If you have been following my blog then you know I’m passionate about finding the answer to this question – Should I preschool at home? And if so, how?
Even if you have a young child that is attending preschool, I’ve done some research and I’ve shared some of the results in my ongoing series – Getting Ready for Kindergarten. You may want to take a look and see what are some of the minimal skills needed that can help your child prepare for kindergarten.
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As a new mom myself, and a person totally new to the concept of homeschooling, I wanted to ask a mentor mom for some help. So I talked with my friend Renee Gotcher. I asked Renee the three questions that I struggle with the most when I comes to deciding – should I preschool at home?
Renee blogs over at Next Gen Homeschool. Her own children attended public school for a portion of their educational journey and are currently being homeschooled. So Renee has experience in both the public school and homeschool atmospheres. Renee has a background in journalism and she is passionate about writing and helping others through her blog Next Gen Homeschool.
Wanna know my three gut-wrenching questions and Renee’s answers? Read on.
1. One of the biggest fears that I face is the “what if I mess my kid up?” or “If I don’t send my kid to formal school/preschool how will I know that I’m not putting them at a disadvantage?” i.e. poor socialization, educational gaps, etc.
2. Most new moms graduate from sleeplessness to 100% dependency to little time to themselves – how does a mom who home schools (especially young children) find time for herself so she can keep some balance (between time for herself and time with kiddos)?
3. You have the advantage of having had children in a formal school setting as well as homeschooling them – what are some of the advantages and disadvantages of each and how would you advise a new mom to determine which path to choose?
Q1: One of the biggest fears that I face is the “what if I mess my kid up?” or “If I don’t send my kid to formal school/preschool how will I know that I’m not putting them at a disadvantage?” i.e. poor socialization, educational gaps, etc.
The essential question here is: Am I qualified to teach my child? And the answer is a whole-hearted YES! All good parents are already “homeschooling” their children, they just don’t always see it that way because our society places a higher value on what is being taught in a traditional classroom than other forms of education. We’re told from our own childhood experiences that school — and a certified teacher — are required for education. However, everything your child has learned up to this point (outside of extracurricular activities like sports, dance or music) has been taught by you and your spouse. And what you’ve been teaching your child — Godly character, good behavior and habits, social skills with people of all ages, personal hygiene & responsibility, just to name a few — are vital to preparing your children to be good students of life.
With the quality of homeschool curriculum, resources, cooperative schooling and more, you have nothing to fear about adding academic subjects to what you are already teaching your child. If at any point you find yourself struggling teaching a particular subject, there are many resources to help you supplement or receive help in any academic area. Extracurricular activities are still available for you when you’re homeschooling, and they make great options for providing additional social and educational settings.
The myth of socialization via the traditional school system is exactly that: A myth. Studies show that spending all day with only your peers is detrimental to well-rounded socialization. The rise of bullying is a just one example of the anti-social behavior that develops when children spend too much time with peers and no adults with real authority to intervene and work with character development. Personally, I found that my younger siblings (who were homeschooled a lot longer than I was) were not only very socially adjusted by college age, but have been rewarded in their careers for their great people skills.
Ultimately, my best response to anyone who’s struggling with self-doubt is this: You don’t have to make a 14-year decision today. You can give homeschooling a good try for a year or two and turn to traditional school options at any point you think it’s necessary. Although I didn’t start homeschooling right away with my eldest two, I wish I had. When they’re young (preschool-kindergarten), schooling can be accomplished in a couple of hours a day because you’re working one-on-one and not wasting any time. The rest of the day can be spent with fun and enjoyable real-life learning experiences with your young ones!
Q2: Most new moms graduate from sleeplessness to 100% dependency to little time to themselves – how does a mom who home schools (especially young children) find time for herself so she can keep some balance (between time for herself and time with kiddos)?
Balance is tough for all moms, I think. We just seem to be multi-tasking by design and nurturers who usually put others first without even thinking about it. However, when you’re homeschooling, I think you do have to become more keenly aware of creating personal time AND time with your spouse that is not centered on talk about the kids. Author Heidi St. John at thebusymom.com has written two great books, The Busy Homeschool Mom’s Guide to Daylight and The Busy Homeschool Mom’s Guide to Romance, that are tremendous resources in this area.
Personally, my husband works from home so we are BOTH home all day when he’s not traveling. I try to take a couple time outs with him during the day. When he’s traveling, I really need to make time for breaks. I try to work out several times a week, and that gives me social time and endorphins.
I also make sure our homeschooling plans include mama interaction for me as well as the girls!
Our girls book club has been awesome for that this past year – we met 2x/month and there was mom social time after while the girls played. We hung out as long as 6pm some afternoons because we needed it.
Q3: You have the advantage of having had children in a formal school setting as well as homeschooling them – what are some of the advantages and disadvantages of each and how would you advise a new mom to determine which path to choose?
A3: Pros and Cons
At first I did think it was easier to homeschool my eldest two after they had already learned “the basics” in school: Reading and some basic math. However, now that I am teaching my youngest Elise at home from the start, I realized that I missed out on so much with my eldest two! Teaching with your child’s learning style in mind is one of the biggest benefits to starting early: My youngest is also a dominantly kinesthetic learner, so she would have a REALLY hard time sitting still in traditional school. We tried three reading programs before I found one that worked for her because the ones I used at first were for visual learners (read/write learners) and she is anything but that. I feel blessed to be able to work with her one on one and tailor her school time to her needs. Also, I discovered she is a whiz at Math because we were using Math-U-See with the older girls and she picked it up alongside them even before I was formally teaching her. She’s already doing addition & subtraction in her head! I love that she’s not in a “box” with traditional programs.
I also loved this article she wrote for So You Call Yourself a Homeschooler titled Dear doubting Mama: Homeschooling isn’t the Answer. In the article she writes that homeschooling isn’t the answer – but that God is. I love that she points us to His direction and guidance when it comes to making decisions about how to educate our children.
If you have more questions about homeschooling you can contact Renee directly at NextGenHomeschool.
My husband and I are still in prayer and seeking God’s direction for our own children but for now we agree that preschooling at home is the best decision for our family. I hope you found this article helpful in your own journey to finding answers to any gut-wrneching questions you may have concerning preschool for your little ones.
If you have ever struggled with questions like these or if you have any advice to offer other moms in this area, I’d love to hear from you in the comments.
In His Grip,
P.S. I looked up the books Renee recommended and have included affiliate links here in case you are interested. I’m going to buy the set myself 🙂
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