Starting in January, before Luke was born, both Jon and I started to go into mild panic about sending Aiden to Kindergarten. It was a feeling we were both having and hard to pin down. What exactly was bugging us about sending him to school (public school)? Millions of kids go every year, why would ours be any different. We talked about holding him back for another year. His birthday is early July, so he'd be a young 5 in his class. I didn't like this idea. I felt like we'd be holding Aiden back educationally...in other words, I knew he was very ready to learn past the preschool stuff I had done with him. With the birth of Luke, our decision and really any talking about it was put on the back burner.
Around early June we starting revisiting the issue. The news had been packed with weird things happening in elementary schools and I just kept having this feeling that school isn't as safe as it used to be. I know, the great things never get reported, but this wasn't helping our decision. So we started looking into private schools. My first choice was a Montessori School not far from our house. It was only 1/2 day Kindergarten and I'd already been using some Montessori activities at home for Pre-K. It was also almost $500 a month. Gulp! For a 5 year old? Other local private schools ranged from $200 to $700. Double Gulp!! Even if we had the money, I just didn't think I could justify that!!
A friend of the family casually mentioned homeschooling. I was immediately opposed to it. We were just going to have to get over our public school issues. But I didn't have peace with this. And over the next few days, I felt like God was making a change in my thinking.
I was starting to think maybe homeschooling K for Aiden would be the absolute best thing for him. I still wasn't 100% certain, and I didn't know HOW to teach him. So I posted a Facebook post - here's what it said, "We are considering homeschooling or at least part time homeschooling. All the information out there is overwhelming. Does anyone have favorite websites and/or curriculum? Do all school districts let you part time home school (like use them for certain subjects) or would we have to find a private school for that. Outside of Church, what do you do for social interaction? I'd like to hear any cons too - like I said, we haven't decided for sure what's best Aiden since he will be a very young 5 when Kindergarten starts in August, but we may not really know unless we let him try traditional school. Just trying to gather info..."
The post alone just goes to show how little I knew about homeschooling at that time. You would not believe the comments and private messages I got. Oh dear, I had basically started a public school versus home school debate. I had no idea it was such a hot button topic. I have lots of teachersfamily and friends, and of course, almost all were pro public school. Their biggest argument against home school was the socialization issue. All pro-homeschoolers said that wasn't an issue at all. I also got a lot of very, very sweet private messages from dear friends and some friends I hadn't spoken much to since high school. And they brought a few things to light about homeschooling that I hadn't previously considered.
- We can go at our own pace. If he's advanced or needs help in any particular area, I can tailor the curriculum however I see fit. Not going to get that level of attention in public or even private school.
- Takes half the time. What takes a classroom 8 hrs to accomplish, can be accomplished in 3-4 hrs. That leaves the afternoon to do fun stuff together. Sciene projects that wouldn't be done in a normal K. It also ensures we are not going from school, eating a quick snack in the car, to soccer or swim practice, to home to eat dinner, bath, bed and starting all over again the next day. We would have room in our day to breathe...and enjoy one another.
- The school wouldn't get the best part of his day. Let's face it, 8am - 3pm? It's the best part of your child's day. Why on earth would I be ok giving that up to someone else?
- Two great books were recommended, 100 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum: Choosing the Right Curriculum and Approach for Your Child's by Cathy Duffy and So You're Thinking About Homeschooling by Lisa Whelchel
As a result of the post, I start leaning toward homeschooling (despite all the 'cons' listed). And telling myself the whole time that this is crazy, I can't do this. I didn't know where to begin. If you've never homeschooled and have never really paid much attention to it, it's incredibly overwhelming to get started looking into it. About this time, I'm at the end of July. Registration for public school was August 15th. I basically had 3 weeks to learn all I could about homeschooling and decide if it was right for us. I started by calling the elementary Aiden would be going to to find out what they specifically teach. Class started at 7:45am. Ended at 3pm. Most of the morning was the 'learning' part. Then lunch, then a 2 hr nap (not joking). Recess, then indoor guided play. Curriculum focused on learning basic letters and numbers and writing them. I was floored. Not only does Aiden already know all this, he hasn't napped in at least 2 years. So I would basically be sending him to a glorified free daycare. I cannot even begin to catalog all we have sacrificed for me to stay at home with our babies. Why am I now going to be ok with sending him to a glorified daycare and call it school?
So while I'm not ok with sending him to public school, I'm still amassing a list of reasons why I cannot homeschool. Part 2 of this post starts there.