Many families these days who have to rely on two incomes in order to survive do not have a choice whether their child attends daycare or preschool or not, because it is a matter of financial survival. Going to preschool can actually be beneficial to your child, however, because of the social development and cognitive stimulation opportunities available to him or her.
If you do have a choice, you may wonder whether it would be better for your child to go to preschool versus stay home with you. Both choices are valid, and the decision should be based on personal desire, need, and finances. If you do decide to keep your child home with you, you can provide the same social development and cognitive stimulation opportunities – and it does not have to cost you a ton of money, either.
The most important aspect of any preschool program is the social development it offers, since social competence is well determined by about age six and can predict later risk (criminal behavior, academic failure, etc). You can provide the same social development opportunity to your stay at home child by arranging play dates with other stay at home children on a regular basis. If you don’t know anyone, take your child to a park or play place. It doesn’t matter at the toddler stage what sex the child is or whether or not the children know each other. In fact, being exposed to many different kinds of people helps your child learn to be flexible and tolerant.
The cognitive stimulation preschool offers can be matched at home; you also have the flexibility to personalize the stimulation to your child. Spend time reading to your child, engage him or her in conversation, ask questions, and play music. Consider giving your child music lessons. The Internet is extremely useful for learning appropriate cognitive activities, downloading worksheet and coloring activities, and getting ideas for ways to help your child learn and grow.
If you do take your child to preschool, drop in on them unexpectedly occasionally to make sure everything is going well. Trust your instincts. If you feel as though your child is in a bad place or not being cared for properly, find a new preschool or caretaker. In the end, it does not matter whether your child attends preschool or learns from you at home. The most important thing to do is make sure your child is safe, loved, nurtured, and protected whether they are with you or someone else.