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:
- Know his alphabet, be able to sing all the letters and recognize them
- Know how to count to 20 and recognize the numbers
- Have a basic, fundamental understanding of how to problem solve
- Be able to make friends and play with friends
- Be curious
- 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.
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.).
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?