Back To School: Why Am I Sending My Child To School In Diapers?

Everyone’s either totally excited about back-to-school or absolutely dreading it. I’m lingering somewhere in the middle. There’s the good: kid being kept busy, learning new stuff, socializing. And the bad: morning rush, homework, end-of-day exhaustion, carpooling (blech). But, really, this just refers to my older son, who’s about to enter first grade. Truth be told, I am so genuinely excited for him – this is a major milestone! – despite the fact that he’s already told me countless times this summer, “First grade sucks, Mommy.”

It’s my little guy, on the other hand, who I’m losing sleep over. He’s only two years old and, some time last year for some totally unknown reason, I decided to sign him up for “pre-school.” That means drop-off three mornings per week, where a group of mostly two-year-olds get together to, you know, glue cotton balls to construction paper and learn a grown-up rendition of “Twinkle Twinkle.” I never sent my older one to school at age two because I didn’t feel he was ready. But my little one is the type of kid who, when we’re trying to leave the park, for instance, I’ll say, “I’m counting to three and if you don’t come with me right now I’m leaving without you,” and he’ll wave goodbye with a smile as I walk away.

So, yes, he’s a tough one, my little guy. Fiercely independent. But he’s still my baby and it boggles my mind that he’s in diapers, can barely speak, still naps for two hours each day – and yet he’ll be venturing off on his own three days a week. To be clear, this isn’t a case of me wanting to hold on to his babyhood. Not at all. This is a matter of me wondering why on earth I’m sending my diaper-clad two-year-old to “school.”It seems silly and foolish and way too early. At the same time, I know that it’ll be amazing for his development and, well, fun.

Still, I’m having anxiety. It’s the whole diaper thing that kills me. What do you think? If staying home’s an option (with a nanny or family member, for example), would you choose to send your two-year-old to school?

(Photo: Polka Dot)

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    • Abigail

      To each their own, but for me, not a chance. I’m lucky enough to be a SAHM to my two boys, and my oldest has been doing homeschool preschool for a year now. He knows the whole alphabet, has memorized several songs, can count to 20 (except for 13… we’re having trouble with that number), and knows how to make macaroni and cheese, with supervision. We go to the Children’s Museum three days a week for art lessons with Mommy and Little Brother, and the park twice a week to get some energy out. He has a dog that he feeds and walks, and he attends playdates once a week to keep his social life going. He’s getting way more education and just as much fun being at home with his brother and me, and I’m happy that I’m not dropping him off and adhering to a school schedule.

      That having been said, I know that a lot of moms need to send their kids to preschool just to get a break, and that many just want their kids to have a particular experience. There is nothing wrong with either of those things. For me, though, I’d rather keep my kids out of the public school system for as long as possible.

    • xobolaji

      when my eldest was 2, i was very excited to start her in the casa program at a reputable montessori school outside of our neighbourhood that she still currently attends. i did so because she was totally ready. she was highly verbal and coordinated at that age so school seemed like a natural progression for her. the only caveat was that she had to be “potty-trained,” otherwise she would be placed in the toddler room. i thought long and hard about what the “right” thing to do was and so we spent a few short days getting her ready. she basically mastered going to the bathroom fairly quickly and by september she was attending 1/2 days, 5 days each week.

      i stay at home with my girls, and i was very apprehensive about sending them to school without their knowing how to speak. for me this was the deal-breaker. if they couldn’t communicate to me what they were feeling, or what was going on, i didn’t want to do it. then again, some moms don’t have the option so i think you have to trust your gut. of course meeting with potential teachers and other parents in the program helps alot. and best of all it helps to gage school-readiness with your child. it’s totally individual as you said.

    • Stacy

      I’m in a similar spot- My oldest boy is going into first grade- totally exciting for him, but will be a shock to the family (this is the first time we have to have anybody out of the house by 8am!!). I’m a SAHM of 3 boys- ages 3, 4, and 6. I enrolled my oldest in a “pre-school” when he was 3. He was already potty trained, he was ready to get out and about, but was a bit behind in his language development, and I knew that he would benefit from the social interaction. I had a toddler and was pregnant- so getting a few hours in a few times a week was great for me- grocery shopping, etc. He really blossomed. Kiddo #2 will be in his second year of an outdoor preschool, 2X a week, for 2 1/2 hours. He loves it! (I’d actually like to move him up to 3-4 days a week, but not an option right now.)
      So that leaves me with kiddo#3, a 3 year old boy. I’d love for him to have a preschool experience, but cannot afford it.
      Homeschooling is my option, I’m a credentialed teacher with a master’s degree- but I cannot provide for him the necessary social interaction that he gets without me, and with other kids. Money is a significant issue, and we can’t afford many of the other optional programs.
      America’s schools often don’t deserve their bad reputation. We LOVE our public school.
      I think preschool is great- and as long as your little one is ready to be away from you, and you’re ready to let him gain some independence, then it’s the right thing to do.

    • Gloria

      I had a live in nanny and still sent my daughter to pre school for 2 days a week because she wanted to play with other children her age and I had to work. She loved it and it worked for us….but it was not affordable by any means.

    • Bailey

      My oldest didn’t start pre-school until he was 3. While he was my only kid, I felt like it was a little silly sending him to preschool while I hung out at home. He was always a good sleeper and cooperative so I was able to get lots done without needing him out of the house. I felt like I didn’t want to send him to “school” until he would actually learn something from it.
      When he was 3, I had my second. He has been much more challenging. He is 18 months old now and much more social. He really enjoys being around other kids and is very independent. He also makes getting anything accomplishing during his waking hours nearly impossible. So I enrolled him in mother’s day out 2 days a week. He goes 2 of the 3 days my oldest goes and then we have 1 day together without my oldest. He is only 18 months old, so I struggled at first with my decision, but I’m ok with it now. I enjoy my down time and I have already been super productive this week!
      It has been a little tough dropping him off but I do think it is good for him. I don’t think it would have been as good or necessary for my older son though. It’s definitely a decision that should be based on each child as an individual, if that’s an option.

    • Cath

      I think it’s great!

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    • Camille

      When my choice while I am at work is to continue to send him to daycare as I have been or send him to a place that puts a little more effort into educational and fun interaction, then yeah, he is going to preschool in diapers. No guilt, no question. Why is this even an article?