At the beginning of July, I felt like the Back to School Mother of the Year. I printed off my children’s lists of school supplies, found said items and their uniforms on sale, and purchased their backpacks! My husband and I budgeted for the expenses well in advance, and I saw no point in waiting until the majority of Brownsville was doing it. The Wal-Mart Pick-Up option made it especially easy and enjoyable this year.
Yes, this was going to be my time. My firstborn, Jack, was starting 1st grade, and my three-year old, Cecily, was enrolled in the pilot, all day, district wide three-year old program. My sister-in-love was going to be her teacher, and Ceci was thrilled and anxious to start school. Mrs. Garay was also Jack’s first classroom instructor in the then half-day schedule. I was going to enjoy one-on-one time, this season, with my 15-month-old, Felicity.
From (School) Teacher to (Homeschool) Teacher
I have joked that I homeschool my children from ages 0-3. After that, they attend school elsewhere. In the summers, we do “unschooling,” along with learning extensions throughout the academic year. This model has worked ideally thus far.
As a former public school teacher of seven years, I am for public schools and believe in them wholeheartedly. I have learned that you can take the teacher out of the classroom, but you can’t take the tendency to teach class out of the teacher. Thus, for the past five years, I have taught my offspring at home.
Jack and Cecily could not be more uniquely independent of one another. Jack, as the eldest, has lived life by the book. When we began doing flashcards with him as a toddler, he sat patiently and repeated/said different numbers, letters, shapes and colors.
Ceci, at the same age, sat for a few minutes and then was done. She preferred dropping the flashcards and spreading them out all over her bedroom floor, then randomly picking each one up and revealing what it was. I thought it was brilliant, and followed her lead in learning together.
Finding the Right Fit
Now, several weeks into the school year, we have made the decision to withdraw our oldest daughter. And it has nothing to do with the institute or her instructor. It has everything to do with Ceci.
When we decided to enroll her, I voiced my concerns about the day being long for three-year olds who are experiencing a classroom setting for the first time. I then found out that the curriculum included a required, daily nap time. I felt some relief, but still wondered how things would go.
It seemed like every other day brought forth a battle to get our girl out the door. Random moments at home, however, included her joyfully belting out songs she had learned, sharing stories about classmates and what happened during the dreaded P.E. time. I empathized with her, as that was my least favorite subject as a pupil, but encouraged her to focus on the positives. You can imagine how successful I was, trying to reason with a threenager.
My husband and I continually revisited the subject, telling ourselves it was to be expected during this transitional period. We prayed for direction and clarity in making the best choice as a family. Ceci constantly confirmed what we thought, saying things like, “I want to learn at home with Mama.”
Ultimately, the following factors contributed to our decision:
1. She is only three and, by law, does not need to attend school — especially all day.
2. We didn’t want her formulating a poor opinion of being educated at such a young age.
3. She will learn more from me than being in a school room with 21 other pupils.
So, Ceci, I see you, and I hear you, my beautiful, brilliant and spirited middle child. Thank you for making me a better mother, teacher and person. Thank you for the reminder that one size does not fit all educationally, and the indication that we must take one year, and one child, at a time. I look forward to our continued journey of learning, and to more moments like these: