The last week of August we officially began our homeschooling journey with our five year old twins. We did this even though I have two other children at home, a 2.5 year-old toddler who is my constant shadow and lap snuggler, and a brand new baby, born a month before homeschool began. Just thinking about homeschooling as a very tired, breastfeeding, toddler chasing, work-from-home mom blogger was overwhelming.I questioned myself in our decision to do this thing: Would I be able to do a good job teaching them or would I be too tired to think let alone teach? Would I actually be organized and creative enough to prepare lessons that would engage them in learning? Would I be better able to take care of our home, my baby, myself, and grow my blog if they were in public school instead of at home?
I had to seriously consider if sending my twins off to public school kindergarten would be best for our family given our situation.
But, my husband and I had decided a long time ago that we wanted to homeschool and keep our twins home for Kindergarten (at least) and the reasons we made that decision were still alive and well.
My husband and I don’t hate the public school system or hate teachers. My husband is a teacher and I always wanted to be one growing up. I also did great in public school, had lots of great friends, never had a bullying issue, and learned a lot. And my husband did well enough.
Our twin daughters would likely do very well in public school as they are very bright girls who want to learn, and they have an easy time making new friends. They don’t have learning issues or special needs either.
The biggest reason we are homeschooling, especially for Kindergarten, is because I want my children to be kids.I don’t like full-day Kindergarten, spelling tests, or homework for five year olds. I don’t like that Kindergarten is the new first grade.
You cannot force children to grow up or be physically, mentally, or cognitive more developed than their age allows. Five year olds need more playtime than time spent sitting at a desk or listening to a teacher.
Playing should be fun! In our great eagerness to teach our children we studiously look for ‘educational’ toys, games with built-in lessons, books with a ‘message.’ Often these ‘tools’ are less interesting and stimulating than the child’s natural curiosity and playfulness. Play is by its very nature educational. And it should be pleasurable. When the fun goes out of play, most often so does the learning.” ~ Joanne E. Oppenheim
I don’t know what the kindergarten classrooms are like in my town (though the schools aren’t ranked very well). But, I can only assume that they have far less freedom than my five year olds are given at home to play, climb, explore, and imagine each and every day.
At home my children can spend as much time as is needed to spell out a word, read a word, color, draw, put together puzzles, or play. No bell will sound to interrupt their progress, or make them pack it up (other than their mother). No peer pressure will be placed on them and no one will call them dumb for not knowing an answer.
At home my children can also pray, learn Scripture stories, and memorize verses freely. They will be allowed to fully develop a good moral character based on Scripture and Truth rather than state issued relative moralism. Raising a child with integrity and values is of far more worth than a high school diploma eventually.
We’re now a full eight weeks into homeschooling for kindergarten. And the truth is that I am very tired with a newborn and trying to keep up with a blog and everything else. Sometimes lessons aren’t very creative, thought out, or organized (don’t even bother asking about crafts). Often my toddler son doesn’t like being ignored as I work with his sisters on various things and seems to always be asking for a drink or a snack. My baby will often wake too soon from her naps and cry loudly to be held or nursed as I struggle to tend to the needs of my children, my home, and myself.Despite being pulled in many different directions by my various responsibilities, homeschooling for kindergarten is working. My five year-old twins are learning great things.
One of my daughters, on her own, tried to spell princess, and spelled it “prisus.” She can also write the word “love” now, and can sound out several words in our early reader books. The other is getting really great at identifying syllables and rhyming words. Both have learned new songs, scripture stories, the Pledge of Allegiance, how to use chopsticks (kinda), days of the week, how to write their numbers up to 100, and about Paris, China, and Japan. They are also regularly doing chores and establishing good habits (which is still one of my biggest goals in the early grades!).Once a month they even attend a cooking class as part of a local Homeschool group we belong to, do weekly playgroups (which I organized) and occasionally do group P.E. and other classes with our local homeschool co-op. My daughters also spend hours drawing and writing, and most importantly playing with each other, their brother, their new baby sister, our neighbors, and “new friends” at the park.
I know I (too) often drop the ball on planning and organizing our homeschool days effectively and properly (especially these last two weeks). But, I know that tomorrow and next week are new chances to do better, and I try to remind myself that other learning and other growth are still happening, and in very real ways.
