Friday, October 3, 2014

Contemplatng Preschool...Homeschool? Part One


The year: 2014
Age: 2.5
Question: Preschool

I had no idea that this would be the big question of the year. When she turned 2, I felt like I still had AGES to figure out preschool. But then the big question started popping up everywhere.

When her dad first asked, I brushed it off, saying we had plenty of time, but that I would spend the year researching. But then others started asking, friends, family, strangers in the checkout line at work. I started looking into the subject and began to realize that preschool age was fast approaching, and for some preschools, the age was NOW!

I quickly became overwhelmed with options: community center preschool, fancy preschool, all the different styles, how many days, price, location. I found a few that I liked with ideals compatible with my own. However, I still just didn't feel convinced.

Pricewise, everything seemed to be in the $300-$350/month range for two days per week, about four hours each day (with higher tuition for more days you choose). Considering I'm on a single mom's, part-time working mom's budget, this is quite an expense, even after splitting costs with her father!

Personality-wise, I felt like we needed more time to get over November's separation anxiety (which improves significantly every day!) and get her better integrated into groups with other kids before just dropping her off at her first day of school. I found a wonderful sounding school called the Community School of West Seattle, that only accepts students ages 3-5 who turn 3 before September (which would give us one more year!) Plus, they offer a weekly class for babies and toddlers called Messy Play where she could start group play at the school this year, and get used to other kids and the facility while I supervise and offer encouragement and comfort. However, this still costs money.

Time-wise, I would need to apply for most of these schools by early next year, if not sooner. Which means I really need to be convinced asap! And when it comes to my personal time, it makes me sad to think of losing even four hours of my time with her each week while she's at preschool. Being a single mom with an active father in her life means that I already spend a couple days a week without her PLUS the four days while I'm at work. I don't need any more breaks from her than I already have!

Controversial-subject-wise, I'm not sure I want to vaccinate any further. I know this is a really personal and touchy subject, and I make no judgments whatsoever on anyone else's decision to do/not do so. November has been on an alternative vaccination schedule that we designed with our naturopathic pediatrician, and is current through age 2. But lately I'm leaning toward discontinuing vaccinations and possibly not vaccinating future children (I won't explain why here, there is plenty of research and opinion all over the web about the subject. It's just my personal conviction at the moment.) Most preschools (and later grade schools) require vaccinations.

Can you see where I'm going with this? One option that eases my anxiety over the four considerations above is...Homeschool.

Homeschooling is another controversial subject that many people feel either very strongly opposed to or supportive of for varying reasons. The majority of people I talk to about the subject give me a look of horror at the very mention of the idea, saying how weird homeschooled kids are. But there are also a great deal of families who do homeschool, and have many good things to say about it.

Needless to say, while the homeschool idea eased my anxiety about a few considerations, it also brought up new anxieties and questions: Am I good enough to homeschool? Smart enough? Do I have what it takes? Will her father support it? Will my friends/family/partner support it? What if my future husband's kid goes to public school and mine is homeschooled, will that be weird? Will people think I'm a bad parent? Will this nourish her? Harm her? Will she love it or hate it? Will I love it or hate it? 

Personally, I have experience as a homeschooled (for a few years total, spread out throughout my educational life) kid that was both good and bad. Can I find a way to take the good without the bad? Can I balance homeschooling with social nourishment?

I'll say right now that I DON'T have all those answers figured out, but the more I thought about it, the more I figured it wouldn't hurt to start small and try it out. We can always change our minds one week, one month, three months, one year, six years, any time from now! So why not?

In part two, I'll explain the simple ways we are starting preschool at home.

Did you have a hard time deciding on preschool?

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