To say that preschool has changed since my mother, Abby Vance, began teaching tots 32 years ago would be an understatement. In 1982, she’d never met a vegan child, most mothers preferred formula to breast milk and preschools didn’t offer cultural enrichment courses.
All in all, they provided no fodder whatsoever for comedy writers such as Jason Shapiro. His Twitter feed of the fictitious Los Feliz Day Care lampoons 21st century preschools where Meatless Mondays are every day; superhero costumes are forbidden, as children should be “heroic through social action;” and spiders aren’t squashed but “euthanized.”
Shapiro is far from the only one to notice this sea change in preschool culture. In her 2011 short story collection You Are Here, author Danzy Senna takes aim at an exclusive preschool where the annual fees costs more than state college tuition and only “Google-worthy” families need apply.
So, when did the laidback day cares of the ’80s turn into the hyper competitive juggernauts of today? I recently spoke with my preschool teacher mother about the trends she’s seen over the years in the Chicago area and her tips on how parents can help their kids succeed during the pre-K years. Here’s what she had to say: Continue reading