Monday, July 12, 2010

Evaluating Kindergarten - Part 3

I didn't know that there was going to be a Part 3 to my evaluation of kindergarten.  Perhaps this would be better titled:  A New Thought About Home Educating.

I had a few epiphanies last week while sending Matthew to day camp.  Well, maybe 'epiphany' isn't quite the right word.  What I mean is this:  I don't know how all of you parents out there do it!!  This was my first experience of sending my kid out into his day for school-equivalent hours and I don't know how other parents do it...every day...for ten months of every year.

I say this from two perspectives, both of which have had an impact on me that is akin to having something dropped on my head.

First (and you seasoned parents may well chuckle at this notion), it was just plain hard getting my child up at that necessary hour and getting him ready to head out the door:  dressed; fed; and mentally ready to start the day.  A real flurry of activity happened every morning to make getting out the door possible, including lunch and snack packing, as well as a number of 'motivational' tools designed to prompt my child into action.  In this same vein, I'm not sure how parents cope with the time between school's end and bedtime.  I didn't even have homework to contend with, and still I found the whole getting-home-and-getting-dinner-on-the-table-to-be-followed-by-a-little-play-time-and-then-bedtime-routine thing intense.  All the while trying to maneuver a child who's not wound down enough for an 8:00 bedtime, much less the 7:00 bedtime he really appears to need.  For all parents out there who manage this routine day in and day out, for ten months of the year, wow - my hats off to you!

My second thought on the matter is the flip side of the same coin...and even more profound for me.  I don't know how parents do it from an emotional or parenting perspective.  As much as I enjoyed getting some things done around the house, as much as that provided opportunity for income-producing work, I just plain missed having my days with Matthew; and I think that, no matter how much fun he had at camp, he missed it, too.  And it's more than that, much more than that: I had very little opportunity to impact his life last week.  Does that sound weird?  Maybe it just seemed that way by virtue of contrast to the school year just ended, when I had lots of daily opportunity to impact his life (for better and for worse) simply because we spent practically every waking moment together.  Last week focused mostly on the necessary routine to the make the day (and bedtime) happen; we had, at most, about an hour to spend with him before he crashed.  I didn't like that a whole lot.

I get that homeschooling is not something that most people choose to do, for a variety of reasons.  I understand that and respect it.  I probably also have a greater appreciation for parents of school-attending children now, having had just a taste of what it might be like.  The experience of last week confirmed for me, though, our decision to do things a little differently in our family, even though our approach is nowhere near perfect either.  I confess that I don't want the experience of last week to be representative of our life for ten months of the year.  I want something different for Matthew, and for our family.  I love spending the first part of our mornings lying in bed or sitting in our library together, reading whatever story catches our fancy; to be followed by a leisurely and chatty breakfast in our pjs; to be followed (maybe) by getting dressed and getting started at 10:00 on a day that usually contains something educational, once in a while a field trip, maybe a playdate with friends, running errands, a trip to the library, a bike ride, a picnic lunch in the back yard or a park.

Homeschooling brings with it its own set of difficulties and complications, there's no doubt about it.  You're definitely going to hear me grouse about it from time to time (maybe a lot, who knows).  But I'm glad, at this moment, to be planning for grade one at home.

* Thanks, Joy, for sharing your thoughts.  I'm blown away that, being a future parent, you are ALREADY interested in homeschooling...I didn't know that I was interested until a few years ago, when Matthew was about three.  There are definitely pros and cons, and it can be really hard at times, but it can also be so rewarding. For example, I can't believe how lucky I am to be the one to teach my child to read!  That being said, I'm sure that lots of school-attending children are taught to read more by their parents than by the school that they attend, but it has been a pretty profound experience for me - I just never thought that I'd be the primary educator in that area; it's been a real delight for me.
* Darci, sounds like you can relate to the above!


  1. Thanks for this lovely post! I really believe in homeschooling for so many of those reasons, but not being a parent yet, I sometimes feel...I suppose not entitled to have much of an opinion about something like this...but everything I see and read just fits for me in this area.

  2. "I had very little opportunity to impact his life last week" Bingo! :)

  3. parallel lives again...(twilight zone music)

  4. Hi Ruth, I'm really happy for you that you've found the right schooling solution for you and your family. Wishing you a great summer and a wonderful year of grade one!


  5. By the way, I just finished "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" by Betty Smith (I see it on your list) and it was a LOVELY book. So glad to have the chance to read it!