The first day of preschool was tough. Not so much for our boy, but for my wife and me.
My immediate thought was, so this is where creativity comes to die. My wife and I spent three hours a day with him for the first week to help with the transitioning process.
During this time, I observed how other kids of varying developmental levels behaved. I saw kids having to wait their turn, listening to instruction, and trying to communicate with other 2.5-year-olds who weren’t good communicators.
As I thought about my negative reactions while soaking in the hot tub, I came to realize what I disliked about preschool was exactly what I disliked about work.
Preschool Was Like Work
At work, despite being a strong performer, I had to wait for a colleague in NYC to first make Managing Director before I could make MD because he had been promoted to head of the desk. Although he was several years older, we had the same years of experience working at the firm, and I was managing a large book of business in San Francisco. Screw that. After already being at the firm for 11 years, I didn’t want to wait five more years to get promoted. So I left.
At work, I had to listen to new hires, who didn’t know my business, tell me how to do my job. I found this tremendously annoying.
At work, I had to attend endless meetings and hear people blabber on and on about what we should do. Ironically, the time spent in meetings significantly cut into the time I needed to do the very things we were being asked to do! Seriously, having meetings to prepare for upcoming meetings is a waste of time. But they must be conducted to justify a manager’s existence.
Unconsciously, I was associating my initial dissatisfaction with preschool with my tremendous unhappiness at work. I felt terrible subjecting my son to a system that I had so enthusiastically escaped from in 2012. In some ways, it felt like I was sending him to prison.
But after a couple weeks of preschool, I started to have a change of heart. Three months later, I believe preschool is worth every penny and more!
Why Preschool Is Worth The Cost
1) Preschool will save a parent’s sanity. It wasn’t until we finally dropped off our boy, wiped away our tears, and left did we start to appreciate preschool. Initially, during the first month of preschool, we finally both got three hours of free time. We used this time to catch up on errands, tidy up the house, relax in the hot tub together, go on brunches, and to write.
Both my wife and I had been going nonstop for 30 months in a row raising our boy. Our days would often go from 5 am – 11 pm because he wasn’t a good sleeper and has the endless energy of the sun. I was also on a mission to fulfill my 10-year goal of posting 3X a week, while my wife was on a mission to make sure he had an enriching a home environment as possible.
Preschool gave us the vacation from parenthood we so desperately needed. When he started going for 6 – 8 hours a day, I felt like the heavens had parted. My happiness went from a 6 out of 10, back up to an 8 out of 10 on average.
2) Your child will learn to be more independent. It must be scary for a child to go from always being around his parents to suddenly be in a room full of strangers. But over time, your child will adapt, learn the names of everyone, and figure out how to stand his or her ground. Our children also need to learn how to interact well with others.
As the son of foreign service parents I clearly remember the scariness of being the new kid in school every 2-to-4 years. But I believe the frequent moves forced me to develop social skills and greater self-confidence. Today, I love going to all types of social gatherings and have no fear of talking to anybody.
3) Your child may develop greater emotional intelligence. The people with the best social skills tend to go farther in life because more people end up liking and supporting them. Being in a social environment for longer may improve a child’s social skills and emotional intelligence. At least your child will learn how to play nice with others.
4) Your child will experience and learn conflict resolution. Amongst toddlers, inevitably bad things will happen. The first time I was told a child had bitten our son, I was shocked and angry. But these unfortunate incidences are used as teachable moments by the teachers to explain to the children what they should and should not do. These moments are used to teach kids how to apologize and offer forgiveness.
Throughout high school, I got into plenty of fights and arguments. It is due to these experiences that I’m able to better control my emotions during conflict resolution as an adult. For example, being calm after my kidnapping in Beijing helped me get out of a scary situation. Further, I’m not afraid to battle with anybody when insulted or threatened.
5) Your child will learn new habits. One of the biggest reasons why my wife and I were so exhausted as stay at home parents was because our boy didn’t take regular naps after he turned 18 months old. Therefore, one fear we had was that our son would be disruptive during the preschool’s nap time between 12:30pm – 3pm. But surprisingly, our boy napped the very first day and has continued napping every day for months!
We postulate the reason why he naps at school and not so much at home is due to peer pressure and conformity. At home, he has more freedom to do as he wishes. But at school, he has to listen to his teachers and follow the habits of his peers.
Peer pressure and conformity aren’t generally looked upon in a positive light. But we all need to demonstrate some sort of conformity if we are going to make our way through society. Eventually, we can all be irreverent, but not before achieving financial independence.
6) You’ll learn how soft or hard you really are as parents. For first time parents, preschool can be particularly helpful to know where you stand as disciplinarians. You can learn from the good and bad habits of other parents by observing how their children act in a school setting. From your observations, you can better calibrate what you should be doing more or less of.
My wife and I are probably on the softer side because of our personalities and also because we don’t have a strict schedule to follow. For example, since we don’t have to get to work by 8 am, there was no urgency to wake our boy at a set time, prepare breakfast, brush his teeth, and so forth. The absence of routine probably hurt all of our ability to sleep more soundly.
You may also learn what you’ve been doing right as parents. They say that speaking to your child as much as possible is good for learning. Therefore, we both talked to him all day long in English, Mandarin, Spanish and Japanese. But we really didn’t know how useful our efforts were until we went to school after our teachers said they’d be teaching the class how to count to 10.
My wife and I looked at each other funny because months early we had already taught our boy how to count to 1,000. We aren’t tiger parents. We just continued on with the counting once he understood the progression. This is one of the benefits of having 1:1 instruction and not having to wait for other children.
7) Your kid won’t get “dumbed down.” One of my concerns was whether my son would regress or get bored if he was being taught something he already knew. Fortunately, that doesn’t seem to be how the young brain works. Instead of regressing, it continues to absorb new information.
For example, even if your daughter already knew how to count to 10, she could learn how to enunciate the words better. She could also learn how to combine the numbers to form new numbers.
Another concern was how our son would interact with one of the less verbal kids at school who also happens to bite others. Would that kid, who benefits greatly from preschool, drag other kids down with him? So far, it doesn’t seem to be the case.
If parents continue providing supplemental education at home, I think our kids will continue to grow just fine.
