Picking a school for Kindergarten this fall - Mothering Forums
The Childhood Years > Picking a school for Kindergarten this fall
Flower of Bliss's Avatar Flower of Bliss 05:35 PM 06-15-2011

DD1 turns 5 in August.  I’m completely undecided about what to do for her for school this fall.  I’m very stressed and losing sleep over it, and down to the wire on making my decision. help.gif I would love any feedback as I work through this difficult decision.  Our choices in a nutshell are public kindergarten or kindergarten at a small start up Waldorf school.  DD1 is very opposed to homeschooling, and though I am ready and willing to do it, I fear it would be quite a battle, and I would like her to have some independent time away from me in a place that is “hers” with consistent peers. 

 

She has gone two half days a week to the Waldorf school this spring.  It’s a very lovely place.  The kindergarten is 100% play based (no writing, reading, letter or number recognition, etc).  She is very happy there.  It’s been a good fit for her.  I am happy with the teachers and the curriculum.  I like the limited media and plain clothes dress requirements.  It is very much a like minded community for our family.  If she went in the fall, she would go 3 consecutive half days 9-12:30.  There are no attendance rules, and no tardy penalties.  It’s about a 20 minute drive from our home, which is not an issue. 

 

The school plans to have a grades program starting the next fall, and plans to grow to a 12 year school.  There are hard working passionate people working to make this happen, but it’s far from certain that the school will be there or have the grade we need, at any given time.  They do not have a grades teacher yet, and there is a very real chance that the teacher for the first grades class would be “home grown” from our community and working on certification while teaching.  As is the Waldorf model, they would have this teacher throughout elementary.  There is also all of the disorganization and drama that go with a small start up school, which are already making me a crazy.  I assume that if we do another year of kindergarten there, I will eventually have to home school for at least a year to catch DD1 up before I could transfer her to the public school.  Also, with her late summer birthday, there is a very real chance that the Waldorf school will tell me she is not emotionally or socially mature enough to start first grade at 6, and must wait till 7, to which I am 100% opposed.  I am not committed to the Waldorf education model, and I am not at all willing to commit to sending my children to private school long term (due mostly to finances as we have 2 kids and plan more).  Also, with her late summer birthday, the public schools are likely to encourage me to hold her back when I enroll her if I do so after Waldorf and/or home schooling.  This area has a very strong tendency to hold back kids with summer, and even spring birthdays.  Although I’m very comfortable with delayed academics, I have no interest in holding DD1 back a grade at all.

 

The public school is a “good” school in a very child focused upper middle class suburbia.  It’s generally well funded with low student teacher ratios.  It’s in easy walking distance from our home.  Most students walk or bike to school, so she would be making friends that live very close to us.  They would teach reading, writing, math, etc, for which I believe DD1 is ready.  She currently writes her name, and a collection of other letters (almost only capitals).  She can sound out CVC words, but last fall was very opposed to being taught to read, so I quit trying.  She can generally identify all of the letters of the alphabet and their sounds, but we don’t talk about it much, so she may be shaky on it.  She grasps number concepts pretty well, but often messes up when counting to 20.  I think academically the public kindergarten would be a good fit for her.

 

The public kindergarten is a full day program 8am-3pm, with only one 20 minute recess yikes2.gif (they do also have PE daily).  There are 5 kindergarten classes, each with about 18-20 kids.  There are also lots of strict rules about behavior that don’t feel very age appropriate to me, especially considering the lack of free play time.  There is a strict attendance and tardy policy.  The schedule would be very hard on our family.  We tend to sleep late and go to bed late.  DH gets home at about 7pm, and we do family dinners at 7:30 or 8 followed by a family walk and then bed time.  We also frequently travel to visit extended family.  This would have to change, which would limit Daddy time in the evenings as well as time with extended family.  Earlier bed and rise times might not be too awful of a change, but the transition would be horrid.  DD2 will be 2 in August.  My girls have a very tight bond.  I dread the idea of having DD1 gone 8-3 M-F and having all of that time solo with DD2.  I would also mourn DD1’s loss of long days at the park with friends in the beautiful fall weather, and lazy mornings playing in her pajamas until lunch time.  She’s still so very young.  I would like DD1 to have some time in a place with consistent peers without me present, but 35 hours a week is WAY more time away than feels age appropriate.

