Monday will be the first day of school for me and for Grace. I am starting my 21st year of teaching and Grace is starting kindergarten. If you read my previous post on the subject you know that we have really struggled with where Grace would be attending kindergarten. Would it be a traditional public school classroom or would it be our kitchen?
I want to say that I was very grateful for all of the really constructive feedback we got on both sides of the argument. We certainly could see the pros and cons in both situations. We also received advice from people with a wide variety of experiences. We heard from people who were public school teachers, parents whose kids had only attended public school, people who had done public and homeschool, people who homeschooled some of their kids but not others, and adults who had been homeschooled themselves and lived to tell about it.
After all that advice we had pretty much decided that no matter where Grace went to school she would probably be OK. But we don't want just OK for Grace, or any of our kids. What parent does? They are just too precious for just OK.
Ultimately the decision came down to one small voice of reason: Grace.
"Grace, do you want to go to school for kindergarten with other kids like you did last year or do you want to stay home and do school here with Daddy?"
"I want to stay home."
That's our Grace. Our sweet little homebody. Even while we were on vacation every few days she asked when we were going home. So that's what we're doing for now. Grace will stay home and do school each day after lunch while everyone else naps. Lot's of people expressed concern about how in the world Brian could squeeze in homeschooling with 5 other kids to take care of during the day. When you take out calling roll, recess, lunch, potty breaks, and all the other things you have to do just to keep order in a classroom full of 20+ kindergartners, the academic side of school really only takes 45 to 60 minutes a day. Plus, I can fill in on bits and pieces in the evenings, weekends and holidays.
We also think it will have a lot of benefits for Haven. We worried a lot about how he would react to being "left behind" if Grace went off to school each day. He can do some of the lessons right along with Grace and some of them modified to a pre-k level. And he won't have to spend everyday missing his best friend.
I feel really good about our decision. While everyone else with school aged kids has been standing in line buying school supplies and clothes, we've been enjoying our last few days of summer vacation with no rushing or stressing. On Monday morning we do not have to get Grace out of bed before light, hurry to pack a lunch, fight with her over getting dressed. In fact, she might not need to get dressed at all to go to her school. She just has to roll out of bed and walk into the kitchen. We've done a small renovation in our kitchen to create a place that is officially our classroom area. I'll do a post on that once it's all done and the paint has dried.
I know a lot of you probably think that homeschool equals non-school, but that is definitely not the case. We've picked out a curriculum package from a company called Timberdoodle. They put together collections of books/manipulatives/workbooks/science labs that are similar to what might be used in a regular classroom. But quite frankly it looks a look more rigorous and well rounded than what I picture being done in most public schools. We also plan to add in a foreign language component with something like Let's Go Guang so that Grace can start to learn Chinese. And to round out the day we'll be using some online programs including ABCMouse.com and Starfall.com
On Monday morning I will get up and ready before the light, quietly kiss Grace and all the rest of my babies on the cheek and head out to my classroom to start a new year of school. There will be a hundred things to do and a hundred more to worry about. Thankfully, Grace will not be one of them. She will be happily surrounded by her siblings at breakfast and she will be sitting next to her best friend Haven as she starts her first day of school with the best teacher I could hope for her to have, her daddy. She is in a good place, in good hands. It's going to be a good year.