Preschool?! Everyone is doing it. From the time my son was one I had people asking me where I planned to send him to preschool. For goodness sake people, he isn’t sleeping through the night…. so neither am I! I have no idea where, when, or what preschool will look like for my one year old. And that’s okay.
As a credentialed teacher, and someone very passionate about education and early starts, it seemed preschool was a shoe in for our family. There are so many benefits to early education and being in a classroom environment for our preschool aged kids. This past February my son, Josiah, turned three (how is that possible?!) and I started to think about preschool. Within the last year our family moved to Denver, Colorado and so when a preschool fair was held at our community center Josiah and I checked it out. After speaking with eight different program directors while trying to keep my three year old under control, I was feeling overwhelmed. There were some awesome options and many of the programs met the criteria I had for choosing a school that would truly benefit my son, but I couldn’t get over one thing. The price! The absolute cheapest option was $155 per month for two days a week, two and a half hours each. Five hours a week for ten months. Fifty hours (if he was well and we didn’t have any schedule conflicts) to the tune of $1550.
I kept going back and forth on the decision. Enrollment for the best fitting preschool started two weeks after the fair. If I wanted Josiah to join I had to act fast so he could get one of 14 spots. I felt so much pressure making the decision. There were many reasons I wanted him to join, but also many I hadn’t anticipated for keeping him home another year. One of the biggest was flexibility. I wanted us to be able to travel to visit family back in California. I wanted to put Josiah in ski lessons. I wanted to be able to roll out of bed and decide we are going to do x, y and z. In moving I’d found this new sense of freedom in our schedule and I wasn’t ready to lock that down. Another being financial. In moving my husband took a significant pay cut and I quit working. Yes, the cost of living is cheaper here in Denver (sorry Denver friends-I know it doesn’t feel cheap, but south Orange County is out of control), but not that much cheaper. At the time we didn’t have $155 a month to spare and I didn’t feel it made sense to commit to something we could not necessarily afford. The third major component was Josiah’s age. Josiah was three which meant we would end up doing two years of preschool before we sent him off to kindergarten. At the end of the day I had to listen to my mama’s heart, which with all things considered, was saying no.
$1550 could be put to use in several different ways for our family and ultimately for my son. Instead of spending that money on preschool, I created FREEschool! Free from time commitments, free from financial burdens. Free to learn in the ways that best suited Josiah and his unique needs and personality. If I spent a fraction of the $155 a month on materials, sport lessons, experiences, and travel I would feel like I was winning-and boy do I love to win! Doesn’t that sound freeing?
I’m excited to continue this journey as mama, teacher, and adventure buddy with Josiah. As a credentialed teacher and stay-at-home mama I’m finding our everyday world is the classroom of life. Join us and be free to let life be school for your little ones! Together we can guide our experiences to have great educational value and a lasting impact on our children.