 

Our world view is very much in the minority here, from food and media choices to politics and religion.  DD1 would be the youngest in her class, and would not know any of her classmates.  She is very very social, and very anxious to fit in.  She can be very malleable, for example she has a strong preference for orange, but will claim her favorite color is pink in a group of girls all saying that.  I really fear that the world view differences will result in power struggles between us as she tries to fit in.  I also fear that she will lose herself before she really knows what she believes about the world.  We have many friends with different political and religious views from us, but I’m not ready for her to be immersed in a group with such stark differences in world view where she is in such a minority.



Tjej's Avatar Tjej 07:08 PM 06-15-2011

That is a tough decision.  I don't know what I'd pick of those two options.

 

You mentioned that you wouldn't be against homeschooling but your DD wants to go to school.  Have you looked into what homeschooling groups in your area might have to offer?  It might give you the freedom you want and the time with peers you want.

 

Tjej


Flower of Bliss's Avatar Flower of Bliss 07:20 PM 06-15-2011

I planned to home school.  We pretty regularly attend a weekly home school park day, and I'm on several local home schooling email lists.  We have lots of friends that home school, honestly likely more that do than don't.  Perhaps once she's 6+ there will be options for part time things that just aren't on my radar yet, but I'm generally in the loop on local home schooling.  Part of the issue is that though there is a HUGE home school community in the area, it is largely faith based, and most groups require signing a faith statement.  I'm a liberal UU in a super conservative Christian area.  The group we attend park days with is secular (the only secular group in the area), but it doesn't have a coop of any sort, just weekly park days and member organized field trips and such.

 

We run into the same issue with private schools.  They are almost all faith based. 

 

DD is also pretty aware of what in theory it means to home school, or to attend school, as well as the differences between the public school and the Waldorf school.  Of course she's only 4 and theory and practise are very very different. 
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tjej View Post

That is a tough decision.  I don't know what I'd pick of those two options.

 

You mentioned that you wouldn't be against homeschooling but your DD wants to go to school.  Have you looked into what homeschooling groups in your area might have to offer?  It might give you the freedom you want and the time with peers you want.

 

Tjej



 

 


Imagining's Avatar Imagining 09:09 AM 06-16-2011

I understand your struggle completely - we've gone through the exact same one!  DS has been in some form of Waldorf preK or parent/child programs for the past 3 years.  He turns 5 at the end of July, and would technically be ready to start public kindergarten.  The decision that is finally enabling me to sleep at night is to basically have him stay in Waldorf for another year, and start kindergarten in 2012.  He was one of the oldest in his preK class this year and it really enabled him to be more of a leader and he seemed to thrive.  I know you said you don't want to "hold her back", so this is likely not your solution.  But for us it does enable DS to go to only 3 half-days next year, still having that playtime we enjoy as a family now, still going in later in the morning.  And then next year he will be very ready for the peer relations and longer days of kindergarten, be it public or private.  I also like the idea of him ultimately graduating at 18 years old instead of 17 years old.  My niece just graduated at 17 years old and is struggling with not being quite emotionally ready to be "on her own".  

 

Anyway, all that to say I understand you angst!  I hope you find the solution that feels right for your family.


pigpokey's Avatar pigpokey 06:55 AM 06-18-2011

I would give very little weight to her desire to be in school.  Kids that age, they get an idea but they have no idea.  She may be able to recite to you the difference between home schooling and school.  What she is not able to do is realistically judge the two for serving her and her family's interests.  The purpose of school is to prepare her for a happy and productive adulthood within the reasonable resources of the family.  She's got no background to evaluate her options towards that end.

 

If you want to put her in Waldorf 9-12:30, 3 days a week, there is no reason (besides Waldorf peer pressure) that you can't do 60-90 minutes of home schooling, three days a week, on your own schedule, and have a child extremely well prepared for public 1st grade, especially if you continue 5 days / week during the summer when the Waldorf program has let out.

 

I really encourage you to look at home schooling hard, because of the sleep schedule thing.  My kids ... even if I wasn't home schooling for academic reasons, I couldn't bear to sleep deprive my kids.  It seems so unhealthy to be pulling up young elementary schoolers out of sleep in the morning.  Or any age really when they're still growing.  My daughter often gets home from dance practice after 8pm.  My 6yo son will have gym until 8pm two days a week this coming academic year.  I let them sleep until they wake up.

 

Even if the public school "pushes" you to hold her back in K after home schooling, if you know she is ready they have no right to force you.  Home schooled kids, because they are working with a low ratio of instructor to student and at their own pace and without arbitrary long breaks, are routinely above age-grade.

