It’s Not All Mary Poppins

No such thing as too much preparation!!!

This has been a terrible year for enrollment and space-filling. Just terrible. I will tell you the Tale of Mary’s Rotten Year some other time, but for the purposes of this post, it’s enough that you know that I was pleased to have only one and a half spaces yet to fill for September. (Yes, September. In this area, spots fill that far in advance.)

My enrollment for the fall is: Rosie (who’ll be 3); Gwynn (who’ll be two); Poppy’s little sister (a year); and new baby girl (also a year, signed the contract six weeks ago). Three full-times and a part-time. Now, I would prefer five fill-time children, but I can get by on three and a half. And I have lots of time to find another to start in the summer.

And then, on Friday, at pickup, Rosie’s mom comes through the door with a bottle of wine.

No, that didn’t raise any suspicions. No need to cue the sinister music. Rosie’s parents bring me bottles of wine with delightful frequency, for one thing or another. This time, it was because Rosie had taken a tumble a day or two earlier, resulting in a bruise on her forehead.

Well, no. I didn’t get a bottle of wine because I let their child suffer an injury. I got the bottle of wine for what followed. Apparently, mummy asked daughter, “And when you fell, did Mary give you a hug?” To which Rosie answered, accurately, “Yes! And a kiss!”

The bottle of wine, mum explained, was for the love and care I give the children, for the warm and safe environment I create here.

Oh, that’s so lovely. Thank you!

And that’s why they’re moving her to preschool in September.

Okay, so she didn’t put it quite like that. But that’s what it amounts to.

They’re putting her in preschool this fall to “get her ready” for school the following year. Because my home is such a safe, protected, nourishing environment, you see, and they think she should be exposed to something a little bigger, a little more like the school that will follow the year after.

(Huh. Call me cynical if you will, but I’m thinking the bottle of wine is not strictly about the kiss-and-hug.)

My environment is warm and loving. Safe, secure. And that’s exactly why their little girl needs to leave it! Because goodness knows a two-year-old can’t be doing with all that love and security! The girl needs to be toughened up! By September she will be a newly-minted three-year-old. Time for some Hard Knocks, kid.

Am I feeling a tad bitter? Yes, I am. Not just because my projected income is taking another (yet another) hit — though I can’t pretend that doesn’t factor in — but because this is just … silly.

Let’s back it up a bit, shall we? There was a time when children started school in first grade, when they were about six. That’s why it’s called, you will note, “first” grade. Then we invented kindergarten, designed to get them ready (socially mostly, though for some kids the academic aspect was significant as well) for grade one. Then we invented junior kindergarten, to get them ready for the rigors of playdough and circle time.

And now we’re sending them to preschool, to ready them for JK, to ready them for SK, to ready them for Grade One? Does this not seem a tad overwrought? Just how demanding do we imagine this transition to be? Just how frail do we think our children are? And what’s next? Are we somehow going to get right there into the womb to prepare them for the challenges of outside living?

Oh, well. I’m exasperated, not panicked. I think they’re over-reacting, but they’ve always been a little anxious, and it’s an anxiety driven by emotion, not careful thought, so this is not out of character. Though they’re very nice people — really nice! warm, kind, friendly, appreciative — their anxiety has made them a little troublesome as clients. So I won’t be sorry to see them go. I will be sorry to see Rosie go. She’s quirky, funny, smart, and all-round adorable. She’s also a follower and an echo-er. She doesn’t originate much. She doesn’t think of things to do, she just follows. I was very curious to see how she’d evolve when, in September, Daniel and Poppy head off to Junior Kindergarten, and she emerged as The Big Girl. I was curious. More, I was looking forward to it. I thought it would be good for her, encourage the development of a more active part of her character.

Guess I won’t be seeing that after all … sigh…

I would have told them this, had I realized they were considering this course of action. Had I been consulted. Which I wasn’t. Now, I may still try to make these points, but I fear that they will fall on deaf ears, or, at any rate, ears already convinced of the rightness of their chosen course of action, and unlikely to be dissuaded.

