Sunday, December 04, 2011

Hi. Sorry I've been gone for a while. Things just sort of ... stalled out around here. But now I'm back, and hopefully you still remember who I am.

Now that we've gotten formalities squared away, let's talk about kindergarten.

You guys know I love homeschooling. I love the idea of setting your own flow to your day, I love the idea of running around less, of playing and working together. I think homeschooling for little ones is FABULOUS, and have spent the past couple of years reading homeschooling blogs, interviewing homeschooling friends, and saying things like, "When we homeschool I will ..."

Yeah. I'm not going to do it.

I know. I KNOW. I'm as surprised as you are. I really wanted to! It fits so well into what I think parenting should be. And herein lies the crux of the matter, friends. It fits into what I think PARENTING should be. But it turns out, my kids' education is not about me (who knew?). It also turns out that I really don't think homeschooling is what is best for Asher.

And we're just talking about Asher right now, because the only decision that has to be made at this moment is what Asher needs to do next year. I strongly believe that education is a case-by-case, year-by-year decision. For Asher, at this time, I don't think homeschooling is best. The reason is simple: he would like nothing better.

He is a mostly happy, mostly well-adjusted child. He has friends, he talks to other adults easily, he LOVES to sit at a table and work on projects or complete a task. He is a homeschooling DREAM, in term of temperament and interest. But over the past few months I have noticed that the more he's at home, the more he wants to be at home. He really would be very content to putter about in his room or the backyard and stay by my side indefinitely. Whenever there is a break from preschool, he has a hard time going back, and withdraws more and more from any social activity (outside of his family, that is). He's my little introvert, and he's quite content at home.

If only he never had to leave home, or deal with the public in any way, maybe this would be a good quality to nurture. If I was always going to be his only supervisor, if his brother and sister were always going to be his primary social outlet, then this would be an ideal scenario, right? But my job is to prepare him for life. It is my job to teach him balance, honoring his natural gifts and talents while also occasionally nudging him out of what is most comfortable. Despite his very appropriate, normal social skills, he would love just stay at home with his mom forever. Which is why I can't let him.

Of course I also think it would be utterly disastrous to send him to an all day every day kindergarten, for the exact same reason. I cannot imagine a worse scenario for Asher. Hopefully we will no longer be living here when the new school year begins, but if we are, he will go to the kindergarten at the church where he attends preschool. It is a half-day program, which will fit well into the existing flow of our family, and continue to give him time to putter around here in the afternoons. If we are not living here, then obviously we'll have to re-evaluate, but I feel pretty strongly that he needs to go somewhere consistently each week, and also that he doesn't need to be gone all day.

It all sounds pretty simple and straightforward here, but choosing a schooling option for my oldest child has been daunting. Kids go to school every day, but he's MY son, and five is still so little, you know? Many many hours have gone into it, and in the end, it has been one more way that God has reminded me that parenting is not about me. Decisions about my kids - from nursing to sharing rooms to discipline to education - have to be based on what is best for them, not how they make me feel. Because if it were up to me? I would love nothing more than to have Asher by my side indefinitely too. I am just introverted enough to love the idea. We could spend our days puttering around, working on projects and tasks and avoiding the pace of life outside of our four walls for a long, long time. We would both enjoy it.

But I love him too much to let that happen.

Happy Sunday, friends. It's good to be back.


Madame Rubies said...

I agree. Child by child and year by year. For Haydn, I joined a co-op so he gets social time and instruction from other people besides me. David is doing well with public school, so there he stays. Next year, we discuss it all again.

Carrie B. said...

asher and kb are cut from the same cloth. =) exactly why we landed where we did on kindergarten. and we will always do the year by year decision. KB might change schools next year too, which will be a different school for every year she's been going to school. but it has worked! glad you landed somewhere you feel great about.

Mrs. Shehane said...

I am so proud of you, Steph. One of the hardest things to do as a parent, I think, is to help our children build a place outside home, a place where you can share in Asher's excitement about the new discoveries, and cherish his return each day with the comfort that he still likes to be around home and that it is a great place to be. Little by litle, he will find the world. ... He reminds me so much of a little girl who loved school, who literally skipped in to preschool every day, who cried and screamed when she couldn't go to school... Asher will be just like you. You know, I think he's a little whiny since Emmy came. It's natural.

Mrs. Shehane said...

And Asher, if you are reading this, please do not get your feelings hurt when you read that Mama is talking about you. She is talking about how she loves you and wants things to always be better. Her friends help her to see that she is a good parent. They help each other.

And what are you doing on the Internet, little boy?