Cross posting- Try Kindergarten, or Homeschool? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 16 Old 02-13-2013, 08:15 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I also posted this in the homeschooling forum, but I am interested in biased opinions from both sides of the educational spectrum!  :)   I feel torn between sending him to kindergarten and homeschooling!  Please share your experiences and advice.  

 

 

I have 2 children, DS 4.5, DD 1.5- both have never been cared for outside of home or family.  I am the primary care provider, as SAHM, and DH is easing his way into more alone time with the kids.  I feel I am mostly in survival mode- just trying to keep housework, meals, and hygiene under control most of the day, and have little energy to plan lessons or enforce routines.  We have plenty of educational materials of varying styles, as well as tons of art/craft supplies and a fully stocked music room (full drum kit, guitars, bass, amps, microphone, keyboard).  There's plenty to learn from here, but there's really not much routine or curriculum happening at this time.  I feel my energy is more geared toward keeping DD safe when DS is doing more mature things, or trying to occupy her so I can give DS some attention.   Our attempts at "school time" are either great success or complete failure, depending on the day.  DS has a hard time focussing when there's not 100% one on one attention on him, and I have a hard time giving him that.  DS has been occasionally skipping naps (usually both kids nap together), so we get a little more time when DD is napping on those days.

 

When DH and DS hang out alone, there is so much positive learning and teaching going on- even though the time is primarily evening and weekend due to DH's job.  DS is quite sharp for his age, but I don't try to label him gifted or anything.  He is very much interested and talented in music, art, sports, writing, having books read to him (chapter books and picture books), and mostly self-taught.  He is not in any lessons or organized sports.  We offer advice, tips and demonstrations when he asks, but unsolicited help falls on deaf ears.  The boy is very much determined to just do things his way.  He is also extremely fashion conscious, and dresses unlike most kids his age and has long hair that is generally in disarray.  He seems quite different from the average school kid.

 

So, my fear about sending him to school is that the demand for daily structure/conformity will create behavioral issues and take away from his education in general.  His disinterest in mainstream culture might make him strong and cool, or cast out and teased.  I can't quite tell if he'll thrive in a setting where his peers set the example for behavior expectations and structured learning.  I know that he doesn't always listen or care for what I have to say, with the exception of answering his questions and reading from books he chooses.  I wonder if having a non-parental teacher will be better for him.  Is it worth giving school a go, or should we even bother?

 

On the other hand, my fear about homeschooling is that he'll not reach his intellectual potential due to my limited education (I didn't finish HS), and my limited energy from caring for both kids all day.  I long for the break that sending him to school may offer, but to what end?  How can I care for myself and my children in such an intense closeness all day every day for so many more years?  We get tired of each other!  But he never can seem to get any quality special time with me either!  It's such a crazy dynamic, and I wonder if we'll ever find our groove.  I know with DD being so young, it will be hard for a little longer.  I suspect by age 3, she'll be much more manageable and can participate better in our learning and focussed activities.  

 

I just need a little reassurance and advice from those of you who have BTDT.  I am also interested in stories from unschooling families, not just curriculum based.  Thanks in advance, everyone.  I learn so much from this forum! 

 

Also- we have no additional room in the budget for any tuition school, so Montessori and Waldorf are not really options.  

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#2 of 16 Old 02-13-2013, 09:16 PM
 
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I homeschooled my children when they were young, and they started school at ages 10 and 12. There are pros and cons to everything. One is in college now and one is in highschool.

 

I currently work as a teachers aid in a public school supporting special needs students who are mainstreamed, and spend about 2/3 of my day in kindergarten. The teacher is AMAZING and if this was the class your child would be headed for, I would tell you to Go For It. Most of the kids had never been to preschool and she has done a lovely job of helping them learn to function in a structure and work together.

 

Lessons are approached in fun, hands on ways. Today I was in the nurses office with a little girl for some needed care, and she started goofing off. I said, "I wonder what your class is doing now. I wonder what we are missing." She paused for a moment and thought and then said, "They are playing MATH!" and was ready to go back to class.

 

The kids all dress different from each other. Some of the boys have long hair. Kindergarteners really aren't that into looks -- they value things like not taking stuff without being asked and taking turns. I wouldn't concern yourself with how his peers will see him. At 5, they just aren't there. That stuff all starts a few years later. The important thing is to label the clothes so that when they leave their jackets laying around, the adults can get it back to the right kid. Honestly, that's where they are in K. thumb.gif
 

Having it done it both ways, I enjoy my interactions with my own children more when we spend our days apart doing different things. My biggest surprise when they first started school was that although we had less total time together, we seemed to spend about the same amount of time really interacting in a quality way.

