Ready for College in Kindergarten Blog series

I decided to write a blog series for my Child-led Learning blog when my oldest son began school for the first time this past August at CPCC. I have now written two posts.

You can find them here:  Background: How we choose to homeschool

and:  My son’s first day of school

Here is the beginning of the post entitled, My son’s first day of school:

On August 19, 2014, my 16-year-old son attended school for the very first time.

I began homeschooling my son Harrison from the time he was “school-age” or as I like to say, we have always been learning through living, it just took me time to realize that and to label it.  We began homeschooling with limited financial resources and thus my motivation to do so without buying an expensive curriculum.  Looking back, I am glad I did not have the disposable income to warrant buying “expensive curriculum”.  He began early reading at age 3 1/2 and had already begun to write letters before that.  The first letter he ever wrote was an “s” with chalk on the sidewalk after watching us write “stop” over and over again.

Before I go too far off tangent, did you miss that?

The first letter he drew was the letter “S”.

Read more here: My son’s first day of school

And here is the other  post  Background: How we choose to homeschool:

I decided to homeschool my first-born, Harrison when he was about 4 years old.  I never realized that homeschooling was an option until I met some mothers at a La Leche League meeting who homeschooled their children.  Harrison was an infant at that time and school was a long way away but the idea was planted in my head and my curiosity led me to learn more.   I also got to know these women more and met more women who homeschooled their children.

I was working full-time when Harrison was born.  Not knowing how hard it would be to go back to work after my 12-week maternity leave, I had agreed to this before I was even pregnant as my husband was starting a new business and so when he was born, my income was our only income.  My goal had always been to eventually reduce my work hours to be home more.  Becoming a mother took some time for me, but by the time he was 3 months old, I was securely bonded and my goal was to help my husband’s business grow so that I could work less and eventually even be home full-time.

He was 2 years old when I made the big jump and went part-time at work. And when his sister was born 4 years after he was, I was finally able to really reduce my hours.  Harrison did attend a few mothers- morning- out (MMO)  church-based “preschool programs”. But let’s call it what it really was part-time daycare.  My husband juggled working from home and caring for our infant son while I worked a 32 hour week.  And when he reached the age, where my husband needed more time for his business, because after all, he needed to grow it in order for me to be home more, we first were able to hire our wonderful neighbor to watch him on occasion when my husband needed to leave the house while I was at work.  And then she went back to work full-time and couldn’t help us out and so we first tried to find another in-home caregiver to come about once or twice per week for a few hours when my husband had to be out at a meeting.  That didn’t work out.

So we found a church “parents morning out” “preschool” program based on recommendations from some other people we knew.  Don went to check out two places and picked one.  I wanted to be more involved with picking the location but for the most part,  I entrusted him for this task.  He told me about each and we picked the one that sounded warmer and more loving.  We weren’t looking for “preschool”, he was only one, but at the time, we called it that.  I think it felt better to say that than part-time daycare.  In reality, what we wanted was a loving atmosphere for him to be a few hours a few days per week while we worked.  They were affordable.  I had taken a pay cut to work only a 32 hour week rather than 40 and we needed to be thrifty.

Harrison attended 3 different programs from the age of one until he was 4 1/2.  And then, I was working much less, his sister was a new-born and we did not enroll him for the fall when he turned 5 (but with his November birthday, this would have been a pre-K year) and we embarked on our homeschool journey- officially.  We did attend a meeting for a brand new local charter school that same year, but when the meeting was over, I knew I was making the right choice to homeschool.

Harrison was in his “preschool” program for part-time daycare and not to learn things.  It was challenging to drop him off when he was older and wanted “one more hug” and cried when we left.  I was fortunate that my husband did all the drop-offs in the early years and I got to pick him up on some days.  If it had been me dropping him off, I might have told my husband, “I am quitting work, you need to find a job.”   And he would have supported me.  He had already offered this when I discovered that going back to work with a new-born son, was not what I wanted to do.    But I wanted him to grow his business because he went into it to be his own boss and because the job he had before involved traveling 2 or 3 week out of each month.  We didn’t want “other people” to raise our children. We choose to be parents because we wanted to spend time with our children and “parent” them, especially to be there for them in the early years.

Harrison made a few friends at “preschool” but did not really enjoy it until he was 3, turning 4.  I guess he enjoyed it some in the former years. We loved his teacher when he was 2-3 but then changed locations because we moved and found one very close to our house.  The change was hard for him in that it was changing.  But the new preschool, I visited, intending for him to be in the 2 days per week class, but once I met that teacher, I wanted another option and also met the teacher for the 3 days per week class.  I really liked the other teacher and so we enrolled him in her class, even though it was 3 days per week. But I felt she was loving and supportive and made the best substitute for us, his parents, as best as you can “substitute” for a parent.   He was turning 4 in November but going in the 3-year-old class.  I considered asking to put him in the 4-year-old class because well, he was recognizing words at age 3 1/2 and academically more fitting for the 4-year-old class.  But I did not even ask because I knew that he was there for part-time daycare and not to “learn academics”.  I saw by spending time with him, that he was learning at home with us and due to his natural curiosity.

