Why My Kids Start Nursery School at Age Two
I'm a stay-at-home mom. I stay home because I choose to. I want to be home with my children, and I am fortunate to have a husband who supports me in doing so. So when I tell people I start my children in nursery school at age 2, it often sparks questions of “why?” If I am staying home with them, why take them to school at such an early age?
My oldest daughter was home with me, and she was an extraordinarily intelligent girl. She could sing her alphabet and point out every letter with its sound by the time she was 20 months old. But she was a mama's girl. In fact, she was never really without me. I would take her to playgroups, the library story hour, mommy-and-me class … but I was always with her.
She also didn't know how to interact with other children. She was a very verbal toddler, and she was trying to have adult/child conversations with other toddlers who just looked at her, confused. She gravitated toward adults who she could carry on a conversation with instead of her peers.
I found a program through the YMCA that starts nursery school at age 2, held just once a week for two hours. It takes the 2-year-olds through the routine of school. They learn through play, and they have snacks and do art projects. This was perfect for my daughter. It gave her the chance to get to know the routine of the classroom, and she also learned that it was safe to be away from Mommy for a few hours, and that there were other adults she could trust. She also was guided through engaging situations with other children her age.
When the children reach age 3, the program moves up to twice a week and includes more age-appropriate instruction, as well as a half-hour group swimming lesson once a week. My son is finishing up this 3-year-old class this year, and he has thrived in it. He's become much more confident and is so proud of what he learns in school and can't wait to tell me all about it. Unlike my daughter, my son struggled with his speech, but he has blossomed and has really come out of his shell in his class!
At age 4, they enter UPK (Universal Pre-Kindergarten) through our school district and are bussed each day for half a day to the primary school. I cannot even tell you what having two years of nursery school under their belt does to help them transition to UPK. They already know what school is all about. They've got the routines down, and they are ready for more. Instead of being thrown in the deep end, so to speak, they've been easing their way in and have grown comfortable!
It's still heartbreaking to watch your little 4-year-old get on the bus for the first time, but they are always more excited than nervous, and I stand there like a sad puppy watching them go.
These programs have been great for my children, and I would recommend them to anyone who was undecided about the route to take with their children. The YMCA is great because of their policy not to turn anyone away for inability to pay, and this applies to preschool as well. They have financial aid available for preschool for anyone who qualifies!
What programs have you considered for nursery school? Any that you would recommend? When did your little ones start school? Tell us in the comments!