Sunday, January 06, 2008

MOTHER ANGST
(sending my first child to school)
"No whimpering, madam!
You can not have the joys of motherhood, without some of its pangs!
Consider your blessings, and don't be a coward!"

-Mother Carey's Chickens

I am definitely feeling the "pangs of motherhood" tonight. Tomorrow morning, my five year old (and oldest child), goes to preschool. He will be attending the First Baptist Preschool, here in town. This will be his first time away from me, like this. Oh sure, he has gone to his friend's houses, spent the night with grandparents, even gone on trips without me, but nothing like this. He will be gone five days a week, three and a half hours a day. He is so excited. He picked out his backpack. We ordered a little metal spiderman lunchbox online (he is so excited to have a package arrive with his name on it). In many ways, I think this will be really good for us all. Caedmon is definitely a first born. Major Type A personality: organized, craves structure, analytical, a thinker. He loves to learn, talks CONSTANTLY, and is deeply interested in everything. He also adores doing crafts. (Having to make something out of pipe cleaners and popcicle sticks is my own worst nightmare, realized). I think he will really enjoy the structured atmosphere of a classroom, and will really thrive in that learning environment. I am looking forward to the structure it brings to my day, as well...it will force me to get up early (always a goal), get things done more efficiently, etc. Also, I will be able to start walking regularly while he is at school, since I will only have two children at home.

But I will miss our happy mornings at home. I will miss having him around. I am sad that our family is changing, that my children are getting older. I don't like that for half of every day, I won't know what Caedmon is doing...that he will be having separate interactions and experiences from us. I think that I must be crazy (!) to have been so careful of his influences since birth, to suddenly turn him over to a teacher and peers that I don't even know!

The reason that we decided to send him is because we are uncertain about what to do for Kindergarten. I have been going back and forth in my mind about schooling, since I was pregnant with him. I was homeschooled until high school, and know firsthand the benefits of that education. My husband went to public school, as well as private, so he has that perspective. For kindergarten, we are trying to decide between homeschooling Caedmon and sending him to Kindergarten at our church school. So much of who I am, what I value for our family, and what I think is best for our children, points me to homeschooling them, at least while they are small. I won't get into all the arguments for or against homeschooling, but I will just say that I had a very positive experience being homeschooled. I later went to a Christian high school, then a large state University, and did well. There are so many reasons that I want to homeschool, but I admit, I often doubt my abilities.
On the flip side, I can see pros and cons to sending him to Kindergarten, especially to our church school. So, we thought that we would send Caed to preschool for the rest of this year. Our thinking was, if we do decide to send him to school, this will be a good stepping stone between being home all day to being in school all day. Or, alternately, it will help us make our decision to homeschool, because we will have a better idea of what school will be like.

Last night, I met a couple who have eight children, and they homeschool them all. When I found this out, I immediately cornered them and picked their brains for an hour. I found the fact that they were willing to make such personal sacrifices for (what they believe to be) the best for their children, so endearing. I love hearing about families that have large numbers of children, and/or that homeschool them. I just don't know what is best for our family. I have been praying about this for years, and now decision time is looming, and I am still confused. I would love to hear from some of you parents. How did you come to your decision for schooling? If you homeschool, how does it work for your family? What are some of the challenges that you face? If you send your children to school, what are some positives/negatives that you see? Would you all mind sharing some of your thoughts with me?

I understand that whatever decision we make doesn't have to be permanent. We are making a choice for one year only...and even then, if it isn't working, we can change. I am trying to remember that. And that God is sovereign over this situation. Both are good choices and we are very fortunate to have options. Matt and I are not going to ruin Caed's life by choosing one over the other. God will bless either one, and we will see His hand in either situation. But I still want to be wise. So, I would love to hear your insights.

*Image from Johnny Blood on Flickr.com

6 comments:

  1. Laurel,
    I don't really have the experience yet to offer advice (my girls are 3.5 and 1) but I have found so much inspiration from this homeschooling mom's blog that I felt compelled to share it with you.
    This mom makes me want to homeschool and let me tell you that has never been of interest to me. Homeschooling seemed so HARD. But this mom inspires me and has shown me a way that I could do it. This mom uses the Charlotte Mason approach and a book called Real Learning which talks about homeschooling with your faith at the center.

    Also, my advice would be (I know I said I was in no place to offer advice but - well, I still have some thoughts on it I guess) is that try to build a homeschooling lesson each weekend. Just one. Try it on. See how it works over the rest of the school year as well as keep your pulse on how your kiddo is handling his school and then make some decisions on the data you gather. An idea I was going to try was finding a book on Chinese New Year to read with my daughter and then building a whole lesson plan around it like find a craft (like a dragon mask), make some Chinese noodles together, figure out a nature link, etc.

    Gotta go it is getting late and I still have to visit your friend at Boys Rule My Life and I need to post something, and, and . . .

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  2. Oh Laurel, I feel you on this one...really. I wish I had more time but will have to come back. My oldest (of 3) begins kindergarten next year and I am going to homeschool...at least for the early years. I go back adn forth sometimes. This week I have been struggling with how much sacrafice is required...

    Anyway - more later. gotta put you on my reader! Loved reading the blog.

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  3. I am a little ways away from this decision, but I think you are approaching it with a healthy attitude. The fact that you realize it is not a permanent decision and that you always have the option to change your mind is great. I do know what it is like to wrestle with decisions. I have found if I am wavering back and forth over something and losing sleep (which I tend to do over decisions) I should wait it out a little and come back to it. My waffling is usually a sign to me that I am not ready to commit to something so I may need to let it quietly sit with me for awhile.

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  4. So how did it go yesterday?

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  5. Oh, Laurel. I will pray for you through this. I do not have any insight. Yet, I know you will find the right decision in your heart.

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  6. Third time is a charm?

    The name of the homeschool website is Sun and Candlelight and is a typepad blog. For some reasons every time I leave this comment with the web site it doesn't work so this time I will try it without the address (you can google it with the above information). I hope this works!

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