We went to parent orientation last night at Asher's new preschool.
I left with mixed emotions.
On one hand, it's a really great place for any kid to spend the morning. They have a giant submarine slide in the atrium. They have a music teacher, P.E. teacher, and speech therapist on staff (at a PRESCHOOL). They have teachers who clearly love children and love teaching - bubbly women, all of them, with bouncy hair and quick laughs. You think I'm making this up, but I'm not. His teacher even said to the group last night, "If I could bottle my own children up, I would keep them three forever." A woman after my own heart (how many times have I made that exact statement about two-year-olds? And how many times have I gotten the exact same look of disbelief that the other parents gave her last night?) They have an auditorium just for three-year-olds (which they need, because they have a ton of them). They have an indoor and outdoor playground. This is one decked-out preschool, friends, for only a little more money than we spent last year, when he attended school in a church basement twice a week.
But more than the building, this school has a reputation for being very loving. Nobody ever gripes about their rigid expectations, and we won't have to deal with Asher getting in trouble for not coloring his picture correctly at this school. Which is why we've chosen to send him here, specifically - their highest goal is for preschoolers to learn to love being at school, and to that end they seem to be succeeding. The six hundred or so parents who showed up for orientation last night are a testimony to the fact that parents and kids both really love this school.
Here is my concern: Asher is essentially repeating a grade. They put him with the three-year-olds last year, because in the two-year-old room (even though he was still two) he was getting bored, leaving the table, and finding his own fun. Now he's in with his peers, surrounded by three-year-olds again. As she was going over the curriculum for the year, my heart sank a little. He already knows everything they're going to be learning. Is he going to be bored again?
Now in general, in life, I'm pretty sure we will at least start out homeschooling, for exactly this reason. I want my kids to move at their own pace, and I don't want them in a desk for eight hours a day, particularly not when they are five years old. But I'm not sending him to preschool for the academics. I send him to meet people he wouldn't otherwise meet. To paint with macaroni and bang drumsticks in music class and generally learn to enjoy himself when I'm not in the room with him. A little autonomy is good for us all, and he really seems to enjoy having something that is just his. And if he's not completely overwhelmed by the size of this school (please cross your fingers that he's not), then he's going to really enjoy most of his time there. Snack time, art, music, playground, assembly ... it will all be great fun. Until it's time to sit at the table and talk about the letter A, and then he's going to ... what?
We'll see how this goes.