Preschool Causes Parents Unnecessary Stress & Drama

Sasha Brown-Worsham
30

If you live in a major city in the US, the competition for preschool can be intense. We have all read about the interviews, essays, and waiting lists and some of us have even experienced them. When my daughter was 2 and I started looking at preschools, I can remember the stress all too well.

Will we get into the one we want? Which is the best? Should we go with play- or academic-based? When do we need to apply to have the best shot at getting off the waiting list?

Since many schools want diversity, I wondered if we were too boring/average to get in anywhere

Now we're in a bilingual preschool that we caught just as it opened two years ago when my daughter was ready to go. Since my daughter was already attending, once my son was 2, he was able to get in without the waiting list, too. But it's a stressful, annoying part of city life, which is why I found it off-putting that a woman writing into Motherlode was complaining about her preschool experience with the YMCA in Staten Island, New York.

Needless to say, I felt like an absolute lunatic leaving my house at 4:30 a.m. in a snow storm to secure a place in a class where my son would spend 2 1/2 hours finger painting and reciting the alphabet two days a week! And for this privilege, by the way, we’ll be paying $2,000 a year (more or less what my parents paid to send me to private high school in the mid-nineties!).

Wow, seriously? She is complaining about $2,000 a year. She lives in New York for god's sake! Maybe I'm just bitter because I got the news recently from our accountant that for us financially, the choice to go back to work, given the cost of preschool, actually hurt us.

To me, $2,000 a year seems like a bargain (mine is a lot more. A LOT MORE for three days/two kids). I know it isn't like this everywhere, but as bad as she thinks it is, I am here to tell her, it can always get worse.

It seems so unfair. Shouldn't preschool be as simple as school is? Why is there no good public option for children 2 years, 10 months and older?

There has to be a better way. Preschool matters, but the way we are doing it now seems so wrong. Recent studies are showing that play is more important than academics at the preschool level, and preschool is more important than ever, so why is it so dang expensive and hard to get into?

Perhaps I would feel less bitter toward a woman who only pays $2,000 a year and has family willing to help her if our society as a whole placed more value on early education and found a way to subsidize it.

How do you pay for preschool?

 

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