I was able to stay home with both of my boys until the younger one was 4-5. We knew that we wanted to send them to a local Montessori (public charter) school, and felt that the older one was ready when he was almost 5. (His birthday is in November, so couldn't start Kindergarten until the next year.) We got on the waiting list, but were told that the chances weren't very good. About the second week of September, I got a call that there was an opening! We debated it, me not wanting to "let go" of him just yet. But, we knew we just had to because, once they're students, they're guaranteed a spot as long as they continue to be students, and our younger son would have an advantage to getting in, as well. Also, I've heard that their Kindergarten waiting list is tremendously long! So, if we waited, we would run the risk of him not getting in.
Now, he's in First Grade, and his brother is in his first year. And, DS5 is in the same classroom that DS7 just left! So, DS5 already knew the teacher and several of the students. It was a terribly easy transition!
NOW, I've gotten into the mix! I was able to get a job as an Assistant Teacher in one of the 4th-6th grade classes. I LOVE it! I'm working very hard with the co-principals to go to Teacher Training for Middle School.
I love the level of respect that the students are given, which directly leads to the high expectations we have for them. And, even with those high expectations, they often STILL amaze me!
My boys love going to school, and their teachers love them. I honestly couldn't ask for more! And, I love that it's perfectly fine for me to truly love my students. I can give them hugs when they need it, talk with them about their personal problems, and ask them a question, if I don't know the answer. It's a far cry from the public schools I attended growing up!
And, as Dr. Montessori said, “One test of the correctness of educational procedure is the happiness of the child.”
But, don't assume that this schooling method is "The Right Way" for all students. If a child truly isn't able to be self-directed and self-motivated, this might actually add more stress to them. We have a couple of 4th-graders who are too used to the rigidity of traditional schools. So far, it seems to still be a toss-up as to if they can loosen up and be responsible for their own work. I'm working as hard as I can with them, though!
Edited to add: I forgot to mention that I live in Phoenix, AZ, and would welcome anyone from the area contacting me!