February 20, 2013

Some Thoughts About Keeping Children Home for Kindergarten




It's that time of year, when parents begin to enroll their children in Kindergarten programs.  I feel like I need to shout "YOU DON'T HAVE TO DO IT!"

Sorry for yelling at y'all, but I really feel that Kindergarten is not always necessary or what's best for most children.  

Why?  Many reasons.  I shall list 4 of them for you.

1. Kindergarten is probably not the same as you remember.  

When I went to kindergarten, it was a half day program.  We had recess, snack time, and even a nap time where we rested on mats for 15 minutes while listening to soft music.  We did lots of art projects and listening to books, as well as pretending and exploring in different play centers.  

Kindergarten here these days is much different.  Here it is a full day program, with 20 min. for lunch and one 15 min. recess, outside if the kids are lucky.  A lot of time is wasted.  The kids are expected to sit in chairs or on the floor much of the day.  It's a much more academically focused program, which I would argue is not developmentally appropriate.  

If you are lucky enough to live in an area where Kindergarten is still half day and involves lots of play, then yes, that sounds like a fun place to be. 

2. You are your child's best teacher. 

If you are an educated stay-at-home mother, you will be able to teach your child better than a teacher who has 25 five year olds to try and keep in line, some of whom may not yet know their colors.  Kindergarten and even first grade classrooms rely heavily on parent helpers because the kids are all at such different levels and need lots of one on one help when learning beginning reading, writing, and math skills.  A lot of time is spent going around to each desk and helping each child complete worksheets.  At this stage, kids need individual attention.  Why not just do that at home?   You know your child best, you can give hugs and encouragement when needed, and you can teach to your child's skill level in the way your child learns best. 

3.  You will have much more time together to bond and make happy memories if you keep them home. 

Full day Kindergarten is a big commitment.  Your little one will be away from you for most of the day.  You will see them early morning and late afternoon, when they are tired and you are trying to get dinner ready.  Those are the worst times of day to try and do some bonding. Yes, the separation has to happen sometime, but there's no rush.

Also, the work achieved over a year in Kindergarten can be done much more quickly at home with one-on-one attention.  Especially during the first half of the year, the teachers focus a lot on classroom procedures and correcting behavior, skills which are easily picked up by older children if you choose to put your child in school at a later time.  

4.  Schools are not designed for little boys.

In my experience it's been true that in general little boys have a harder time sitting still than girls.  Why? I don't know. Somebody probably does.  My boys all have had a much harder time sitting in chairs than my little girl did.  At most public schools where Kindergarten is full day, the little boys have a really hard time controlling their bodies.  They just don't have any way to let the energy out.  They get in trouble for wiggling and moving and begin to think that they aren't good at school or that they're bad kids.  

When you keep your kids home, you can let your kids go run around for a while when you see that they are having a hard time concentrating. Then, when the wiggles are sufficiently let loose, you can resume some learning activities together.  

There are lots of things I love about homeschooling (some of which I've listed here).  There are drawbacks as well, but it's worth considering. 

In conclusion (a very long conclusion):

I'm not saying keeping your kids home is what everyone should do.  I'm not.  And if you send your children to Kindergarten I'll still be your friend.  All family situations are different and you know what's best for you and your child.  I'm just saying, don't feel like you HAVE to send them away.  

Did you know that in most states, Kindergarten is not even mandatory?  In general, kids who are that young don't need serious academic training away from home yet. It's optional for a reason.  Kids who come from families where the parents don't care about their kids' education and haven't taught them basic things will definitely benefit from the early education Kindergarten provides, but chances are, if you're reading my blog, you already take an interest in your child's education and have taught your child many things. 

When it was time to sign my oldest child up for kindergarten, I found myself thinking "Why am I sending her away?  I've already taught her to read, I enjoy having her home, she likes having time to read and play with her toys in her room, and having time to play with her brother.  Why does she need to go now?" If a half day kindergarten full of age appropriate play was offered, I probably would have sent her. But it wasn't available, so I decided to homeschool her for Kindergarten thinking I would send her to school the next year. Kindergarten went so well that we kept her home for first grade as well.  I home schooled her through 3rd grade.  We decided to try a public school for 4th grade.  She transitioned very well and is doing great.  She enjoys it and her teachers say she is a very conscientious student.  She has many friends and has not suffered in her social skills due to being kept home for the first several grades.  

