The struggling economy is giving many moms a new reason to feel guilty. As families try to cut budgets, many are cutting out preschool. Circle of Moms members who are in this bind say it's not a decision that comes easily. Some, like Sifa M. even ask: "Am I a bad mom if I don't send my daughter to preschool?"
"My husband and I are having a great deal of trouble paying for our four-year-old's preschool, and though it is very important for us to have her continue, financially — even if my husband gets a second job — we can't afford it," says Sifa M. who also has a 2-year-old toddler and a 4-month-old baby. "Am I or would I be doing the wrong thing if I have to take her out of school?"
Her question is top of mind for many Circle of Moms members whose families are cutting back on expenses. Says Jill T., "We're all trying to make sacrifices for the future of our children. And no one is a bad mom if you can't meet preschool expenses. You can always take a child out for one year with the intention of going back."
A Choice Made With the Entire Family In Mind
Certainly, making a decision to take care of your family financially "never makes you a bad mom." As Lisa B. says, "We kept her (our daughter) in preschool for several months but it was ultimately becoming too expensive. The weekly fee plus the cost of driving an hour twice a day with our youngest, it didn't make sense. Sometimes you have to make decisions for the affect they will have on the entire family."
Teresa says she feels preschool is very important, but had no choice financially. "I believe that preschool is extremely important. That being said, we can't afford it and we have nothing else we can cut in our budget to try to afford it."
But other moms insist that pulling a child out of preschool should be the last resort, and that preschool is vital to a child's complete education. "First parents should be cutting things like cable and Internet and other things you can live without," says Michelle T. "School is super important, even preschool."
This sentiment is so widespread that even parents who opt out of preschool for other reasons say they get flack from their peers. "I have had a few people make comments to me implying that I'm not being a responsible parent and/or [that I'm] holding my child back by not enrolling in preschool," says Kelly E. But Erin. H. insists that while "preschool can be very beneficial in the socialization of a child...that in no way means that because a mom chooses not to send your child to preschool that you're irresponsible. That's ridiculous."
Create Opportunities for Socialization
Whether you're opting out of preschool by choice or necessity, many Circle of Moms members stress that parents can keep a child on track by including educational and enriching activities in her daily schedule. Lisa B. joined a couple of local playgroups and organizes outings. She suggests planning "fun activities that your child can do at home and look for activities she can do with other children so she still has social interactions. Soon will be kindergarten and so missing preschool won't be missing school for very long."
Dawn T. adds this advice. "If you have time to take your child to 'free' playgroups and do playdates with friends, you are fine with not sending your child to preschool. As long as you can keep up with your child's social skills outside of the home, she will be fine...There are things you can do for your child inside the home that are just as good if not better than preschool! Lets face it, preschool is expensive and the economy is not great....but that does not mean you're a bad parent because of it."
Ultimately, as Feen N. says, families should think beyond the economic considerations and simply look at whether a child needs help with socialization and kindergarten preparation. "It's your child and your choice. Don't let other people tell you what is right or not right for your child."
Will your children be skipping preschool?
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.