My daughter, Elizabeth, is 4. By now, in the city, she’d be on her second year of preschool, with the GPS set for pre-k in the coming. Here in rural NY, she’s finishing up nursery school, and just had her pre-k physical along with the chicken-pox booster; we are all set for next year. Yet, I did not have the doctor fill out the form while I was in the office. I’ve all ready decided that next year, we home school. And I’m giving a sigh of relief that this school year is almost done.
Home schooling has been an ideal in the back of my mind since I was in high school, but I wasn’t definite about it until my current nursery school experience with Elizabeth. In no way was it disastrous, scarring or completely offensive, it just hasn’t passed the test; and it wasn’t a very hard test either. Neither the teachers nor the institution were made to pass a written, oral or multiple choice exam. There was no homework, no studying, and no pressure. Yet, my final grade for the whole experience is a big, red, capital “F.”
When my son was born a year ago, I left work to stay at home full time. Prior to that, I had only worked two days of the week, and Elizabeth stayed with either my grandmother or a child care provider who was completely wonderful. Even though my grandmother still takes her to her house one morning a week for the fun of it, I was worried that Elizabeth would be ‘bored,’ so I considered nursery school at my mother’s urging. I was still seriously considering sending Elizabeth to public school, but not really pre-kindergarten, because my mom said that she didn’t send us/it wasn’t a good program/it’s too long a day for a 4-year-old. I’m not a drone who does what my mother says, but we are considering little minds who are just developing, and she claimed good results with the method when my sisters and I were little. Unfortunately, pre-school programs now come time-tabled: nursery school comes before pre-k, then kindergarten follows; there is no shifting the order, no 5-year-olds in nursery school one day a week any more. So in hindsight, I see that my mother’s method is flawed due to modern changes, by sending her to nursery school, I would be obligated to continue her on to pre-k if I don’t want to skip a year of “education.” But I digress.
Bored, Elizabeth is not, but loving school she is not either. And neither am I. As I said I had a test, well not really a test, but I had three ‘goals’ set in my mind of what I wanted to see accomplished with sending her this year. These goals were to be my decider on pre-k as well.
Goal 1: To be able to socialize with other children her age and meet some of the children she would be going to school with in the future.
Goal 2: To learn to write/spell her name.
Goal 3: To learn to sit still when asked, and follow directions.
Goal 1 was easy to accomplish with little participation on the teachers’ part.
Goal 3 was partially fulfilled, as I was told that she sits and does her work, but she doesn’t necessarily always want to do it the way she is told (a.k.a. she wants to choose her own marker color, etc). We did have a little hiccup with this goal for a short while, and I had to go in to speak with her teachers about how to address it. I had to go speak to her teachers in nursery school! Goodness! And the thing that was interesting to me was that what I had to talk to them about, she did not do at home. Hmmm, let’s extrapolate from that… Again, I digress.
Goal 2 was unsuccessful as of the writing of this post. I understand that she only goes one day a week, and that every kid learns at her own rate, but after writing her name nearly every time she goes to class, I was pretty disappointed when I asked her how to spell her name the other day and she could only tell me that Elizabeth starts with the letter E, something that she knew before she started nursery school. When I prompted for more, she could not even tell me that L follows the E. My immediate conclusion: I should have saved my money and taught her to spell it myself.
Outside of my unmet goals, my last complaint about our local nursery school this year is the teachers. I don’t think that the two women who run the program have ever said a single positive thing to a child in front of me since September. Actually, I’ve grown to cringe during the entire 10 minutes in which I am inside collecting my child. I have recently finished reading ‘The Power of Validation’ by Karyn D. Hall, PhD, and Melissa H. Cook, LPC, (if you have never read it or heard of validating parenting, I strongly urge you to check it out), and am 100% positive that I’ve never heard those ladies use a validating statement, rather I recognize invalidating statements being thrown out over and over again. I am seriously considering purchasing a copy of the book to donate to the center. They have also displayed impatience with both Elizabeth and myself because she did not want to follow their empty threats and pick up the pieces to a game, which I tried to help encourage her along with since it was time to leave. Lastly, they seem more and more irritated with me when I ask how things went that day or if our newest Scholastic book has arrived. If this is the kind of environment my daughter has to look forward to in public school for the next fourteen years, I think I’d rather take the time to set a loving and validating foundation myself by home schooling during what a home schooled friend of mine calls ‘the formative years.’
So, I am decided and the home school curriculum arrived this week. I am super excited about our new venture next year, but also and unfortunately wishing that this year were over with all ready. Luckily, little kids are resilient, and since Elizabeth only spends 2 ½ hours at the nursery school a week, I will trudge through the last of this disappointing jumble of red marks. But I look forward to the entire alphabet brightening up in a rainbow of colors in the fall.
This post can also be seen at my sister site about our home school experience, Seed To Seedling, at http://aplaceforlittlesproutstogrow.wordpress.com/.