Wednesday, February 26, 2014

From Kindergarten to College

My oldest son just turned 5 and is starting kindergarten next year.  I have been freaking out, to say the least!  I have been a stay at home mom to him since he was around 1.5 years old.  At first it was with 2 other kids his age that I watched, then we moved to Minnesota for a year and a half and I was able to enjoy that time with just him and was able to relax during my 2nd pregnancy.  It was the ideal situation for me.

Then we moved back to VA when Baby K was only 2 weeks old, now he's almost 2 years old.  It was a difficult transition, but luckily I had my friends and family who were here to help out.  4 Months into our lease we decided to purchase another home.  We moved into our new home and I immediately starting watching another baby who is only 2 months younger than Baby K.  That is baby C and he is my best friend's son.  This is how I have been able to stay home with both of the boys.  It gives me enough to supplement my husband's income, but not enough to pay for kindergarten.

Z has been in a preschool for the past 2 years.  He loves it, I love it, and he has learned a lot.  They offer Kindergarten too, but it is expensive.  So what do we do?  Do we shop around for other schools if we are going to pay for school maybe it should be somewhere he is going to stay.  Should we just send him to public school?  Should I attempt home school? 

Honestly, public school scares me.  A lot.  I don't know if it is the media hype, the differences from when I was in school  (SOL testing), or the difference in kids behaviors in the past 10 years.  To be honest, it seems like there are a lot more 'bad' kids than I remember.  I guess you just never know who your kid will make friends with, and unfortunately, we can't choose their friends for them!  I am one of those worriers.  I worry about everything.  I worry if he will make the right decisions when faced with them.  I worry if he will be scared at school.  I worry that he will be bullied.  I worry that he will be a bully.  I worry about so many things I can't even list them all.

And this is why the decision is scary.  It isn't just about letting him go to public school.  It is about letting him leave.  It is about being away from him for most of the day.  It is about not being able to share his experiences with him and trusting that he will make the right decisions.  It is about not wanting him to grow up because kindergarten leads to other things, like high school and college!

I would love to homeschool him, but there are a lot of different aspects of homeschooling and I just don't know if I can do it.  I love him, and I love having him around, but there are those moments when he needs more.  He needs to be with his friends at preschool.  He loves going to school and I can't take that away from him because I am scared.

There is a school in my area which I would love to send him to.  It is a half day school.  Every day, until 12th grade, the kids get out of school at 1245.  The philosophy behind the school is pretty much that they concentrate on only school while they are there, barely ever have homework, and focus on family and extracurricular activities after they get out for the day.  Could you imagine what you would have done with the rest of your day if you got out of school by 1245?  The only problem is that the school is fairly expensive, and what we do for one child, we have to do for the other.  The question would be if we could afford it.  Can we afford for me to be able to work from home so that after 1245 I could get the kids from school?  Can we afford for me to do this until they graduate high school?  In an ideal world, this would be great.  I just don't know that it can be a reality.

So I decided to go check out the elementary school that he will be going to.  I wasn't planning on taking him because I thought the big school would scare him.  My husband talked me into taking him with me.  We got there and did a tour.  I don't know what I expected, but it was great.  It was inviting, the classrooms were normal, they had their own little library, a playground, and an indoor gym.  Everything most elementary schools have.  I didn't expect it, but Z's eyes lit up and he has been asking when he can go ever since.  The main thing that he is upset about is not having the same friends at school.

So our decision is made, at least for kindergarten.  He is going to go to public school and we will see how it goes.  I keep reminding myself I can take him out any time if I think something is wrong.  I can switch schools whenever I want if we can afford it.  This doesn't have to be permanent.  Things can be changed.  If I decide for 1st grade that I want to homeschool, or that we can afford the 'ideal' school, I can switch him.

The important thing to remember is that nothing is permanent.  Letting your kids grow up is hard.  I think it is the hardest thing I have ever done.  But it has to be done.  Another thing to remember is to try to make your decisions based on their well being, not yours.  I would love to keep them in a bubble and protect them from everybody and everything, but where will that leave them when it's time to grow up?

Good luck with your decisions.

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