Hi there! My son is 5 (will be six in august). I sent him to kindergarten last august, a half day program at a spalding method school.. and i feel like it was the biggest mistake of my life. He WAS a sweet, sensitive, creative, imaginative, friendly little boy who was eager to go to school, but it proved to be horrible for him. It was so rigid including marking him down for not holding his pencil correctly. and by the second quarter he was struggling greatly with his homework. we would work on it for hours at night and he would fight me the whole time. i pushed him to do it and i regret it so badly. we ended up taking him out of school after winter break after learning he was crying every day at school.
i have zero confidence in myself to be a teacher. he is my second of 5 kids and so there would be three other kids around while trying to teach him. but he is terrified of going to a school, and the only school i felt comfortable sending him to is a waldorf school that is 30+ minutes away and has a very very long waiting list.
i'm just at a loss. i have no idea what to do. we don't have extra money, so i can't buy any fancy curriculum and i feel like we wont be able to offer him the best of the best. i honestly don't even know where to begin to try and teach him anything. i really need some help/direction!
please excuse all the grammatical and spelling errors...
Based upon your son's age, I would plan to do kindergarten this fall. I don't know what the age cut-off is in Arizona, but here, august 1 is the cut off for kindergarten, so he would be right on target to be a kindergartner this fall. Part of his trouble in school may have been immaturity in comparison to his peers.
As for what school looks like at home, you don't need a lot of fancy curriculum, especially when the children are young. What may be helpful is to look up Arizona's department of education and see what skills they expect for kindergarten. Another helpful resource is an educational catalog like Lakeshore Learning, because even if you don't have the money for the items, you can get some great ideas for some made-at-home activities that will do the same thing as the purchased items.
There are certain to be other homeschooling families, and they can be a great resource. Your local library is also a very valuable resource.
For a kid his age, you don't need any curriculum and you don't need to spend much time teaching him. You could probably cover everything he would be learning in school in an hour a day or less. And it wouldn't have to be one solid, uninterrupted hour - it could be done in pieces at random times during the day. That would probably be better, actually. All he needs to learn at his age (and you could argue about the "needs" part) is how to write, read (or get ready to read, depending on where he's at now), and do simple math (like adding and subtracting numbers less than 10.) If you want to do social studies or science or art, that's fine, but it probably won't make a bit of difference in the long run if you don't. You can do it all with nothing but a pencil and some paper. Or if you really feel clueless about where to start, you could buy Handwriting Without Tears, The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading, and any random kindergarten or first grade level math workbook. (I don't actually have any experience with those handwriting or reading programs, but you often see them recommended, and I expect they would work fine.)
Or maybe you should think about trying out public school. Kindergarten at a typical public school is nothing like what your son experienced. Spending hours every night on homework is not at all a normal thing for kindergarten.
First step, relax! I really believe a parent is the child's best teacher. You don't need special credentials or degrees to teach your child effectively, especially in these very early years. It sounds like your DS's kindergarten is the way all public kindergartens are going these days (unfortunately!) but it does not have to be (nor SHOULD it be!) that way. There is actually a lot of research showing that pushing rigid academics so early is actually detrimental to young developing minds. I pulled my DD1 out for similar reasons. Kindergarten can be very relaxed and informal, a curriculum is unnecessary. Read lots and lots of books. Explore his interests. Spend lots of time in nature if you can. Do arts and crafts. If you can, visit museums, zoos, botanical gardens,farms ect. If he is interested in reading you can start but don't stress if he's not ready, he is still very young. Check out some homeschooling websites and blogs to help you out, there is tons of ideas there. Consider unschooling as well. Some helpful links for you:
http://www.besthomeschooling.org/ this website is written by a forum member and has great articles about the importance of play in early childhood and why rigid academics can actually be harmful for the very young.
http://ununschooling.com/ lots of great articles about unschooling in general, but I think it is helpful for all homeschoolers.
There are lots more out there but that's a start. Life Learning Magazine is another good one. Also, don't be surprised if he is very resistant to any formal schoolwork for awhile. I would let it go and let him "deschool" before you try to push any bookwork or anything. Look for homeschooling groups in your area too!
thanks ladies! All great advice! I'll be looking in to those links you posted. I think i was just having a mental breakdown last night. I truly feel like going to school damaged him and i believe home school is the best way to help repair that. I actually really wanted to home school all my children, but my oldest is severely autistic and really benefits from going to his school. None of our family is supportive in any way. When I told my mom I was interested in this program here that he would go to a school one day a week for pe, music and art with other home schooled children, but he would do his curriculum at home. she completely shot it down like that was the most detrimental thing i could do for him. She even said the words " you can't teach him". SO my confidence is at zero.. sounds like i just need to relax a bit. It's kindergarten not college :)
Also in AZ the cut off for kindergarten is september 1st, in case any one is interested :)
I also would like to chime in and say what previous posters said: you do not need a curriculum or something fancy to teach him.
