Full-time preschool at 3 years old?

Discussion in 'The Toddler Years(1-3)' started by SMax, Jan 5, 2011.

  1. SMax

    SMax Well-Known Member

    Ladies, I really need some help thinking through our situation as it is weighing on my mind a lot right now:

    DH and I both work full-time outside of the home and have zero family in the area. The kiddos have been at home with a nanny since they were 7 months old and that has been a fantastic arrangement for us (but quite expensive!). Our current nanny is pregnant and will leave us at the end of February. We plan to hire our next nanny on a 6-month contract since we are on the list to begin preschool this fall (the kiddos will be 3 years 2 months) and I am struggling with our option of either part-time or full-time. I would really like to hear your thoughts on the matter...I keep weighing the pros/cons of each situation and I cannot come to a clear decision.

    1. Send the kiddos to full-time preschool; DH and I could adjust our work hours so that the kiddos will be at school from 8:30-3:30 each day; this would be the cheapest option (not that I want to put a price on it, but I am looking forward to the day when we have more disposable income) and seemingly the simplest option for coordinating

    2. Send the kiddos to part-time preschool and find a nanny to pick them up and bring them home for naps/playtime/etc; this would be doable if we can find a part-time nanny willing to work from 12:30-4:30 each day...not sure how easy that would be? Plus, what happens on the days that the kiddos or the nanny is sick?

    3. Keep the kiddos home for another year with a nanny and send them at 4 years old to full-time preschool (we can postpone our admission for a year); I imagine we could find activities to enroll them in during the day with the nanny, but the added cost is worrisome as we are pretty much near our limit with a full-time nanny who gets paid overtime

    Some other notes:
    - the preschool runs on a "play-based" philosophy and the kiddos get outdoors 2-3 times a day for recess
    - there is the chance that our kiddos will not go to Kindergarten at age 5 (holding them back because of age), so they would have two years of preschool followed by 1 year of pre-K if we send them this fall.
    - our kiddos are super social and would likely enjoy the preschool scene!

    Any thoughts?
    (Thanks for reading if you made it this far!!)
  2. kingeomer

    kingeomer Well-Known Member TS Moderator

    I think all of the options you listed are good ones and would work out for your kids. I would lean towards option 1 because at least you are just paying for preschool and not a nanny on top of it (if finances are a concern), plus you mentioned that your two are super social so I don't think it would bother them if they had to do two years of preschool.
    Good luck with your decision!
  3. becasquared

    becasquared Well-Known Member TS Moderator

    I want to put my two in full time preschool. /pout

    But they're in full time daycare for now. I personally would put them in full time preschool.
  4. Fran27

    Fran27 Well-Known Member

    I'd put them in preschool too but you'll need something else when school is off.
  5. Aeliza

    Aeliza Well-Known Member

    I have mine on full days three times a week in a preschool. That works for us, but there are a lot of parents that have their kids there full time. The kids there are very happy when I pick up my boys. I agree with Nancy, go with option #1 cause you won't have to pay for a nanny on top of everything. But have a babysitter available that you can feel comfortable picking your kids up if one were to get sent home from school for being sick or what have you. Just know that is likely to happen mostly in the first year they are in school...whatever school you put them in and whenever you put them in school, kids get sick and their immune systems need to build up. Schools don't send kids home for having a cold though, just for fevers, diarrhea, vomiting, or anything that looks like it could be contagious like pink eye.
  6. SMax

    SMax Well-Known Member

    You are all making me feel better as option #1 is really the easiest for our family (plus, the school operates year-round). I honestly expected a lot of votes for option #2 or #3 since those seem like what most kiddos experience when they have a parent caring for them at home (insert "working mommy guilt" here).

    My biggest worry is having them in a school-like setting at that age. Plus, they have a good chance of attending 2 years of preschool PLUS a year of pre-K before they even get to Kindergarten. I do not want to burn them out before they get there???

    But, like I said, the preschool is play-based, so I imagine they will be doing lots of fun activities, plus all the messy stuff that they do not get to do at home. The second time I visited, the kiddos in the 3-4 room were playing at a large table that had been covered with tons of shaving cream. That kind of activity would NEVER happen in our house :)
  7. Fran27

    Fran27 Well-Known Member

    Where I come from all kids have preschool from 3 to 6, so it's really not that uncommon. And honestly, it's fun at that age. The only thing really is that if it's a real preschool you will have to find another childcare option during school holidays.
  8. Aeliza

    Aeliza Well-Known Member

    It's true. Mine is a full on school. They come home filled with new songs and words. They have artwork and TONS to say. They get so excited when they know they are going to school. At first they'd cry when we dropped them off, but that was because kids don't like change. But after a few weeks (that was so hard to watch, but I learned to be patient), they stopped crying and understood that we will always come back and pick them up. Now, they don't want to leave school when we pick them up! They obviously have so much fun.
  9. KCMichigan

    KCMichigan Well-Known Member

    I would say options 1 or 2.

    It depends on your kids. One of my DDs would not have been able to do all day , everyday at age 3. She needs down time to function---but that is her. My other DD would have loved it.

