Back to School: Five ways preschool helped my kids

As I write this, it is an early morning in May. Too early of a morning, actually. As the sun rises earlier and earlier, so do my children; especially the youngest, Lia. I started the day off exhausted. Getting all the girls ready so I could drop off the twins at UPK was not easy. They’re excited and distracted and I’m not in the mood to repeat myself. But we made it through and now the twins are having a blast. Today is bring-your-bike-to-school-day.

I want a lot for my kids, and as a mom I do my best to give them the most important things. I try to build up their character in truth and righteousness. I work with them to master academic standards to the best of their ability. I try to nourish their bodies and fill their lives with fun and laughter. But one thing I will not do is rely on myself alone to provide them with an education.

When the twins were three, it was easy to enroll them into a Christian preschool. The program was only two days a week and it was more fun than learning, but they did learn. They learned to walk in a line and raise their hands. They learned to treat other adults with respect. They even started learning how to write their names. By the time I enrolled them in UPK, they were ready for the program. It was a great transition year that lead into an even greater transition year.

Eve and Vera will soon be graduating from UPK (Universal Pre-Kindergarten) and I am bursting with pride for them! As September babies, they are among the youngest in their class and I started off the year wondering if it was too soon to prepare them for kindergarten. My concerns are now gone and, in the fall, my first two babies will be riding a big bus to spend the entire day at school (wah!).

Looking back over the year there is one thing I can say with complete confidence: My girls would not be ready for school if it was not for this Pre-K program. If anyone were to ask me, I would strongly encourage them to enroll their kids. I would say they are doing their kids, and themselves, a favor.

5 reasons I fully encourage UPK or Pre-K for kids:

Reason 1: 5-day instruction.

There’s a lot to be said for routine and consistency. I am thankful that my kids had a full school year of five-days-a-week classroom experience. Not only do I think the routine prepared them for next year’s more aggressive schedule, but I think they learned more by being exposed to the curriculum five days a week. They retained more and their growth over the year has been obvious to both me and their teachers.

Reason 2: Classroom exposure.

Since it was always my plan to enroll my kids into public school, I knew that they would have to learn how to behave in a classroom. Even with structure, home is much more of a free-for-all. In UPK, my kids learned how to work with a teacher, how to work in a group of other kids, and how to sit quietly and wait for their turn to be helped.

Reason 3: Transition away from home.

I LOVE being home with my kids during the day. But there comes a time in every kids’ life when they push beyond the walls of home. I will never fully let go of my kids or allow someone else to have the authority that only my husband and I should have over them, but UPK has prepared both them and me for that dynamic relationship that can and should exist between parents and teachers.

Reason 4: Expert help and encouragement.

I am incredibly thankful for the teachers who patiently instruct my children, identify their struggles and weaknesses and work with them to improve, challenge them to go beyond the basic requirements, and keep me informed on what is happening in the classroom and give me tips on how I can continue the effort at home. I want the experts working with me to educate my children.

Reason 5: Introduction to the school district.

Where you send your kids to school is a big deal. You’re essentially entrusting the most precious people on earth into someone else’s care. I could not do it if I wasn’t confident that the people interacting with my kids were right for the job. I got a glimpse into our school district this year, and it has boosted my confidence that my kids will be properly watched over.

At the end of the day, your kids are your kids. My kids are my kids. They are MINE. They aren’t the school’s. If at any point in time I feel like the instruction they are receiving or the setting in which it is being received is inappropriate, I can change it. As a parent that is my right and privilege. However, I do not approach the school system expecting to face such problems. I see it as an opportunity for my kids to receive instruction from trained experts whose sole purpose in their work is to help them succeed. I cannot ask for more than that.

How do (or did) you prepare your kids for school?

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