I also want to highlight this point. You need to give him quiet a long time before you launch into anything that seems to resemble stuff he hated and used to do in school. Let him relax, find his own interests, get used to being at home. Let him learn how to entertain himself and occupy his time. Within this process, you will find out what he likes and doesn't and which parts of the day are the best to work with him and which aren't, etc. Then you can slowly introduce stuff you think is important by working within his own, already established rhythm.
When I told my mom I was interested in this program here that he would go to a school one day a week for pe, music and art with other home schooled children, but he would do his curriculum at home. she completely shot it down like that was the most detrimental thing i could do for him. She even said the words " you can't teach him". SO my confidence is at zero..
Your Mom doesn't know what she is talking about!
I went into homeschooling saying to myself: "It is only 1st grade, how badly can I screw it up?" and that helped a lot :) I also told myself that it is an experiment for a year and if it didn't work, then we will put the kids in school. That also helped.
I really agree that its best not to worry about them at this age. I know that is easier said than done!
If it helps, I did literally nothing formal with my kids til the autumn after they were 7-8 and I'd say that has been more than fine, those years of, for want of a better work, dossing about/exploring their world ;-) have given them, apart from a nice childhood, a good foundation for the years that followed. I actually tend to think kids aren't really cognitively ready before around age 7 or later to really do a lot of formal work. My kids are just normal kids, but starting from around age 7/8 they have learnt to read, write, do math and play a musical instrument each. From what I can see they are really not behind their schooled peers at all in any functional way. So I truly would not worry. Even if you decide you want to follow a formal curriculum, I would not worry that not starting right now will cause any kind of problems down the line :-). How exciting and good luck :-)
Don't worry too much about the money part; you really can do most everything cheap...even the "fancy" stuff! For that age we pretty much just use a library card. This past year we've been using one of the most expensive packaged curriculums out there ($1200 new, ack) that I bought slightly used for $150. Before that we had an older version to try it out for $39. I've even found good textbooks at goodwill outlets. Really at your son's age books and a computer is more than enough.
If it doesn't work out for you there's always other schools. I really think (hope!) the one he was in was an exception. That sounds really awful for both of you. I'm sure he wasn't the only one; even if you believe early academics are a good thing (I don't!) that sounds over the top for any child!
You have received some excellent advice here from each response. Should you choose to school at home there are, in my opinion, only two vital things to achieve. 1.Rekindle that spark of desire for learning. 2. Direct him toward being an independent, life-long learner.
Keep in mind that many people don't even remember their early childhoods! How much of yours do you remember? The details of what you teach are only important to a certain extent (knowledge does build on itself). The important thing is to love him and help him feel good about himself. Yes, try to keep him abreast of the other kids' progress if you want (as someone mentioned, two hours per day of individual attention will about do that, once you get him to the point where he is receptive again) but don't stress about curriculum for kindergarten.
In twenty years of schooling I never purchased a curriculum or spent much money at all. I am not well educated myself and am no genius, I do have regrets about my parenting and my kids' education. Even so they ended up in highly selective colleges. I do have a natural inclination toward teaching, and am creative. If teaching doesn't sound fun to you, or if it turns out to be overly- frustrating (all kids are different and some are more of a challenge to teach) you may be able to find another mom who could exchange tutoring for some other service. I homeschooled a wonderful little boy for his kindergarten year. It's not technically legal in some areas to do that, though.
School one day per week sounds like a good idea to me (again, depending on your son and other details). I found that part-time public school helped my kids in many ways. It is beneficial to be familiar with the public education system if one ever plans to enter it.
I agree with what others have said about the library. The Internet is, of course, an amazing resource- with more and more educational material available for free. Homeschool groups can be wonderful..or not. It's supremely helpful if you can find at least one other homeschooling family that is a good fit with you.
Good luck with whatever you choose- the fact that you care enough to be concerned about this shows that you're a good parent, so he is already better off than many...
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