 

But every one's situation is different. I don't have any idea what the public schools are like where you live, or what kind of support you would have for homeschooling. Either option can be great. There isn't one right answer.


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#3 of 16 Old 02-14-2013, 04:32 AM
 
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What works is so dependent on all the individual players. How my family thrives may not be the same as yours.

 

Even at 4, my eldest had this idealistic view of school. She craved a real round-table sort of education where adults and children were equals and brought their knowledge and experiences together. Through discussion, they'd take the journey through learning together. She's yet to find it but that's not to say that most of her schooling experiences haven't been positive. She's had some fantastic teachers who do a great job feeding her needs. She just turned 16 and is in her second semester in an early college program and very happy. We tried to convince her to home school many times over the years but she just wouldn't have it, In the end, I think she did exactly what was right for her. 

 

My DS was a tough, tough toddler and preschooler. His social needs were intense and polar opposite of introverted DD and myself. I did my best to give him what he needed but I was both failing and falling apart trying. I was always very against multiple years of preschool but on a really low day, we stumbled into a play-based class and DS (who typically was very anti new situations) didn't want to leave. I signed him up on the spot and it was truly the best thing I could have done. He went 2 mornings a week and loved it. It fed his social needs, gave me a couple hours to collect myself and put him on a routine... and honestly, I had no idea until then how high his need for structure was. He calmed and life was just better for us all. He's had an interesting educational journey too and while, ironically, he does like to learn on his own (and his school gives him opportunity to do that) he still wants the high level of structure and needs to be surrounded by people. When he doesn't have it (like summer break) he falls apart and he's 12 now.

 

So, you never really know what will work until you try. The worst thing that happens is you have to try something else. Personally, I try to honor my kids decisions. Only once have I stepped in and said "sorry, this isn't working" and enforced a change against a child's wishes and I was right lol.

 

Whatever you decide, it sounds like you need to find some time for yourself. Consider a mother's helper... a neighborhood tween perhaps who can come and play with the kids or with one at least. It's really difficult to make decisions in "survival mode." A little extra help for a couple weeks might really help you see through this clearly and give you a better idea of what could work best for him.


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#4 of 16 Old 02-14-2013, 08:21 AM
 
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Are you planning for next fall? With 6 months to go, you can try a few different things before you need to make a decision.

 

One of your greatest concerns seems to be how he will manage in a situation with other children and with non--parent instruction. You say he is not participating in any lessons or sports activities. You could try some organized activities and see how he responds. You could start with something as simple as weekly art classes, swimming instruction or a soccer team. In my area, there are a lot of week-long day camps available for that age for March break and over the summer. That kind of activity may be a good idea if you are interested in a trial of a daily, ongoing situation for a short term. 

 

I agree with whatsnextmom that it sounds like you need a break. If a mother's helper isn't possible, are there a couple of other moms with whom you can trade some babysitting time? That would also give him a chance to interact with other children and a non-parent. 

 

Regarding his determination to do things his way, that's pretty common for that age. It's harder to tolerate and be patient when you have a toddler to tend to at the same time, so I sympathize. As hard as it is for the side-lined parents, pre-schoolers tend to want to figure things out for themselves. It's all part of natural learning. I wouldn't take it as an absolute indication of how he might fare in a classroom or other situation with other children. 

 

I skimmed your thread in the Learning at Home forum. It seems like your preference is homeschooling. I'd just say that if you choose to send him to school, it should be a commitment you all make for the benefits that you believe he will receive there. There are sound reasons for choosing formal schooling and pp have pointed out some of them. If, however, those reasons aren't sufficient for you, it's likely that you will continually find fault with the school and be unhappy with that option. 

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#5 of 16 Old 02-14-2013, 07:52 PM
 
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I'd just say that if you choose to send him to school, it should be a commitment you all make for the benefits that you believe he will receive there. There are sound reasons for choosing formal schooling and pp have pointed out some of them. If, however, those reasons aren't sufficient for you, it's likely that you will continually find fault with the school and be unhappy with that option. 

 


Agreed, and I'll take it a step further. If you allow him to attend school but are not on board with it in your heart, I think it will be a lot harder for him to adjust and be successful and happy there. Even if you don't SAY anything, he'll pick out on it and figure out that you really want him to fail and be miserable at school, because you think schools are bad.

