Last fall I was handed a giant heaping of guilt that I wasn't expecting when I started this motherhood journey four and a half years ago. It was about school. PREschool. I watched as many of my friends, both online and real life, send their tiny humans off to preschool. Not because they were working moms, just because it's something you do as a parent, apparently. I was baffled and battled with the fact that I was OBVIOUSLY doing something wrong by keeping my kids at home with me.
I remember being in tears talking to one of my closest friends asking "I am doing something wrong?? I'm just not ready to let go! And frankly, I can't afford those fancy mother's day out programs!". She assured me I was in fact not the worst mom on the planet, and we went through the next 9 months hanging at home, playing at the park and doing normal 3-year-old-stuff. While I'm sure those preschoolers were learning some things my girl might not have, I have a VERY bright little girl who I don't doubt for a second that she's right on track for where she "should" be.
I kinda cringed a few days ago when I posted on IG mentioning that we would be doing a homeschool pre-k with Jessi this year. While yes, we are going to be doing some at home learning, and I expect it to be a stinking blast, we will also be focusing on the fact that she's 4 years old. I don't intend to do an intense year of school with her. I'm entering with zero expectations. Our number one goal is to have fun, and simply learn through life and enjoy learning. Because she's a kid who LOVES to learn, and like me she's very type A, I got her some great tools to work with. I won't be suprised if she learns to read and write this year. But I also won't be disappointed if she doesn't. Because she's FOUR years old.
The expectations I do have for her? To cherish life at home with her sisters. To learn to serve them and serve others well. To be mommy's helper and learn some great life skills that will shape and mold her into an exceptional little lady.
So no, I will not be sending my daughter off to Pre-K. Because it's PRE-K. And these years I have at home with her are so very fleeting.
Dear mama, if you are battling with preschool, homeschool, that fancy mother's day out down the street - I want to offer you a big helping of GRACE. I want to encourage you to pause for a minute and remember that you have a tiny person. A small little human that learns by being near YOU. But I also want to remind you that whatever choice you make is the best choice for YOUR child. If you want to do pre-k at your local school, GO FOR IT. If you want to send your two year old to mother's day out for a break, GO FOR IT. If you want to do an intense homeschooling program, GO FOR IT. There's no right or wrong for how you teach your children. I want to encourage you to live in peace with the decisions you make, you better believe I will be!
My year of mommy school guilt brought me to such a place of peace. I didn't even consider enrolling Jessi in Pre-K when the time came last spring. I knew that these little years with her at home learning from me are precious. We are going to take it day by day, year by year with how we approach school, and I will no longer allow myself to feel guilty with the way my children are taught, because I know that I'm doing the absolute best for them.
If you are out there feeling guilty about keeping your 3 year old home this year while you see everyone's "First Day of Preschool" signs on Instagram, know you are doing a GREAT job. Remember that everyone has a reason for the way they educate, and don't allow guilt to seep in.
And because I know I'll get questions about it - here's our plan for pre-k homeschool.
Please keep in mind we came up with this plan totally based on OUR child, and it might not work for yours. I highly doubt this same structure will work next year for my wild middle girl, but for now here's where we are starting with Jessi!
- "Curriculum" - I say that loosely and in quotes, because come on, it's pre-k. I got her some fun workbooks, we are trying out the Leap Frog Pre-K set and implementing some of the My Father's World Kindergarten curriculum. I want to set a biblical foundation, and allow her to learn the basics so when it's time for Kindergarten it will be a refresher course.
- Focus on the alphabet. I got some workbooks at Target (they have them in the dollar spot!) and the Leap Frog kit has some great stuff. I also got some fun letter cut outs, and we'll do some crafts and random things. She knows all of her letters, and how to write most of them, so we'll just be drilling that in.
- Reading. We will be more intentional about taking weekly trips to the library for books and working on learning to read. I will let her do this at her own pace, but girlfriend is determined so I'm assuming she'll basically just teach herself.
- Having fun and serving others. Playtime will be a big part of our weekly routine, because hello 4 years old. But we are also going to be doing some fun things to serve other people and learn about being selfless. A lot of this is already learned by being the oldest of 3, but we'll take intentional steps at learning about how we can help other people.