To homeschool or not

AvalinetteAvalinette In the kitchenSilver Member Posts: 1,316
My oldest is due to start school this coming January so we have some decisions to make. She will still only be 4 (nearly 5) so I'm a little conflicted about whether kids that young should be in institutionalised education at all. Regardless, we have some decisions to make. We've been carving out a bit of time the last few months to do a bit of homeschooling to see how we go with that. She loves it and will often ask to do homeschool (it's the maths and handwriting worksheets she loves best). I'm struggling to find the energy to keep it up though and with a new baby on the way, it'll be even harder to keep up next year.

We've got no worries on the academic side of things: she's really motivated and is already nearly a year ahead on literacy and numeracy. She's a lot less good at other things: she's not quite independent with dressing, toileting etc; she doesn't like participating in group activities (eg. she's 'tired' and lies down during singing time) and suffers from separation anxiety. So, she certainly doesn't want to go to school and maybe it will be a bad fit for her/she needs some more maturity first, but maybe she'll learn these skills/ mature in a school environment.

If we decide to keep her home, legally we can and don't have to do anything: it's only when she turns 6 that we're legally expected to register as a homeschooling family and let a government official see what curriculum we're using etc.

One possibly downside though is that if we keep her home and then want to send her to first grade when she's 5 turning 6, she'll be in school with kids who are used to the school routine and she might be even more of a non-conformist than she is now making it harder to fit in.

Another difficulty with homeschooling is that it'll be harder for her to find friends (though she's not nearly as interested in people as in things). Our church is a bit sparse on kids her age group and there don't seem to be homeschooling groups/co ops in our local area (we may have to drive 1/2 - 1 hour). We've really struggled to make connections to local kids her age partly because most of them are already in daycare/preschool from 2-3 years old.

So, what do you guys think? I'd especially like to hear from homeschoolers.


  • AvalinetteAvalinette In the kitchenSilver Member Posts: 1,316
    edited August 25
    @Scarlet: In my country, the kids with birthdays in the first half of the year start kindergarten (5 day fortnight) when they're 3! So, we've already 'skipped' a year of formal school for her.

    Are you suggesting keep her home a year and then send her to school a) with her year level cohort who've already been in school a year or b)with the cohort younger than her who are just starting (and who she'll be way ahead of academically)?
  • AvalinetteAvalinette In the kitchenSilver Member Posts: 1,316
    I'm pretty sure that the best thing for her academically is to stay home and do homeschool (even if that is a very minimal reading books from the library, colouring in and sometimes doing a page out of a literacy/numeracy book...and we would definitely do more than that). 

    Socially/maturity wise, I don't know whether it's better for her to just wait and mature or whether it's better to force the issue a bit.

    Whole family wise there's a case to be made for sending her to school just for the babysitting value: I struggle to find the energy to do housework and kid care as it is and there'll be a new baby next year.
  • ScarletScarlet Category Moderator** Posts: 7,542
    If you need her to go somewhere during the day, which is totally legitimate, then send her.  Have her evaluated by the school to determine proper grade placement. 
    Speak your truth. 
  • ScarletScarlet Category Moderator** Posts: 7,542
    And if school starts early for kids there, just send her to the young version - the grade two years prior to first grade, whatever you want to call that.  Here we call it 4K.  So she's four years old now and would be starting 4K, then regular Kindy at age 5 and first grade at age 6.  Done.  That way she gets socialization, you get one less kid at home during the day, and she can do academic things which just may be quite good for her. 
    Speak your truth. 
  • ScarletScarlet Category Moderator** Posts: 7,542
    ^ Totally agree.

    And if not, ask if she can attend school half days or three days a week or some such.  She doesn't have to attend Monday through Friday all day just because it's available. 
    Speak your truth. 
  • AvalinetteAvalinette In the kitchenSilver Member Posts: 1,316
    Thanks @Scarlet and @Angeline

    I've already started writing up some questions to ask prospective schools, so I'll add: 'Should I send her this year or next?' to the line up. 'Can I keep her home some days?' is already on my list.

    Just for clarification, she doesn't have toilet accidents: the lack of independence I was referring to was asking me to wipe when she poos and remembering to wash her hands etc. She's also still in a night time diaper, but that's not relevant for school.

    She's also totally able to sit still for long periods of time at a task of her choosing/something she likes doing like colouring in/handwriting practice/sums; she becomes 'incapable' of sitting still when it's story time at the library/ kids' talk at church/ singing time at school. And by 'incapable' I mean that if I offer her a reward for doing it and a punishment for not doing it, she magically finds the ability. 

    I just realised writing that out: she's probably a fiddler like me (I struggle to keep my hands still). All the things she finds it easy to sit still for have an element of movement. However, there's also a big element of wanting to do what she wants, not what someone else wants her to do.

