Since our daughter has started kindergarten last September I have had many discussions with family and friends, mostly controversial ones, about the pros and cons of daycare, about the timing, necessity of kids to go there, from what age and the list could go on. During these talks I usually feel like running against the wall and my voice pretty much unheard. More so I feel like being taken as the overprotective mother who is simply not able to let her child go. Well maybe that is true and maybe that’s not wrong.
Within the past year when our child and us experienced kindergarten I have been trying to make peace with myself some days with more and on some days with less success. We have decided to start her at the age of 1 and this was way too early for both her and me. Our first 6 months have been a struggle and no-one will ever convince me that it was okay to do it that way. We are pretty okay now with some days better than the others. She is usually leaving home in good mood and the number of days where she is crying when being left there has drastically reduced. Her teacher is telling me that she still gets home sick and misses us often during the day but all in all she is settled and I know she is in a good place.
During this year we have experienced a lot, I have also been reading a lot about the education of small children and based on that I try make a few points whenever there is a discussion about kids and kindergarten.
Firstly I would like to underline that I do not think that kindergarten is a bad place. It can be a wonderful, caring environment where children feel safe and appreciated and have fun. It is also an environment that only kindergarten can offer, the company of other children without the presence of the parents.
Still the timing for every kid to be able to feel safe and good about kindergarten can be very different. Some can adjust well from an early age, some simply have to having no other choice and some other have long struggles like our daughter also had.
Nowadays when I read about the daily life of stay at home mums or talk to people who actually decided to stay longer than a year I always think how lucky those children are to get the chance to spend their first few years of life next to their parents. I also get filled with bad conscious for not having done this for our child and try to convince myself that it was simply the way we had to go. We try to make the most out of the free time that we have together to compensate.
I know that sadly many kids are better off at kindergarten but so many are just better off at home. Staying at home with your kid doesn’t mean like so many people imagine a totally chaotic day. On the contrary, you can do and teach so many things to your child about their environment, about caring for themselves, getting involved in the household to the level there are ready for. You can follow their rhythm have mornings in pajamas and afternoons outside in the rain or the sun, collect leaves, stones, paint talk about what you see. Things that kids can only experience when they get one to one attention. According to many studies kids until the age of two are unripe for being left in large communities without any of their parents being present. Also, they can learn the most from their surroundings and get ever more independent if they get the one to one attention that they so desire. This doesn’t mean spoiling. It means setting limits gently, respectfully but letting children be what they are little, messy explorers. Some will say but kids need structure and discipline and they can only learn this at kindergarten. Those people are so wrong. Kids can get structure and discipline from home in a gentle and playful and respectful way without entering the troubles of real life too early.
This is the main message that I would like my family and friends to understand. I am not against kindergarten at all I just think that we are rushing our kids too early in there when we could offer them so much more at home in those first few years. It also makes me very happy to see a growing community of parents who choose to make the financial sacrifice of those few years and try to educate their pre-school kids at home. There are many opportunities to do with kids starting from sports to music class. These are all things that I cannot do with my daughter being full time in kindergarten and me back at work. She will certainly learn a lot in kindergarten maybe even music and sports but we won’t be able to experience it together. And this is what makes me feel sad so often during the day. I am not afraid of her being unwell at kindergarten I am just sad about all the unrecoverable days that we spend separated and all the first experiences she will make without us being on her side.