"Playful Learning: An Alternative Approach to Preschool” by Anne Engelhardt and Cheryl Sullivan, published by La Leche League Interational, is the only book I am aware of on the topic of making the decision of whether to use a preschool or not. First published in 1986, this book is still in print.
Once a parent has decided to not use a preschool, the book outlines what the at-home parent can do with the child to get equivalent (or in my opinion, superior) academic and play opportunities. Full directions and information for setting up a preschool co-op with other at-home parents is included.
This is the only book I know of that helps a parent decide if preschool is appropriate for a child. Issues addressed are separation issues, wanting to have close family relations, and using this special time for increased bonding, as the children are only young once. The book is written with an assumption that children will be attending Kindergarten at a school, and the author’s state that this is the at-home parent’s last opportunity to have such a close relationship with their child, and that children grow up so quickly.
Additonally, the book is a resource for directions for many different games, arts, and crafts. Information for exercising both fine motor and gross motor skills is included. Other activities such as music, sound, rhythm, senses, words, storytelling, and listening skills are al in this book. Of course information about learning letters, sounds, shapes, numbers, measurement, science experimentation and ideas for trips is included. This same information can be found in other books, though, or you can use this book as a basis and if you exhaust all the ideas, seek other ideas from the internet, from books from your local library, or you can buy additional books from the myriad of books available on this subject.
This is a unique and wonderful book. I first read it when my oldest was approaching the preschool years and it cemented for me, my decision to keep my children at home with me and to avoid the preschool experience. I also used this book as a basis for a presentation I gave at a La Leche League conference about how to make the decision to use preschool or not, and options for doing preschool at home, and basics for setting up a preschool co-op.
The overall tone of this book is loving and nurturing. This book does not slam preschools in any way. It takes the viewpoint more from the child’s perspective. For example, the authors don’t support pushing a child into preschool who is not ready for separation.
If you are looking for a book which is more focused on why preschool can damage a child, see “Miseducation: Preschoolers at Risk” by David Elkind. Another book loaded with statistics and studies about the dangers of separation and a lack of bonding between parent and child is “Day Care Deception: What the Child Care Establishment Isn’t Telling Us” by Brian C. Robertson.