    She's not really on the cusp age wise. If she goes to prep next year (Jan 2017) she'll be one of the youngest but not the youngest. If she waits and does prep the following year (Jan 2018) she'll very likely be the oldest (maybe even by a few months). 
  • frillyfunfrillyfun East PodunkGold Women Posts: 3,386
    edited August 25
    The rule of thumb here is "when in doubt keep them out".  I was 4 when I started school, and academically I was more than OK, but I always felt a little behind socially because I was so much younger than the other kids in my grade.  

    In the younger grades it didn't matter so much, but later- in high school, and even college I feel like it made a difference.  I was the last to get my license, I couldn't go to bars because I started college when I was 17, and things like that.  If I had been a boy, and physically smaller than my peers it probably would have caused additional issues.

    Try to get her in where she's one of the older kids, and not one of the younger ones.  I've seen DS really blossom by being around other kids his age in preschool.  I was worried about it, but he's been fine, and learned a lot of important social skills that I couldn't have possibly taught him at home.

  • AvalinetteAvalinette In the kitchenSilver Member Posts: 1,316
    edited August 25
    That's interesting @frillyfun. I personally finished school and started university at 17 after skipping a year during school (I was homeschooled for part of my schooling, so I didn't have to skip officially, I just stopped saying 9th grade and started saying 10th grade halfway through the year and no one cared specially as we moved countries a few times and no one was really keeping score) and have always been glad I was that year younger. I also, as a 4 and 5 year old was desperate to learn to read but my Mom was told not to let me learn before I went to school. She eventually relented and taught me my letters. I failed the school readiness test at 5 and didn't go to first grade till I was 6 (nearly 7) and learned to read quick smart, but it was long a bit of a sore point that my younger siblings were beginning to read at 3 and 4.
  • AvalinetteAvalinette In the kitchenSilver Member Posts: 1,316
    edited August 25
    Anyway, to get the discussion back on track. I suspect the official school stance will be that she's not close enough to the cut off age wise to stay back a year and, honestly, I don't want to hold her back academically until/unless she starts struggling. What I really want to explore in this thread is whether to stay home or go to school next year with the assumption that if she stays home, she'll be entering school with her official age cohort when/if we ever send her to school.

    I'd love input on the homeschooling side from the homeschooling families here. @hannelore, @roses, others? Also @MrsJon: I know your kids are in school now, but I remember you kept your oldest home till about 6? And, you can give insight on the feasibility of the mother coping with homeschooling as well, I think.
  • frillyfunfrillyfun East PodunkGold Women Posts: 3,386
    edited August 25
    If she'll be entering school with her cohort group then send her.  Being with other kids will do her good, and from what I see when I'm at DS' preschool they're all about the same on potty training, and dressing themselves (not perfect, but ok).  

    DS starts pre-kindergarten next week, and on the supply list is a complete change of clothes including socks, and underwear.  Three months is a long time for her to practice up on those skills in time for school. 

    Scarlet is right- the leap between 4 and 5 is a huge one.  Crying from separation anxiety is ok at 4, but at 5 if the rest of the kids have been going to school for 2 years then it's going to be tougher for her classmates to be empathetic.
  • AvalinetteAvalinette In the kitchenSilver Member Posts: 1,316
    Thanks everyone for the replies.

    Looks like sending her to the year behind next year isn't an option anyway. The kindergarten is really strict with age cutoffs according to their website (and it's not walking distance and it's expensive). So, if we want to send her to school next year it would be prep year (which is free and the closest is walking distance from my house).

    Our choices are:
    -local school for prep: walking distance, same school as other kids on our street, including next door neighbour, they'd have to take her so no waiting lists

    -somewhat further local State school that runs a less structured program (Reggio) so would probably suit her better, not our official school zone so we'd be on the waiting list and maybe not get in. This school also has multi-age classes which I think will be a better fit for her, but that would only come into play in the unlikely event we're still living in this area then.

    -keep doing similar to what we've done this year. She can go more days to the Montessori she's currently in although it's pricey (actually, I don't have the money for more than one day a week...but I can probably get some financial help from parents here) and not actually a good fit for her. One of the benefits though will be that Miss 2 can start going with her (and we'll start that this September regardless). Miss 2 loves the parent and child classes and can't wait to be big enough for drop off classes and Miss 4 will feel less separation anxiety with her sister staying behind (and drop off easier for me because at the moment I have to tear the one who wants to stay away from the school and make the one who wants to leave stay behind). This school won't develop her conforming to the group and following with everyone skills: circle time is all of 5 minutes and she's allowed to opt out; there's no need for social interaction with other kids in the course of the class and she doesn't seek them out. 