I’m not even sure I want to dissuade them. As I say, they’ve been a mite troublesome as clients. And Rosie won’t be injured by their decision. She’ll just — maybe — develop a little differently, not get to develop/explore a potential strength. Maybe.

But seriously?

Preschool to ‘get her ready’ for Junior — JUNIOR! — Kindergarten?


February 26, 2014 - Posted by | daycare, parents, Peeve me, Rosie | , ,


  1. I don’t know what to say about this, I really don’t.

    At least in the circles I run in, this pushing for readiness doesn’t seem to be front of mind for many people. There aren’t any drop-off programs other than daycare / dayhome for kids under three (and they have to be fully potty-trained, too).

    Now, my own 26 month old would LOVE to go to half-day preschool – and frankly if they’d take him, I’d love to send him. He’s a gregarious, extroverted soul who loves nothing better than a roomful of kids and new toys to play with. BUT, if such a thing were possible, I’d send him two mornings a week and let him stay home the rest of the time. The daily grind of school/work starts all too soon and lasts for decades… why push things?

    I’m sorry that your client-load is uncertain at the moment. I hate that unsettled feeling. 😦

    Two half-days a week for a gregarious child sounds just about right to me. This child is not gregarious, and needs encouragement to socialize. Will she get that in a larger setting, where her quiet compliance will probably render her largely invisible? I know from when I was teaching that it can be easy to miss the children who are peaceably not being pains in the butt…

    Comment by Hannah | February 26, 2014 | Reply

  2. Don’t fret you will fill your space…its a shame you may have a lot of babies all at once….but your next family will find you.
    My thoughts on preschool are simply that if a child is in some daycare even part time then they are socialized and already prepared for JK. They sit still while a lady in a rocking chair sings songs and reads stories. They practice their printing, paint, color, glue feathers onto colorful crafts and even occasionally get to handle scizzors. She is all set. This preschool concept is silly and completely unnecessary to take her from the friendships she has made so young. Humph. Parents are morons.

    I’m sure I will fill it. As Hannah said, I hate that unsettled feeling, but I’m now advertising far more aggressively than I generally have to. Something will turn up!

    I think preschool is unnecessary, and yes, it is uprooting her from established relationships. I can’t go so far as to call her parents morons, however. As I said, they’re very, very nice people, warm and appreciative with me, and wanting the best for their child. I disagree with them on this point, obviously, but morons, they’re not.

    Comment by K from London ON | February 26, 2014 | Reply

    • Oh my love, I didn’t mean her parents are morons. I just say things like that when I can’t get my head around someone else’s way of thinking. It helps me shrug it off and not take it personally. No road rage here… I shake it off.
      Last year one of my parents decided to keep her daughter with me and skip JK. She decided that there was no need. Mom had been home schooled and would rather pay full time daycare for another year than send her into the big wide world. I felt the exact same way about sending my first child to school, so I completely understood. Since all the other older friends were leaving for school she would be left to play with 2 year olds. She was becoming cheeky, opinionated and very domineering whenever my eldest daughter (6yrs old) was away visiting gramma. This really concerned me that this new miss bossy pants side of her would be running my daycare instead of me. Also she was no longer participating in my writing practice and crafts because all she wanted to do was play Barbie’s 8 hrs a day. She would even decline my offer for everyone to go outside and play. I stopped offering and just announced it was time. Grrr. I think she was bored and needed to be in JK to get her interested in learning and playing and imagination and everything that is great about being a kid. The last week in August her parents changed their minds and enrolled her in JK. Phew! I was so relieved. I lost a lot of income that September and I realized for the first time that money isn’t as important as I thought. Power struggles with determined 4 year olds are not cool with me. She loved school and is doing great. These parents made the right choice for sure!

      Comment by K from London | March 8, 2014 | Reply

  3. The same thing is happening to my daycare lady. Quebec governement has started to encourage Junior Kindergarten (I think that’s the equivalent – here it’s called prΓ©-maternelle), which starts at 4, so suddenly big daycares have all of these openings and they come preying on home daycares’ 3 year olds. She had a lot of trouble filling her spots last summer, even despite all her experience and all-around awesomeness. It’s really too bad. There are a lot of advantages to being the big kid amongst smaller children – as you obviously know – and these kids will spend at least fifteen years in school, isn’t that enough?

