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!