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#1 of 10 Old 07-13-2014, 03:26 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Preschool or Kindergarten alternatives

Hi All,
My husband and I have always intended to homeschool our children. Now that DS is almost 4, we have been getting a lot of comments like, "so, he'll be starting Kindergarten soon?" I do feel a little awkward answering "no", but people are generally supportive or at least nonjudgemental when I tell them we'll be homeschooling.
However, I do have one issue. I feel that at this age, DS could really benefit from some structured activity beyond what I can offer him right now. Our DD is 8 m.o. and between caring for her and keeping house, my hands are literally full all the time. I'm even having trouble writing this post. Maybe I'm just being selfish, wanting more time to take care of things, but I'm concerned that we're doing our little guy a disservice by not getting him involved with anything outside of the immediate family. He just doesn't get a chance, beyond the occasional trip to a playground, to interact with other kids or to learn from other adults. I recently mentioned to DH that maybe we should look into Montessori for a few hours a week, but he wasn't very supportive of the idea. After some consideration, I concluded that maybe Montessori or some other "school" isn't the answer. But maybe there is something else? I know there are other hs'ers in our area, but they don't seem to be very active online. I feel a little socially inept, not able to insert my family into any social groups that already exist. And right now, with a baby, I just don't get out much, and I'm concerned about not keeping up with any commitments we make. I don't want my children's social development to suffer due to my own lack of skill in this area.
Have any of you hs'ers experienced anything similar? Can you suggest anything we could try?
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#2 of 10 Old 07-13-2014, 07:30 PM
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We didn't care for Montessori. However, we loved our play-based preschool that the girls went to. You might find some around town. They are generally only 2 or 3 half-days per week. When my kids were four, they went 3 days a week from 9-11:30. They had two wonderful teachers. Ours had a basic structure to it, though this varies. Ours started with hanging up coat, then we had free play until everyone was there, then there was a short "carpet time" when they noticed the weather, and sang songs about the months of the year/days of the week. Then they went to their stations. There were four stations. One had a teacher and specific skills were worked on. The other three were set up so the kids could explore them independently, but the other teacher moves amongst them and intervened/helped/encouraged when necessary. In ours, they were fortunate enough to have a room with an indoor playground. It also had loads of dress up, pretend play, and a puppet theater. Some of the toys were rotated, some were permanent. The teacher station was more "schooly." The others involved a creative play one, time at the playground, and then one other that was more random.

My kids loved it. They loved being with the kids and their teachers were exactly what I would have picked out. Sure, they introduced concepts -- shapes, numbers, abcs, etc. but they weren't pushy at all. It was mostly about playing and learning together.

It was worth every penny to me. My kids and I both got an outlet that we needed at the time. It also connected me with families of little ones in the area and my kids started having a few playdates with children of their own choosing (vs playdates with children of my friends).

Amy

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#3 of 10 Old 07-25-2014, 11:31 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks, Amy! I don't know why, but I only saw your post today... for some reason I didn't get an e-mail to notify me of a response to my query, so for the past couple of weeks I've been wondering if my question was just not worth responding to.... maybe I'm just a teeny bit insecure?!
The preschool you described sounds wonderful and well-balanced. Though, I'm pretty sure my DH wouldn't go for it at this time. I admit, that's been the main struggle for me. Maybe I'm wrong, but I feel that social contact on a regular basis with other kids and learning from other (qualified) adults, even if not full-time, is necessary for DS at this stage in his development. DH is up for taking us (or me taking the children) to playgrounds, nature sanctuaries, the library, and the occasional small festival, but just seems too cautious about DS participating in anything beyond that. He feels DS is still too young. I don't want this to be a source of tension for us, so I'm trying to work with it, just giving DS a little exposure at a time to learning activities outside the home, with other children around learning as well. So, in the past couple of weeks, I've made a very gradual start, by taking him to the local library's family story time. It's only once a week, and we've only gone to two sessions, but at least it's something regular and he's participating alongside other kids within his age range. So far, he's been very quiet, not as likely to speak up as the other kids are, but he's definitely enjoying himself, and has the added comfort of me being nearby with his little sister. Next summer, he'll be old enough to attend soccer camp and my friend's art camp, both of which DH is supportive of trying out. In the meantime, I'm hoping to find more ways to get DS out into the community and become more independent, just a little bit at a time. Personally, I find that preferable to plunging him head-on into full-day kindergarten as soon as he turns four.
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#4 of 10 Old 07-26-2014, 07:41 AM
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That sounds like a good start. I love library activities. Have you found any other homeschooling families near you yet? We have regular park days with some. Sometimes, it is nice to know that a friend will be at the park. If you are on Facebook, you might look for a group page for homeschoolers in your area. That is the choice method for posting events, etc here. There are a couple general park days as well as a group with only younger kids (all are under 7). It is nice because moms can chat too.