    And yet, despite all that… I’m worried my obviously-precocious kid won’t be “stimulated” enough at four in her home daycare and considering junior kindergarten! Being a (first-time) parent is hard. πŸ˜‰

    Junior Kindergarten is so well established here in Ontario that it never occurs to me that I’ll keep four-year-olds. Off they all go to JK. That’s the norm here. It is what it is.

    I rarely lose kids to preschool, however. Is that because of my teaching credentials? Because I do incorporate some school-type activities for the older children? (Entirely for our entertainment, I might add, not to ‘get them ready’ for anything!!) I don’t know, but I’m happy to report that this kind of poaching is not something I suffer from very often!

    I don’t think you’re mis-stepping to consider JK, either. You weigh the pros and cons: your child’s needs and preferences; the relationships she has at daycare; the programmes offered by the Kindergarten; the length of the day for her; the financial cost to you; the number of holidays, etc., etc. There’s a lot to take into account. But it would be nice if, since you obviously like and respect your home daycare provider, you brought her into the loop and sought her input, instead of presenting her with a fait accompli. The parents make the final decision (of course!), but it does seem fair that she should have an opportunity to present her perspective, too. You never know — she might agree your child is ready to move on!

    Comment by myrheille | February 26, 2014 | Reply

  4. You make such a nice point here. My daughter who is 3.5yrs old started preschool at 3yrs. She was home mostly between age 2-3 as we had another baby and I was on leave. The school I picked is small…homebased, run by a couple. I avoided large schools because she is one like Rosie – needs a lot of encouragement and can be easily missed. She is very different at home (a dominant, gregarious personality) but with new people, new situations, she is passive. I could not find any daycare (non-preschool) where she would fit. I wish we had people like you, and I’d have loved to let her continue until she turned 4.

    Also, your point about open dialogue with the caregiver is SO important. In fact, both ways is important – parents should also share few personality traits of the child that they see at home and overall, help create a loving, nurturing, and an environment of growth for their child.

    When my daughter started preschool, as I mentioned earlier, she would be quiet and hardly socialize. I used to tell her teacher a lot about what she did at home each day, and how she socializes with known people, what she is good at, what she hates. She has come a long way and loves all her friends at school, and I can see her true personality shining through outside of the home too.

    I DO think you should share your candid input with Rosie’s parents – it would be a loss to them if they didnt know. Even if they dont change their mind, it will benefit the child if the parents look out for her as she makes her transition to a new place.

    You make a good point here. Like your child, Rosie is a dominant force at home, and though I’ve talked with them about her different behaviour here, I’m not sure they’ve really ‘heard’ me. And now that you bring the idea to my attention, I’d bet good money they’ve not considered that 1) she’s more likely to behave at preschool as she does at my home (rather than as she does at home), and 2) the quiet passivity she exhibits at my home (and likely will at preschool) will affect her experience at preschool. Yes, they do need to know. Not so that they’ll change their minds about preschool, but so they have a fuller picture of the child that is their daughter, and will do better at seeing her needs are met at preschool. Thank you.

    Comment by shachi18 | February 26, 2014 | Reply

  5. Almost everyone in France starts their kids in public preschool at age 3, and I would have MUCH preferred to have kept my kids in a smaller, more nurturing environment, no question about it. Her teacher was wonderful and she did get some marvelous things out of it, but I definitely think there would have been a big big benefit to being able to work on relationships in a smaller group. Looking at the situation from this perspective and knowing that I did go ahead with it mainly because every other kid we knew of her age was going ahead with it, I am guessing the parents were worried she’d be the only “big girl.” And it is a shame they didn’t talk to you about it because perhaps they haven’t thought about her having a great chance to develop her leadership in a small group versus continuing to follow in preschool. Obviously no one knows what will happen and she may bloom in that environment, but I still think it’s a bit of a shame.

    Comment by Michelle E. | February 26, 2014 | Reply

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