Deciding When to Send a Child to School

Since becoming pregnant, I have been deliberating long and hard about whether to send Gavin to playschool.  Before the discovery of my pregnancy, I had originally planned not to send him to any formal education until he was ready for kindergarten.

I felt that aside from the social interaction with children his age (which he seemed rather opposed to), he wasn’t really going to benefit from it since I was already engaging him with my own educational activities.  Besides, it has been said time and again that mothers (and I’m sure fathers, too) are the best teachers for young children.  So is it really necessary to send a young child off to a formal school setting to further his development?  Perhaps if you happen to be a parent who hasn’t the inclination for conducting early childhood educational activities with your child.

Personally, I felt pretty confident about taking on my son’s early childhood educational program and I certainly wasn’t intending on sending Gavin off to school until he was at least four.  But all that was before I became pregnant with my second child.

Now that a new baby was on the way, there were additional considerations to take into account and I had to weigh them up against the disadvantages of sending Gavin to school earlier than preferred.  Regardless of what name it falls under, sending Gavin to playschool is still akin to sending him to childcare.

Since the baby will be born before Gavin turned three, it meant I had to start Gavin at school before my minimum comfortable age of three years.  In order to help him get adjusted to the new routine and to reduce his association of being sent away with the arrival of the baby, I had to start him at school at least a couple of months before the birth of the baby.

Weighing up the Pros and Cons

The advantages of sending Gavin to school:

  • I get time to rest – I have to admit it has been exhausting trying to look after a toddler while being pregnant.
  • When the baby arrives, I will have dedicated time to spend with the baby without putting Gavin out because he will be busy at school.  Bonding time with a baby is very important especially in the baby’s first year.  With Gavin so attached to me, it might be difficult to achieve this while Gavin is home with us.
  • Gavin gets to engage in activities that I am too tired to do with him.
  • Gavin gets exposed to other children which will improve his social skills which are limited (but expected) for a first child who is looked after at home.
  • Gavin will learn new things that I may not have the time to teach him while looking after the new baby.

The disadvantages of sending Gavin to school:

  • He is a shy child who has never really responded well to new settings and sending him to school prematurely may be unnecessarily upsetting for him.
  • I would be sending him to school before my comfortable age of three (which is admittedly an arbitrarily selected age but given Gavin’s disposition, I think it is not unreasonable).

It seemed that there were more advantages than disadvantages for sending Gavin to playschool.  Regardless, I still felt a nagging guilt for sending him away.  Hence my need to write this post – it provided me with an opportunity to order my thoughts and justify the reasons for my choice.

There were two options available from the school – a half day program and a full day program.  Deciding that the full day program would be overwhelming for Gavin, I opted for the half day program.   Additionally, the half day program meant that Gavin would have more opportunity to interact with Gareth which I think is important for his development.

I, on the other hand, need to learn how to manage Gavin’s expectations and help ensure he still feels important in the family without having him resent Gareth.  A tall order, but something I believe must be done in order to build a strong foundation for the relationship between my two boys.

It is going to be a busy two weeks ahead of us since I’ll be attending school with Gavin to help him settle in.  I’m not sure if I’ll have the time (or energy) to blog about it over the next few days but I will get around to it once we’re through with orientation.

Babylicious

Published by Shen-Li

SHEN-LI LEE is the author of “Brainchild: Secrets to Unlocking Your Child’s Potential”. She is also the founder of Figur8.net (a website on parenting, education, child development) and RightBrainChild.com (a website on Right Brain Education, cognitive development, and maximising potentials). In her spare time, she blogs on Forty, Fit & Fed, and Back to Basics.

4 thoughts on “Deciding When to Send a Child to School

  1. A friend of mine started her daughter in school at 1 yr because she needed to return to work. She went to school with her daughter for the first two weeks and then went only once a week and now she doesn’t go with her daughter at all. That seemed to be a good way to transition.

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  2. Hi, Just passing through and read your comment. I’m in the same boat at the moment except my son is 2 and I am not pregnant. I too have noticed my child becoming more antisocial and I think it hurts him the older he gets especially as we watch the other kids his age playing around him. I also think he’s too dependent on me for his own good (I know there are many things he can do on his own that he “prefers” mommy to do for him).

    So bearing these things in mind, I am going to put him in halfday program in the fall. As he’s very clingy, I am expecting that he will be crying for up to 2 weeks before he settles down and will have to be sure to give him plenty of attention when he is not in class, but I think it will help him in the long run. I think it should be the case for Gavin too. Best of luck and let us know how it goes!

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  3. my 4 year old was diagnosed 2 days ago,she has just started to be more alert…being her system is low when should i consider haveing her return. as of noa she has been on amoxicillian for 2 days, but is still sleeping alot of the day. i know preschools are loaded with germs so want to make sure she is well enough to not get it again.

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  4. Thanks for the tips Clarissa. That’s what our school recommended as well. Gavin seems to be taking school a lot better than I had anticipated which is great.

    Anne – Yes, I know exactly what you mean. Gavin is exactly the same and I’m sure going to school will help him to get through that phase. I think the important thing is not to rush them and let them come into it on their own as they are ready for it.

    Rose – Unfortunately, where there are a lot of children, there will be a lot of germs. Kids going to school tend to get sick a lot. It’s tough on them and the parents who have to look after them while they’re feeling crabby and ill, but it does help to build their immunity. My cousin who sent her daughter to creche found she was often getting sick in her first year. Now her immunity’s been built up and she’s rarely sick. So I guess there is a plus side to having some exposure to common bugs.

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