Okay, I've been wanting to get all this out in one place for awhile, so here it goes, and please forgive any lack of organization to these thoughts.
Miss Amy, as the older child, has and will always bear the brunt of the majority of my parenting angst. I spent what seemed like ages deciding whether or not to buy her a baby jumper (I did not). I charted her breastfeedings and naptimes, fretted over weaning, fought over bedtimes, deliberated over pretty much every hurdle or milestone she was approaching. Not that she has been a difficult kid, and I don't think I've been an overly anxious parent, but let's just say that I've always taken my job seriously, and since these kids are my job, I take it all very seriously. William, being of a slightly more relaxed disposition and the younger child, has not required quite so much analysis, since each new thing with him is not quite as new as it was once.
Therefore, as Amy's kindergarten year approaches, I have been giving the subject an excruciating amount of thought. There are three, maybe four options on the table. Briefly, they are:
- Homeschooling. I keep tripping over people who are taking this route these days. It is highly appealing, very convenient, and Amy likes the idea.
- Private Kindergarten. This would be a continuation at the same Christian preschool Amy is attending now. They offer kindergarten that is basically half-day plus lunch (8:30-1:00). Costs as much as a nice car payment, but the familiarity, small class, and religious education are big factors in its favor.
-Public School. It's right up the road, and is apparently very good. It also, as far as I can tell, has no windows. School starts early and kindergarten is full day.
-Public School, but making myself a squeaky wheel and creating an arrangement where Amy only attends part-day, or cherry-picks activities, or some such highly persnickety situation. I have heard of it being done.
Also worth noting, as background for those who may not know me or her that well:
- I attended public school. A very good public school. I never moved as a child, never had to change schools. I can't say I really liked school, but I didn't dislike it either, and on the whole it was a positive experience. It was also a stressful one, and sometimes I feel like I'm still recovering.
- Amy will be an old kindergartner. Her birthday is at the beginning of November, missing the September 1st cutoff for school by a good margin, but nevertheless, she will be going on six by the time this rolls around.
- Regardless of what we do for this coming year, the following year will be completely different, as we will be moving in the summer of 2014 and the whole thing will be up for evaluation again.
Around Christmas I think we were all really tired, and when we took a couple weeks off to go to CT I found myself really wanting to ditch the school routine all together. The biggest hang-up for me, regarding school in any institution besides home is the resulting enslavement to The School Calendar. We do not live near our families at all and don't get many chances to see them. I love the idea of being free to travel when convenient, rather than having to wait for school breaks. I also live in fear of The Alarm Clock, and there is a part of me that hates the idea of having to wake up children and rush them through the morning to get to school on time. Perhaps that reflects a larger time management issue I have, but nevertheless, that's how it always feels. And lastly, public school? eh?? It's not what it was, even when I was a kid. What on earth do kindergartners need to do for 6-7 hours away from home? There will be time enough for friends and school and independent lives... must that all start at age five?
That's my homeschooling argument.
I have full confidence in my ability to bestow a kindergarten education on my daughter. She already knows how to read and we are covering math concepts at home that she wouldn't even touch till later in kindergarten. I have books, I am a smart and organized person. We have a chalkboard. Amy loves worksheets. We live near a big city with lots of resources. All this I could do.
But what does Amy spend most of her time talking about these days? Her classmates, and the games they play on the playground at recess.
I can't provide her that at home.
There are networks, I know. There are classes, there are neighbors, there are activities. We can do all these things but when I assess my own introverted personality and our family's light social calendar, I wonder if day upon day home with Mom would really be in Amy's best interest, even if she professes that to be her favorite place (as it was mine).
So that brings us around to school in an institution, of some kind. Since I still can't quite get excited about shipping her out from 7:30 to 2:30 every day at a public school, I find myself most often returning to the option of private kindergarten, at the same church-based children's center she attends now. It is a hefty chunk of change, but taking into consideration what we are already paying and Don's upcoming advancement this summer it wouldn't present a hardship. And it would represent an opportunity for continuity - should could return to her familiar school for another year and complete kindergarten, with their graduation ceremony at the end and everything, before we move off to someplace new.
I wish one could choose part-time school. I want to try homeschooling, I really do, but I don't want to do it at the expense of the experience of school, with all its ups and downs.
What do you think? I would really love feedback here. Enrollment for the private school is in one month, so that decision at least needs to be made soon. Anyone else spend as much time as I do thinking about all this? Let me know what your thought process is like.
Thanks a bundle for listening :)