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Mothers Day Out :: Why We Chose NOT to Enroll Our Son

I have a confession.

My 2.5 year old isn’t in Mother’s Day Out.

In Dallas, that seems like a sin.

When my son turned 1 and everyone around us started talking about all the waiting lists they were on for MDO, camping to get their kid in MDO and all the tours they had gone on, I started to panic.

Wait, what? He needs to be in school, already? He needs socialization, time away from me and to begin his academic studies?

My son was just 1 year old and I already felt behind.

I came home from a playdate in tears and utter panic because the thought of enrolling him in a MDO program had not even crossed my mind and by that point in the year (March) none of the good programs had spots left for the fall!

Thankfully when I came home, my husband talked me down from a panic so that we could have a rational conversation about Mother’s Day Out and our son’s schooling.

We made a list of all the academic items that were important to us that our son master by the time he goes to kindergarten:

  1. Know his alphabet, be able to sing all the letters and recognize them
  2. Know how to count to 20 and recognize the numbers
  3. Have a basic, fundamental understanding of how to problem solve
  4. Be able to make friends and play with friends
  5. Be curious
  6. Have the ability to play by himself for up to an hour

After making that list, thinking and praying about it, we made the decision that we could teach our son all those skills in our home.

Seeing and recognizing letters has become almost a game for us, wherever we go. We talk about letters on billboards, signs at malls and words on a menu.

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Counting our duplo blocks and talking about the colors.

We count every single thing we do. Everything. Sandwich bites, pieces of fruit, items of clothing we put on, and the number of  veggie sticks in our bowl. We also make pancakes every Saturday morning and he looks at the recipe with me to match the numbers on the recipe to the numbers on the measuring cup.

I try to set up small problems for him to solve or ask him what he thinks he should do, before simply completing the task for him. Nothing big, but for example yesterday he was painting and shut all the lids on his paint. He threw himself on the ground sobbing because he couldn’t get his paint brush in the tub anymore (2 year old drama anyone?). I helped him calm down, showed him how to open the lids and explained that if he shut them, he could just open them again.

During the school year, we attend Bible Study on Tuesday mornings where he is in a classroom with all his little friends for 2.5 hours, which gives him great exposure to learn social skills. This coming year, we are attending MOPS every other Friday where he will again have 3 hours to play with friends. We also have at least one play date a week and walk to local parks to meet new people.

Anytime we see someone new, I ask him about it. We talk about it. We look at it. We touch it. His curiosity astounds me (and how long he can talk about something. Oh. My. Gosh. It was just a rollie pollie. Get over it. It’s been 3 days.).

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Outside looking for birds, rollie pollies, our neighbors dogs, monkey grass and anything else that meets our fancy!

Right now at 2.5, he can entertain himself for about 20 minutes before he loses interest or needs a playmate. I think that’s perfect and right on track. I intentionally give him space and time every day to play alone and we increase the amount every few weeks.

I will note that we have a sweet homeschooled high school student who watches both my boys for 3 hours once a week so that I can run errands or sit in silence at a coffee shop or spend intentional one-on-one time with each of my kids. Those 3 hours are a lifesaver for me.

So for us in our family, we feel that we can meet all the important social and academic needs our son will have until he reaches Kindergarten (make sure to check out Katy’s post on how to prepare your kid for Kinder, it’s fantastic!).

At this moment, that is the best decision for our son and for our family. I’ll be honest: at the end of every school semester, we visit the topic again to make sure we are still making the best decision for our family. As family dynamics change or new babies join our family, it very easily could make sense to send our kids to MDO so they can get the attention and social interaction they need. The decision that we made is certainly not the best decision for every family. We have countless friends who send their kids to MDO and their kids thrive there.

What about you?

Do you send your kids to MDO? How did you make that decision?

 

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8 Responses to Mothers Day Out :: Why We Chose NOT to Enroll Our Son

  1. Rachel August 27, 2014 at 9:53 am #

    I am SO thankful for this post. My son is 15 months and I’m not sure if I want to put him in a program next fall. Everyone I know has their 2+ aged kids in a program but I feel like waiting until 3 or 4 would be fine! Sometimes I question myself and am thankful to read about someone else who doesn’t want to rush school.