8) You’ll develop a support network of other parents. Spending the vast majority of your time only with your partner and child can get mundane after a while. Just think back to how much fun you had going out at night with your friends before you had children.
By sending your child to preschool, you join a community of people with strong common interests. There seems to always be a fundraiser or a birthday party to go to, which is a great way to vary your weekend routines. It’s nice to be able to get tips and advice from other parents who have gone or are going through your same issues as well.
9) Your child will participate in new activities. You can do plenty of fun things with your child at home, but there are certain activities like painting, claymation, and science water experiments that are much easier to do in school. Your child will also be exposed to new books and toys to keep him or her more stimulated throughout the day.
Our preschool has a special activity after nap time every day such as music class, Spanish class, and dance class. It’s really nice to give your child consistent exposure to as many new things as possible. You never know what might stick!
10) A lifesaver if you are pregnant or have a baby. Being pregnant or caring for a baby is already difficult. Concurrently caring for a baby and a toddler who won’t stop running around and getting in trouble takes Herculean strength.
By sending your toddler to preschool, not only do you feel great that a highly qualified person is teaching and caring for him, but you feel great that you get to spend more time taking care of your body or your baby.
It is also natural for the older sibling to get jealous of the baby sometimes. Therefore, this separation may help lessen the jealousy and increase the harmony at home. When in doubt, child specialists say to pay more attention to your toddler than to your baby, since your toddler better understands what’s going on.
The Downsides Of Preschool
Nothing is ever perfect. Here are the downsides of preschool you’ll likely experience.
1) More sickness. Despite a “don’t come to school if your child is sick” policy, I’m sure some kids still do because parents have to work. Also, nobody knows exactly when a sickness stops being contagious.
Although our boy has yet to contract a serious illness, he has come down with a fever, cough, and a persistent runny nose since starting preschool. He then passes his sickness onto us.
So far, my wife and I haven’t gotten sick at the same time. But this day will likely come.
Update: We’re now getting perpetually sick 6 months later! Sickness is the worst reason for attending preschool.
2) More chance of danger. At home, our boy is as safe as can be. We’ve padded all corners and edges, hold his hand on walks, and always have our eyes on him. At preschool, even with a small 6:1 teacher:student ratio, that’s still not as good as having a 1:1 or 1:2 ratio.
Your little one will probably get hurt more often in preschool. Your child will probably experience physical altercations like hitting and bitting as well.
Our biggest fear is that our son will get hit by a car because every day they walk to Golden Gate Park three blocks away. Know what type of safety precautions are in place for your children and make suggestions if warranted.
3) Activities at home may change. One of my favorite activities I used to do with my son before he went to preschool was go for a 1-1.5 hour walk around the neighborhood. We’d go for a walk every day and he’d be so excited to describe all the different garage doors he’d see.
Now, he hardly ever wants to go on a walk with daddy. And when we do, it’s for maybe 15 minutes and then back home we go because he misses mommy.
4) Cost. Most cities in America don’t have universal preschool. Therefore, expect to pay between $800 – $2,500 for preschool a month, depending on location and amount of care.
We pay $1,950 a month for full-time care, plus another $50 – $100 a month for fundraisers. We could go down to part-time care three days a week for $1,650 a month, but we prefer the flexibility.
Preschool Is Worth It
For most parents, preschool is a necessity to help support their careers. If your child can learn while also giving you the ability to earn, that’s a great combination.
For us, preschool has allowed us to gain back our freedom. During the weekdays, we’ve gone back to doing more of things we love to do, like write, play tennis, go out to eat, go to the beach, nap and so forth.
I’m noticeably happier now that I have 6-8 hours of free time a day again. Make no mistake. Children are a joy, but they also bring a tremendous amount of suffering, sadness, fear and frustration too. My increased happiness alone is worth the cost of preschool.
As long as your children enjoy preschool, preschool is one of the best things ever for children and parents. Make sure you consistently ask your kids how their day was and whether they are having fun. If they’re having a great time, then keep on having them go. If they’re not, then find them a new school or keep them at home.
Every child adapts to school differently. It’s up to us as parents to find the best environment for our children to learn.
Parents, anybody go from a negative initial impression to a highly positive impression of preschool? What are some other pros and cons of preschool I may have missed?
Related articles about preschools:
How To Get Into A Great Preschool Or Private Grade School
How To Get Your Kid Into A Top Preschool
Would You Accept $1 Million To Have Your Child Go To Public School?
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Zachary Tomlinson says
Thanks for pointing out the importance of sending a kid into preschool. I had no idea that children and develop their social skills under this institution while learning about academics. My friend saw a couple of flyers regarding a recently opened preschool around his area and it got him curious. I’ll share this with him so he’d consider bringing his child to a preschool.
Kate Hansen says
I loved how you mentioned that you can have free time! My daughter recently turned 4 years old, and we were wondering if having her go to preschool in the fall would be beneficial for her and for us. I really appreciate you helping me learn more about the benefits of having your child go to preschool.
Derek McDoogle says
I like how you explain that taking your child to daycare will help him be more independent. My sister told me that she would like to help her husband pay the bills but she does not know where to leave her son. I will recommend her to look for a local daycare so that she can work while her son is at the daycare.
I’ve always had a negative view of preschool ….along the lines of “if you don’t want to parent your kids why have them….” even the super expensive preschools don’t pay their staff well, my neighbor works as a teachers assistant in a Montessori school and makes just $9/hr! (We are in Philadelphia)
I just can’t trust a stranger who has no emotional attachment to my child to care for my child like I do.
As for wanting to write a blog post and having your child in your way….well have your wife distract him or take him somewhere. My husband is a firefighter and has a very odd schedule Including night shifts. My kids know not to bother him when I ask them not too so he can catch up on sleep or decompress from a long stressful shift (they are 3 & 6) This is the norm for them as we have been doing this since they were born
I think it really depends on the family, cultural background etc.
Yesterday I was responding to another blogger that I’d never consider kicking my daughter out of the house, as it’s the norm for many American families.
In my country we usually live 2-3 generations under one roof and elders are actually very involved in helping their adult children with the house chores, helping raise their kids, even contributing money, when the kids need it.
