So this week has been very tumultuous. Here's the story:
On Sunday, I was approached after church by a mother of one of my friends from college. Here's, in essence, what she said:
So Katie told me that you are planning on homeschooling in the fall. I think that's great, but I wanted to let you know that I'm coming back as principal at the Montessori school and there are open slots in the afternoon kindergarten. There will only be ten kids in the class. Of course, it's free and the kindergarten teacher is fantastic. I thought you might be interested. If you are, let me know.
That short conversation sent me into a tailspin. The Montessori school she is referring to is public and is usually the most difficult school to get into in the district. They hold a lottery every year in April to see who gets in. I have never met a single person who has been unhappy with their experience there. Quite the contrary, everyone seems thrilled to be getting what they perceive to be close to a private Montessori experience for no money.
The top three reasons I decided to homeschool for K were that I didn't want full day kindergarten (every public school in our district is full day except this one), I was concerned about class size, and I was concerned about teacher quality. Everything she said neutralized those concerns. Red has been asking to try kindergarten and go with her friends. Her two closest friends from the neighborhood lotteried into the afternoon kindergarten class there. I had told her that she couldn't go with them because she couldn't get in. That's not the case now. I have trouble keeping her busy in the afternoon usually because Tom Thumb is asleep from 1-4ish usually. Kindergarten would be from 1230-330PM.
The Cobbler and I talked it over. He said, "I don't see a downside. And if it doesn't work out, you can pull her out." It all seemed to be coming together so perfectly. Then why was I unable to sleep at night?
I had planned to be her mother and her teacher for so long. I had spent hours researching and selecting curricula not just for this year but for future years. I had put together a list of books we would read for our geography study. My whole plan was in jeopardy. If I'm not homeschooling her full time, who am I? Am I now a public school parent? What?!?! That doesn't feel like me. It was then I had to stop and think---who is this really about? I didn't want to let her go to school because my identity was at risk.
I was going crazy and at the time emailing back and forth with the leader of the homeschooling group that I'm in about whether or not I could or would stay in the group. Here's a quotation from one of her emails. In that moment, it helped me so much:
You are still a homeschooling parent- you have a preschooler at home to work with. Don't forget that. And just because she is going, doesn't mean he will. I have had to deal with that a lot with both kids- one may want to school the other may not, and you might always be homeschooling one, or you might have a year or two off of it, who knows. I really think, in the end, you just have to revisit it every year, and it sucks for planners like myself, and probably you, who want to have it all planned out in advance, but parenting just isn't that way, nor is homeschooling, if you are going to follow your kids lead, and do what is best for them- and that's what you are doing. You aren't following any dogma, and it's harder I think at times to do this- well, no, I KNOW it's harder to parent that way- but it's worth it. You teach them to fly this way. I wouldn't try to get caught up in the labels (public school parent/homeschool parent, etc.). Just be their mother- that's who you are. That is what matters, none of the rest of it.
So we're going to let her go and see how it goes. Sigh... We're going to do what I planned too, but be flexible about it and do things as they make sense. I'm not going to be a slave driver. It's kindergarten for goodness sake!
Will she stay in public school for first grade? We'll cross that bridge when we come to it. For now, we're still homeschoolers afternooning as public schoolers--- ha ha! I'm done with playing the label game. I'm going to do what makes sense for our family and see what happens along the way.