Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Free U: The Preschool Closet

It's that time of year again. Kids are going back to school and I'm fielding questions about who among my children are in some sort of preschool program.

Even Danny has questions. His friends are all starting back to preschool next week. This morning, I watched my neighbors daughter while she took her other girl to her preschool open house at the very same preschool Danny attended last year. I tried not to talk too much about where they were going lest he start asking questions again.

Honestly, I've dreaded the questions from him more than those from others. He's asked to go to school and I've wondered if I'm doing the right thing by keeping him out. It's not that our experience was not good last year; we just don't have the desire to invest the money and time in preschool when we'll likely homeschool for at least the foreseeable future.

Anyhow, the past few days, I've had a tough time getting him to stay outside and play. It's been absolutely gorgeous outside. It's like the hurricane over the weekend just cleared the air and it's all fresh and bright again. And all he wants to do is stay inside and paint or color or do crafts. You know, preschool stuff.

Drives me nuts. 

Danny has a distinct learning pattern, though. He goes through a very physical phase where he's full of energy, taking risks and mastering physical tasks such as climbing, swimming or basketball.  Then he switches gears and is suddenly more interested in fine motor or mental tasks such as writing, painting or working with letters.

Sometimes I'm a bit slow to realize when he has switched gears. I really should know better by now than to go against this kid's instincts. I should have figured it out a few days ago when he showed me a figure he had drawn. All on his own. For the first time, actually. It's on my refrigerator.

This afternoon, he was rattling off every excuse in the book to get back inside: I'm sweating; I'm itchy; I'm hot. I relented, eventually.  And later found him in our hall pantry closet doing this:

He was in his underwear making "words" with letter magnets on the freezer. Now, I know that these are not words that you would find in the dictionary. But I am of the mind that any effort to string letters together into words is a beneficial activity for a young mind. He's learning how different letters sound together. We sounded a few out. He thought "gronk" was hilarious. We added even more magnetic letters. I pointed out that "C" and "H" together made the "ch" sound and I added them to the "a" and the "s" to make a word that was familiar to him: his cousin Chas' name. Then I noticed that he put the "S" together with two "E"s and an "R." I added an "S" to the end and helped him sound it out.

"SEARS," he shouted. "They have an elevator there." He went in the elevator with his dad a few weeks ago at Sears. Apparently, it was like some sort of amusement ride for him. 

I told him that he was having preschool in the closet. He thought that was just grand. He asked me to close the door so the kids couldn't get in. This whole exchange, by the way, lasted less than 10 minutes, maybe even less than 5 minutes.

Later at dinner, Jim asked me quizzically about preschool in the closet. It was then I realized that if anyone ever asks my son if he goes to preschool, he is going to proudly tell them that he has preschool in the closet.

Oh dear. 

Now that is going to be a lot tougher to explain than homeschooling. 

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