In early childhood, you may lay the foundation of poverty or riches, industry or idleness, good or evil by the habits to which you train your children. Teach them right habits then, and their future life is safe. — Unknown
As a parent, making the decision whether to send your child to a pre-K program can be daunting. The cost of preschool can be a hurdle for many families. The challenge of half-day programs for working parents adds another challenge to overcome. For example, how do you get a child to and from school? These are just a couple of the many factors that play into the decision of whether to send your child to a preschool program. The decision is certainly not easy.
If you choose to send your child to a pre-K program, there are a few other items to consider. This will be your child’s first exposure to school in a formal setting. What message will you send your child about the importance of school? That message will stay with your child for a lifetime.
Will you be the parent who allows your children to show up late to school every day because class begins with circle time and, really, how important is that? How about the parent who pulls children for extended family weekends out of town or family trips because the deal was just too good to pass up? Maybe the weather is bad, and you don’t feel like driving to school. Let’s face it: as parents, we can find a million reasons to stay home with our children. What message are we sending to them?
If school is not important in pre-K, kindergarten, or first grade, when does it become important? As parents, if we decide our children need to begin taking school seriously at grade 7 as this marks the beginning of deep subject learning, how do we turn the corner to say to our children, “You can’t miss school now. It is important.” Is that message consistent with what we have told and shown them from the beginning of their career as a student?
When we send our children off to college where they are completely responsible for their attendance and education, will they go to class? If we are paying the bill, I bet we will want them to attend. Have we spent a lifetime teaching them that they need to attend in order to learn? Once our children begin their adult professions, will they believe they need to show up for work every day? What example have we given them?
Our children learn more from what we model for them than they ever will by what we say to them. This is just one of the reasons that parenting is difficult. Making the choice to have children means you begin to make decisions based on how those decisions will affect your children and begin to build the foundation of their life. As parents, it is our duty to choose wisely for them. We don’t get to jump on a plane to take a trip any time we want. We can’t spend a long weekend in a hotel because we got a great deal.
Opportunity to jump on a plane and stay in a hotel or take a road trip will come back to us once our children are grown. Our commitment to our children is a big one, but in the journey of life, the commitment is short. We have a mere 18-20 years to give them the foundation for success in learning and life. Making sacrifices for them is part of the journey. I guarantee you won’t regret your sacrifice in the long run.
"Community Education Corner," published weekly in the Pine Journal, features news from Community Education programs in Carlton County. Michele Carlson is the Community Education Director for Esko Schools.