I don't think I've ever done a personal debate before. Don't worry, I plan on getting furious if you all don't agree with me (Joke!!!)
Actually, I'm not even sure if this is a real debate, particularly since I haven't made up my mind about what I am going to do. More like asking for opinions and advice from other, possibly BTDT moms.
So here's my situation.
Our son, 3 years old, has been attending the same day care since he was 12 weeks old. We like his day care lady, we have no complaints about his care or how he spends his days, and I personally like the fact that he has been with (mostly) the same small group of children his entire life - I think that provides him with a sense of stability. His day care lady is great, she feeds those kids like kings (think home made lamb stews and fresh baked goods and things like that, her house always smells AMAZING) and they do some pre-school type work like singing songs, counting, colors, crafts, things like that. So anyway, I'm very happy with her, and it hasn't been a big priority to me to move him into a formal preschool setting. I had no plans to move him until kg.
Recently, my in laws offered to enroll DS in the preschool at their synagogue (and pay for it.) Basically, he would go two days a week for part of the day, and then if he/we liked it, he could change to 3 days a week.
It would be convenient too, because the school that DH will be teaching at this year is about 5 minutes away from his parents' house. MIL said that DH could either drop T off at her house, or she could meet him at his school and take T on to her house from there. T would stay at his grandma's house until it was time for preschool to start for the day, she would take him to preschool (it is walking distance from their house) and then she would pick him up when it was over and keep him until DH got off work.
This would likely cut our daycare costs in half. Although, I have to say that I do feel a little weird about letting DH's parents pay for stuff like this, so that's kind of a subset of thought.
I also like the idea of T spending more time with his grandma. I really like my daycare lady, but between having him be at daycare and having him spend that time with his grandma, I still think it would be great for him to have that time with his Oma. He adores her and I know that he would love being able to spend several mornings and afternoons a week with her, and I think that it would be great for him to have that time to grow his bond with her.
I also think it could be beneficial for him to have some experience with more of a "class room" type setting before starting school.
Cons: DH and I are not religious, and I don't know how I feel about sending him to a preschool in a religious institution. I'm not really violently against it per say, but it feels a little weird.
I don't know how I feel about letting DH's parents pay for preschool. They freely offered (we weren't like complaining about the costs of daycare or anything). Our relationship with them is very good and there has never been any weirdness about money or gifts so I don't think that it would change anything, but it still feels weird. I'm an adult, dangit!!! I can pay for my own childcare. Right?
So thoughts? BTDT mamas, do you think that preschool is important for getting kids ready for kg? Would you send your kid to a religious school if you yourself were not a member of that religion? Is it weird/a bad idea to let your ILs pay for your kid's tuition if you have a good relationship with them and they offer?
One question. Are the IL's religious? Is this a ploy to use their money to get their grandchild religion? Then I can answer
Good question. Yes, but not typically pushy religious, if that makes sense.
We were in a similar situation. DH and ILs are Jewish, I'm Methodist. DD and DS go to preschool at a Lutheran church. When DS was the age to start I decided to give it one more year. He was only 2 and I didn't think it was that pressing. Plus it would keep a few mornings a week a little more relaxed for us. MIL offered to pay for him to go, not because we couldn't or she thought he needed it. She just thought it would be nice for him to go at that age like his sister did and she likes to do for our kids. DH and I said ok and in the end we're glad we did, he had a great time this year.
Is the daycare provider willing to do the part time or does she need the slot for a full-time student?
I would send my child to a good preschool that wasn't our religion (actually on a waitlist currently), would let my in-laws pay for something if there were no strings attached, and the preschool had openings. I do think it's important for children to have at least one year of classroom time before going to kindergarten.
Lillie - Good point, I don't know about my current daycare lady and I would be sad to have to move him if she wasn't willing to go part time.
Sara - Yes, that is the same sort of thing with us - I don't think that my ILs think that we particularly *need* the help, they just like to do things for us and for T where they can. I am grateful for their generosity, especially since they do not attach strings to their gifts, but I also have a hard time accepting generous gifts. Like, much appreciated, and yes this would make our lives easier, but is it "proper" for adults to accept that much help from their parents. KWIM?
I'll be honest and say that to me it depends on how open you are to the idea that your son might be religious, even if you aren't.
I'm very afraid of my parents introducing more religion or a different brand of religion to my children than we are open to, at the young ages that our children are at. Because we are not really religious and don't attend church, we worry that it will be confusing/send a mixed message to our children before they are really able to understand anything about it. They have never offered to pay for anything for us, but almost every gift/card/story has pretty overt religious themes. It can be very difficult. Because of my history with this, I (just me!) would worry that in accepting financial help that is geared towards religion, I was tacitly letting them be more involved in my childs religious upbringing than I am comfortable with ~ BUT, again, I admit to having a more overt issue with this and with my family than it sounds like you do with your IL's.
That said, I do think that preschool would be beneficial. If I were afraid that this was a religious/money thing with the goal of giving your child faith in their faith, I would say that you would love to accept their offer but you were actually interested in sending him to "XYZ excellent non denominational preschool" and see if the offer of financial help still stands. If you have no fear of this being a religious/money thing with faith as the end goal, or if you are totally 100% open to having a child embrace that faith, I would go for it.
If the goal is to try to off-handedly "force" a religious aspect into your LO's life by way of funding well then I also would politely decline.
Of course it will be up to you to talk through the religious questions that your LO is likely to have along the way and if you're ok with that and you think Oma's intentions are altruistic - then giddyup! Financial help is a great added bonus!
Christina + Rory = a grand total of:
Amelia, Anthony, Andon, Noah, Mason, & Trinity-woof
Melissa - Also good points. I feel exactly the same way about my own parents, and if MY parents offered to send T to preschool at their church I wouldn't even be considering it. I am less reserved about DH's parents because they have not been nearly as overt as my parents in making their opinions known that they want T brought up within their religion. MY parents "sneak" T religious messages every chance they get which drives me bonkers. I am sure that in their heart of hearts, my ILs wish that DH would embrace his Judaism, I would convert, and that we would bring T up in the Jewish faith, but they have never been anything less than kind and accepting of me or our "lifestyle" (LOL for a lack of a better word) so I am decidedly less guarded on this subject with them than I am with my parents.
I don't really know how I feel about T embracing religion. I think it's cool for him to learn about his Jewish heritage and I'm fine with it if he wants to embrace a bit of that cultural identity as he grows up. Actually becoming religious though - eh. I think I just want to spare him from being overly influenced about that stuff until he is old enough to understand it and think through it more. Which may be the answer to my question....
Alissa- can you talk to the teachers at the school about their daily activities? I'm not sure about everywhere else, but my daughter went to a Catholic pre-k and there really wasn't much there in the way of religion because the pre-k catered to a larger community than just the future Catholic grade school students. We don't have many pre-k's around here (especially now with public school's getting their budgets chopped), we have 2 Catholic pre-k's and one that is Lutheran (I think there's one more but can't remember for sure), so one of the pre-k's is actually advertising as non-denominational, which I know is not the same thing, but I talked to a friend that said they are just trying to pick up the extra kids and make people realize that in preschool, at least there anyway, it's not about religion, it's about filling a need the community has.
ETA: in the end, go with your gut! If it's too much for you to handle, as generous and kindly as it was offered, then politely decline. (as an aside: how do I sign up to eat lunch with T at the sitters house???)