 

If you do decide to homeschool, I strongly recommend that you enroll him in some organized programs -- classes through parks and rec, the Y, etc. All children benefit from learning to be in a group and have a teacher other than mom. There are a lot of ways to do that.


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#6 of 16 Old 02-15-2013, 10:53 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Are you planning for next fall? With 6 months to go, you can try a few different things before you need to make a decision.

 

One of your greatest concerns seems to be how he will manage in a situation with other children and with non--parent instruction. You say he is not participating in any lessons or sports activities. You could try some organized activities and see how he responds. You could start with something as simple as weekly art classes, swimming instruction or a soccer team. In my area, there are a lot of week-long day camps available for that age for March break and over the summer. That kind of activity may be a good idea if you are interested in a trial of a daily, ongoing situation for a short term. 

 

I agree with whatsnextmom that it sounds like you need a break. If a mother's helper isn't possible, are there a couple of other moms with whom you can trade some babysitting time? That would also give him a chance to interact with other children and a non-parent. 

 

Regarding his determination to do things his way, that's pretty common for that age. It's harder to tolerate and be patient when you have a toddler to tend to at the same time, so I sympathize. As hard as it is for the side-lined parents, pre-schoolers tend to want to figure things out for themselves. It's all part of natural learning. I wouldn't take it as an absolute indication of how he might fare in a classroom or other situation with other children. 

 

I skimmed your thread in the Learning at Home forum. It seems like your preference is homeschooling. I'd just say that if you choose to send him to school, it should be a commitment you all make for the benefits that you believe he will receive there. There are sound reasons for choosing formal schooling and pp have pointed out some of them. If, however, those reasons aren't sufficient for you, it's likely that you will continually find fault with the school and be unhappy with that option. 

Thank you for your reply.  I am definitely leaning toward HS, but like to solicit opinions from those with other/different thoughts and choices to help me see all sides and consider all the possibilities.  My son has so much drive and focus when it comes to his own interests of the moment, which leads to some pretty advanced knowledge and vast experiences that I really love to see happening for him.  We also live in a great city that offers very good alternative supplemental classes and learning experiences.  i really was very close to choosing Kindergarten, but there was just something pulling me from it that I could not shake.  All the insight and opinions on these forums helps me get better perspective, and I am so grateful for that!  :)

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#7 of 16 Old 02-15-2013, 12:53 PM
 
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Have you investigated the schools in your area? Like you, I was leaning heavily towards homeschooling but after a spot opened up for him at a charter school (still a public school so no tuition), we decided to try it out. I you haven't investigated your public school options, I highly encourage you to check them out.
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#8 of 16 Old 02-15-2013, 12:53 PM
 
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*double post*
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#9 of 16 Old 02-15-2013, 01:11 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Have you investigated the schools in your area? Like you, I was leaning heavily towards homeschooling but after a spot opened up for him at a charter school (still a public school so no tuition), we decided to try it out. I you haven't investigated your public school options, I highly encourage you to check them out.

 

We just returned from a full tour at a local exemplary public school specializing in dual language (eng/span).  It was not impressive- the campus and disorganization/crowding of the building and staff.  Loved the idea, but failed to be impressed by the actual experience.  though we were hoping to love it, as a few other good friends are planning to attend.

 

We also have an exemplary charter school that "provides a rigorous, community-enriched education guided by a commitment to excellence through personalized instruction".  It is in our neighborhood, and gets great reviews.  We've applied for their lottery (randomized admission system), so we'll consider even more seriously when we find out if we're accepted.  We're planning to tour that school next week, thus keeping an open mind so far.  It sounds really interesting, and the idea of it is certainly wonderful.  The public school we are zoned for is not exemplary in rating and has unappealing reviews from others in our neighborhood.

 

Ultimately, we're realizing that we might be in just the right position to provide an excellent academic experience at low cost by me.  We can learn spanish independently, and have many great supplemental resources and programs in our city.  In fact, we'd miss our usual homeschool adventures (nature & science center, botanical garden, children's museum, etc...) terribly if we're limited on time with a public school schedule.  We live right next to a public playground and pool, so there's never a shortage of outdoor social opportunities, either.  We're pretty lucky.

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#10 of 16 Old 02-15-2013, 08:27 PM
 
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Ultimately, we're realizing that we might be in just the right position to provide an excellent academic experience at low cost by me. 

