No Place Like Home
by: Rev. Ellen Steele
Posted: February 18, 2005
My son, who's now four, began preschool when he was three. I intentionally wanted to keep him home for at least three years, but he was expressing a desire to make some friends, so I thought I'd send him for one day a week. I chose one with a good reputation in a very "well off" community.
Before he began preschool he was outwardly joyful and expressive, he was eager to be empathic toward others, he asked lots of questions about the world, loved getting to know people of all ages, and was, well, happy. But I was saddened to see - after only two weeks (at one day a week, that's two days) - how his behavior changed when he began preschool.
What Did You Say?
Suddenly I began hearing "sass talk" coming out of his mouth (I'd never heard it before because I doubt he'd ever heard it before) and seeing aggressive actions (kicks, shooting guns with his hands and air punches) that he'd never displayed before. After two days, I watched with sadness as my kind, open child worked to put on a "tough" demeanor because that's what he needed to do to fit in.
When I observed his school a few weeks later, I could see why. Although the children there were nice enough, it was clear that most of the boys acted this way. And the teachers didn't seem to mind, or think that just maybe there could be another way for boys to be in this world (boys don't have to be aggressive and shoot pretend guns all the time, despite popular opinion). So as long as nobody was crying, the teachers did nothing. I began doing some chatting with two other moms who had sons of the same age in that school, and they relayed very similar experiences. They saw a marked difference in their children within days after their sons began preschool.
Lately I've been observing young children I meet, and I can tell the ones that haven't been to preschool: in general, they tend to be more comfortable with people of different ages, they listen to and dialogue well with their parents, and they don't tend to push, shove, sass, or be at all aggressive. When I say to a parent, "Your child stays home with you doesn't he/she?" I'm right 99% of the time.
There is no better coach/mentor/friend/teacher for a young child than family!!!!
Rev. Ellen Steele
San Jose, CA.