can offer your child more than any preschool. You are the parent. You maintain a safe, clean-enough home. You can play and build a sense of family. On the first day of kindergarten, the preschool kids may have an edge on their ability to line up and open milk cartons; but I promise you, by the end of second grade, the educators won’t know who the preschool kids were and who the stay-at-home kids were. But you, Mom, will know, and you will always remember the early years with everyone together at home.