"I decided to do it a little different," she said.
We are in the homestretch of kindergarten and nobody could be happier about that than me. (In the past week we were tardy three times. Can school just be done now please?) (Before this we weren't tardy the whole year.) (Pretty much)
Even though we homeschool, sending Annie to public school kindergarten was the right decision for her, and it was the right one for Sam two years ago.
On this Art of Simple podcast, Susan Wise Bauer described homeschooling as simply taking charge of your child's education. You evaluate all of your options year to year, and decide each year how each child will best thrive. This makes a lot of sense. Many things change from year to year; giving yourself the liberty to re-evaluate every year is liberating, and protects from eventual burn-out.
Annie's year of kindergarten could not have been better. It was good for several reasons:
1. Because of the cost in our area, we didn't send her to preschool. Kindergarten gave her the experience of a classroom and being with other kids, for free.
2. With each of our kids, about the age of six, I felt very much that they were ready for a break from me. In need of one, even. Both Annie and Sam have autumn birthdays, so they were almost six and just very ready by the summer of kindergarten to escape the nest, in a small way. Kindergarten gave them some space for independence.
3. It was a good introduction to education. It would have been difficult for me to suddenly require sitting and doing lessons, but because it was a new context they adapted very quickly to school. This made my job much easier starting homeschool, because the foundation for what school is and expectations for learning were established- by someone other than me.
4. The structure of the school environment was great for the kids, and me. I admit this is the area I struggle with most. I dislike routine, I much prefer change. School provided the structure that I fail to give. Annie is my most creative child, but is most in need of routine. This could have a lot to do with being six, but is something I will need to be especially conscious of next year, and discipline myself to stick to a pretty steady homeschool day. (More on this later).
5. Becoming a part of the community. This is to me the greatest drawback of homeschool, and if we ever decide to return to public school it will be for this reason. It was good for Annie to make new friends, and I especially love the diversity of our local public school.
In short, Annie thrived in kindergarten. Maybe I'm not a homeschool purist, because in fact I feel torn between two good options next year. I am glad to have Annie home again and to begin homeschool with her, but a little sad, too, to be stepping out of our little elementary school and the families and great teachers we know there.
(More about our homeschool journey here)