Our Playgroup Rocks!

Our playgroup rocks!  There, I’ve said it.  Although all over the blogosphere, moms have started blogs because playgroup and blocks bored them to tears, I love playgroup.  The camraderie of getting together once a week with other moms, the security of going to each other’s homes and doing a craft, or playing in the yard, or just keeping out of the heat in the cool of one another’s basements … it’s all so, well, normal to me, and it feels safe.

In this area of the world, in and around Washington, D.C., I don’t always feel so safe.  It’s a big place, with too many people and too much traffic, and too many Big Jobs for my taste.  Yes, we moved here for Big Jobs ourselves, and yes, Whydaddy still works at one (and is Making a Contribution to Society and all of that), but it’s all so high-pressure.

The pressure trickles down to the kids.  Have you read White House Nannies?  I read it on maternity leave (what there was of it — but that’s another set of posts!) and it wasn’t so shocking as familiar to me.  There’s a lot of that stress here to get the babies on preschool waitlists right away, and to choose only the best, because otherwise the little darlings (who can’t yet sit up) won’t get into the right college.  Then so many of the kids end up burning out in high school or earlier (google Jay Matthew’s columns in the Washington Post for some interesting reads on this), that I’m not sure what good it did them to begin with.

I want to raise Widget with confidence, security, and interest in learning and trying new things.  I don’t want to overpush academics until he’s ready.  Sure, I want to provide him with an optimum learning environment, and expose him to all kids of interesting options and choices, but I don’t want him stressed out at 7 or having panic attacks at 12.  I really don’t.

But every now and then I feel a twinge of regret (or is it guilt?) that he’s not in preschool this year.  Yes, he just turned two, but technically he’s eligible for big-time preschool, and compared to many (most?) kids in this area, he’s late. 

But my playgroup, my wonderfully normal group of moms and toddlers and yes, preschoolers, provides him with all the social benefits of preschool and exposes him to all the creativity that a group of 8 smart, educated, professional women can bring to bear.  We all had Big Jobs at one point, from attorney to CPA to engineer, and now we have chosen to be home with our kids, for a year, two years, five years, or even longer.  Most of us itch a little to go back, or have picked up part-time or consulting work, but all of us really delight in our kids and treasure the time together.

I started this post last week, and I was going to continue with a perhaps-controversial view about academic preschool and how much kindergarten has changed since we were kids.  There were some good points, I think — when we moms were in school, we learned letters in kindergarten and first grade was all about learning to read.  Now, our neighborhood kindergartens require kids to know their letters before the first day of class, and all kids will know how to read before they start first grade.  Wow!  They do subjects in kindergarten now, like math, and science, and art, and there is so much emphasis on their subjects that they have eliminated naptime.  That’s right — no naptime in kindergarten, and perhaps more shocking for this set of parents, who have made snacktime an integral part of morning playgroup, there’s no time for snack!  They go straight through from 9 to noon, and then have lunch and recess together, and then academics again until 3:00.  Those of us with younger kids were somewhat surprised to learn about these changes.  We’ll see how the older kids do in full-day kindergarten, without snack or naptime, and I’m sure we’ll talk about it again.

Meantime, the latest issue of Newsweek (www.newsweek.com) has a cover story on “The New First Grade.”  I can’t wait to read it!

3 Responses to Our Playgroup Rocks!

  1. […] I’m really glad I had a good day yesterday.  It was crucial to helping me stay upbeat today and is helping me to gain perspective on what the holidays hold in store for us this year.  I had hoped to get a good bit of work done around the house this afternoon, getting ready for the baby, and (most importantly) to take Widget to playgroup this morning.  We were doing both a cookie exchange and a toy drive at playgroup, and we were all looking forward to it.  Well, we didn’t make it there after all. […]

  2. […] a really cool group, formed through MOMS Club International, and I just love being part of such a great group of educated and dedicated moms.  I’ve said no to joining several other local playgroups, […]

  3. […] and applies for a spot before birth.  On the other hand, I’ve found an utterly fantastic group of moms here in the suburbs who appear to be more relaxed about the whole affair, and who have had wonderful […]

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