Dear Dr. Debbie,
Our family is in a holding pattern with regards to employment, health, and housing. This has me concerned about preschool.
Six months ago my husband, three-year-old daughter, and I moved from overseas into his mother’s house because he is getting medical treatment and can’t work right now. Since we’re here only temporarily, I haven’t looked for work myself. My mother-in-law is retired, so between the two of us, we tag team to take care of her son and granddaughter. Fortunately, he is doing well and is expected to be back to good health by around November at the earliest.
My question is about enrolling our daughter in a part-day preschool for the Fall, even though we will likely be moving (no idea where) by December. She turns four in October. She was enjoying her full-day childcare center back when her Dad and I were both working, before our lives were uprooted, and has made only a few friends in this neighborhood.
Dear Holding Pattern,
Playmates are good for three-year-olds and very important to four-year-olds, so yes, I would advise exploring your options.
Registration for preschools usually begins in February, with preference given to currently enrolled students and their siblings. But family plans can change, as you have experienced, so at least get on a waiting list. Look for a program that has teachers who enjoy their children while offering amenities and activities your daughter would enjoy.
A few early childhood education centers offer both part-time and full-time slots, so if you end up staying in the area to work and need longer coverage, your daughter might be able to stay at the same place.
A preschool co-op is a nice option not only for your daughter’s social needs but for yours. A co-op uses parents (and some grandparents, too!) to take turns as assistant teacher. Families do activities together on weekends to further foster friendships among the children and among the families as well. You’d still be available to care for your husband, or run errands, or work a part-time job if you like, when it’s not your turn to be in the classroom.
The growing trend for homeschooling co-ops extends to preschoolers. You can find networks of homeschooling families through Arundel Homeschoolers on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/arundel.homeschoolers or The Homeschooler Mom webpage with links to Maryland organizations. Parents take turns to host planned activities for the children at one another’s homes as well as to plan outings to parks, libraries, and museums. This option gives you the flexibility for scheduling frequent get-togethers with a playmate or two, or three once you find them.
Family childcare providers are another good choice. Maryland Family Network can help you to find a provider in your area who is registered by the state to use her home for her business. She must undergo ongoing training to provide age-appropriate activities, nutritious food, and a safe and sanitary environment. While most family childcare providers prefer the simplicity of only taking children for full-time care, there may be one nearby who would welcome a part-time playmate, even temporarily, for someone your daughter’s age.
While it is difficult to leave friends behind when the time comes, your daughter will have gained experience and skills in being a friend that she can take with her.
Come to Chesapeake Children’s Museum for Get Wet Day! Saturday or Sunday, July 13 or 14, from 1 to 3 pm. Come in your bathing suit and leave in your towel! Free with museum admission of $5 per person, ages one and up. Chesapeake Children’s Museum is located at 25 Silopanna Road, Annapolis, MD 21403. Contact: 410-990-1993 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
What do you think? Email your comments or questions to Dr. Debbie at editor[at]chesapeakefamily.com.