Making the Choice Between Preschool and Kindergarten

Making the Choice Between Preschool and Kindergarten

Ah, the plight of a parent with a child born just before the kindergarten age cut-off date. To kindergarten or not to kindergarten, that is the question. I, for one, am for keeping a child home until they are five, but Gaby is of the other mindset, as he started kindergarten himself at four years old (his birthday being at the end of October), and turned out just fine. So, how do you decide? What’s the basis of that decision? Are there long reaching consequences or benefits of putting a child in school before their fifth birthday? Read on to see how we came to our decision, what research we did, and some links to help get you started with your own investigation.

Playground

Options, Options, Options

Our children’s heritage is three quarters French, so it was an easy choice to make when we decided that they would go into in a French or French Immersion program. I started considering the various options when our oldest, Katrina (who’s birthday is at the end of November) was just two and a half years old. At this time, I was looking to start her at French preschool at the age of three, that way, we had another year to discuss and decide if she was mature enough to attend kindergarten at age four, or if we should put her through a second year of preschool. This would also give her the benefit of learning the language beyond what she was hearing at home from a very early age.

To my surprise, the costs for a French preschool program in south Calgary were astronomical! I’m talking over $300/month for only three mornings a week! I couldn’t believe it. I’ll admit, I was quite disheartened. There was just no way that I could justify the cost of what would be equal to almost a year of university for my preschooler. Gaby was adamant that she attend some sort of school program at age four, and with preschool being so cost-prohibitive, we were now looking at putting her in kindergarten, much to my chagrin.

The Layoff and the Move

Soon after we decided to move forward with kindergarten, Gaby was laid off. It was then that we began thinking about how and where we wanted to raise our family, and concluded that we needed to move ourselves back home to our roots in South Eastern Manitoba. With this decision made, school options came to the forefront of our minds once again, as the cost for preschool in the town we were moving to was a mere $350 for the entire year.

The Basis for Our Final Decision for Preschool

Katrina was four and a half years old when we moved into our new home and community last July, and a lot happened that spring that helped us make our final decision. The first and largest factor turned out to be the move itself.

We began packing up the house in April/May of that year, and it was about this time that Katrina began suffering from anxiety. She was terrified that we were going to move to Manitoba without her. There was absolutely no basis for her fear, but there was nothing we could do to convince her otherwise. Every time we would move a box into the garage, or go out there to get more supplies, she would panic, and start screaming for us because she didn’t know where we were. She began refusing to play in our backyard or basement playroom without one of us right by her side. It came to the point that we needed to hang our keys on her doorknob at night so that if she woke up, she would know that we hadn’t taken our vehicle and left without her. We found that we just didn’t want to put her through any more outside pressure, such as starting school, before she had a chance to adjust to our new situation.

First Day of PreschoolOther factors that helped us make our decision included her maturity level (at four and a half, she still seemed quite a bit younger than her five year old peers), as well as the fact that there would be little time for integration into our new community before school was set to begin (the preschool program only started at the beginning of October, as opposed to kindergarten at the beginning of September). A year of preschool would give her the opportunity to mature, and the time to make new friends and learn with less pressure and more play.

As our first year in Manitoba comes to a close, and preschool graduation just around the corner, I have to say that Gaby and I are in agreement that we made the best decision for Katrina. The amount that she has grown up in the last year is astounding, and how much she’s learned in language, motor skills, and behavior is remarkable. I can’t say enough good things about her preschool and the teachers there. Oh, and the anxiety? Disappeared completely once we were on the road to our new home.

Research It for Yourself

There is a lot of reading material out there, papers and studies done by professionals, and many varying opinions from teachers, parents, friends and family. Ask yourselves the hard questions, such as: Is my child mature enough for school? Are they able to sit still for an extended period? How are their social skills? Will they thrive in an environment away from home, or benefit from a program with a little less pressure and fewer hours? How independent are they?

Doing your own research is key. Below are few links that I found interesting to help get you started, with both pros and cons to each side of the coin.

In the end, you need to do what works for your child and your family. In our case, Katrina’s anxiety and maturity level played integral part in our choice to send her to preschool this past year.

Our youngest child’s birthday falls in the middle of October, and right now he’s only 18 months old. Already I’m finding that his language and maturity levels are below that of our older two at the same age, and I want to hold him back from kindergarten until he’s five. Gaby thinks he’ll catch up quickly, and wants to wait to make the decision until we’re closer to registration time. I think that’s a pretty good compromise.


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Our Experiences in Transplanting Trees and a Sort-Of How To

Our Experiences in Transplanting Trees and a Sort-Of How To

“I am the Lorax. I speak for the trees.” No, not really. Well, sort of. Gaby and I do love a good tree.

Our success with trees, flowers, and food plants has a lot more to do with luck and nature more so than anything we’ve ever done. Maybe it’s because we pick things that are easy to grow, maybe it’s just that God allows vegetation to grow in dirt. We don’t do much more than stick a plant in the ground and water it once a day if it hasn’t rained. That’s why I say it doesn’t really have anything to do with us.

