The preschool process in New York City is crazy. Kids my daughters age, 2, are already visiting with consultants, taking practice exams, and studying with interview coaches. Interview coaches.
Kids who a week ago were at the playground acting like kids are now reciting over-rehearsed interview answers and studying like they’re preparing for the SATs. Parents are stressed out making phone calls, filling out and paying for entrance applications, and training their kids to impress the heads of these preschools. Kids are becoming stressed out. It’s ridiculous. Stressed out children who really should have nothing to be stressed about.
And have you seen how much these preschools cost? Holy frijole! Talk about stressful! I’d have to take out a second mortgage. A friend of mine just put down a deposit on her kid’s preschool that cost more than my car.
All for preschool. Preschool.
If I was a “good mom” I would be doing the same thing right now. I would be reading the book that tells me all of the things my kid is “supposed to know” and making sure she knows it all before she turns three. I’d be waving flash cards in her face, blasting Mozart in my apartment all day, and making her recite the Declaration of Independence backwards in Latin. I would dedicate my whole life — all day every day — to getting into a top preschool.
I’ve pretty much given up on ever becoming a “good” mom.
I don’t want to end what my daughter has going on right now to sit and study exam questions. Two year olds shouldn’t have to see interview coaches. She doesn’t even use the potty consistently yet and she’s supposed to take a test and give an interview? The test’s content isn’t even a concern for me, I’ve seen a practice one. Adi could answer most of these questions correctly. What Adi CAN’T do is physically take the test and talk to the interviewer. Why? Because she’s two. Two year olds don’t like sitting still. Two year olds don’t like answering questions from uptight-looking strangers. Two year olds shouldn’t have interview coaches, or take time out of their day to meet with them. What two year olds should be doing is going outside and running around, playing with dolls, making giant messes, and otherwise acting like two year olds.
I’m not going to do any of that. I’m not getting a coach for Adi, teaching her to memorize answers to interview questions or making her do anything besides what she’s already doing. I’m also not dropping thousands of dollars so Adi can spend the whole day in a classroom with other children trained to be the automatons of academic snobbery.
(Just for the record: Adi can count in Hebrew, Spanish, and Mandarin. And she’s never seen a flash card.)
I’ve decided not to send Adi to preschool. At all. I’m not going crazy over kindergarten applications either. They say if you want something done right to do it yourself, so I’m going to homeschool my daughter. There’s a huge homeschool community where we are, and the kids who’ve come out of it are smart, well adjusted, and have gone on to college and careers and all the stuff everyone is paying out the nose for in preschool. I’m going to take the tuition money I save and travel (with Adi of course). I’m going to take the time I save not dedicating my life to preschool admissions and enjoy my life.
I’ll save all the applications, interview stress, and education concerns for college. Where it belongs.
Rachel Figueroa-Levin is a soapmaker, cofounder and educator at Urban Babywearing, a hyperlocal Inwood blogger and organizer, a political/life/religion/parenting satirist, and all around trouble maker. She is also the creator of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Spanish-speaking alter ego @elbloombito. You can reach her via twitter @Jewyorican.