Wednesday, September 11, 2013

How I started Homeschooling & why we switched to public school

If you have been a reader of my blog for a while, or even since the beginning then you know that I have homeschooled my extremely gifted daughter since she was 2 years old. Yes, I said two! She was making full conversations with us by age 14 months, at about 2.5 years old she asked me to teach her to read. "okay I thought, I can do this I think, but HOW" So I started studying on it.
First we made a classroom. Now, if you homeschool you know when I say 'classroom' I didn't go and rent a commercial space, I didn't even have a whole entire room to turn into a classroom (I do know a friend that does and it is just LOVELY!) but, we took a little corner of the kitchen/dining area, and set up shop. We bout our supplies; arts and crafts mainly, color books (remember she was not yet 3 years old so basic skills come first), I studied online and chose the abeka program mainly because my mother had used it on my two younger homeschooled brothers and I knew it worked. So, I ordered the 'little reader' books I believe they are called and let me note; if you look on ebay for these items you can find them extremely reasonable, because lets face it, kindergarten curriculum just isn't all that strenuous and much of the stuff is like new for that age. I also started some internet research and started a folder to save any great websites I found. One that I used a lot for printouts was  they have a free site, games, and all kinds of free printouts!
So we started, and she loved it! She would beg me to start school as soon as she woke up, then after we did it she would get upset when it was over for the day. At the time I was pregnant, so some days I was suffering morning sickness and not able to do it, she would get upset then too. Let me just say, My little L is a very passionate learner! We did the ABC'S first. We used flashcards and she learned the letters, numbers up to 20, and shapes so fast, I was literally amazed at her. I realized her brain was like a sponge and anything I gave her she would pick up on so fast. This is where I started to worry if, when the new baby came, I would be able to keep up with her.
Her brother, my son, little Jack arrived in December 2011, and L was 3 years old by then, almost 4. She was such a great big sister even from the very first time she came to visit him in the hospital and had my parents stop at the gift shop because she HAD to get her new brother a gift. (she picked him out a nativity snowglobe that you can turn the light on in it and she thought it was so cool for him lol) She immediately helped at home with everything,but the homeschooling did start to fall off; and I could tell she was having issues adjusting to the new baby, splitting time with her mom and my attention giving to the baby, and also the fact that her homeschooling routine had been disrupted.
So, I found a co op group to take her to, and this was awesome! We met I believe once or twice a month, she had a class she'd go to, and weekly we would meet up for picnics or playdates. It was great to get out with both kids and have a place where she could learn and have social interactions, with specialized attention on her and not her brother also.
Well, along came the time to decide on sending her to preschool or not. We prayed about it. And I'm going to be honest here, I thought to myself 'how cool would it be to only have ONE child to care for and get a bit of a 3 hour a day break' I did! And there is nothing wrong with that thinking. Us mothers do so much we need breaks, especially with a new baby in the home. So we decided to give it a test run. She rode a little bus we had to sign her onto and off of, she went 3 hours in the morning, and loved it! She was learning new things (she was easily already the most advanced in her class, writing and reading her name and many sight words), the teacher told us she was always the 'leader' in the class and often organized the 'cleaning up', and of course that made me one proud mama! So, the trial run because a full year of preschool!
And as you can guess, kindergarten came next. I was much more hesitant here. The preschool had been in a daycare, not a public school. So we went to the open house and I think the principal probably thought I was insane with the amount of questions that I asked her; security, what happens in this and that case, how they do this or that, what was this, how did that work, ect. ect. but she was so nice. I explained to her my concerns, coming from a homeschool background where we learned bible principles, memory verses, and prayed over our food also, I was concerned about her transition into full time school. Another trial run we decided.
Well, the first day was emotional. I took her to school, took her to her class, and kissed my daughter goodbye. She was now in the hands of a stranger to care for her safety, be the head of her learning, and responsible all day for the care of my daughter.
I have to say, the teacher so far (about 6 weeks) has been amazing! The school has strict safety procedures, and even though they started off slow and we had a moment of being 'concerned' she was not being challenged enough, they have since moved on to some 'private groups' that are individualized learning. So she does get to flex her muscles in learning and she loves it there.
Ill never forget the first day taking her in and I took her to eat breakfast. I automatically wanted to grab her tray, fork, napkin, milk, ect. but I quickly realized that I had to step back and watch my very small little girl do all this on her own. And at this point is when I realize my little girl wasn't so little anymore, but this was her first huge milestone. So as I snapped my photos and watched her load that first tray, a tear came to my eye. I knew this was the next stage of her life and who was I to allow my anxiety to hold her back.
There is so much she is learning that I wouldn't even THINK to teach her! I am so far very pleased with the school, and they keep constant contact with us, in fact after the second day of school the teacher personally called me to tell me how good my daughter was and some specific instances of her being helpful.
So, can I say we will never pull her out and homeschool her again? No I can't. But for right now, I can say that she is happy and being well taught at public school.
Also, I am proud to say she does bow her head at lunch time and she prays for her food! That girl is going places!



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