I grew in such an environment myself and there’s nothing I’d love more than to be able to help my daughter start a family and take the load off their shoulders, so that she and her future husband (she’s 5 now, so no rush) can still find time for themselves and not have to worry about their kids 24/7
She’s now in kindergarten, we did get her to pre-k back in Romania, but she was sick all the time and still desperately close to me. After we changed her teacher, she did way better and loved it. Pre-k there was way cheaper than here, so it wasn’t a huge expense and she’d be there for 3 hours/day only.
Now she’s 6 hours at school and LOVES it. She’s still very close to me, we sleep together and play a lot, but she’s also found her independence and matured a lot. Since we’ve also left our country less than a year ago and she had to learn English in few months, we are very pleased with her progress.
I had to put my business on the back burner for the past 5 years, but even so I was able to earn a decent income back home and am struggling to rebuild now. Anyway, money comes and goes, my websites are worthless when I compare them to my biggest project of all: my child.
So I have no problems losing some potential income, as long as my child is doing well and progressing at her own pace.
But, as I mentioned at the start of this commentary, we do come from a different mindset and culture, for us it’s normal to keep our children close to us and live together as much as possible. This is why I don’t come to judge, just trying to add a different perspective :)
My kid has 2 full-time working parents and has been at daycare since she was 4 months old. She is miles ahead socially and verbally than her peers who stay at home with a parent. One single parent simply cannot teach the same social skills as a classroom, no matter how attentive they are.
I don’t need my daughter’s teachers to care for her like I would, I need them to keep her fed, relatively entertained, and not sitting in her own poop. *Her father and I* care for her how a parent should care for her, the rest of the time.
I have ZERO regrets about having a daycare baby. In fact, in a few months I’m going to have another.
The costs you quote seem quite exorbitant, unless you are actually talking about daycare. Our actual preschool was only $1024 total for the school year, and that’s waived by the district if you have an Individual Education Plan [IEP] or needs-based for low income families.
Just to be clear with my definitions: preschool refers to a classroom setting between 2 and 4 hours a day, 2 to 5 days a week, targeted at children within 2 years of entering kindergarten, usually at a church or a school district facility; and daycare is the drop your kid off all day (or part day) while parents go off to work, lunch is provided and there is probably time for naps.
Financial Samurai says
$800-$2500 a month is what the data says by state. What state do you live in and how often is the cure you are getting?
I live in MN and that was 3 hours, 2x a week. I know there was a 3x a week option.
Got my wheels Turing after reading, thanks for the post!
We have a 3 year old and a 1 year old. Our three year old goes tues/thurs 1/2 days, but with our third child due in February I’m going to discuss with my wife him going full days tues/thurs to give her a little bit more of a break. We hadn’t planned on doing full days until next year, but it may be very helpful to push this up a bit!
Nice post. American society tries to downplay the work of stay at home parents. It’s a huge job. Another benefit of daycare is the parent(s) get an opportunity to have more adult conversations.
I just can’t move past the “parenting vacation” part of the post. You have 1 kid!! Try having multiple…. then I can take the rest of the post seriously.
Just kidding…. kind of. Only children definitely need preschool. It can cost a lot for families with multiple kids like us (3 kids in 4 years…. awesome!) That being said, all 3 went, and are well adjusted elementary students now.
Financial Samurai says
No worries. To help you out, try writing a 2000 word post with a toddler wanting to play with you all day and let me know how it goes.
Are you a stay at home dad as well? If so, what is your day look like?
I’ve been countered a lot of dad’s who say child raising is easy, but they are not full-time dads. What’s easy is going to a job in comparison.
Actually I am a stay at home mom and I do the books for my husband’s 4 LLCs as well as manage our numerous rental properties. So…. I understand the challenge. When I just have 1 child at home, it is considered a huge break.
Financial Samurai says
Ah hah! Cool. Was making a guess given your e-mail. I can imagine caring for 1 seems like a piece of cake when caring for 4!
I will fully admit there is no way I can handle 4 with my wife.
PS…. My husband reads your blog religiously and frequently forwards your posts to me. I know he enjoys them! Also…. I loved your post on saving money by not cooking. I used it as an excuse not to cook for several days and it was amazing!
Seriously – Having 2 kids is exponentially harder and way more expensive then having just 1. I used to think about retiring early when I had 1 kid and actually looked forward to the weekends. Now, I dread the weekends and look forward to being in the office Monday-Wednesday. Taking care of two toddlers for two straight days is absolutely brutal.
preschool is absolutely necessary for the sanity of both parents and children.
Congrats Sam!! You are officially a parent of a preschooler, glad your son is liking it so far and that you have all that freedom now during the day.
My son had a rough time that first day, he cried so hard that he vomited when we tried to leave but since that time he has been enjoying his time at preschool. He tells about all the activities he has done, the other preschoolers he has become friends with and the food he eats there.
Within the first two months of preschool, we were already invited and attended three of his classmate’s birthday parties. And along with a school picnic and a couple parents workshop, we already know a lot of the parents of the other kids.
I do believe that taking your kid to preschool is worth it and more!!
Financial Samurai says
Thank you! Hope you are your littlest one is doing well!
LJ Lyon says
Preschools are only as good as the teachers running them. I’ve built 4 of the from the ground up and have done continued maintenance on them since. Recently I have seem a lack of quality in the teachers across the board in the new hires in the past 5 years and half do little more than act as daycares.
My only advice to someone looking at preschools or daycares is “You CAN judge a book by its cover.” You’ll be right more often than you are wrong.
LJ Lyon -The key to attracting good teachers is decent pay and the opportunity to teach well behaved children. Unfortunately, the tuition costs to support good teachers and exclude problem children is very high. I’ve yet to find a good preschool that costs less than $20K per year.
All your observations are 100% true IMO. I didn’t have a negative view of day-care/preschool but my views maybe got even more positive with experience. I don’t understand why many people write that it is bad to send your children to these forms of education.
Once upon a time women worked (think about hunter gatherer or agricultural societies) or socialised together with their children and so the children got to interact. But with lower population densities and women working in jobs where children aren’t welcome something should replace that. It’s not natural for children to sit at home alone with their parents only.
