Ah, Mother's Day Out. The very thought sends happy tingles down my spine.
Among a particular group of my peers, I feel like a folk-legend for not having done it yet. A new group for women my age at church recently sent out an e-mail invitation for lunch which included the line, "11:30 will allow us all to eat before it's time to pick up our kids." Because if you have a toddler, they're in MDO. Of course.
After all, the child who is not exposed to regular meetings with other toddlers or preschoolers without the burdening presence of a family member will most certainly become a socially-stunted shadow of a real child, unable to communicate or effectively navigate kindergarten. Right?
On the other hand, I know that preschool is a relatively new experiment. In the 1970s, only 20% of children attended. As the number of American children attending preschool has multiplied, overall academic performance among American children has not improved. Children in certain groups (low-income, special needs) benefit from early education, but for the typical child in a middle class home-- i.e., Peter-- preschool is a luxury for mom, not a necessity for success.
I have another set of friends, one for whom nursery school is not the norm. I've yet to notice any social or academic weaknesses among their children. Quite the opposite, to be honest.