Note: Update at bottom.
I've been starting to stress about preschool. Most of her American friends here are in preschool. Her cousin attends a Montessori school. Most started by age of two or two and half. She's older than most of her friends by six to eight months. Matt refused to allow Olivia to enter preschool when we arrived. Looking back, he was right. I was used to hourly care several hours a week at Ft. Wainwright and had a hard time adjusting to not having a "break." Olivia did ask to go to "school" when we first arrived, however, she adjusted and we moved past it. Instead, joining Mums and Tots on Monday's.
We did, however, visit one "school" a while back that I really liked. The kids are involved in cooking, gymnastics, music and gardening. An added perk is that it's a Portuguese school and we've been told that she'll, most likely, speak fluently in about six months (while she won't maintain her Portuguese when we move back to the US, it could enable her to pick up languages much more easily in the future). Preschool enough for me, though, official preschools, English or Portuguese, are just over $700/month (not in our budget). Olivia left the place, after our tour, kicking and screaming and asked to go back for a few days after. I've looked at two places and this one is my top choice thus far.
If I remember correctly, it's about $455 US dollars a month and we're able to get 20% of that back (we get the 20% VAT tax back because it's not considered an official preschool. Offical schools are not applicable for VAT refund). Included in that price is lunch and the option for her to stay all day, every day (we'll send her three mornings a week). This is still too pricey for my DH. Though, he has, relucantly, agreed to send her next year as long as I (we) scope out other "schools" beforehand and make sure I (we) pick out the best one in our price range.
Here's the dilema. My DH believes that preschool has little to no impact on future education. He thinks one year of part-time preschool is more than enough. Therefore, he'd like to wait until we're back in the US when Olivia is four and a half. He'd rather put the money we'd be spending on preschool this coming year into Olivia's 529 plan instead.
His thought (and he's slowly convincing me) is that if parents read to their children, travel with them, teach them, to some degree, on their own and involve their children in group activties (read: play groups, some type of group lessons, etc.) with other children their age on a weekly basis, they'll develop the social skills and knowledge they need to enter Kindergarten without being behind. He also feels that a bright child will catch up (and, possibly, surpass) very quickly to kids who had more time in preschool than they did.
Does anyone want to weigh in on this? Any educators out there who think differently? As I mentioned, I have convinced him to send her to "preschool" in September and a "real" preschool the following year before she enters kindergarten, however reluctantly.
America is becoming obsessed with the importance of preschool. Are there any books or articles we should be reading to help us out? We've spent so much time out of the continental US that we feel a bit "out of the loop." Any thoughts and recommended reading would be welcomed.
Update: Okay, I guess my biggest dilema is this: Do kids need two years of an official preschool? As of right now, I'm not to concerned about the quality of her first year of preschool. I think a daycare with a preschool program is a good start. Am I right? For her second year of preschool, the year before kindergarten, do we throw down the big bucks for an official preschool (if we're still here Portugal - meaning about $700 US dollars/month)? If we're back in the US by that time, I think we'll have better options at fairly reasonable prices. Though, if anyone wants to weigh in what we should look for in the US, feel free. Can you tell I'm a bit confused?!