 

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I feel I am mostly in survival mode- just trying to keep housework, meals, and hygiene under control most of the day, and have little energy to plan lessons or enforce routines. ... there's really not much routine or curriculum happening at this time.  I feel my energy is more geared toward keeping DD safe when DS is doing more mature things, or trying to occupy her so I can give DS some attention.   Our attempts at "school time" are either great success or complete failure, depending on the day.  DS has a hard time focussing when there's not 100% one on one attention on him, and I have a hard time giving him that. 

 

...my fear about homeschooling is that he'll not reach his intellectual potential due to my limited education (I didn't finish HS), and my limited energy from caring for both kids all day.  I long for the break that sending him to school may offer, but to what end?  How can I care for myself and my children in such an intense closeness all day every day for so many more years?  We get tired of each other!

 

 

headscratch.gif

 

 

One of the myths in the homeschooling community is "mom can do everything, if only she tries hard enough."  You know your reality, and you are buying into the myth.


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#11 of 16 Old 02-16-2013, 01:57 AM
 
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exemplary 

 

Don't rule a school out because it doesn't meet the state criteria for being successful. Our state ratings are based almost entirely on test scores and the schools in our county that make the grade are ones I'd never send my kids too... lots of teaching to the test and "drill and kill." Our local public school gets "fine" markings from the state and yet they were the only school with the flexibility and open-mindedness needed to educate a 5-year-old who was 2-5 grade levels advanced all around. Same district allowed my youngest to become tri-lingual, play 2 instruments and move 2.5 years ahead in math. Great schools, moderate scores.

 

Your local school might not be a good fit but don't limit your search to those with a pretty label. There are a lot of reasons a school might not make the grade... a high ESL population that won't test well for several years, too many families opting out of testing and so the school gets dropped in rank because only 94 percent tested and not 95, ect. 

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#12 of 16 Old 02-16-2013, 06:33 AM
 
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One of the things that stood out to me in your opening post is that you currently feel like you are in survival mode. You sound pretty stressed out. The reality is that some of us (temperament wise, with regard to being an introvert or an extrovert especially) really thrive in the presence of our children (or anyone!) And some folks (moms) can't keep it up hour after hour with the level of quality that you wish for or have as a standard. A person who can't keep it up usually ends up feeling guilty and 'beating themselves up' internally.

 

Another reflection I have is that it seems to be a myth in America that children do best when they are constantly in the presence of their moms and dads. In village life of yore smile.gif , children were out and about constantly interacting with other adults and children of various ages and stages. Their parents were not the "be all and end all" of their lives. We seem to put this pressure on ourselves in the U.S. So I would just throw that out for consideration, that other teachers and caregivers in your child's life, can resemble their village. Kids sometimes learn better from other adults who are not their parents, which can really enrich them. It takes away the typical push and shove that can be present in the parent-child dynamic, especially for the strong willed child.

 

I have a good school in my neighborhood and I have always been amazed at how our dear child care providers and  teachers view my children--it is with a completely different lens and usually helps me to see them differently. It gets me outside my box of seeing my child in the same way all the time. Sometimes they have seen problems where I didn't see problems but it has helped me open my eyes. Most often they see amazing qualities that I am failing to pay enough attention to, as I tend to worry more. I have loved having that 'outside-looking-in' perspective from teachers and other folks outside the family that know my kids.

 

In the end, you in your heart what might work best for you, and it may change year to year. Step into it with confidence and waste no energy on guilt.
 


 
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#13 of 16 Old 02-16-2013, 06:35 AM
 
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Don't rule a school out because it doesn't meet the state criteria for being successful. Our state ratings are based almost entirely on test scores and the schools in our county that make the grade are ones I'd never send my kids too... lots of teaching to the test and "drill and kill." Our local public school gets "fine" markings from the state and yet they were the only school with the flexibility and open-mindedness needed to educate a 5-year-old who was 2-5 grade levels advanced all around. Same district allowed my youngest to become tri-lingual, play 2 instruments and move 2.5 years ahead in math. Great schools, moderate scores.

 

 

I think we have fantastic schools and they are all labeled as "failing." You know why? They mostly refuse to teach to the test and so standardized scores are not coming up. But children are receiving a high quality and rich education! It's just not hitting all the areas that the federal gov't has decided are on the test!