I have purposefully chosen a curriculum (Five in a Row) that isn’t strict, demanding, or time-consuming. It’s literature-based and each week has a sort of theme of activities. My main academic goal this year is not to have two fully reading children at the end of the year; instead it is to instill a great love of books and reading.Sending my twin daughters off to public school would likely be easier than our current situation, allowing me more time to myself, more time sleeping as I could nap while my younger two napped, more freedom with two less kids joining me at the grocery store, and more time to work on growing this blog.
But, I want them to be kids and that is best done at home. Because of that desire, it doesn’t matter how much easier than the alternative may be. Besides, my children are amazing and I am blessed to spend my days with them.
Thanks for this post, I enjoyed reading it. This is also the main reason we are homeschooling for second grade. Being in first grade at school all day was just too much for my son last year. He was at a great school and had fantastic teachers, and yet everyday he came home so overstimulated, almost “shut off” mentally. He was just too “done” to play creatively or extend mental effort. Now he spends much more time in trees and building ever more complex creations and creative writing and things he loves. Even the level of books he is choosing to read himself has made a huge jump. Kids, especially mine I am learning, NEED play and unstructured time. Homeschooling has been a great way for me to provide my children with exactly what they need. So far I think it is totally worth the work and effort, and I’m hoping I still feel that way when our newborn arrives this winter. I’d love to read more about your homeschooling and advice for handling it all with an infant along.
JEN Garrett says
It’s often assumed that I homeschool my kids. I guess I have that air about me. Even though I’ve chosen to send my kids to public school, I, too, feel that their education and parenting is my responsibility. Being a Mom is hard, and nobody can tell you the best way to do it. Well, except God.
Kudos to you.
Katelyn Fagan says
Thanks Jen! Good luck with being a Mom!
I think parents should check out their local school before making this decision. I am a kindergarten teacher in a public school. I have been teaching for 28 years. We play EVERY day. The children paint, build, create and explore. I do not send home homework and we do not do spelling tests. We are outside daily (weather permitting) and the children are actively learning about topics of interest to them. I differentiate based on needs and interests. I have several children reading on a second grade level so they make ‘projects’ based on books we choose together. I have several children not reading yet and that’s ok too. We work on pre-reading, reading, writing and math in meaningful contexts. I read a minimum of 6 books a day (one is a chapter book series that we get to one or two chapters a day). I have dramatic play, blocks and Legos, an easel and a wealth of science materials for the children to use, just to name a few activities provided. I don’t have desks…. we hardly sit at the tables (except by choice). We sing, dance, talk, play, and learn cooperation, patience, communication skills, turn taking, empathy and respect for differences. We have organizations from the community in frequently. We learned African drumming, how to make puppets, what is it like to be a paleontologist and have had several local authors visit this year so far. I think it is unfair to assume ALL public schools are not appropriate for young children and the decision between public, private and homeschooling is a choice that should be made after careful consideration with knowledge of the programs available in your community,
So touched by your post here! I too am beginning to homeschool my 5 year old who’s the oldest of 3, and sometimes it’s easy to feel nervous and wonder about what’s on the other side if we sent him to school. It would be easier, you are right. But, I LOVE how you said, we want kids to have as much time to play and be shaped at home at this age. That too is my goal right now, and I’m finding it’s so fun to watch the light bulb go on when he learns something. That I would also miss!
I know this is an older post but just wanted to comment. We were homeschooling our 5 yr old daughter up until last week. I’m spread thin with my 18month old and my daughter definitely needs more activity than I can currently provide. She’s very extroverted and loves having friends. We went and visited the public school out here and LOVED it. Every classroom we entered the children were singing, dancing, playing, or making crafts. They don’t have homework, just the teachers encourage reviewing sight words and reading aloud at home. I’m hoping to return to homeschooling for first grade after I can recover from a few personal things going on in my life. But even if she does go to public school first grade I think I’d be okay with it if I’m not ready to return to homeschooling. I wish I would have visited the school sooner… i was very impressed because in my head I thought all they did was “busy work” all day. The kids looked so happy there and she begs to go back every day. For right now, it’s a good choice for our family.