A funny thing happened when my daughter turned three.
All of a sudden, she was more big girl than baby. Fits were fewer and further between. She was finally potty trained. And she asked questions.
So many questions.
ALL THE TIME WITH THE QUESTIONS.
So much so, that I started researching our options for preschool. It was a bittersweet decision – she had been at a loving, caring child care facility since she was a baby and the thought of moving her from that environment brought tears to my eyes. But ultimately, I felt that a true preschool program would be the best thing for her.
The catch? I work full time and needed something that could accommodate those hours. Oh, and I needed the price to be comparable to what we were already paying for childcare.
Our answer was found at St. Mary’s Episcopal School in Edmond.
Not only were my husband and I impressed by the school’s facilities, we felt immediately at home and knew that St. Mary’s would offer the loving, supportive environment we wanted for her to begin her academic journey.
Ultimately, there were more reasons than I could list here that helped us make our decision in sending our daughter to St. Mary’s, most of which could be neatly summed up as “listening to my mommy gut”. But these were some that I could actually quantify to my husband.
Why Preschool Matters
1. A strong foundation
When children are young, they are learning sponges. Every new experience, every behavior they adopt, every skill they learn is an investment in their future. We knew that this young age was the time to make a choice that would positively impact her future learning and that there was no better time to do so than her early childhood years.
Preschool offers her the opportunity to grow in self-help skills, become more responsible, treat others with kindness, and gain confidence. In fact, the National Institute for Early Education Research found that a majority of children who attend a high-quality preschool enter kindergarten with better pre-reading skills, richer vocabularies, and stronger basic math skills. Sign. Me. Up.
2. Certified Teachers
As we all know, teachers are heroes among us. But PRESCHOOL teachers? Ya’ll. They are just magic. Can you imagine having a productive day in a room full of 3-year-olds? That’s exactly what they do – every single day.
When a teacher has his or her degree in Early Childhood Education, they are equipped to engage children and cultivate their love of learning in more ways than you can imagine. My husband and I felt so confident in our preschool choice knowing that an experienced, career educator would be teaching our child. These classrooms are rich in content and full of age-appropriate information and materials.
3. Learning through play
This was a major part of our decision-making process – while I wanted my daughter in a more traditional preschool program, I still wanted her to go to school and have FUN! Quality preschool programs will introduce pre-math and pre-literacy skills through games, activities, and manipulatives. St. Mary’s early childhood classrooms have shelves full of table toys, play kitchens, and reading nooks. I didn’t even have to ask on our tour if they learn through play – it was apparent that they are given ample time for imaginative play, along with structured group and teacher time.
4. Early Introduction to Spanish, science, music, and technology
There is no better time than early childhood to expose children to new subjects! St. Mary’s has dedicated Spanish, science, music, and technology teachers that educate children from preschool all the way on up through 5th grade. Knowing that our 3-year-old would receive instruction from true subject matter experts was so impressive to us! Now seeing the genuine relationships she’s formed with all of those teachers is the true gift. My husband and I have always believed that more loving adults we have pouring into our children, the better.
5. Before and After School Programs
I’ve always been a full time working mama and was quick to assume that private preschool wouldn’t be an option for us because the hours didn’t seem to be working-parent friendly. Not so with St. Mary’s! They offer before and after school care that is similar to typical daycare hours and even have some full day care options that accommodate teacher in-service days. Our daughter absolutely loves her time spent after school playing with friends, so much so that most days I struggle to get her to leave!
All in all, I couldn’t be happier with the growth and joy I’ve seen in my daughter after choosing to send her to preschool. It certainly wasn’t the cure for All. The. Questions. In fact, she’s more curious than ever! But I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Author’s Note: A few months after enrolling my daughter at St. Mary’s Episcopal School, I was given the opportunity to step into the role of Admissions and Marketing Director for the school. I now have the joy of introducing new families to St. Mary’s and I hope that every child who walks through our doors have the same wonderful experience as my daughter.