    -private school? We could send her to the school hubby attended and get lots of approval from his parents. It's just about the most expensive school in the whole city, but I think we'd get financial help from hubby's parents (and we would have an easier time getting in than other schools because of hubby's connections). It'll be a long drive to and from for me to take her there. (I wouldn't honestly consider this option till she's older)

    If the most important consideration is babysitting time then the local, walking distance, State school is obviously the way to go. But there are plenty of other considerations too. 
  • AvalinetteAvalinette In the kitchenSilver Member Posts: 1,316
    Beatrice said:

    She's not really on the cusp age wise. If she goes to prep next year (Jan 2017) she'll be one of the youngest but not the youngest. If she waits and does prep the following year (Jan 2018) she'll very likely be the oldest (maybe even by a few months). 
    I can see that you are resisting the idea of waiting a year and I think that most people tend to not want to think their child is behind in any way, but a few months difference in age is not a big deal.  Any lead she has over the other kids academically will disappear soon enough. The real question is whether it would be better to let her have time to mature at home or if she would benefit from getting to school to learn the ropes.

    @Beatrice, I hear you, though I kind of disagree. If she takes after me or hubby (or 3/4 grandparents) in brain smarts, the academic lead won't go away, though she may learn to be lazy and coast. We (and that includes her grandparents who've expressed concerns) are concerned that in a standard school program, she'll be bored with the level of academic work and act up (and I can see that there's no way she'd be accelerated a year because she's so immature in the rest of life).  

    The other part though about going to school to learn the ropes is really the question. Will she get more benefit from just maturing and feeling safe spending time with Mommy (even if Mommy doesn't have time and energy to do wonderful activities with her)
     or more from being with other kids her age and being forced to face the fact that her parents aren't always there and she survived (She had another of her 'I was away from family and couldn't find you' nightmares again last night...though these have become a lot less frequent the last month or two) and being forced to do things she doesn't want to because it is what everyone is doing now. 

    If you keep her home (regardless of where you place her in school later), will you be able to provide training and experiences she needs as far as life skills and social skills? Do you have any plans to address those needs at home? 

    Yes and no. That's a question I'm trying to answer. We've experimented with it this year. I get sick/low energy frequently and then we can't go to stuff. But when we're all well, we go to library singing and story time and we visit friends. We go to church every week and she's doing fairly well at sitting still through the sermon and the kids' talk and she's begun socialising more with the other kids. We have plans to go earlier and get her in the creche (time away from Mommy) but hubby and I have struggled with the extra time commitment when we're sick/tired. Some life skills (wiping bum after poo, washing hands, keeping room/playroom tidy etc. etc.) really just need a bit of consistency from me and she'll pick them up quick...I'm just struggling to be consistent. Some of the life skills and social skills just need time.

    Honestly, I would vote for keeping her home for a year and letting her be the oldest kid when she got to school. I would not worry about the academics; I would concentrate on her life skills during her last year at home.  But if you don't know how to address that or will be busy with younger children, school might be the better choice.

    ...and there's the big question again. In my ideal world, I'd have a lot more energy and would be easily able to do all this for her...and ideally, we'd just be homeschooling and not even worrying about school or not. I can realistically do something like an hour a day (on average) of kids doing something school like. I'm also managing to spend about half an hour a day doing something with Miss 4 alone (while Miss 2 'naps'). Once the new baby gets here, though, given my past childbirth history, I'll need a good many months of recovery before I'd be back to that level.

    FWIW, I homeschooled and for the most part learned to not care at all about ages and academic levels. Kids don't develop all at the same speed. Individual kids vary in their development from year to year. You can see where she is doing well and where she needs to mature. 

    I absolutely agree. One of the things I like about homeschooling is no need to pigeon hole academic levels: just do whatever's appropriate and slowly expand each skill at it's own pace. She is doing well, amazingly well, at academic stuff and not so well at life skills and socialising.
  • frillyfunfrillyfun East PodunkGold Women Posts: 3,386
    edited August 26
    I don't think you're a bad Mom for recognizing your limits, and sending her to public school down the street with the rest of the other kids from the neighborhood, or keeping her home, or sending her to private school.

    That you're giving the decision all of this thought shows you really care, and that seems to be about 90% of the battle some days.

    Learning to cope with bordeom, and going along with the group even though you really don't want to are skills that everyone has to learn.  Whether it's with you while you're attending to her new sibling, or in a classroom of her peers- those lessons are going to come for her.

    I'm sending DS to public school up the street.  Staying home isn't an option, and I think he's topped out on what he can learn in a private preschool (which are more expensive than some colleges here).  I'll use the money we'll save from doing that to enrich his life in other ways/save for college.
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