Recently, my twins' preschool went through a number of personnel changes and I decided to look into some other options. I considered keeping them at the same school, enrolling them in a new school, home-schooling them, or just keeping them at home.
Finding a preschool for my twin girls was easy the first time around: When they were 2 1/2, we enrolled them in the same preschool as our oldest child. We already knew we loved the environment, all the families of the kids who attended, and the teachers, and the twins were comfortable going to the school to drop off their big brother. We also felt reassured, of course, knowing that the girls would be together and would have each other.
I will be honest with you, though: The first few months were still very hard. There were lots of tears—mine and the girls'. But once we all adjusted to the new arrangement, it was great!
I kept the twins in the same preschool the following year. They were in the same class both years. I planned to put them in separate classes for their third year. I figured, why not do it in an environment they knew well and were comfortable in?
Then the director of the school resigned, and the school lost its assistant director and seven teachers.
After considering all my options, I followed my gut and decided to enroll them in a different preschool. I ended up keeping them in the same class. Since it is a new environment for both of them, I thought it would help with the adjustment. They go four days a week in the afternoon; last year, they were in a three-day program. I think the new schedule will help prepare them for kindergarten next year.
Preschool is an adjustment for parents too, and I wanted to share some of the lessons I have learned.
When to Start Preschool
Deciding when to start preschool is a personal decision. I felt my girls could start at 2 years old because they had each other and were so familiar with the school. Your situation may be different. Some things to consider:
- Can you afford it? There are co-op schools out there that work for many families.
- Do you feel your children need the socialization/challenge?
- Do you feel you need the time/break for yourself? (I know I did!)
Choosing a Preschool
Ask around and read reviews (mommy groups are a great reference), but also keep in mind that every child is different so everyone's experience will be different. Doing research can be helpful, but trust your gut too. It's also important to remember that it's not a decision you are stuck with forever or can't change. A few tips:
- Visit the school. You want to get that warm and fuzzy feeling when you're there.
- If your children have special medical needs, be sure the school has staff members who are qualified to administer any medicine if needed.
- Make it convenient. Don't look into schools that are far from your home, and be sure the hours work with your schedule.
- Look for a school with diversity in its offerings. Preschool should be fun yet engaging. Music, art, and science programs allow for a great experience.
Believe it or not, there is homework in preschool—but it is more for you than for your children. For example, I had to find pictures that began with certain letters each week. I often found myself hurrying to print off pictures in the morning, making things hectic. I found out quickly it wasn't a big deal if my kids didn't have their pictures. The teachers don't want you to have to stress over it.
I remember apologizing to the teacher one day because my girls didn't bring in their "show and share" bags. The teacher said that it happens all the time and if all the kids came in with their show and share bags, there wouldn't be enough time to give each child a turn. This was good to hear and made me feel better.
In terms of homework:
- Look at the week ahead and plan so you aren't stressing out at the last minute (although that sometimes happens even when you do plan ahead).
- Have a calendar you can look at daily with any reminders for due dates, field trips, etc.
- Know that if your twins don't turn something in, it's no big deal. It's preschool!
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