After finding out I was pregnant with Pinky my mind couldn’t stop thinking about the future. It was moving 100 miles a minute developing questions I did not know how to answer. As parents, I think it’s just what happens. We have this dire need to protect our babies before they even leave the womb. We have a desire to love them and provide for them in every way possible.
One of the questions Daddy and I used to discuss frequently was “where are we going to send her to school?” We wanted the best for her. Then, just like that she turned 3 and we were expecting baby #2! Though we had researched many preschool options we decided to go with a local Christian Preschool that was recommended by a good friend. And to our delight, we felt we made the right choice, granted it took a little getting used to. Pinky was so happy there. I remember her first day of school like it was yesterday. I missed her; I wondered what she was doing, what her little hands were creating, if she crying. Was she making friends? Were the teachers being nice to her? What was I missing out on?
At the end of the day I realized that she was ready; she loved making new friends and learning new things. It dawned on me that it was beneficial for her to have a few hours away from Mommy, and little brother, so she could find a way to shine on her own… so she could come home and tell me all about her day, bright eyed and all. It was bitter sweet and happening so fast, but I loved seeing the twinkle in her eye when I’d come to pick her up and take her home.
Preschool is for Parents
Pinky went on to stay at that school until the summer before starting kindergarten. It was a joy to see her grow both socially and academically, and even spiritually. In those first years of preschool, I learned a lot as a parent. I learned that she absolutely loved art! I learned from her teacher how to let her just be a kid and how to nurture her talents. I learned more about Pinky just watching her sing songs of praise to God, playing with her friends and saying goodbye to them. I started to uncover the things she didn’t like too. What made her tick and what made her happy. It was a great experience for the both of us. I also enjoyed volunteering and being there for special events and sometimes for a few hours during school just because. I know not every parent has that luxury, but I was blessed to, so I took it. I became a very involved parent. Something I didn’t know I could be. In fact, I learned that as much I wanted her to learn from others, I wanted to continue to be a part of that process too. They say parents are their children’s first teachers, and you know what? It’s true! And for me, preschool was just as much for me, as much as it was for Pinky.
Not Ready for Public School
A year and a half of preschool came and went! Man they weren’t joking when they said kids grow up too fast. It was time for kindergarten, and I still didn’t feel ready or even confident about sending my kid to a new school. We could have kept her at the private school, but it just wasn’t in our budget. So we were on a new search.
Even though there was a brand new school opening up in our district with new rooms, iPads and playgrounds, something didn’t sit right with me about sending her there. And please, don’t get me wrong, I personally don’t have anything against public schools; I just didn’t know if it was the right fit for my daughter. I struggled with this because I went to a public school and did okay. I was in ASB and I had great grades, I loved school… but this isn’t about me. I had heard of schools that encouraged self learning, art, entrepreneurship and technology. I wanted to make sure all those things were available for her to explore at any given time. I wanted to know she’d be encouraged to be a good person and not just a good student. I wanted her to have an outlet for her creativity and not be limited. I wanted so much for her, and still do.
So, What Did I Do?
I signed her up for the new school. Just in case I didn’t find anything else in time. As summer began I actually considered homeschooling full time, another thought that never crossed my mind before having kids. I was going to be the working mom who dropped her kids off at daycare while building an empire in high heels and a suit. That is seriously how I thought this life of mine would look like. Not the case, and that’s okay with me now, really it is. I looked up some homeschooling options, asked some friends who were already doing it and became overwhelmed. I soon began to think I was in way over my head. Then, I remembered charter schools.
What About Charter Schools?
Charter Schools are a part of the public system, but they are afforded more flexibility. Your family has more of a choice about the way your children learn and how they learn. During my days in high school, charter schools had a bad rep. They were labeled as the place where “bad kids” went to finish school. Things have changed, and for good. I loved the idea of having a choice and a voice. Now the problem would be making a decision.
Many charter schools will have a waiting list because they are typically smaller than a fully funded public school. They need to apply for grants and reevaluate attendance every year and make sure they have enough funds to take on more students, because more students mean more teachers. Plus, their student to teacher ratio is a little less than public schools.
To make a long story short, we signed up for one charter school and we were enrolled in the new school down the street. On top of that I was trying to convince myself I was prepared to home school for a few months until we got into the charter school of choice. We really wanted her to get in; Daddy was convinced from the website and the orientation that this was the best school for our Pinky. I was excited too. They are a project based learning school and they place a high value on social learning and field study in order to achieve academic excellence. It was a great mix for us. After understanding my daughter’s needs more, this was it. I was also interested in their co-op learning programs where I could partially home school Pinky and still get her to school for social interaction. I wanted to at least give it a try.
Finally, the email of acceptance came and a burden had been released from our shoulders.
Why I Chose to Partially Homeschool
When I told my mom Pinky would be home with me on Mondays and Fridays, the questions came a pouring in! Actually, a lot of people asked me why she had no school on those days. Why were you homeschooling? Doesn’t she need to be at school every day? Won’t she be missing out? What do you do when she’s at home?
It was frustrating for me to try and answer all the questions and avoid the negative comments. My mom isn’t usually one to butt in, but when it comes to her grandkids, “move B!@$# get out the way!” So here it is… it took me a while to really think about and even understand it myself, but I think it’s the best choice for us right now. Here are my reasons, but they don’t have to be yours…
I wanted to keep her a little longer. You know that book, “If I could keep you little.” Yeah, that’s why. It’s a little selfish but it’s mutually beneficial. She loves being at home more and spending time with me, and little brother. It wasn’t an easy decision. I often questioned if she would miss out on things happening at school, and of course she does, but the time we have with our kids is short. I wanted her home; I wanted to teach her things, things she would only learn from being at home.
I wanted to incorporate our culture and values in her learning. Living in a generation that has seemed to completely thrown culture and values out the window, I felt I didn’t have a choice. I want my kids to grow up learning about their culture as well as the cultures of others. I want them to embrace their differences and accept others. This is definitely an area I can improve in, but I believe her just being at home and watching us is one way to share this. Plus, she gets to practice more life skills when at home a few extra days; she can complete her chores when she’s not tired from a long day at school.
I want to get to know her better. Teaching my daughter and allowing her to teach me things helps us explore different ways of learning. We don’t always have a structure, but I try to have a game plan. I ask her what she wants to learn about and we go from there. It’s not always easy, and it’s not always peaceful but we get to learn what works and what needs improvement. We get to communicate more and understand each other a bit more as a result. Plus, her teachers are there for support when needed.
I wanted to save a trip. Okay, this is another selfish reason, but it’s also an economical one. Even though her school is only 10-15 minutes away it takes me about 45 minutes to go to and from school. If I get out and walk her to class and wait for the little guy to get off the swings, that’s an hour. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes I plan a day at the park nearby or we go for a walk at the shopping center across the street. These days, especially since I’m staying home I try to minimize our trips on the road to save gas.
We get to do fun things! Things that we would otherwise have to wait until the summers to do, like go to Sea World, or take a day trip to Old Town, the beach anywhere without having to fight big crowds. I really enjoy making home school fun when I can.
Flexibility. Okay, so it’s not flexible in the sense that I had originally thought. At first I was thinking we could “co-work” together, but I learned very fast that wasn’t the case. In my family, I need to be completely out of the house in order to get any work done. When we work on a project I need to give her my undivided attention. With her little brother at home, it’s an even bigger challenge, but we make it work. Conducting experiments are the best with both kids.
Every family is different. This is just how I chose the right school for my kids. Things may change along the way, but this seems right for us at the moment.
How did you choose where your kids will go to school? Or how do you think you will you choose? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.