Jeff C. says
Completely agree. There seems to be a notion that kids develop better if they are at home with a parent 24/7. In a society that greatly values communication skills and working well with others this can’t be the optimal choice. Never has society been that isolated for children. I think folks just think if they are with their children every moment they can control the child’s outcomes.
For crying out loud. Do a simple google search. Children under 5 don’t need to learn algebra, socializing or all those special skills you all think they need to know. They learn all that the first week of first grade. There brains are little, there still developing. They need love and attention. If you think the daycare or preschool teacher can love your kid better than you then why the hell have kids in the first place? I totally get preschool if you want a break , or if you have to do it financially, or life dictates this is the way it is, but don’t kid yourself that little Johnny learning to count to 10 before the other kids is gonna help him when he’s 20.
Please, please ask any teacher, do you want a class of daycare kids or do you want a class of kids taken care of by there parents. I know teachers read this blog. You teachers are on the front line. Please add some common sense to this discussion.
Statistically speaking, “ you can’t argue with statistics “ homeschooled children have a better chance of being healthy, well adjusted, less mental issues, and a higher acceptance rate into college than public school kids. Right or wrong it’s the statistics.
I’m pissed because parents who put the effort into raising their own kids are being looked down upon. Homeschool, they must be abusers. I don’t understand why people get mad by having other people raise my children. Society values communication and kids who’s parents don’t have other people raise there kids, obviously can’t communicate. These are the comments in this thread!
I’m not trying to badmouth people or their choices with their children. Anything can work out. I’m simply tired of people disparaging parents who statistically try to do the best for their children.
Financial Samurai says
How about a combination of both? There is merit to both ways.
How about half day of preschool and half day of parental education?
Seems like a win!
Absolutely Sam, that seems like a viable and normal solution. Again, I’m not against preschool. I’m against people disparaging parents who chose to go against the conventional grain and raise their kids themselves.
Bill – All research shows that high quality preschool provides the best outcomes for children in life. Children will not develop normal emotionally or socially if they do not attend high quality preschool. This is the number #1 reason why there is less class mobility in America than every other developed country. Wealthy parents can afford high quality preschool and poor people cannot.
When wealthy children start school they are already several years ahead in development and these advantages carry forward throughout life. A child’s verbal and social skills at age 6 are highly predictive of many outcomes later in life.
The difference between our son spending all day with the Nanny and going to a high quality preschool has been dramatic. He is a completely different person since starting the school. The nanny wasn’t doing a bad job, she just doesn’t have the capacity to provide the amount of enriching experiences that he receives at school.
The title of this article reminded me of the old joke: Why are divorces so expensive? Because they’re worth it.
(I’ve never been divorced, just think it’s a funny joke).
Sam is the absolute king of getting people riled up. I love it!
Raising kids, diets, eating out, home budgets, etc. These are home run hot button topics and get people very triggered.
Next up we need a post about religion and churches.
Glad to hear you’ve found a lot of benefits with preschool! I LOVED attending preschool myself and have a lot of memories from it even though it was so long ago.It made such a positive impression on me and really prepared me for kindergarten. My parents were tight on income, but they made it work and qualified for financial assistance. I think the sour people who are bashing preschool must have had bad or a lack of preschool experience, don’t realize that many preschools offer financial assistance, or are stuck in a one track mindset that their way is the only way. Props to you Sam for highlighting so many great positives and finding a healthy balance and a supportive, positive experience for your family.
Financial Samurai says
That’s cool you came away with such a positive impression of preschool. I don’t remember much of mine except for a summer program in Honolulu. There was a lot of swearing!
Earliest memories of school I had were in 1st grade in Taipei. That was pretty fun.
Just to add to the cost discussion, our local community foundation has partnered with a financial institution to provide funding for high quality early childhood education to everyone in the community. Our community is quite segregated with a lot of high networth, high income folks and then a 20% “service worker” population, and not much of a middle. There is a big push within the community to help out the bottom 20%. The preschool initiative supports a part time and full time preschool at each of the public elementary schools in our district (small district), and the tuition is anything from free to ~$400 a month depending on income. I would guess that at least 90% of the kids in our town go to preschool. We also have expensive private preschools, including expensive Montessori-style schools, and the people who send their kids to them love them, too. I volunteer to help with reading in my oldest’s elementary school classroom so I get to see the reading levels of all of the kids, and I am not convinced that the private preschools are any better academically than the public preschools, and in some ways they might even be inferior because the public preschools require that the teachers have at least a college degree and a teacher license; whereas, I’m not sure what kind of hiring criteria they use at the various private schools. I personally am a proponent of public education so I’m sure I’m biased, but I love seeing the community pull together to support and give a chance to every kid, and it absolutely has a positive impact in the elementary schools because most of the kids enter kindergarten reading and doing basic math. It also helps out the parents in the bottom 20% go to work everyday knowing their kids are getting a great education starting at 3-years old.
As to the home school debate, it’s nice to hear some intelligent people defend homeschooling. I have a negative bias against homeschooling because the people I have known who homeschool their kids appear to be hiding from something, almost like they use homeschooling to isolate their children and hide abuse.
Your last paragraph is disgusting. Equating homeschooling with abuse is simply your way to soothe your guilt for having other people raise your children.
I can see how my comment came off judgmental and triggered your response. I have admitted I am a supporter of public education (both financially through our community foundation and philosophically and with my time as a volunteer), and that I have a bias against homeschooling based on a personal experience of a case that I worked on that involved isolation and abuse in a homeschooling setting.
I feel personally attacked here so I’ll defend myself. I do not feel guilty that my children are influenced by other adults and not just their parents, and that through school they are exposed to many different ideas and beliefs, some that we have to help them reconcile with our families’ religious beliefs. I do not feel that it is in my children’s best interests to isolate them from society and require them to spend all or most of their time at home with our family. My oldest child went to a private preschool because a high-quality public preschool was not available at the time. He learned another language, he was exposed to other religions and cultures through his peers, he learned how to share and negotiate social situations, and he had a lot of fun going on field trips to fun places with his buddies.
