My kids are two and a half years old. They’ll probably go to preschool in the fall, and from that point, if they’re like their parents, they’ll be in classes for at least the next twenty years. I think it’s okay if they do independent study for the first three.
The reasoning behind these pre-preschool classes is not ridiculous, I suppose. Get kids socialized, provide some developmentally appropriate stimulus, and get them used to the idea of learning from someone other than their parents. I suspect–and this has been corroborated by the very people who recommend these classes–that part of their appeal is the opportunity they provide for parents (moms, mostly) to hang out with each other.
That’s all fine, if it’s what you’re into. Maybe you feel like your kid (and you) need some kind of structure to make the most of your time together. Maybe you have more trust in an “expert” than in yourself to teach your kids the skills they need to succeed, or to be better kids, or to have fun, or whatever. As far as the value of these classes for my kids and me, I’m ambivalent at best.
On one hand, I do feel (especially after having been touring preschools lately) that my kids will be going into the proverbial lion’s den when they show up for their first day of school having never been away from their parents for more than a couple hours at a stretch. But on the other hand, I’m selfish and lazy.
Frankly, I cling jealously to these first few years where my wife and I are the center of our kids’ attention, even if they do sometimes drive us nuts. There will be a lot of other adults (and peers, God help us) in their lives soon enough; and our primacy will fade. So screw some cat from the local community center or for-profit kids’ edu-tainment outlet. I can teach my kids to play on the monkey bars, beat on a guitar, sing loudly and tunelessly, dance like spazzes, love books and run around in the woods myself, thanks very much.
As for the laziness, that’s another aspect of this era that I cherish. I know what’s coming down the pike. Gulping down meals, scrambling for the bus, dashing from one structured event to the next. Right now I’m very content to do one low-pressure activity per day, and never worry about being late. It may be the last few months of that for any of us.