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Con: Home life offers children enough enrichment that preschool isn't necessary

By ALLISON MILES
Jan. 29, 2012 at 10:01 p.m.
Updated Jan. 28, 2012 at 7:29 p.m.

Joel and Bradley, 2, Cook

Debate

From new backpacks to sharpened pencils and that ever-important tissue box, many people remember their first days of school.

But school doesn't have to begin when one steps into kindergarten. For some it begins earlier, with preschool education.

But is that early classroom experience essential, or could children bypass it altogether?

Preschool isn't necessarily the answer for every student, some people say.

When it comes to private pay programs, much of the decision depends on the individual child, said Diane Boyett, communications specialist with the Victoria school district.

Children who come from enriched backgrounds and have already built up their vocabulary, language and social skills through family aren't as likely to need preschool as others, she said. But the programs can offer benefits.

"It certainly is a family decision as to whether or not you want to avail your child to preschool services," she said.

School-type instruction limits a young child's ability to learn, talk radio host and self-help book author Laura Schlessinger said in "The Dr. Laura Blog." Although it allows children to learn certain things, they need opportunities to explore, play and discover new things on their own.

The most important thing parents can do, she said, is to interact with their children, not rely on electronic devices, preschools or daycares to do the job.

"Let kids just be kids," Schlessinger said in the blog.

Parents should be able to provide what children need before kindergarten, said Victoria resident Joel Cook, who chased his 2-year-old son, Bradley Cook, through Riverside Park.

The self-employed contractor said parents should spend time with their kids and teach the basics themselves. Sending them away from home, he said, doesn't make much sense.

"You're sending them to school to take naps," he said.

Victoria resident Lisa Kelley has preschool-aged grandchildren and, while she said the programs offer good things, she agreed the child's home life is key.

"You can send them to whatever school, but the important thing is what happens at home," she said. "Kids pay attention to what Mom and Dad do."

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