Crab Apple Tree Loses a Branch
This was a sad day. We had a wet snowfall one year before the trees lost their leaves. The snow was so heavy that it was too much for my beautiful ornamental crab apple tree, which ended up losing one of its main branches. The branch took with it quite a bit of the trunk and core, but I’m happy to say that with a little pruning sealant, the tree survived. Maybe our thumbs are greener than we think!
New Home Ownership and Fixing Others’ Mistakes

Our Calgary home was the first opportunity we had to take care of our own yard. Prior to this, the only experience we had with garden and lawn maintenance was helping out our parents when we were young.

The landscaping on our first property left a lot to be desired. The previous owners deemed themselves “green”, but in reality, they were just lazy. They covered the front yard in mulch to avoid mowing, and let the weeds grow where they may. The backyard, well… let’s just say they didn’t exactly have a green thumb. Our first experience in transplanting trees came from that backyard.

The trees had been planted much too close to the fence and were being choked out. We needed to remove two completely due to of lack of space, but there was one tree worth saving – a Japanese lilac. Imagine our surprise when we dug up around the roots, only to find that all the trees had been planted in the ground inside their original plastic pots and burlap bags! We’re so glad that we decided to take on this project, as the lilac tree we wanted to save would have died had we left it where it was.

While transplanting this tree, we didn’t do anything special, just dug it up, removed the burlap, stuck it in a different hole, and watered. It had a little transplant shock for the first couple of days, but took off like a weed after that. I must say, we were quite proud of ourselves in saving that little sapling, especially when we had no prior experience (save for planting sticks in the sandbox when we were kids and expecting that they’d grow into big, beautiful trees. They didn’t… go figure).

We eventually planted a second lilac tree in the backyard, as well as two Saskatoon bushes, all of which were bought at a local greenhouse. Those were planted with a little more research under our belt (thanks to the personnel where we bought the plants), and we used a product called Myke Tree and Shrub Growth Enhancer. All three thrived.

Planting a TreeA Bright Green Idea

Fast forward a few years, and we are now living in South Eastern Manitoba. We have a beautiful piece of property with four large trees (three oak and one elm), but the landscape is actually quite bare, considering that this entire area used to be bush and pasture land. When the builders were clearing the property to build the house we now live in, they took down a lot more trees than we would have liked (though this was probably to the previous owners specifications).

As you all know, Gaby’s been working at clearing out the bush on the west side of our property. While in there, he had the foresight to save some of the saplings (the non-thorny ones!) from the weedwacking blade for transplanting. So we took it upon ourselves to make a row of trees on the north property line.

How We Did It

We are not arborists, nor do we claim to be. Honestly, we didn’t even research the proper transplanting procedure before digging up the saplings. But, in case you’re curious on how we did it (either to avoid our mistakes or follow along), here was our procedure:

  1. We chose which saplings we wanted to move – five from the bush area, and one that was already in the yard, but in a spot where we eventually want to put our workshop and greenhouse. Three of the trees we chose were poplars, two were maples, and one might be a birch. The saplings we chose were healthy, with bright green spring foliage, and fairly tall, between 4 and 6 feet.
  2. We marked out a large circle around the sapling we wanted to transplant using our spade, and started to slowly dig to break up the roots gently. That’s when we noticed none of the saplings had great root systems. In fact, all of them were shoots off the main roots of the larger trees in the area. Not knowing what else to do, we left as large of a piece of root as we could, and cut the sapling from the main tree.
  3. Bone Meal and MykeWe dug a large hole where we wanted the tree to be planted. My sister, who helps out at her in-laws’ greenhouse, gave us some bone meal to place in the new holes. We had never heard of such a practice, but apparently, it helps to establish the root system. We added about half a cup to the hole around where the roots would be, as well as a scoop of the Myke natural fertilizer that we had left over from our plantings in Calgary.
  4. We buried the roots, making sure that the tree was secure and straight and gave it a long drink of water.

And… that’s it. After all six of our transplants were in the ground, we cleaned up and walked away. We now water them once a day (the kids LOVE helping with this job) and are hoping they survive. It’s been almost a week since they’ve been in the ground, and they are doing marvelous, if I do say so myself. They had some transplant shock the first day after replanting, but have all since perked back up.

Did We Do It Right?

Row of Trees on the Property LineHere’s the thing. Those trees that we moved were saved from being cut down – the bush was overgrown, and we need the space for our shed and playhouse. So, by trying to transplant them, we’ve given them a second chance. Only time will tell if they will survive. If not… well, we know  of another bush that we can go and dig up a few more saplings to try again.


Check back for weekly posts on a wide variety of topics, including country living, gardening, sustainability, homesteading, family, recipes, and more. We can’t wait to share our lives with you, hear your stories, and gain friends along the way.

Like what you’ve read? Subscribe to our blog by adding your email address to the form on the right. You’ll be the first to hear about weekly updates! Have questions or comments? Leave us a message in the comments section, and we’ll be sure to get back to you. We can’t wait to hear what you think! And as always, you can follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram by clicking the links on the right.