Amy

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#5 of 10 Old 07-26-2014, 08:03 AM
 
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Excellent start with the library. Whats' nice about that or other things like open gym is that nobody is looking for you, nobody's missing you when you are gone, you aren't out any money. Having baby in tow can really throw a wrench into plans.

I agree generally with your husband-- he's really too young to get involved in too much, but don't take that to mean that a few activities aren't good for him, either.

I disagree that you are doing him a disservice keeping the focus on the family. Involve him in anything you do that he's interested in. That's part of the rhythm of life, and it's what expensive Waldorf schools attempt to recreate until they go to first grade at 7yo.

By the way, if people ask if you will be sending him to kindergarten, say "we are homeschooling kindergarten" instead of "no". Even if "kindergarten" looks exactly like the years before it! It's an automatic question people ask as a way of sizing up kids and their parents, in an innocent way, and it knocks them unpleasantly off their paradigm if they are hit smack in the face with "no". They honestly did not put much thought into the question. So I like "we are homeschooling kindergarten" better. It doesn't wake them up so rudely, and makes them curious instead. Give it a try.

Give me a few minutes while I caffeinate.
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#6 of 10 Old 07-27-2014, 01:27 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Excellent points from both of you! Thanks for all your supportive words.
Amy, I'm not on Facebook at this time. I loved social media, as it is perfect for people in my situation (finding it hard to get out, but still wanting to know what is going on among my friends), but I have privacy concerns. It may sound paranoid, but I just have no way to be certain that my private info (ie- photos of my children) won't be misused in some way without my knowing it. And Facebook is so popular that it's a prime target for hackers. However I find it sucks not to be on Facebook when it was the only contact I had with most of my friends.

I know of one mom locally who has been homeschooling her children, and two of them are the same age as mine, but we just haven't been able to connect. Every time we've made arrangements for a visit, she's had to cancel due to something coming up for her. Her schedule is much busier than mine, so I don't want to give her one more pressure to deal with. However, I have been thinking of calling her just to let her know when we'll be in a playground in her area, so she could stroll on down with her children if they're up for it. Wish I knew more people who are homeschooling locally. This is where social media would really help.

SweetSilver, thank you for coming to my husband's defense! Really, when most parents are involving their very young children in social activities of all sorts, it's hard to maintain perspective on your own family's way of doing things. I feel like a bit of an oddball for staying home with them. Many children are in daycare and preschool/kindergarten because their parents have little other choice. We are lucky that we have a choice.

My own childhood was spent at home until I started K at 5, and my social ability didn't suffer as a result. When I see my little guy behaving more cautiously around other kids in the playground, I have some idea of what he's feeling. Most other children are only interested in playing with their own established friends in the playground, anyways. Right now, he wants me to be the friend who plays with him. I have a feeling that when his little sister is old enough to climb, swing and slide with him, he's going to be far less dependent on me to be close by. And hopefully, within the next few years, we'll have been established in a neighbourhood long enough to make some friends locally.

And, yes, great idea to say I'll be homeschooling Kindergarten, as what we are doing at home (or out and about) is at least as enriching as what he'd be doing in a school setting.

