Gemma turned 4 this summer, so as September inched closer, it seemed we had a decision to make about how to approach preschool this year. Our options: send her to the public school pre-K4 program, send her to the Catholic school pre-K4 program, or keep her home and provide a homeschool program for her to get her ready for Kindergarten.
|My big 4 year-old, ready to take on the world!|
Well, the public school she would have to go to is academically subpar. And yes, I realize it's only pre-K but if my child is going to be spending 20 hours a week somewhere besides home, I'd like it to be somewhere that feels warm, safe, and academically dynamic. Well, this place doesn't fit that bill. End of story.
Then I peeked at the tuition rates for Catholic school. And almost spewed coffee all over my screen. Really?!?! No way can I justify spending that much money on my preschooler!! And yes, I realize I could have applied for financial aid and all that glorious stuff, but the reality is, even with aid, it seemed a frivolous use of our money. For preschool. Oh, and as a side note, I also took a peek at the tuition rates for the Montessori school down the street from us (seriously, we could walk there). Yeaaaaaaaaaaaa. Even more $$ than Catholic school. So no. Not happening.
Thus, we come down to the final option. And you know what? I was secretly looking at her other schooling options with a mentality of "Convince me you're better than homeschooling" because the reality is, I wanted to homeschool her! I just figured, hey maybe there is something to this structured, brick-and-mortar school thing since so many families follow that track. I should give it a chance. And I will continue to give it a chance as our kids grow and our family's needs change.
At least for now, for as long as we're in the school zone we're in (AKA as long as we're in this house), public schooling will not be an option. I may take another look at the Catholic school option once our debts are paid down more. But with multiple children (we have two now, and hoping for more), how is it feasible financially? I know financial aid is offered, but there's no way every family who sends their kids there is receiving aid. And those who are, few are receiving a full ride. So trying to imagine a world where we could afford to send multiple kids to Catholic school seems like a far and away dream.
But we're blessed because this area is ripe with some amazing homeschooling families, co-ops, and resources. It's a education choice that is growing in popularity and it's easy to see why. In a more personal model of education, curricula can be tailor-made to each child. The child is taught by their parents and perhaps a few other homeschooling parents on occasion (in the case of a co-op) so the student to teacher ratio is the best you can get. The child has the opportunity to be experiencing life as it's lived every day by the average citizen - shopping, errands, bank visits, post office trips, etc. The opportunities for field trips are endless and don't need to be scheduled way in advance. Family vacations can happen anytime. Extended vacations can even happen, and you can bring school on the road with you. Statistics have shown that homeschool students move at a faster pace academically that their traditionally-schooled peers, and they fare better academically in college as well. They can often earn a vast sum of college credit during their high school years, allowing them to earn a full Bachelor's degree at a University in as little as two years.
|Here's a sneak peek at our homeschool room. :)|
Now, I could go on because the benefits of homeschooling are really remarkable. But! Let's not get ahead of ourselves. This year, I have a 4 year old and an 18-month old at home. I'm "homeschooling" pre-k to Gemma, and bringing Avila along for as much of the ride as she can handle. Basically, we're reading a lot of books, doing arts and crafts, playing, cooking together, playing, practicing writing letters (at Gemma's fervent request!), we run errands in the world, go to Library story time classes, playdates, Mass, Adoration, then we play some more, dance around, read another pile of books, take care of household chores, then at the end of the day, we all play some more.
|Sweet Avila! She's happy Gemma's homeschooling too because then she has big sister home all day to play with!|
I'm not exactly busting out hardcore curricula over here just yet. We're taking this one year at a time. Each year, we'll reassess the academic options available to us, along with the individual needs of our children and make a decision about who goes to school where. Most likely, they'll largely be homeschooled, but I'm open. I'm looking forward to checking out the homeschool co-op and enrichment programs in our area a little more in depth.
We're having fun. Education should be fun. It's an adventure! I can't wait to watch all the magic and knowledge my kiddos will discover. :)
|9/2/14 Gemma's first day of Pre-K4!!|
Check back at my next post where I'll give a full photo show of how we turned our cruddy, disorganized playroom into a functional, multi-purpose playroom/schoolroom!