I recognize that there are families who do a great job with homeschooling. I am a homeschooling skeptic for reasons I have described, but as long as there are safeguards in place to protect the kids who are in vulnerable situations, then I see why homeschooling is a good option, especially for families like the Financial Samurai family where both parents have at least a college degree and want to be able to travel for extended periods of time while they educate their kids on the road.
Financial Samurai says
Yikes! What makes you say such a thing about homeschooling? What kind of examples have you observed?
Sorry if my comment offended folks. Its not hard to do a little research and find many examples of parents who homeschool to avoid oversight and accountability for bad things going on at home. I personally witnessed a situation like this doing volunteer work in grad school. Obviously there are families with good intentions who do well with homeschooling.
The vast majority of home education families are deeply involved with the children, their religious organizations, and the greater community. To imply the only “some” families seem to be normal is grossly offensive in the same way racist and bigoted folk casually make their inane comments about people. But I certainly appreciate your opinion; it is good to realize there is much work to do.
Hooray for preschool! You’re over the hump. Congrats! Our son had a really rough time starting preschool.
He cried the whole first day and he was really disruptive. After a few days, they kicked him out of the preschool because the teacher can’t deal with it. That really sucked. He stayed home with me for 3 more months. Then, we found another preschool and it worked out really well.
Our son was the one hitting other kids and teachers. He punched his teachers in the crotch. Hilarious now. Anyway, it’s good to get a handle on these things early. Our son is in 3rd grade now and he can control himself a little better.
Some kids are more emotional than others. You need to start working on it early or else they’ll get in trouble in regular school
Financial Samurai says
Oh wow! That musta been tough to get kicked out and have to teach him self-control. Our boy is a fire cracker at home, but behaves very well in school and naps. We can’t believe it.
Glad your boy has more self control now. I’ve got to believe that self control is a SUPER POWER we must cultivate.
Thanks for this post Sam!! I will add that the stimulation of the activities planned by the staff is soooo worth the money!! The whole day is planned to enrich your child- even with a full time nanny it would be tough to replicate that at home! And the friend ships with their peers is also a valuable asset- they see first hand what is acceptable for their age group… we hang our jackets here, keep our hands to ourselves and so on!
I was a full time mom to 4 kids- my husband is a CEO who travels at the drop of a hat-and I have seen first hand that the children who exposed to preschool do better in kindergarten!!
The teachers would always support getting my children to the milestones for their age group-putting on your own jacket, recognizing your own items, packing up your own backpack etc . The teachers saw them as more capable where I would have continued to zip their coat, put on their shoes and so on-
I needed the “intervention “ of these well qualified people to help my kiddos be more independent and age appropriate!!
Financial Samurai says
Awesome! I hear you about needing an intervention.
To have motivated teachers do their job well and CONSISTENTLY plan out enriching activities is key.
I’m a pretty consistent guy and try to mix things up, but I run out of energy too. At preschool, they’ve got multiple teachers who revolve around so the kids can get to know everyone.
Props to you for birthing and mothering 4 kids!
Alternative: We homeschool our 7 kids.
My oldest scored 1580/1600 on the SAT when he was 15. He’ll finish up an associate’s IT degree just after he turns 18, graduating with a +/- 3.9 GPA, and is looking to finish up his bachelor’s by 20 with an eye towards a master’s degree by 22.
My second oldest is taking Anatomy & Physiology as a 15 year old; his professor was shocked and pumped him for information about his educational background. Which is literally his Mom and me teaching him. He’s aiming to get a couple associate’s degree by 18, then shift over into a medical focus.
Our 5 year old daughter can play shockingly complex piano pieces… from listening to and watching her older siblings do the same.
You can do all this yourself. For much, much, much less than $2K per month per child.
My total spend last year was under $4,000. For all 7 kids. A third of this was for piano lessons for one child – if I used YouTube and cheaper methods, I could slash this further. Of course, I had to economize, and my older children had to apply for scholarships, but that taught them a few things about how the world works: If you don’t ask and pursue, you don’t get.
Sam is a great example of top 1% money whose priorities are on material living. More than anyone, he and his wife could afford a dozen kids, but are focused on one. As such, they have tons of money to fling at him and no doubt he will succeed intellectually. But his advice is very, very narrow, and overstates the challenges of those who don’t have 1% dough.
I suppose if this blog is for those who make $200K++ a year, terrific. Most people will never darken the door of $200K, much less the +/- $500K that someone giving Sam’s advice need to make for this to work. While limiting themselves to a solitary child.
For those who won’t, here’s the reality: If you like spending time with your children, if you love opportunities to take them with you wherever you go, if you want a cohesive multi-generational family and an ability to raise them with critical thinking skills and a devotion to something above-and-beyond the material world, you’re in luck! Homeschooling is legal in all 50 states, and it’s easy to do in at least 3/4 of them (sorry, Rhode Island and Vermont… you’ve got a few more hoops to jump through).
TL;DR You can raise children – several children – for a modest amount of money and raise them in an academically, socially, emotionally and spiritually healthy way via homeschooling. And save yourself $24K/year per child in the process.
Several observations from your comment:
1) Showing off the achievements of your children is a form of insecurity because you fear you did the wrong thing by homeschooling.
2) Saying preschool is just for the 1% when you have 7 children shows an incredible lack of awareness.
3) How do you know they are socially and emotionally adept?
4) Ever consider adopting and helping other children less fortunate?
> 1) Showing off the achievements of your children is a form of insecurity because you fear you did the wrong thing by homeschooling.
I’m pointing out that others can raise their children well without spending gobsmacks of money. How does this relate to insecurity? If anything, it suggests that you have hostility to a solution, homeschooling, you don’t agree with.
Instead of ad hominems, why not try to address the facts I raised?
> 2) Saying preschool is just for the 1% when you have 7 children shows an incredible lack of awareness.
This makes no sense. You’re going to have to expand on it – having more children requires greater financial support, not less.
You also fail in distinguishing preschool vs. Sam’s preschool. I grew up working poor – my parents had more children than I do, and spending the equivalent of $2K/month/child is laughable to those like them. And there are a lot of people in their shoes.
> 3) How do you know they are socially and emotionally adept?
How do you know that they aren’t? Why do you assume that those who outsource their child rearing will have better results?
