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Broke-Ass Mom: Should You Send Your Kid to Preschool?

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Is nursery school for a Broke-Ass Mom?  For over a year now I’ve been telling myself, and anyone else who will listen that nursery school, or preschool, is a big waste of time and money.  I kept asking myself why do people spend thousands of dollars to send their child to a place where they essentially just play all day?  We do that for FREE at our house 24/7.

As soon as I was showing, I had people asking me where we were sending our child to preschool and was he on a wait list yet.  Apparently if your child isn’t on a wait list while still in the womb you might as well kiss college good-bye because everyone knows that without preschool you’re nothing (Yes, there is sarcasm there.) Not knowing any better I went to a preschool just around the corner from us when I was six months pregnant.  I walked in and immediately asked if they could put me on their wait list.  Their response was “Your child has to be at least two before being placed on our wait list.  Please come back and take a tour at a later date.”  Phew.  Now I don’t have to worry about preschool for another two years.

As my son grew older I started to understand the reasons behind preschool less and less.  Therefore last fall I went to a class that talked about preschool and told me why my son should go.  I sat there in a room full of women half with pregnant bellies, and the other half had infants.  I was the only woman in the room that had a two-year-old son.  After the teacher spent an hour convincing us about the benefits of preschool, I raised my hand and said, “So preschool is just to socialize my child?” The room went quiet, the lights flickered, and lightening struck twice somewhere in that moment.  “Well, no, I mean, I guess, you could look at it like that.” I left convinced that I could do anything a preschool could.

But then my son started talking, and with every new word came a greater desire for friends.  To the point that now anytime he’s within earshot of a person less than four feet tall, he will try to strike up a conversation with them.  He is desperate for friends.  So, now I’m back to maybe we should send him to preschool.  I still can’t stomach the idea of a $19,000/year preschool, though.  Here is my Broke-Ass Mom method for affording preschool:

  1. Find a co-op.  They can be as little as $3,000/year.  You work one day per week, and attend a few meetings. Not too bad if you or your partner can arrange to work one day a week.
  2. Sign your child up for only two or three days a week.  This can be significantly less expensive than a five day per week program.
  3. Start your own preschool.  This one is the cheapest but the hardest.  I have heard of parents doing this very successfully though.  If you have a group of like-minded parents, then organize days of the week for all the kids.  You can alternate homes and responsibilities.  I would totally do this if I had enough friends, but alas, I do not.

That’s all the ideas I have so far.  Unfortunately, I don’t think my son will get to go to preschool this coming fall.  We were too late to the preschool party, and now we probably can’t get in anywhere.  But at least we know what we’re looking for next year.  Until then, I’ll have to come up with a way to get my son the friends that he so desperately wants.

Photo by: A good friend

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Jennifer White - Mommy No Bucks

Jennifer White - Mommy No Bucks

Jennifer has been a bit of a nomad having lived in seven different cities. Her life as a gypsy has settled down for the moment in San Francisco with her husband and two-year old son. Recently, she decided to throw caution to the wind, quit her job as an analyst to be a full-time mom while chasing her dreams (and the Pulitzer Prize). When she's not writing, she's aspiring to be a luddite (although blogging isn't helping), knitting the occasional hat, or running in the park with her son and his secondhand compost truck in tow.


  1. brandi
    May 11, 2012 at 11:22 am

    We (meaning me) decided to forgo preschool and instead spend time in playgrounds, parks, and the occasional multiweek class setting (Children’s Art Center, Ice Skating, and the like). My daughter is now a 9 year old entering 4th grade next year and was reading before any of her kindergarten classmates. Socializing came completely easy for her.

  2. JustAThought
    May 11, 2012 at 11:35 am

    Preschool teaches crucial developmental skills at three,four, and sometimes five years old- among the most important years of a child’s development. Yes, theoretically you could teach these things to your child at home and socialize him when you can, but realistically, if you’re a “broke-ass mom”, you should probably be working, finding a job, or doing something productive to support your child. Not to mention all the struggling families with broken or stressful households; preschool can act as an escape for the child. At this age, it is also important to introduce to your child the idea of independence and routines. Drop him off, pick him up, the whole thing is a learning experience for him- for you both. In the long run, although preschool might be expensive, it’s going to be better for both you and your child.

  3. May 11, 2012 at 12:00 pm

    most cities have very reasonable pre-school programs. my daughter attends MWF from 9AM to 12PM and she loves it. i think the transition to all day kindergarten will be much smoother for both of us;)