It's easy to lose perspective and become less confident about what I'm doing when it runs a little counter to the mainstream!
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#7 of 10 Old 07-28-2014, 05:34 AM
 
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agree it,That is the choice method for posting events, etc here. There are a couple general park days as well as a group with only younger kids . It is nice because moms can chat too.
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#8 of 10 Old 07-28-2014, 09:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by head4thehills View Post
Excellent points from both of you! Thanks for all your supportive words.
Amy, I'm not on Facebook at this time. I loved social media, as it is perfect for people in my situation (finding it hard to get out, but still wanting to know what is going on among my friends), but I have privacy concerns. It may sound paranoid,
I don't think you are paranoid! I only got a fb account so I could learn it well enough to keep my teen safe online. However, it has been great for connecting. I rarely post pictures. I know a few moms who have accounts for the social updates with homeschool groups, but they have never posted anything themselves. That maintains their privacy. This isn't to say you "should" be on. I just wasn't sure if you thought of the idea of minimalist posting. :-)

Amy

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#9 of 10 Old 07-29-2014, 09:13 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by head4thehills View Post
I'm not on Facebook at this time. I loved social media, as it is perfect for people in my situation (finding it hard to get out, but still wanting to know what is going on among my friends), but I have privacy concerns. It may sound paranoid, but I just have no way to be certain that my private info (ie- photos of my children) won't be misused in some way without my knowing it.
Why not simply use it as a tool? Set up a free email account somewhere to use specifically for Facebook, use a secure password, and don't use your account to post photos of your children.

I agree with SweetSilver and your husband. I don't think there's anything wrong with a little structured outside activity at age 4 or 5 if your child seems to really thrive on that sort of thing, but there's absolutely no necessity. For my kids our tentative forays into that sort of thing proved not to be a good fit at that age; as introverts there was emotional stress involved in acclimating to outside group activities and they were so young I seemed best to wait until they were a bit older. Also, I'm fairly introverted myself, and with three or four kids it was a lot for me to manage. At age 7 or 8 it was logistically easier, they were more than ready and they had really positive experiences -- and they did not suffer from their lack of previous exposure. In fact if anything they were more enthusiastic, engaged and attentive because that type of experience was new to them.

That being said, the library activity sounds low-key and appropriate, and if he seems to be liking it, I would think you're striking a good balance.

Miranda

Mountain mama to three great kids and one great grown-up

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#10 of 10 Old 07-30-2014, 12:35 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by moominmamma View Post
Why not simply use it as a tool? Set up a free email account somewhere to use specifically for Facebook, use a secure password, and don't use your account to post photos of your children.
I'm considering doing something of this sort. I have to find a way to have a low profile, but still be recognizable to my friends.

Quote:
Originally Posted by moominmamma View Post
I agree with SweetSilver and your husband. I don't think there's anything wrong with a little structured outside activity at age 4 or 5 if your child seems to really thrive on that sort of thing, but there's absolutely no necessity. For my kids our tentative forays into that sort of thing proved not to be a good fit at that age; as introverts there was emotional stress involved in acclimating to outside group activities and they were so young I seemed best to wait until they were a bit older. Also, I'm fairly introverted myself, and with three or four kids it was a lot for me to manage. At age 7 or 8 it was logistically easier, they were more than ready and they had really positive experiences -- and they did not suffer from their lack of previous exposure. In fact if anything they were more enthusiastic, engaged and attentive because that type of experience was new to them.

That being said, the library activity sounds low-key and appropriate, and if he seems to be liking it, I would think you're striking a good balance.

Miranda
Being an introvert too, I can relate to this. I'm relieved to hear that it will get easier (in some ways) as they get older. Right now, DS talks like he wants to do these more social, school-like activities, but is far more cautious when he's actually in such a situation. Some people think it's because he hasn't been exposed to them enough, but maybe it really is because he's not quite ready. I feel reassured that I'm not making a bad choice by going against the grain.

However, DS just asked me a couple of days ago, "Mama, when will I get to go to school?" I was caught a little off-guard, and driving at the time, so didn't have an answer ready. I think I said something like, "well, we'll have school at home," (though, I hope I phrased it a little better than that). But he expressed that he didn't want that. So, I'm not sure what exactly to say if he asks me again.

For the time being, I think that a once-a-week organized activity is enough (for both him and me) but will keep my eyes open for other appropriate activities, gradually increasing his exposure as he gets older.
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