> 4) Ever consider adopting and helping other children less fortunate?
How is this relevant? Unless of course you’re just trying to score points – oh look, here’s someone who doesn’t care about kids! =D
If I said how much I donate to the poor, go to hunger centers, distribute food to the poor, cook meals, etc. you’d just say I was being insecure, right?
1) How many kids do you have?
2) Do you preschool them? How much do you pay for them to be taught by others?
3) If you don’t homeschool, why not? Why are you willing to outsource your children to strangers? Aren’t you worried about the poor socialization of interacting with people who you have no control over, and who may be in direct conflict with your values? Or the relatively poor quality of third-party schooling?
4) Have you ever considered adopting children or helping the less fortunate?
I would say you’d be lying that you volunteer to help the poor and give to the poor because your whole conjecture is that you spend very little on educating your children. Therefore, you’re definitely not going to spend much time or money helping others. And that is why you do not.
It takes time to care for 7 children. Some parents can’t afford not to work to take care of their children. You not understanding this privilege while then saying preschool is only for the 1% is truly delusional. Some women can’t bear children or that many children. You not understanding this shows a lack of sympathy too.
We have an adopted child.
> I would say you’d be lying that you volunteer to help the poor and give to the poor because your whole conjecture is that you spend very little on educating your children. Therefore, you’re definitely not going to spend much time or money helping others. And that is why you do not.
I’m going to take a wild stab and assume that you are an atheist or at least an agnostic. Because your conclusion only makes sense with that approach.
The whole reason I spend less money on things is so that there is more to help those who are in need. I need very little. My wife needs very little. My children need more but not nearly as much as the world says. And them being focused on the poor, the Church and the needy is much more beneficial to their souls and the world around them than a hyper-consumerist mindset.
You can choose to believe this or not, but it’s true. The # 1 item I spend money on in our household: Food. # 2 is Charity. And that is a written, defined goal for me every year – making sure that I spend $X on charitable causes.
I’ve had a passion for helping the poor since I was young. I can’t take credit for it since it’s always been there, but assuming that people who are frugal are also misers is a poor assumption.
In fact, when I challenge people to give more when helping them budget, the # 1 response is “I can’t afford it”.
Well, if you spend less, you definitely can. But money is fungible – a dollar spent on yourself can’t be spent on meals for the poor, socks for those who are going to find themselves in half a foot of snow today or mental health subsidies.
> It takes time to care for 7 children. Some parents can’t afford not to work to take care of their children. You not understanding this privilege while then saying preschool is only for the 1% is truly delusional. Some women can’t bear children or that many children. You not understanding this shows a lack of sympathy too.
It takes time but there is diminishing marginal cost for each additional child. It does not take 7x the time to care for 7 children. In fact, because children tend to come one at a time, the time taken to care for 7, while significantly more than 1, isn’t a ton more. It’s not even double.
You also have problems with parsing what I’m saying. HIGH QUALITY preschool is for the 1%. Inner city Detroit residents aren’t getting high quality preschool; they’re not paying $24K a year for child care because they often don’t make anywhere near enough to pull that off.
As for what parents can afford, I walk through what the true cost of a one-income family is to many couples and they are shocked just how little the net costs are once welfare is taken into account. Most families can get free medical care – certainly for their children, but most of the time for adults as well – by moving to one income and having the Mom stay at home and focus on educating the children. The amount of subsidization in most states is incredibly high. Some of the southern states are especially poor – I’m look at you, Georgia – so while it’s not universal there are significant options that most folks aren’t even aware of.
And for those who are middle or upper-middle class, the financial analysis is eerily similar. I’ve analyzed a $70K husband / $35K wife combo where the net benefit of the wife working, after taxes and expenses is…. $4K per year. She realized she could save at least that much by being a SAHM so bingo, they now homeschool and their financial situation is better. They haven’t done so, but they also would qualify for limited social welfare. I encourage this, but not everyone feels morally comfortable doing so. I don’t understand this, but it shows that it’s possible to do this without welfare if you have that objection.
In short: It seems like you have hostility to my proposal even though Sam’s proposal is out of reach for 95%+ of Americans. So my simple question is: Why?
Also, I’ve answered your questions but you haven’t answered mine so I’ll wait until you do so to respect your perspective on this before answering again.
Such BS, religion always corrupts an intelligent conversation. Kids can stay at home for the first few years and still learn a lot. That’s why we have library programmes, play dates, museums.
On the other hand, Sam has dissed parents who send their kids to Ivy colleges. We were perfectly happy to have made that sacrifice and our kids are doing verywell in their chosen professions.
Financial Samurai says
Diss parents who send their kids to Ivy League colleges? That makes no sense.
You mean dissing colleges for charging an arm and a leg when everything can be learned for free online today. And warning middle-class parents for paying for private school tuition when the value of a college degree is decreasing while student loan debt is increasing and weighing down the middle class.
If you can afford to send your kids to an Ivy League university, that is great. And congratulations. I am trying to think about the majority of readers who cannot comfortably afford private university tuition and help them make better financial decisions.
I am trying to eradicate the thought that a person must go to an expensive private school to be successful.
Attending university is made by an almost adult child or an adult child. It is an option Deciding on preschool is more a necessity than an option for most Because most people need to work.
> Such BS, religion always corrupts an intelligent conversation.
Uh, ok slugger. 85% of Americans still have religious beliefs of some sort, with more than half of them strong belief, but feel free to waive those motivations away.
> On the other hand, Sam has dissed parents who send their kids to Ivy colleges.
This is an inaccurate depiction of Sam’s perspective, which is that the cost of sending kids to Ivy League vs. other cheaper avenues make it an ineffective solution. It’s a similar discussion I’m currently having with him at the other end of the scale regarding preschool.
That conversation was corrupted not by religion, but by the inability of both parties to put themselves in the other’s shoes and to assume the best about their fellow citizen. A nasty disease that has spread throughout our society. Anyone blaming religion or the lack of, is just adding to the disfunction.
Financial Samurai says
Congrats Al. Ah, I wish I had the energy and the youth to have more children. Alas, I do not.