I was pregnant with our second child, working part-time for a home health company which gave me flexible hours and the ability to do most of my paperwork from home.  Harrison was in the “3-year-old class” with about 5 other boys and 1 girl who was there occasionally.  He developed a fast friendship with one other boy, the only other one who could speak clearly.   Most of Jason’s other “friends” in preschool were usually girls, I think merely because they spoke clearly like him and he could understand them. And his temperament was calm and he just got along well with girls.

 

He was quickly “labeled” by his teacher.

She was making an effort to get the other boys to sit and hold a crayon and Harrison went up to the clipboard at the entrance of the room and asked her “What is “sign in?”

He was able to write letters and was beginning to read. He was also almost a year older than many of the other kids in the class which just magnified the learning differences.

We got called into a “teacher conference” because he turned the faucet so that the water ran off the counter and onto the floor.   She was not mad at him but figured he was doing this because he was curious.  We agreed with the teacher but when my husband and I went home and talked further, I realized the more likely truth.  He was bored and wanted attention and curiosity.

We loved Miss Debbie and he really enjoyed that year of “preschool” more than any other especially after his sister was born in February and he knew that mom was home with his baby sister.  Somehow knowing I was home, made going to preschool much easier for him.  It was likely also the fact that he was now nearly 4 /12 and more ready for this type of environment as well as the fact that I was home and picking him up  and life was more predictable.    My work scheduled had always varied week to week and who picked him up at preschool changed each day.   Harrison has always been a child who likes to know the plan and needs a warning for change.

We also saw from that year of “pre-school” that even though he had fun experiences and learning, because, well, we are ALWAYS learning, but that he did not NEED preschool to learn.  The seed for homeschooling had already been planted and I was around people often who homeschooled and so I was still researching but rather certain of my intention to homeschool that entire year.

Every child learns differently.  Learning to read and write naturally varies just like learning to walk and to talk does.  Yet, for some reason, we think all kids need to learn to read by age 6 or 7, well that is how it used to be.  Now the push is for age 4 or 5 at the latest!  I still have my kindergarten report card from 1975-1976.  It has on it:

cuts with scissors, shares, recognizes the letters of the alphabet, and other early learning skills.

I went to college with a partial academic scholarship and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Occupational Therapy.  No one pushed me to read early.  I did not have homework in kindergarten and very little in the early years from what I remember.   Why do kids today “need” to learn to read earlier? Why are we pushing them to do academics at a younger and younger age?  Does anyone ever stop and think if that is really necessary?

Yes, my child was an early reader but not because he was forced to.  Because it came natural to him and his learning style and we spent time with him on his areas of interest and allowed him the time to really pursue those interests.   And my second child was not reading on her own until she was 6 (and that I still consider on the early end) and she was not spelling and writing sentences on her own until she was 9 and for her that was normal.  Sure I worried some, most likely because my first child was really early,  but I didn’t even realize that until I had the second child.  But I had educated myself on natural learning and surrounded myself with support and resources and learned to trust that she would learn when she was ready.   WE never had writing assignments nor spelling lessons, nor little required academic work.  And I am glad I did.  She now is an avid writer! She loves writing. She has written many poems and stories and writes a blog.  She also loves reading.

I do wonder, if I would have homeschooled had one of my other children been born first instead of my son.  For with him the decision was easy.  He would have been bored out of his mind in kindergarten. He was doing “kindergarten academic skills” before he was even of the age of kindergarten.   He did have some other delays.  We will save that for another post.

I do know that I would likely have migrated to homeschool, had I not started there.   But, I did not have that path and so we will never know.  I have the experience that I did have and I can only share my experiences with others.  I share because if my sharing helps even one other person than it was worth my time.  And for me, writing about my experiences is my passion.    I write because I must.  It helps me be a better parent to write about parenting and homeschooling and I feel it is my calling.

I am a perfectionist by nature and the 20-year-old me or maybe even the 30-year-old me would pre-read everything I write and hold onto it for a while and reread and rewrite before maybe sharing it.  I know this post could be better organized and I know I went off topic and could take some of it for another post.  Yet, as I have unschooled my children, I have also unschooled myself.

I have learned that it is better for me to post it now and let go of the “imperfections” knowing I can always edit it later.  It is better for me to share it now, before I “chicken-out” on sharing it at all.  (I have 35 years worth of journaling and writing that I have mostly kept to myself.)

I leave you with a piece of advice that I learned years ago at La Leche League and find it applies to so many situations in life:

Take what works for you, and leave the rest.