I'm Preparing My 3-Year-Old Preschooler for Harvard​ & I'm Not Sorry

She's only 3, but I can already tell my daughter is a wild child. It's possible she will run off and live in a commune for a year when she's 18. She'll probably play guitar in a band, write songs about death, and inspire concerned English teachers to call me every week. She's going to be attracted to the class clowns and the boys who wear cologne at age 12. It's entirely possible she'll give my husband a heart attack before she's out of her teens.

Believe it or not, I've made peace with most of these possibilities. All I ask in return -- the ONLY thing I ask in return -- is that she appreciates, no, LOVES school.

So far, so good. She just started nursery school and, literally, claps her hands when she wakes up and discovers it is one of the three days when she gets to carry her princess lunch bag like a big kid. And, in true psycho-mom fashion, I am seizing upon this once-in-a-lifetime moment by forcing my child to do homework assignments I create for her.


A lot of people I know rolled their eyes when they found out my daughter's nursery school was having a parent orientation. "She doesn't even need to be in school at age 3," my mother insisted. But, I argued, how could you advocate for not giving a child a head start in her education if the opportunity exists? Overall, I'm pleased with her school so far. Her teachers seem caring, the class size small. I dig that they'll be learning sign language and have art and music classes.

But I'd be a ginormous liar if I didn't admit that I left there and complained to my husband about how they were only teaching them numbers one through five and how she already knows that "A" is for "Apple" and needs to start reading basic words. And, heck, since everyone knows young children acquire language skills easily, why weren't they throwing in a Spanish lesson once or twice a week?

The short answer to all of my questions might simply be: because very young children aren't developmentally ready for those challenges yet and simply need to learn how to share toys and take turns. But that hasn't stopped me from using her newfound enthusiasm for school and trying to build upon it by setting aside 10 to 15 minutes each day where we work on homework assignments I create for her.

My homework isn't difficult and it isn't strenuous. We run through flash cards and return to letters and numbers that have given her some difficulty. I print out preschool worksheets from online stores, and we review our shapes and circle objects that are different or the same as others. She mostly gets a kick out of doing "big girl" homework and loves receiving stickers on the worksheets we complete.

But sometimes she gets frustrated. Bored. She refuses to provide the right answer, even when I know she knows it. In short, she acts like a totally normal 3-year-old -- one whom I'm not always certain I'm helping. What if my desire to see her succeed academically backfires and, in her terrible three's wisdom, encourages her to do the complete opposite?

What if my phonics worksheets -- the ones that have cute pictures of smart owls and tiger cubs who love to learn -- are actually creating a future high school dropout?

Still, I find it difficult to stand by and not be involved in my child's education. Her teachers will, obviously, be more qualified than me to teach her about most school subjects (I'm not touching quadratic equations with a 10-foot pole), but I'm going to do what I can when I can at home to ensure she finds success in school.

Even if she is only 3.

Do you think I'm going overboard?


Image via Catherine/Flickr

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