As a stay at home dad, can you share how many hours a day you spend homeschooling your 7 children? How does the schedule look like and can you provide resources for those interested in homeschooling? I presume you are a stay at home dad and are not saying homeschooling is great while not having to homeschool yourself. Pls correct me if I’m wrong.
What does your wife do? And how did you manage the transition when she was pregnant and the first 3-6 months of a baby’s life while taking care of the other children?
I’m definitely looking at the homeschooling option after age 5 b/c we want to live in multiple places long term.
Related post: Trophy Husbands, Trophy Wives, And Now Trophy Kids, Oh My!
Sam, you have the energy to spend an awful lot of time pursuing some sort of honor in tennis. I’ve read those posts. :) So be honest: You have time. Your priorities are different. I wish I could mitigate this by saying ‘that’s fine’ but I don’t really believe that and you deserve honesty since I share your blog all the time as an example of someone who is bluntly honest and now trying to snow people. I appreciate it and will return the favor.
I do homeschool. My wife does 70-80% of the homeschooling, I do the rest. She double majored in soft science fields, mine were engineering and finance-related so I do the math/hard science categories. A typical homeschooling week is 5 days, 4-5 hours a day. “Typical” because the oldest teens are in college so they follow a college schedule, and younger children have shorter school days as they aren’t ready for a more rigorous day. There is also a lot of flex time around Church and other family activities, so it’s not quite like punching a clock.
In addition, we tend to go year round with a lot of breaks, but this differs from family to family dependent upon their needs. In our case, we take off 2 weeks for Christmas and another 2 weeks for Pascha (Easter). We also have ‘mental health days’ whenever we sense that a child just needs a break – it helps their emotional and intellectual development to work hard but know that everyone’s peak performance is a little different and that we’re not just cogs in a machine.
I do a lot of reading in the evening with the family. We discuss the events of the day over dinner, including critical thinking exercises that are fun precisely because… well, we talk about things that are fun for them. AI, VR, Cats (my kids love cats… go figure), whatever.
Piano lessons are outsourced at this point because my 8 year old is really good. He’s beyond where I or his Mom can teach him effectively. The older boys are also beyond that but their interests lay elsewhere, so they have decent musical skills that are now focused on Church activities, including choir and developing voice/sight reading skills for those so inclined. Some are, some aren’t.
It takes time. My wife’s full-time job is homeschooling the children. It does not take quite as much time as most people think – schools are notoriously inefficient and have a lot of programming that is heavily social engineering vs. learning. If you value social engineering of a particularly progressive bent, great. Public schools definitely do a great job of that. But if you want your children to have maximum intellectually, emotional, physical and spiritual development, there is no way a classroom with 25 people is going to do as well as one-on-one tutoring. Which is essentially what homeschooling is. Exceptions for folks like you who can cough up $50-60K a year for the equivalent of the Friends school in DC of course. :)
As far as pregnancy, we had children pretty much like clockwork a bit less than every 2 years for the first half dozen children. It’s really not that difficult. Or at least no more difficult than usual! If my wife was feeling particularly worn out, we cancelled school for that day or I taught lessons in the evening or we caught up on weekends. Because we go year round, we have a lot more flexibility to do these sorts of things. Sadly, we’ve had a few miscarriages, so there are weeks where school slowed down for the younger ones, shifting over into reading and having the older children teach the younger ones a bit while we took care of medical issues. It certainly hasn’t hurt anyone’s academic progress.
And I’m not going to pretend like all my children are brilliant. Some are smarter than others. That’s how life works. But they all thrive and all are challenged to their ability levels. They know how to think critically, to interact with both adults and kids, cook a simple meal, perform simple repairs, teach someone how to do something, manage money effectively (age appropriately of course), etc.
TL;DR Homeschooling isn’t easy but it’s 100% doable, relatively inexpensive and incredibly rewarding to both parents and children. Especially so for the 99% who can’t afford high-quality outsourced education even if they wanted to.
Financial Samurai says
Al – Thanks for the details. Can you share your reasons why you use arguments like “the 1%” and “some sort of honoring in pursuing tennis”?
I’m curious to know how this post triggered you into going the class warfare and judgement route. I really enjoy these type of big reactions b/c it makes for fun follow up writing. I also want to see if I can discover any blindspots in my writing that tends to set people off unintentionally.
Given the importance of education, thoughts of splitting the homeschooling duties evenly or doing a greater percentage?
I’m going to look into your claim that 99% of people can’t afford preschool, or at least most people. For the record, I think homeschooling is a great idea, especially with technology growth. Homeschooling is what we plan to do as our children get older.
For some reason, this idea you and Pete have is that I’m saying no one can afford preschool.
That’s not what I’ve said. Please read it again.
I’ve said that people can’t afford HIGH QUALITY preschool. This is 100% true.
Of course the poor can afford preschool. Poor people have to work. But the preschool they get aren’t filled with Spanish lessons and Montessori-approved activities. Come on down to where I live and I’ll show you the three pre-schools within walking distance of my house. The costs are a lot less – I believe one is charging $700 a month – but you’d never send your child there, I guarantee it.
Do you honestly believe that most Americans – with a median household income of $60K and a 75th percentile of ~$78K – can afford $24K of preschool?
I doubt you’ll change your lifestyle, but since you’re getting some traction in MSM, all I want is for some of the Quiet Readers out there to know that there are other options than 1% options. And yes, if you’re paying $24K a year for preschool Sam, you are taking part in (generously) top 5% activity.
There’s nothing wrong with being wealthy. There’s not anything wrong in having a blog where you sing the praises of luxury education. I’m merely pointing out that people can provide an education similar to, or better than, this level of education which is readily available to at least half your readers. I’d posit it’s more like 75%.
If you see this as judgmentalism and class warfare, then there isn’t much else I can say. Since it’s primarily for your readers anyways, it’s probably for the best.
Financial Samurai says
If preschool costs $700 a month where you live, and the median home price where you live is $200,000, are you sure that is affordable preschool? I would say $2000 a month for preschool in an area where the median home price is $1 million is more affordable because the incomes are much higher. The cost-of-living is proportional to income.
As a homeschooler, how do you determine what a “high-quality” preschool education is versus something else?