 
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#14 of 16 Old 02-16-2013, 08:31 AM
 
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Thank you for your reply.  I am definitely leaning toward HS, but like to solicit opinions from those with other/different thoughts and choices to help me see all sides and consider all the possibilities.  My son has so much drive and focus when it comes to his own interests of the moment, which leads to some pretty advanced knowledge and vast experiences that I really love to see happening for him.  We also live in a great city that offers very good alternative supplemental classes and learning experiences.  i really was very close to choosing Kindergarten, but there was just something pulling me from it that I could not shake.  All the insight and opinions on these forums helps me get better perspective, and I am so grateful for that!  :)

 

It's a very good idea to research educational alternatives and investigate the options that are available to your children. If you are invested in one choice, and forgive me, but from reading your posts it seems to me that you already are, then it won't really matter what anyone tells you about their experiences and opinions on benefits of a particular alternative choice. You will only hear the best about the choice you've already (perhaps unconsciously) made and dismiss anything else anyone says. Which is fine, but you should be aware of the phenomenon of commitment bias and how it influences your decisions. It's commendable that you are at least thinking about the alternatives. 

 

 

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Ultimately, we're realizing that we might be in just the right position to provide an excellent academic experience at low cost by me.  We can learn spanish independently, and have many great supplemental resources and programs in our city.  In fact, we'd miss our usual homeschool adventures (nature & science center, botanical garden, children's museum, etc...) terribly if we're limited on time with a public school schedule.  We live right next to a public playground and pool, so there's never a shortage of outdoor social opportunities, either.  We're pretty lucky.

 

 

 
Your situation, as far as community resources and learning opportunities are concerned, sounds very good. Ideal, even. My only caveat is that it won't matter much if your personal and family resources, specifically your own emotional and physical abilities, are strained beyond your ability to cope in a healthy and satisfactory way for all. You started these threads talking about being in survival mode coping with 2 children and discussing your concerns about your ability to meet everyone's needs all of the time. That won't change no matter how many wonderful children's museums and nature centres you have in your city. In fact, it can increase the stress if you start to feel guilty if you aren't getting out to those places as often as you or the kids want. I wish you the best in finding strategies to help you with your personal internal resources. 
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#15 of 16 Old 02-18-2013, 06:09 PM
 
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Jumping in here because I saw our other thread. A quick reply...

 

When my first child was young I did a 180 about school. I went from planning to be a public school teacher to thinking that there was no way in he!! I would send my child to school. I just couldn't imagine it - school, in my mind then, was too far from ideal and I just thought I could never do it and I changed my mind about teaching even. 

 

Then a few years passed and my child got older. I found a cooperative preschool that was AMAZING and then we found a cooperative public elementary school that was also amazing and I fell in love with school for my child. For us, school has brought nothing but positive experiences. And, I'm back to school to be a public school teacher myself. 

 

My point isn't that school is great for everyone or that homeschool isn't a great option. I think school is a BAD fit for some kids and some families and I think homeschooling is a wonderful option for the families who desire that type of school setting. My point is that I think sometimes when our little ones are young we don't realize how much our perspective will change as far as what we think will be good for them down the road. 

 

Good luck on your decision making. Oh, and get on that charter school visit -- those applications have got to be due sometime soon, I would think. And, a good option for you if you're on the fence and don't get a spot in the charter would be to homeschool and see if you get a spot later in the year. That could give you the best of both worlds...


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#16 of 16 Old 04-12-2013, 09:43 AM
 
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Agreed, and I'll take it a step further. If you allow him to attend school but are not on board with it in your heart, I think it will be a lot harder for him to adjust and be successful and happy there. Even if you don't SAY anything, he'll pick out on it and figure out that you really want him to fail and be miserable at school, because you think schools are bad.

 

If you do decide to homeschool, I strongly recommend that you enroll him in some organized programs -- classes through parks and rec, the Y, etc. All children benefit from learning to be in a group and have a teacher other than mom. There are a lot of ways to do that.

yes, totally agree with linda on the move.

 

we homeschool and always have. public school is an option for my kids though & we always proceed one year at a time.  i've never painted a picture of school as being "bad" or fearful & i've never taught them that one option is superior over the other.  my kids are 11 1/2 and 9 now and find friendships through homeschool co-op's, church, sports, community service, etc. for us, having them involved in groups and being led by adults outside of myself has been a great experience. also, we live in FL, and here my kids can even take classes at the public school, so next year my daughter will take drama and music there. so that may be an option in your state as well (should you choose to homeschool).  

 

lastly, whatever you choose, you can "un-choose"! if one doesn't work, you absolutely can change your game plan smile.gif


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