Thursday, January 17, 2013

Pre-School Not For Me-School

Admission: My wife and I weren’t likely to send our triplets to preschool.  My wife recently raised the possibility of sending them a couple days per week, but in our initial conversations, we figured they wouldn’t need it.

Our kids receive a fair amount of social time with other kids between our friends and my wife’s meet ups with other triplet moms.  We read to them almost to a fault.  They do puzzles and listen to music and play games at home during the day.

If they already get social interactions and preschool-type education, what was the point? (And I stage this as an honest question.  If you have a good answer, please head to the comments and let me know.)

Then along comes this article suggesting that, if you are reading it – or this blog – you probably don’t need to send your kid to preschool.  See, if you care enough to read an article on the value, or lack thereof, of preschool, you are probably already doing a good job of parenting.

Kids of smart, well-to-do parents generally don’t need preschool, either because their parents have more time to interact with them or because smart parents tend to have smart kids.  It can help kids of less educated, less-well-off parents.  As to whether that help amounts to much is mixed, as the article notes.  Studies involving preschool are enormously flawed.  Studies of Headstart often show any benefit disappears shortly after real school begins, possibly because kids of less-intelligent parents are likely to be less intelligent.  So while Headstart might help fill in gaps those parents can’t fill early on, the kids are ultimately limited by their genes.  Maybe.

Not convinced?  The author suggests you apply but don’t worry if your child doesn’t get into a “first choice” preschool.  I’m Ok with this, except that the author just finished telling us how her husband “dragged” himself out of bed at 5 a.m., headed out to the preschool of their choice, waited in a line that eventually stretched around the building, and paid a $50 application fee.  All this 12 months in advance of the school season.

Sure, you can probably apply and not worry.  And sure, the time and expense probably isn’t a big deal.  But maybe, just maybe, you would be better off sleeping in just a bit and spending that time and $50 on your kid.  Your kid might be better off.

But if you aren’t inclined to believe me or the author, take this bit of wisdom from social psychologist Richard Nisbett, co-director of the Culture and Cognition program at the University of Michigan, on the value of preschool:

“It doesn’t make a damn bit of difference.”

Anyway, as the author of the article notes, if you read this far, preschool probably won’t make a damn bit of difference to your kid.

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