Why I chose the afternoon preschool class for my child – and am glad I did!
My child’s first year at our neighborhood preschool was Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. The afternoon class was the only class available as the morning was full. I took it because the program with Fine Arts looked amazing. I had waited too long to decide about preschool. It was one of those things I’ve noticed about parenting where the child grows up faster than I expected, and preschool just snuck up on me. To register at the end of April meant it was the afternoon class or “no preschool” at all.
Knowing that the neighborhood preschool guaranteed me a 3 day, Monday/Wednesday/Friday spot for the following year if I registered for the 2 day program I decided it was worth it, even though I wasn’t sure that the afternoon class was “right”. Despite the time of the class, I felt that the Fine Arts program provided an advantage in terms of positive experiences for my child. So sign up we did!
But still I had concerns…
- No afternoon nap—how was this going to work?
- My child was a slow-eater and lunch was an ‘event’. Could I get him out the door on time, without a fuss?
- The last thing I wanted was a sleep-deprived, cranky kid for the evening hours.
In short, afternoon preschool seemed like a huge challenge and presented me with change that I really didn’t feel ready for or prepared to make. This was me at the end of April—full of questions, fears, worries, and concerns—but wanting to do right by my child.
My mother had a saying “What a difference a day makes!” (not that I always agree with her! lol). But in my case, it turned out that our family had almost 140 days—including all of May, June, July, August and the first week of September—until preschool started. What can I say, but that in that amount of time my child changed, “grew up”, and his needs became different in ways I hadn’t expected nor could I predict.
Yes, he still had a nap during those months but it began to be shorter, and some days the nap became a “quiet time”, a rest time with books, independent of me.
Was he tired after preschool? Some days more than others—and on those days he had a short “cat-nap” after school, no more than an hour so that he could be refreshed and pleasant for our early evening activities. Occasionally he would be a bit grouchy at his wakeup call, but over a period of time we got used to the new schedule and routine.
As to my “slow-eater”, well that hasn’t changed much! My solution was to change what I could control—the sandwich! Instead of a whole sandwich at noon with me cajoling him to “hurry up and eat”, or with noticeable frustration spend our lunch together with me “tapping my toe” and “clock-watching”, I give him half a sandwich—the other half goes to school in his backpack for snack-time and is eaten while socializing with his new friends. I am not frustrated and it eliminates the need to nag!
Do I get a cranky child for the late afternoon and early evening hours? Maybe a little, but not really! (honest!!!) After preschool, he is always tells lively stories, or plays and teaches us his little songs that he knows. But there are some days that bedtime might be earlier, but that’s about it.
When all is said and done, afternoon preschool has been great, and I’m glad we signed on. One thing I’ve come to realize as a parent is that changes in a child are inevitable. Nap times come and nap times go—it’s all a part of growing up! When I see my child fostering little friendships on his own at preschool, and see him experiencing paint and glue and clay and…stuff that I probably wouldn’t have thought of, or if I did I wouldn’t have wanted to clean up the mess…when I hear him singing little songs to himself or coming to me with big explanations that start with “…this is what teacher says…”, when after dinner (or just about any time) he surprises me with some dance “moves”… these are the times I know we made the right choice to register him in preschool as a 3 year old, even if it was in the afternoon.
Now as a 4 year old our child still attends the afternoon preschool class, but now it is 3 days a week. Why? Because the friends he met and the families and neighbors I met have formed our own little community within the larger preschool context.
And next year? My child and his friends will move on to ‘all-day kindergarten’—“oh, no…not another change!!”—but then, it’s just another chance to grow up, isn’t it?!
by Jenny I.