    If you go option 1---what will you do for breaks (summer, Holiday, spring, inservice days??)

    If you go option 2--- a college student would be ideal
    (elem. major or early childhood major) for that schedule.

    I teach 3 yr olds---we go twice a week for 2.5 hours. Some kids really could handle more and love it, others have a hard time with even that much. We are play based and it is great! We have lots of fun and it is a great age for learning social skills!

    Either way-- you cant go wrong. If you try all day preschool and it does not work---cut back to half day and get a nanny! Nothing is set in stone.
  10. Sofiesmom

    Sofiesmom Well-Known Member

    My twins have been in full time preschool (5 mornings, 3 hours) since 2y8m (K-1). They started K2 in September and are now doing 2 full days (til 3) and 3 mornings. In August they'll be going to Primary School (Year 1) so 5 full days from 8.15 - 2.40 plus a 35-40 minute bus ride, so I am trying to prepare them for that. My oldest was 6 months older when she started Primary since she's May born, but they go by birth year (with a 1 Jan cut off) so the twins will go a year earlier than most school systems (plus they'll start with reading and writing which is another year earlier compared to my home country where we start at age 6, so basically 1st Grade). I've always had that in mind. But they've always been very happy as well. I would definitely do it.
  11. AmynTony

    AmynTony Well-Known Member

    I'd go with option 1 also...our pre school is also play based and mine go 3 full days a week (just do to costs) and they LOVE it!! They've been going 3 days a week since they were 2 - at that age it wasn't pre-school per se but its still such an enrichment!
  12. Trishandthegirls

    Trishandthegirls Well-Known Member


    We were faced with the exact same decision at almost exactly the same age. We had a wonderful nanny for two years, and she left to go back to college when my girls were turning 3. I struggled with whether to find another nanny, put my girls in daycare, or find a full day preschool. In the end, we went with a full day (8:30 - 3) Montessori school... and it has worked out wonderfully. The transition from home to school was so much easier than I expected. We did a week of transition, where P & C went for 1 hour the first day, 2 hours the second day, etc. By Friday of that week they stayed the full day and woke up Monday morning raring to go. The most difficult part of the transition for me was the illnesses they contracted. For the first two months someone in our house had a cold, or the flu, or a stomach bug pretty much every week. We just passed around all the new germs. Plan for this as you're looking at those first months - you'll be off of work for a few days here and there as you deal with sick kids and sick you.

    A couple of things to think about in advance: how will you handle sick days? how will you handle teacher seminar days and other random days off? snow days? school vactions? and is the school year-round or will you need to find another option for the summer? I hadn't prepared for so many days off, so the first few months were a bit stressful as both DH and I took time out of work.

    Since my girls started school, I've watched multiple new families transition in, and I've only seen one child who just wasn't ready for a full day out of the house (he was 2.5 and not at all verbal). Every other kid has just moved into the school like it's the most natural thing. So from my very un-statistical sample, I say don't worry about the fact that your girls will only be 3. They'll make the switch and love it!
  13. Minette

    Minette Well-Known Member

    I know it's different because my kids have been in FT daycare/preschool their whole lives, but I just wanted to chime in that we've loved preschool. It's totally play-based (they're just doing letters/numbers now to get them ready for K). Many of the kids have been together since they were babies, but each year a few new kids start and they always seem to get the hang of it quickly.

    Personally, I think the preschool/nanny combo would be harder on kids -- more transitions and different caregivers.

    As PPs have said, the one thing to watch out for is the sick time. Mine don't get sick much anymore, but the first winter they were mobile and in daycare, wow. I think I was out or work practically a day a week (including snow days, of which there were several) from September to January. If you have a babysitter or back-up care that you trust and could keep sort of "on call," that would be perfect, but if not, be prepared to miss a lot of work.

    You sound pretty confident that your kids would enjoy preschool and you like the school itself -- don't feel guilty if it happens to be the cheapest and most convenient too! It just sounds to me like you hit the jackpot. (And it's even year-round!) :good:
  14. ECUBitzy

    ECUBitzy Well-Known Member

    I think full-time preschool sounds like a great option! In my opinion, the earlier kids are in structured (even loosely structured) environments with other children and with non-parent authority figures, the better they would do once they reach school age. It would seem to me that it would help with discipline, following instruction, peer interaction, etc etc. I might look into this as an option when my girls reach this age!
  15. SMax

    SMax Well-Known Member

    I never really thought about it from this angle...very good point! Thanks :)
  16. SMax

    SMax Well-Known Member

    I just wanted to say THANK YOU to all for the helpful and supportive comments! I feel much better about the situation :)
  17. twinboys07

    twinboys07 Well-Known Member

    I know I'm late in replying, but I just wanted to tell you that I sent my kids to preschool full-time, 6 hours per day, at age 3 yrs 2 mos. It has been the best thing I ever could have done for them! I was nervous about a rough transition, but they honestly barely skipped a beat. They missed me, of course, but the socialization was/is great for them. :)
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