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(No Longer) The Preschool Skeptic

I thought of preschool as the great American scam, glorified daycare, an excuse to be kid-free for a couple hours a few days a week. I was not sold on the idea at all.

Preschool, just the word alone seemed like a lifetime away when I had my first child. To be honest, I thought of preschool as the great American scam, glorified daycare, an excuse to be kid-free for a couple hours a few days a week. I was not sold on the idea at all. As a matter of fact, I had a horrible experience when I was in preschool. Besides fond memories of getting a ride from the coolest man in Northbrook (my dad) and scoring more McDonald’s happy meals than necessary, I hated when I was there. Those couple hours were pure torture. The only highlight of my couple hours there was seeing my dad’s smiling face at pick-up.  I remember wanting to go to work with my dad and I remember not liking the teacher.  The only happy memory I have of my time there was eating matzo crackers for the first time.

Having three children close in age, I had no intention of sending them to preschool, especially not for two years. I figured I would send them the year before they were to start kindergarten. When my first born turned 3, I decided to send him to preschool. I started researching schools and opted for a co-op. My experience there was okay. The school was cute, nice and clean.  The teacher was amazing. We were required to volunteer in the classroom to help the teacher with projects and to clean up which was great except I had a two year old and a newborn. There was a lot of juggling that school year. When my dad passed away suddenly and the school did not even mention the loss to my son, I was less than impressed. Slipping a card in his backpack would have been a nice gesture, especially since my dad had been in the classroom throughout the year. The year before my son was to start kindergarten, we were planning our move back to my home town and we opted out of preschool entirely. The decision ended up being fine for my son and he blossomed in kindergarten with his excellent teacher.

Last fall, after settling in our new home in the community I was raised, there was no question as to what preschool my second child would attend, Mustard Seed.  My sister, who also lives in the community, sent her youngest daughter to Mustard Seed and she always says her only regret is finding the preschool with her youngest child and not her first. I was familiar with the warm atmosphere, friendly teachers and happy children from picking up my niece from time to time. I eagerly called the school and registered her immediately.

Dropping her off on the first day, I was still a bit hesitant about sending her off to preschool. My preschool experiences did not leave a lasting impression.  My son really did not benefit one way or the other in his preschool, except that he loved his teacher. I was still a ‘preschool skeptic’ but I walked her through the doors of Grace Lutheran Church and left her at Mustard Seed Preschool. 

That first day in early September 2011, our girl was a bit shy and unsure of me leaving her but she walked through the doors nonetheless.  I wanted to go in and take her back home but I controlled myself and admired her bravery. I was shocked and relieved to see her smiling face when I came to pick her up a couple short hours later. She was full of smiles, stories and a
newfound confidence.

When two of dear pups passed away during the school year, I was amazed by the warmth and compassion in the teacher’s eyes as she expressed her sympathy to us.  Having teachers so in tune with your child is a gift all in itself; after all, compassion is a learned behavior.

Over the 2011/2012 school year, her smiles grew larger, her stories more detailed and her confidence flourished. She built great friendships and she learned so much. Mustard Seed gave my daughter the necessary building blocks for a successful kindergarten experience. When I found myself signing my three year old up for the 3-4 class this fall, I realized, Mustard Seed gave me new insight on the importance of preschool.

Thank you Mustard Seed and thank you to the wonderful staff for everything they have done for our family. We are blessed to have found such an excellent preschool and we look forward to sending our next daughter to you in a few short weeks.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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