Daycare is an enormous expense, but preschool isn't any cheaper. We were lucky enough to have family members watch our son in his early years, but we soon learned that the transition from a family home to kindergarten would be a tough one. We decided to enroll him in preschool to ease the transition, but the cost of preschool is as much as daycare. Instead, we found some cheaper social activities that would prepare him for kindergarten without paying the price of daycare facilities.
Our first goal was to find as many free activities for children as possible. We looked for things that offered high social interaction with other children. Besides various community activities such as family park days, community fairs, and festivals we found that our local library offered summer workshops. For an hour the children read a story and made a craft, all with Mom sitting on the sidelines. It was a free program that gradually introduced the idea of school activities to a shy three-year-old.
The YMCA isn't a free option, but we learned that it was more economical than daycare - even part time. For the price of a membership, my son could join in any preschool activity offered at the lowest price. If full membership is too expensive, the programs are still available to children but at a higher price. The math will help you decide if membership is worth its price or not.
With full membership my son enjoys swimming lessons and a twice a week preschool class as well as team soccer, t-ball, and babysitting services. The total cost for a year's worth of activities is less than half a year of daycare/preschool costs, and he has gotten the social interaction that he needed.
Summer is the perfect time to get kids involved and on their own for less. While the public libraries offer their summer programs so do church groups. Check into vacation bible schools and community park programs to find opportunities for children to be independent and active for less. Other institutions such as local museums, zoos, and playhouses may also offer week long camps. While the cost for these camps may be a bit higher, they still offer a valuable week of independent activity before school begins.
When considering the costs of these transitional child care activities, remember that many are tax-deductible. If a child is cared for at a facility for three hours a day or more, consider declaring the cost as child care on your income taxes; it helps to ease the burden of the cost of child care.
About The Author: Kelly Ann Butterbaugh is a freelance writer who regularly contributes to a variety of magazines and has written a history book for middle readers. Visit her website for writing help, lesson plans, history fun, or work for hire at http://www.kellybutterbaugh.com
It's no wonder early childhood professionals struggle to get the distinction they deserve with articles like this! The first 5 years of a child's life (that means the infant, toddler and PRESCHOOL years) are the most critical in terms of their brain development. How can you put a price on that?? It's clear that the author is making the classic stereotypical assumption that preschool teacher and daycare providers are BABYSITTERS!
Sure if you choose uneducated and untrained people to work with your child, it will be no different than hiring a teenager to watch your kid (that's what a babysitter is). The majority of Early childhood professionals have equivalent if not higher degrees than the kindergarten teachers you send your child to. Parents should be urged to find the programs that will benefit their children, not encouraging them to bypass preschool for some cheap/free babysitting services. Social experiences are necessary, but not all a child needs to be prepared for kindergarten.
A preschool teacher with a degree and teaching certificate
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