So we started preschool for Peanut with the idea that it would give her another opportunity to socialize with other kids and adults. We were hoping it would expand her horizons a bit. The other goal was that I'd have some time to spend with Pumpkin one on one and that I could really enjoy my little dude. I've not been really interested in the "academics" of preschool, and would be completely fine if Peanut played all day with a new group of kids and adults, so we chose a play based cooperative preschool with a somewhat relaxed feel.
Well, as I was making the drive to school this morning, I was thinking about these goals and how well we are meeting them. I actually like the drive - it takes 20-30 minutes, and I hadn't realized how much I missed driving. I spent 15 years driving around for work and I had gotten used to having that decompression time in the car with the music on. The time driving though means that the time to spend with Pumpkin is minimal. We can get there and back and have about an hour and a half before we have to head out again to pick up Peanut. That's if we haven't got other errands to run. Then there is the napping issue; I think every second (or third, fourth, etc) kid gets the short end of the stick here. On preschool days, his naps get all messed up because he falls asleep in the car. Which means that at some point later in the day, either he is just a tired beast or I spend 45 minutes getting him to settle down for a 30 minute nap so he can make it through the rest of the afternoon. So on the Pumpkin front, the goals are not really being met as he is logging a ton of car time and basically hanging out at home with me long enough to eat a snack, prepare lunches, and play for a few minutes.
As far as Peanut socializing, she is socializing mostly with her one friend in class who she has known forever and sees at playgroup and homeschool preschool as well. She has begun to talk a bit more to the other adults who teach and help, which is great. I can't say though that it is a huge difference from any other activities we do. The first day I cooped at the school, I felt like there wasn't anything they did that we don't already do at home. I also felt like there was too much focus on getting lots of activities in rather than spending quality time with each thing and getting the kids to really interact, which is what Peanut needs most. So while it is a group of kids that offers a social challenge to her in that they are not well known to her overall, the focus is not on encouraging her to come out of her shell. So I think we may be missing the boat a bit on those goals as well.
The biggest issue I am having though has nothing to do with the kids. In both our homeschool coop and this coop, I volunteer. I'm finding that the expectations for volunteering at this coop are pretty big, and we pay a pretty decent tuition as well. So I end up shelling out some time and money, but don't really feel like I can advocate for things like less activities during the day and more time spent on interactions. I'd like to have more input, but with so many families and many things already decided upon, I can't see that changing. So that's a bit frustrating. I think it would be OK if I was just sending her to a regular preschool and I was not expected or required to put in any time. I'd feel like part of that scenario would be for me to have some time to myself as well, where this set up does not really grant that.
I'm also feeling like we have so many activities planned that our one free day just isn't cutting it. I'd love to have a more free flowing day and avoid the push to get out the door at a certain time almost every day. I'm not sure it is all worth it. I guess I think supporting kids in interacting with people in the real world trumps preschool group activities right now. I think we'll finish out the year with school, but I can't really see us doing this again next year, especially since it would be 3 or 4 days a week. You never know though, I can always change my mind!