To be completely honest, I must admit also that part of me didn't want to send her off to Kindergarten because I know how teachers become surrogate parents to those little ones.  It was one of my favorite parts of teaching, feeling like all of my students were "my kids".  There's a strong attachment, and I was a bit jealous thinking that someone else was going to be a mother to my little daughter, and perhaps more important to her than I was.  Not the best reason for homeschooling, but there it is.  I'm possessive.  :)  

You don't have to homeschool forever once you start! You can do it for just one year if you like.  I am so happy I kept my daughter (and sons) home.  Our relationship was strengthened and we have great memories of activities together.  I wouldn't trade those years for anything!  

Those are some of my thoughts on the Kindergarten thing.  Again, I'm not saying you need to keep your child home, I'm just saying that it's something to consider, ponder, and if you're religious, pray about.  You have options.  There are so many resources out there these days to show you what to teach and how to teach it if you want to keep your child home!  I'm going to do some posts here pretty soon about what I've been doing with Christopher in Kindergarten this year.  It's easy peasy stuff and I know you can do it too!  If you have any questions, I'd be happy to answer them.  And if you disagree with me, that's fine too.  I bet we can still be friends.  

Thanks for reading!

Erin


34 comments:

  1. Thanks for this post, it gave me a lot to think about. I don't have to worry about this quite yet, but when I do expect to hear from me! I have a wiggly little boy too. :)

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    1. I would love to talk to you about it any time! Even when you're far away in Florida or California.

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  2. Erin
    I enjoyed this. I didn't want Elizabeth to go to school all day in KY so I thought about homeschooling her until we moved to Utah. Then my neighbor said she was doing it half day. So I told the school I would get her at lunch. I admit it was a little crazy to do that for a few reasons but overall I never regreated it. She got to spend a lot of time with Ben in the afternoons and we got to walk when it was nice. I don't know whole day KG. I hope Maryanne doesn't have to do it in Baltimore....But I have a feeling it will be tricky.

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    1. Baltimore, eh? Sounds like an exciting move! Hopefully you can find some Kindergarten that will fit your family! Miss you guys!

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    2. Erin
      Just an FYI. we are planning to stop in Lexington on the way to Baltimore and I hope we can see lots of friends:) I miss it there too.
      Yes, we are excited because Johns Hopkins was our top pick and we have never gotten our first choice...but the school thing is making me a little sick.

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  3. Great post. I am so glad that I've had this time with Heidi at home and don't regret it one bit either.

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  4. When I first found out that kindergarten wasn't mandatory I was a bit shocked! That fact is not widely known. The closeness that is gained (between siblings and the kids and myself) has to be one of the greatest aspects about homeschooling for me. It's amazing how much we've all grown together!

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    1. I think people have the image of sending their little one off to Kindergarten so firmly in their heads that they don't consider that it's not mandatory and that it might not be what's best for their child. I didn't know it was optional until I started looking into homeschooling.

      And I agree about the family closeness. I love that my boys have lots of time to play together and that I get to share in their learning experiences.

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  5. Yup. It's true. Good thoughts. Kindergarten shmindergarten. I love being the one to teach my child to read and write. And it doesn't take very long. Kindergarten was an hour or less a day for Eliza last year.

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    1. Teaching reading is my favorite. I am able to get through Christopher's Kindergarten in about an hour also (if I'm not interrupted) and it's so rewarding.

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  6. Love this post Erin! I will be sharing it on facebook for sure! Thanks!

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  7. I absolutely agree with you! Here in Northern Ireland kids start the equivalent of kindergarten as young as 2yrs 10 months! And compulsory school at 4. Kids do need time to bond with parents and siblings before going into a group of 30 without knowing who they are yet. And I don't believe in homework for a 4-yo, either. I love listening to my children play and enjoy each other (they are almost 3 & just 5). We will see what the future brings, but for so many reasons, we are keeping them close as long as it feels right to us.

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    1. Wow that is young for compulsory schooling! I don't agree in homework for little ones either. Their work is to learn from play. Sometimes I delay the start of our "school day" if the boys are playing well together or doing a project. It's great to hear them working out problems together. Thanks for visiting and commenting!

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    2. Not quite as bad here in England. Compulsory education starts the school term after a child turns 5, but this is not well advertised as schools prefer everyone to start in Sept. In reality, most children do, at least, 15 hours a week from 3. Everyone seems in.such a hurry for their children to grow up and move onto the next step.

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    3. Yes, there's no need to rush them growing up! It happens so fast anyway. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

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  8. I agree with you Erin, I enrolled my daughter because I just never really entertained another option. But I wish I had read your post when she was three! She is six now and in her second year of homeschooling. WE LOVE IT!! My son is three and wants to go to school like his sister did. It breaks my heart, mostly, he just wants to ride the yellow school bus!