 

What else does she want to do that is frequent and has a social component ... would she enjoy swim team, or gymnastics several times a week and maybe joining team later, or dance, or going to chess clubs frequently throughout the week?  What can spark her outside of school?

 

 

 


pianojazzgirl's Avatar pianojazzgirl 04:50 PM 06-18-2011


Quote:
Originally Posted by pigpokey View Post

If you want to put her in Waldorf 9-12:30, 3 days a week, there is no reason (besides Waldorf peer pressure) that you can't do 60-90 minutes of home schooling, three days a week, on your own schedule, and have a child extremely well prepared for public 1st grade, especially if you continue 5 days / week during the summer when the Waldorf program has let out.



This is what I was thinking too.


ElliesMomma's Avatar ElliesMomma 11:03 PM 06-18-2011

she's on the border for whether she's ready for kindergarden anyways (around here, it's a sept. 1st cut off; plenty of people hold back for a year with august birthdays). why don't you just do another year of your waldorf, in which you are comfortable AND hold open the idea of enrolling in the public kinder for NEXT year. 


LynnS6's Avatar LynnS6 12:13 AM 06-19-2011


I think others had good thoughts about the options. My first piece of advice, however, would be to go and visit the local public school. Talk to the principal. See the classrooms. find out what they really do each day. In my kids' classrooms, there's still 'play'. I was in dd's 1st grade classroom last week ,and the kids who were done with their project were allowed to take out the math manipulatives. Guess what they were doing? Building towns and houses.

 

Do know that if you choose the Waldorf K, 'homeschooling' her (teaching her to read/working on numbers) may be counter to the school's philosophy. Can you live with that?

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Flower of Bliss View Post

Our world view is very much in the minority here, from food and media choices to politics and religion.  DD1 would be the youngest in her class, and would not know any of her classmates.  She is very very social, and very anxious to fit in.  She can be very malleable, for example she has a strong preference for orange, but will claim her favorite color is pink in a group of girls all saying that.  I really fear that the world view differences will result in power struggles between us as she tries to fit in.  I also fear that she will lose herself before she really knows what she believes about the world.  We have many friends with different political and religious views from us, but I’m not ready for her to be immersed in a group with such stark differences in world view where she is in such a minority.


The real point I wanted to address is this one. I see this fear a lot, and yet I have never seen evidence or data that this is the case (and just remember, the plural of anecdote is not data!) Kids generally reflect the values of their parents. You, as a family, have much more influence over what your child believes and how they behave than a group of children do. Yes, children need to learn to make their voice heard, they need to learn that it's OK to be different -- but that's true whether they're in public school or in a homeschooling group. It's part of maturing.

 

There are two areas where I see this fear: Religion and popular culture. In terms of religion, the public schools are bound by law not to favor one religion over another or to teach religion. (They can teach about religion, but not teach religion.) If the homeschoolers in your area are largely conservative Christian, you may be pleasantly surprised by your public school. We're liberal (very liberal) mainline Protestants, and my kids have never, ever brought anything home from school that would concern me. Honestly, I don't think religion comes up at all (which is why it bothers the conservative religious people.)

 

Popular culture: Maybe it's our school, but neither of my kids have picked up popular culture interests from school. Ds is my quiet, quirky kid who is a follower. Yet I've never seen him bring home any popular culture stuff from school. His passion in 1st and 2nd grade was: city buses. We spent a lot of time riding the bus. We would walk down to the nearby transit center 1-2 times a week to watch buses. I can guarantee you that no other child at his school shared his passion. That did not prevent him from having it, developing it, and it dying its own natural death. He was actually without a passion for a year (unusual for him) before he discovered sports. Now that he's discovered sports, he's got something to talk to the other kids about. Before then he didn't. But he didn't change who he was to fit in.  Sometimes being different helps you figure out who you are.

 

Isn't the whole reason behind AP to develop a strong bond with your children? While I don't like Gordon Neufeld's book "Hold Onto Your Kids" all that much because I think it's unnecessarily fear-mongering, the point he does elegantly make is that children who are oriented to their parents are usually OK. They come to share the values their parents have. Look at the securely attached adults (or better yet, young adults) that you know. How much different from their parents are their values? My suspicion is that they're not all that much different. If your children were not securely attached, if you weren't able to be a solid presence in their lives, then yes, you might have to worry about influences from peers. As it is, do you really need to have that much fear about what values your 5 year old is going to learn from a group of 5 year olds?

 


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