Choosing a Preschool

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kelly shealerThe thought of sending my first child to preschool always had me worried.

Not because I didn’t feel like I’d be ready to part with him, but because I didn’t know how preschool would fit in with Attachment Parenting and the positive discipline that he was used to. Would he be put in time-out? Would I have to leave him there when he was crying and screaming for me to stay?

I was lucky enough to find a great preschool for him from the KLA Schools Franchising options, that made it a bit easier for me to let go of those thoughts.

Change is not easy for my son, and he’s never been apart from me unless he’s been with other close family members, so this was a real concern. I’d heard stories from a fellow API Leader whose daughter struggled at the start of preschool. She had stayed to comfort her crying daughter to the point where she felt that the teachers were thinking, “Just leave her already!” I didn’t want that experience for my son or for myself.

We were very lucky that early in our search for a preschool, we found a place that fits so perfectly with my beliefs and my son’s needs. I was pretty much sold on the school when I first learned that parents are allowed and encouraged to stay as long as children need them to.

If I wanted and he needed, I could stay all day every day.

I was also so impressed by the teacher during our parent orientation. She talked about how when one child hurts another, he then takes on the role of doctor or helper — turning him into a hero rather than the “bad kid.” She explained how she takes the time to help children figure out a solution that works for everyone when they have an argument. I felt like I learned so many positive discipline techniques in that hour!

I was so comfortable with our decision to send my son to this school that when the first day came, I wasn’t nervous at all. I was only excited for him.

I stayed for his whole first day, because I felt like he needed that. That night, when I told him that I would stay for a little while the next day and then leave, he cried.

I thought about my reasons for leaving. Did I really need to leave? What if he really needed me with him?

I remembered my husband telling me about his first day of school and how he had cried and cried when his mother left him. I didn’t want my son to have that same memory so clear in his mind decades from now. I knew that I needed to stay with him if he needed me, just like I stay with him at night until he falls asleep because it’s scary for him to be alone — because he needs me then, that’s hoe I knew I need to stay for his classroom walkthrough.

The next morning, on his second day of school, I talked with his teacher about it. She stressed that I had to make up my mind whether I was leaving and not let him make the decision for me. She suggested that I leave for a short time, maybe just to the bathroom, and then return so he’d see that I’d always come back.

When I told him I was going to leave, he didn’t cry. He was too busy having fun. He was excited when I came back and wanted to tell me about what I’d missed, but he’d been fine the whole time I was out of the room.

Each day since then, I’ve stretched my time away from the classroom out longer and longer, and now I just stay for the beginning of class.

But I love that I always have the option to stay. Even if a month from now, he decides that he needs me again, I can be there for him.

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Author: Kelly Shealer

Kelly Shealer is the mom of 2 active boys and 1 adventurous girl, all born almost exactly 2 years apart. Kelly encourages imaginative play and messy art projects and sees everything as a learning opportunity. She also enjoys the library, relaxing at the beach and cooking Italian food. Kelly is a postpartum doula and API Leader in Frederick, Maryland, USA.

3 thoughts on “Choosing a Preschool”

  1. I enjoyed reading this. Most schools and most parenting articles/books/sites say or imply that a parent should just leave his/her child. He will stop crying soon. It’s the parent’s anxiety that causes the child’s. None of that ever felt right to me. And when we wanted my first son, who had always exhibited a high need for parental support and closeness, to go to preschool just to get some familiarity with the school environment before going to “real’ school, we found a small one at a local church where the teacher did not discourage my husband from staying as long as he wanted. It took a long time, several months, before he actually left. He gradually eased himself to the lobby, then the parking lot, before he drove off. Our son felt loved and supported. Unfortunately kindergarten did not offer us the same opportunity, and now at 15 (and attending school daily without parents! although he wished during the first weeks of high school that I could be there to support him) he still recalls clearly how that felt. It was hard for all of us. Anyway, I have often felt my husband and I were the only ones who thought that staying with a child in school was a desirable thing so I am glad to read your article.

  2. I really enjoyed this article. It’s always to find a preschool with teachers that are so willing to work with parents, especially with first time preschoolers. It’s so important to find the preschool that meets both the parent and child’s needs. Thank you for sharing your story!

  3. I appreciate that this post shared that attending a preschool tour is beneficial as it will give us the opportunity to evaluate the preschool. My wife and I are planning to send our preschooler. So, I will insist on a tour.

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