  2. Barbara August 29, 2014 at 9:03 pm #

    Both my kids started in a PMO program, but mainly because *I* was teaching preschool while they were literally down the hall two mornings a week. Toddlers and preschoolers are certainly a calling of mine, and the opportunity to work with this age group, while also getting to still be near my own children, was quite a blessing. Were I *not* working, I’m not sure if I would have been able to justify putting them in preschool. However, my daughter, now enrolled in a private Catholic k-8 school as a kindergartner, had an amazing experience going through the preschool program at our school, and has made friends that have lasted for several years now. Her teachers showed genuine love and interest in her, and it’s an experience I wouldn’t trade for the world, and I’m looking forward to seeing my son (2.5) go through it as well.

    For what it’s worth, my daughter was reading by last January – not because of her experience in preschool, but because her mother (the teacher) taught her how. 😉

  3. Tara February 2, 2015 at 7:47 am #

    This post made me sad. You sound like a GREAT mom, and I hate that you feel like you have to defend your decision not to do what (mostly) everyone else is doing!

    I think a lot of moms put their kids in MDO/preschool for themselves — not for the child — and that’s ok too!

    Everyone should do what’s best for their own family and not feel like straying from the pack is a bad thing. You are SO very lucky to have the option. And if you decided to homeschool, you should be able to do so without shame as well.

    I have very strong feelings about this. Let me note that I am a child of a SAHM, and when I got married and planned my family I had also planned to be a SAHM.

    Ah, plans…funny how we make “plans” as if the universe is going to comply.
    I didn’t know that my life would include Divorce. And Daycare.

    I don’t think my child would be any less social, or be academically “behind” if I had been able to stay home with her until Kindergarten.

    You know your child. Do what you think is best for him, and I think you’ll be just fine. It sounds to me like you have a great system that works for you at the moment. That could very well change next month or next year, you never know.

    Regardless, don’t worry about what anyone else is doing or saying. 🙂

  4. Katie Bush February 2, 2015 at 3:15 pm #

    Thank you for this! We live in Sachse and are in a local moms group but no MDO. My daughter is 9 months. I feel I can teach her the skills she needs. Glad I’m not alone!

  5. Emily February 3, 2015 at 3:41 pm #

    I absolutely agree! I intended to keep my kiddos at home with me til kinder and, like you, felt like I missed the memo on sending my 2 year old to MDO. However, when my twins were born and my son had not even turned 2 yet, I was so thankful we were able to find an opening at a MDO 2 mornings a week to allow me to take care of the twins and catch up on things at home while my older son was loved on and cared for by his teacher. I also loved that he got to do activities like painting and finger painting that I had a hard time doing at home! I think every family needs to look within their own family unit and make decisions that make the most sense for them and line up with their own goals and values and not worry about what everyone else is doing.

  6. Heather September 2, 2015 at 11:09 am #

    I completely understand this. My son will be 2 in less than 2 months and while I admit I would love a break 1-2 days a week for a few hours I’m so hesitant to put him in a MDO. I think I might only feel comfortable with it if I was working in the same MDO, but the that would defeat the purpose of some quiet time for me. I’m a SAHM and I love being with my son. Iove watching him as he learns and how excited he gets. I love that if he gets hurt he runs right over for hugs, kisses and snuggles to make it better. I feel as Moms we have to spend a lot of time defending our choices and there’s so much advice out there, but the key is it doesn’t work for everyone. Both of my great grandmothers stayed at home with all of their kids and they turned out great. My grandmother was sole provider and so my Mom and Uncle were watched by a nanny and they turned out great. We’ve got friends who do MOPS, MDO, kinder music, etc and their kids are turning out great. We’ve got another baby on the way. Maybe this one will benefit from something like MOPS or MDO, maybe they’ll stay home. It’s about doing what feels right for your family and your kids.

    Thanks so much for writing this article.

  7. Jenny September 3, 2015 at 6:00 am #

    I think it sounds like you’re doing a great job preparing your child for Kindergarten, getting him excited about learning new things, and also making some time for yourself. Moms go about this delicate balance in different ways. MDO is simply a tool made available for moms who want the same thing. As an MDO teacher of 2 1/2 year olds AND as a mom I can understand every angle of this story, and you’re doing a great job! Sounds like several moms needed to hear this.

  8. Melissa July 13, 2016 at 2:08 pm #

    I needed this! My daughter is 2 1/2 and I feel the pressure of MDO from others. I just got off the phone from a Mother’s Day out program and realized I would rather teach my child at home and add the money saved from not using a MDO program to enroll her in dance or gymnastics instead. Thanks for the great article!

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