Tuesday, August 16, 2011

the kindergarten year

There has been lots of talk about kindergarten around here lately. Our third child, who has turned five in April, is starting his kindergarten year in just a few short weeks.

Then there is my sister, who is 'boldly' keeping her almost five year old at home this year for a kindergarten year, despite the pressure and incessant questioning of those in her community. This will be her first experience with homeschooling and I am so pleased to have her join me on this path.

There is pressure. There are expectations; expectations from strangers, friends and family. It is hard to know which path to choose. There are fears about short-changing our children or 'ruining' them by not giving them what they need. People ask what they will be learning. They ask if I have teaching degrees. They want to know if they will be able to go to school easily after being home schooled. They wonder if we stay home all day and if my children have friends.

I would like to believe that most of the questioning is coming from a well-intentioned place. I think that most of it is just plain curiosity about another way of educating one's children. But a lot of it is certainly coming from a place of disapproval and a sheer terror on their part upon meeting someone who is not 'following the rules'.

I have spent a lot of time reading, pondering, praying and discussing just what this kindergarten year should and could be like. We have done is differently with each child thus far and I have learned so much about what I believe homeschooling to be about. I know that it is more about family than school and more about character and habits than academics.

And so far I also know that I am certain it will be a year free of formal academics. I know that I want it to be a quiet, magical year filled with loads of time. No rushing. No pressure to learn to read. Very little seat work. Lots of time outdoors. Lots of time spent practicing practical activities. Many good stories. Time with family.

More than that, I want it to be a time when I dig deep to tap more fully into that well of patience, energy, wisdom and discernment. There is a reservoir I know that for sure, it's just the accessing of the resources that takes so much deliberation.

I am no stranger to having my children by my side during throughout the day. There is always someone eager to help in the kitchen; someone asking to pour the pancake batter or add the eggs. There is always someone who just needs to take out the art supplies and draw, paint or cut paper right after I've cleaned up the table. And always a child or two or three just itching to go outside to play even when it's wet, muddy, cold or steaming hot right when my mind is checking the laundry off of my mental to-do list.

But this is the life that I've chosen and what good is it if I cannot afford them the gift of time (and laundry)!?

I came across this blog post by Elizabeth Foss and thought it gave an amazing glimpse into what life at home with a young 3-6 year old might look like for those of us choosing to home educate.

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