My childhood was sprinkled with many learning environments: public school, large private school, tiny private schools and one year of homeschool. They all had their pros and cons, but I had thought I’d send my own children to public schools for financial reasons, and keep an open mind to other possibilities if they did not seem to thrive there.
Fast forward. Now my oldest, Aria, is almost 4 and… we’re homeschooling. Last year was her first year of preschool. I had a new baby and looked forward to sending her away to preschool for 2 short mornings a week. I imagined I’d use that time to connect with my youngest and get chores/errands done. Right.
It seemed that those hours flew by and that pick-up time always conflicted with little Liam’s nap. The rigidity of having to drop her off and pick her up at certain times made coordinating play dates with friends very difficult. Since I work part-time, I only have 2 weekdays at home with my children. Was preschool really just intruding upon our lifestyle and adding one more thing to my to-do list on my days at home?
About halfway through our preschool year I started having second thoughts. The issues listed above were becoming clear and I started to wonder if I actually wanted Aria to be away at preschool. Would I enjoy her and my family more if we stayed together? Did my vision of parenting really fit with sending her to school on the few days I have home with her? And, what was she really getting out of it?
Not so much. At Aria’s age, I’d hope for socialization and artistic play at preschool. At 3 1/2 she became very sensitive to social situations at school. Her day was fun or awful depending on which of her friends showed up and whether or not those “friends” played with her or ignored her that day. She also learned to tease and other negative behaviors. Is this the type of “socialization” I want for her? It would seem that our playdates are better and more enjoyable for her as well!
Then another mother, whose child attended the same preschool, started sharing her concerns about the art program at our school. My friend had read “Young at Art”, so she was filled with inspiration to see our children do art that exercised their creativity and helped them process and express their world. And, then I saw it – Aria wasn’t doing art at school. Instead she was making a ladybug that looked exactly like all the other ones in her class. She was following directions (which she’s already quite good at). Were they even letting her use the scizzors? Glue on the eyes? Oh, no! I can do better than this! (That’s Aria making her first cut and paste project at home).
So, since spring of this year, I’ve been on a path towards homeschooling. It has been an adventure! I’ve read a million books (OK, more like eight) on different homeschooling methods and experimented with a few ideas at home. Just now, I’ve found one approach that I absolutely LOVE… But that story is for another day.