She was–and continues to be–one of my homeschool heroes. She was one of the first moms I knew who homeschooled, and I will forever be grateful for her friendship, encouragement, and advice as our family began our homeschooling journey. I don’t remember where the conversation took place, but when she casually mentioned that one of her children was attending preschool, the thought that immediately flew into my head is crystal clear:
[mental gasp!] She’s cheating at homeschooling!
Now, of course, I didn’t voice that response. In spite of my shock, I continued our conversation as usual, as if my friend had just mentioned that she’d had scrambled eggs for breakfast.
Although I was obviously surprised that my homeschool hero friend had one of her children enrolled in preschool, I was disturbed and ashamed by the exclamation that had popped into my head. Why in the world would my immediate response take on an accusatory tone? At the time, I was homeschooling a very bright second grader (who needed lots of additional challenge), trying to force a 4K preschool curriculum on another very bright little boy who would rather just play (rookie mistake), and
herding nurturing a toddler who was intent on licking the clean dishes straight out of the dishwasher and pulling all the tissues out of the box. Why does she get help, while I’m juggling everything by myself? In retrospect, a better question to ask myself would have been, Why don’t I take a little help too?
To think that someone is–or even can–cheat at homeschooling is very, very silly. As a home educator, I should understand better than anyone that the choices parents make for their children’s education do not have to be black or white. Parents do not have to send all of their children to public schools. They do not have to send all of their children to private schools. If they choose to homeschool, that doesn’t mean that they have to keep their children by their sides 24/7 and completely shun any other educational institution. I was a newbie homeschooler at the time, though, and I hadn’t yet met anyone who did a mix-and-match style of education with their children.
My one-dimensional view of homeschooling was further challenged by listening to fellow Christian homeschooling moms on a favorite podcast, Inspired to Action. Kat Lee, the podcast host, talked about how each of her three children was in a different educational situation (one was in a private school, one was in a public school, and one was being homeschooled) and why it worked for them. (I believe it’s episode #38: The Great School Debate.) In another podcast, another mom (who happened to be a pastor’s wife) talked about how she put her children in private preschool and Kindergarten and then began homeschooling them in first grade. She explained that she did it not only because her children enjoyed and benefitted from their time in preschool and Kindergarten, but she also valued her sanity–she enjoyed a bit of a break from that challenging age group and appreciated the help in getting them started on learning how to read.
Friends, I have a confession to make: I am going to be cheating at homeschooling this coming school year.
It took a while for me to wrap my head around it, and it also took some effort on my part to convince Dan that it will be worth giving a try, but we enrolled Logan in a preschool for the 2017-18 school year. He’s going to be attending a darling Christian preschool that is within biking distance from our house. I mentioned in this post how my greatest struggle in the 2016-17 school year was keeping Logan safe and constructively entertained while still managing to care for Theo and do school with the big boys. This solution, enrolling Logan in preschool, will not only be fun and beneficial for him, but I am hoping that it will also allow me a small break twice a week.
The idea of preschool has already been a blessing to our family. When it came time to potty train him, we used preschool as an additional motivator. “Logan! If you learn to use the potty every time, you will be able to go to preschool in the fall!” As soon as we congratulated Logan on using the potty like a big boy, the first words out of his mouth were, “Now I get to go to preschool and eat candy ALL DAY LONG!” (Hmm… I think his concept of preschool is a wee bit off.) Our plan is to bring Logan home for first grade, possibly earlier.
Now, I should add several disclaimers. I’m having a bit of anxiety about putting Logan in a traditional school setting, even though both of his brothers had a blast in 3K. To make preschool work with our CC schedule, I actually had to enroll Logan in a 4K class, so most (if not all) of the kids will be older than him. (He passed a screening in order to do this, but I still worry.) Will he play nicely with the other kids? The germs! Will he behind the other kids in terms of skills? The germs! Does bullying start at that age? The germs! Will it actually be more convenient for me, or will it mess with our schedule and be a chore to drop him off and pick him up? What if they use reading instruction methods that do not jive with the reading program I use and love? And did I mention the germs? Because of all of these concerns, I received assurance from the administration that we can enroll Logan in preschool on a trial basis. If we decide that it’s not a good fit for him or us, we can bring him home again, and all we’ll be out is the tuition for the time he participated and our registration fee. If I had to guess, though, I think it’s going to be just great.
Oh, and that statement up there in bold? How I am going to be cheating at homeschooling? I hope you realize now that I’m just being goofy. You can’t cheat at homeschooling. We’re all just trying to make the best choices for our kids, right?
What will your school year look like? Are you excited for anything in particular? Please tell me about it in the comments!