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    1. My little boy wanted to go away to Kindergarten also, mostly because his cousin was talking about starting and she was excited and he wondered why he couldn't go too. I told him we were going to have lots of fun together at home, and we have. Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

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  9. Hi! New follower. Followed you over from Sun Scholars Fri link up. My daughter is only 15 months old so I have a while before worrying about this, but I found your post very informative and it makes me question what I will do when she is of age to go to kindergarten. When I was in kindergarten back in 1987 it was 1/2 day, lunch, naps, play, no homework. I hear it has changed so much. I was just talking to a Mom the other day who told me her kindergartener gets lots of homework, including an assignment to create their own blog (viewed only be teacher, but still). I thought that was crazy, as did she! I didn't know many states don't make kindergarten mandatory. I will need to see if NC is one of those states so when the time comes I can consider my options.

    Jackie
    www.thenonmarthamomma.com
    www.facebook.com/TheNonMarthaMomma

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    1. A blog for a kindergartener? Wow. Sounds more like an assignment for the parent than for the child.

      And do look into it when the time comes! I think most people just don't even consider it. And even if it is mandatory, you can always register as a homeschooler for the one year and put them in the next, if you decide keeping her home is the best thing to do for a while.

      Thanks for stopping by and following! I'll hop over to your blogs!

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  10. I especially agree with your #3. The relationships we developed during my kids' early learning years - it is beyond my capability to express in words. One of my most treasured memories is when they learned to read. It was such a spiritual experience. Like I was present at their 'birth' to the world. I am so thankful that I kept my little ones with me during that time.

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    1. Yes! Watching the lights go on as the world of literacy is opened to them is a wonderful experience! Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

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  11. This is a great post! My oldest daughter is also kindergarten age and we have had a wonderful year with her at home! She loves homeschooling--I'm not sure what will happen next year, but right now I don't think anything will change. ;)

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    1. I have loved having my kids home for these early years! We have sent my daughter to school this year - she's now in 4th grade - but I'm thinking sometime we'll bring her home again. We're just taking it year by year. Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

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  12. Great post. I have been on the up and down about sending my son to kindergarten and didn't know if wasn't mandatory in some states. Will be checking into that. I home preschool him right now because he got himself so worked up trying preschool and thought it wasn't worth him feeling like that. I love doing the hands on learning with him and seeing him learn through me is amazing. Thanks for this post. New follower. (Momma's Fun World)

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  13. Hi Erin,
    Great Post. I agree kindergarten isn't what it use to be. I had a hard time deciding if I should send my granddaughter to Junior Kindergarten. She just turned four in June and started school in September. I think a whole day is way too much for most four year olds. Plus I would rather she stayed home for one more year with Great Grandma taking care of her because I want her to be raised with our beliefs, morals etc instead of those of a strangers.
    I could go on but its better I stop there. Thanks for sharing, A new follower on Pinterest, from Whatever Goes Wednesday, Darlene (http://darlenebnemeth.blogspot.ca)

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  14. Erin! I agree with you 100%. School is NOT for boys and the rate at which they are medicating boys to get them to act like little girls is crazy and sad. Thanks for sharing this.

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    1. I take issue with the medicating of little boys as well. It's sad.

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  15. Interesting point of view. I'm from CDA and we just started to implement full-day Kindergarden. I can see both your point of view and the benefits of a full-day class that provides social skills that the kids may not receive from being at home. FYI - I found you via iGameMom

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    1. Ugh. The socialization argument just gets to me. I agree full day kindergarten is better than daycare for those kids who have 2 parents working. For kids who have a parent at home, you can't beat the social interactions they receive there. I'd much rather have my kids learning manners and how to treat other people from interacting with mature adults than from a bunch of other 5 and 6 year olds. Considering the amount of social dysfunctional people coming out of the public school system, I don't feel like that's a valid reason to put kids in public schools. Homeschooled kids are some of the kindest, most polite and mature kids I've been around. But that's a whole other post, which I hope to get to someday.

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  16. Can we still be friends? ;) I actually paid to send my oldest 2 to a private full day Kindergarten since we still have half day here. For me it was the happy medium-not ready to send them to public school, but not organized enough to homeschool them. This next year though I'm not sending the next one to private K, so I'm on the fence. As always though, I appreciate your thoughts and enjoy learning from you!

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    1. hmmmm, I'll have to think about it. Maybe if you promise that one of my boys can marry one of your cute girls then we could still work things out. ;)

      Everyone has a different situation. I don't judge. You're still an awesome mommy!

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