The Preschool Rat Race

The rat race of preschool applications to get the “best school” must be nothing short of exhausting. Observing a two year old’s parents resorting to résumés and other slick tricks portraying their little ones as evolving Einsteins stresses me out.  The absurdity of a school “allowing” parents to write a huge check to attend seems ‘other world’ to me now.  Kids should be kids and babies should certainly be allowed to be babies.  It’s a shame our government doesn’t reject the pressure to institutionalize our little ones, instead promoting Zero to Five/Preschool for All programs. Parents need to count on their common sense to protect their child’s well being and uniqueness.  Especially as our legislators push for expensive controls and expansions of the institution called school.

Rachel Figueroa-Levin posted in the Urban Baby Blog that her two year old will remain a two year old, not a model of the perfect student.

I don’t want to end what my daughter has going on right now to sit and study exam questions. Two year olds shouldn’t have to see interview coaches. She doesn’t even use the potty consistently yet and she’s supposed to take a test and give an interview? The test’s content isn’t even a concern for me, I’ve seen a practice one. Adi could answer most of these questions correctly. What Adi CAN’T do is physically take the test and talk to the interviewer. Why? Because she’s two. Two year olds don’t like sitting still. Two year olds don’t like answering questions from uptight-looking strangers. Two year olds shouldn’t have interview coaches, or take time out of their day to meet with them. What two year olds should be doing is going outside and running around, playing with dolls, making giant messes, and otherwise acting like two year olds.

Ironically and wonderfully clear to anyone who chooses to open their eyes, Ms. Figueroa-Levin’s daughter is doing well without preschool.  She’s already multi-lingual, using her fresh, questioning brain to absorb and engage in facts and figures. Brava to this mom.

But this 2007 Slate article below – The Getting-Into-Preschool Puzzle – laid out the preoccupation of some parents, while advice to unravel the ‘puzzle’ seems illogical at best, comical at worst.  But it’s not funny and apparently this dilemma hasn’t been cured yet, according to the Urban Baby Blog post linked above.  From Slate‘s Emily Bazelon:

What do preschool admissions directors want to see? Curiosity, energy, some speech, maybe some ability to sit still. In some cases, potty training. What sets off warning bells? Temper tantrums. Extreme clinginess. Kids generally aren’t expected to separate from their parents when they walk in the door for an interview or observed play session. But if they never want to leave their mother’s lap, “then I ask about separation issues,” one preschool director told me.

Pity the two year old who is tired and confused from this parent trap.  They might not be curious, energetic or talkative enough. according to pre-school standards.  One has to ask how extreme clinginess is defined and in what environment is that a terrible drawback or “issue”?
What a crazy world our society’s children have stepped into and I have to say I’m glad our family stepped off while our children were growing up.  I suspect Rachel Figueroa-Levin’s daughter will be just fine living it up as a two year old. As it should be.


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