BTW: I looked up the stats about the percentage of American kids going to preschool and added the latest statistics with three charts in the post thanks to your assumptions. The data now makes for a more informed post. Thanks!
Al – I agree with you on the variance of preschool quality and actual cost of a “good” preschool. Our son’s preschool is $22K not including summer camp. Including a “good” summer camp we spend over $25k on a good preschool. Our daughter is starting next year so our total after tax cost of preschool is going to be $50K for a year. What percentage of the population are willing and able to afford this? 5% tops.
Is it worth it? Absolutely. Our son has gone from being an emotional wreck at age 2 to an emotional stable, confident 4 year old. We visited the $700 a month preschool and they are complete chaos. Kids running around and teachers screaming and punishing to try to keep order.
Economic segregation starts almost immediately in America. 80% of the population never has a chance to compete because the parents can’t afford decent schooling and activities. Inexpensive athletic competition is the only area where lower class families can compete in America.
I think homeschooling is easier as well if I don’t have to do it.
In many religions, they force the wife to produce as many babies as possible and keep them at home to never pursue their dreams.
I’m scared of these religions, and I hope the men in these controlling relationships can see how scary and unfair they really are.
If the way you write is a reflection of who you are (angry and judgemental), please give your wife more appreciation and respect. Please let her have outside friends and professional help to lean on as well.
> In many religions, they force the wife to produce as many babies as possible and keep them at home to never pursue their dreams.
This is an ignorant and biased statement. You should be ashamed, but I’m pretty sure you won’t be.
> If the way you write is a reflection of who you are (angry and judgemental), please give your wife more appreciation and respect. Please let her have outside friends and professional help to lean on as well.
I’ll just point out for reasonable people reading: I haven’t been angry or judgmental here, but the responses sure have been.
Supposedly my wife is a shrinking violet who has no outside friends and needs professional help (lol). Would that they knew her in RL.
I’m about done here. I am relieved that Sam’s reach has not extended quite as far as I had thought if this is the type of person who frequents his blog.
For those who are in the normal realm of income, 25th-90th percentile (say, $30-150K): Consider homeschooling very carefully. It’s better for your kids, intellectually, spiritually and emotionally. And it’s cheap. It could even be financially advantageous when social welfare opportunities are taken into consideration, especially for those with many children where the wife’s income is half or less of her husband’s.
Plenty of reasonable people who are regular readers understand that Sam has a sense of the ridiculous. It’s part of the entertainment of reading his posts. We know Sam’s advice isn’t to be taken word for word, especially in lower cost of living areas. When you start off with “Sam is a great example of top 1% money whose priorities are on material living. […] But his advice is very, very narrow, and overstates the challenges of those who don’t have 1% dough.” you’re going to get angry responses because you’ve both insulted our intelligence and dismissed the good discussion points of a blog we enjoy.
Your closing paragraph statement should be amended to “if both parents have a strong academic background”. This in itself narrows down the households where homeschooling is a good idea to ones where both parents have college degrees (bachelors or higher at an accredited school). That’s your household, good for you. But you’re always going to get poor reactions because many of us personally know counter examples.
My cousin did the bare minimum of college work to for the state to allow her to home school her large family. One kid after another has failed out/dropped out of community college and is working minimum wage, or not working, with plenty of emotional baggage among the older ones. She’s no longer on speaking terms with her eldest. But she made sure they were all “raised in a Christian environment”, if that’s any consolation for so much wasted potential.
I dislike your last sentence for three reasons. 1 – Social welfare is meant as a safety net. Gaming the system to have someone else pay for my life choices instead of working when I am perfectly capable would offend my sense of pride. 2 – If we’re talking the $30-150k income range for two college degrees, the income split will likely be more equal than 67/33% for many households. 3 – And all the working moms who are the higher earner roll their eyes at the implied assumption of your wording.
Ten Bucks a Week says
Sam provided his take from his position of having great material resources. I think you could certainly benefit others if you shared from your blog on how you have achieved so much success with your children with far fewer resources.
Mama Bear Finance says
This post came at a good time as I’m looking into preschool for my daughter now that I’m planning to get back into the work force.
Another down side I can think about is similar to the peer pressure and conformity you mentioned is when kids bring cell phones or iPads to school. I know little kids as young as 3 already has a cell phone because their parents get worried while they are at work.. this could cause other kids to want one and then a ripple effect on parents to provide one. Do you see this happening at your son’s preschool?
Financial Samurai says
Interesting. Good thing to be aware of.
None of the kids have ipads or phones at school. And the school goes up to age 5.
Mama Bear – Look into Montessori schools.
Coming from a home where my mother took a break to raise her kids when I was young, I never considered daycare/preschooler a real option. All I could picture was a bunch of kids sitting on a rug watching TV and eating sugarplum snacks all day. That was not the kind of thing I wanted for my daughter.
Either I had a skewed perception or things have changed, but my thought couldn’t be further from the way it actually is – I am amazed at how much she is learning and how her social skills have developed (probably even more than her two introverted parents). It’s been a great experience and while I miss her during the day, it’s wonderful to see how much she is learning and growing.
I am very interested in seeing how other people react as I am now firmly in the camp that I would prefer to send my daughter to pre school than attempt to solely educate her at home.
Mama Bear Finance says
This is great insight, thanks for sharing. I have similar feeling growing up.
It really is amazing when your child is old enough to attend school.
It takes a lot of pressure off of being a parent. Whenever my daughter has an extended break it seems like I have to come up with something constantly to keep her entertained and look forward to when school starts. Homework and friends keep her occupied when that happens.
That’s why so many parents look forward to the first day of school after having the kids home for the entire summer.
Financial Samurai says
Yes. Now it feels like Mon-Fri are vacation days, kinda, and Sat-Sun are more like work days :)
Doug H. says
Even though I hate paying for it, I’m extremely glad where our kids go to preschool. Both my wife and I work, and it gives us some flexibility at the beginning and end of each day. Plus we’ve seen our oldest child already go into public school more advanced than other kids and that’s an added plus.
Financial Samurai says
Cool. I wonder if kids ever “normalize,” i.e. fast kids slow down and vice versa. And if so, at what age/grade.