We were outside the library a few days ago, waiting for them to open before heading out of town for vacation. Since I knew we were about to spend 5 hours together in the car, we started playing a short game of “catch the stuffie.”
I would toss the bear to Addie (9) and say the name of a state. She would catch the bear, say the capital city, and then toss the bear to her sister. Katie (5) named a state while tossing the bear to me, I said the capital, and so our cycle continued. After a few rounds, the library staff opened the front door, and we got in line behind the other patrons waiting to enter.
“Do you homeschool?” asked the lady in front of me.
“We do,” I replied with a smile.
The fact is, I probably would have come up with some nerdy way to spend our waiting time regardless of where my kids do school. It’s who I am.
It’s the time of year when families are considering all their educational options, and I am well aware that we represent “homeschooling” to every person we meet.
And so I ask myself:
- Are my kids presentable?
- Did I brush their hair?
- Are they being “sociable” enough?
- Are they acting too “weird”?
Playing states and capitals while waiting for the library to open probably qualifies as weird, right? Oops, sorry kids!
When I graduated from college at the age of 22 with a degree in elementary education, I had no idea I would be a homeschooling mom. I taught 3rd and 4th grades in a public school for two years before moving. I found a teaching job for 1st and 2nd grades at a small private school in my new town. I’ve also taught in preschools, church programs, and “mommy and me” type classes.
I firmly believe there is no perfect school that will meet every child’s needs. For our girls, homeschooling is the right choice at this time. (We reconsider all of our options for each of our kids each year.)
Here’s how we made the decision to homeschool Kindergarten:
* Actual Age:
Both of our girls are YOUNG.
Addie was born in the middle of June, but was actually 14 weeks early. If she had been born on her due date at the end of September, she would have had to wait a year to start school.
Katie was born the first week of September, which put her at the very end of eligibility for Kindergarten. (We live in Iowa, where the cut-off date is 9/15.) She would have either been the very youngest in her class or one of the very oldest in her grade.
* Academic Readiness:
Both of our girls are early readers.
When Addie started reading between her 3rd and 4th birthday, I thought it was a fluke. And then her sister started recognizing words when SHE was 3. Even though Kindergarten has become more academic over the years, I knew both girls were more than ready to handle the curriculum at the age of 5.
* Physical Readiness:
Both of our girls napped until their 5th birthday.
I knew that our girls would not be ready for a full-day Kindergarten program at our local public school. They each needed extra time to build stamina for 7 hours of instruction and group activities (especially my introverted child).
* Emotional Readiness
Ultimately, we knew pretty early on that we had two choices with our girls:
- either wait a year to put them in public school (when they were a young 6) OR
- homeschool Kindergarten and see if they “caught up” with their peers.*
We knew it would be easier to retain (hold back) one or both of them–if they ever needed it–then to move them ahead a year if we chose wrong. Do public schools even “skip grades” anymore?
(*Some towns have transitional Kindergarten classes or private, half-day programs that might have worked in a similar situation.)
Homeschooling Kindergarten meant we could give our girls more time to mature emotionally and physically while still giving them what they needed academically.
And along the way, we discovered that homeschooling is a GREAT fit for our family’s lifestyle and schedule.