My wish would be for an almost identical situation for him for Kindergarten: half-day, small class size, motivated parents, fabulous teachers, etc. Unfortunately, that is impossible. The public elementary school for which we are zoned is the worst in the area. It is a Title 1 school that serves a lot of poor minorities. It very much has an inner-city feel. While I think other children might do fine (there are some great teachers!), I really felt that Finn would not. In fact, every time I thought of him going there, I felt physically ill. I looked into attending other public schools, but we didn't fit any of the exemptions. Another option was a charter school that everyone raves about where students are picked via lottery. We signed up, but we did not make it this year. That left private or homeschool. Private was outrageously expensive, and honestly, I had impressions that our money would be better spent elsewhere. Homeschool it is.
I have been thinking of homeschooling for a while even though my kids were too young until just now. There are a lot of benefits: working with your child's preferred learning style, working at his pace, freedom of schedule, quicker lessons, more playtime, etc. However, I was concerned mainly with my ability to teach effectively and to have patience. Also, I won't lie, I was really looking forward to having a big chunk of time to myself, free of kids (or at least one). As an introvert, I really do need some time alone to recharge, and I rarely get that with my kids.
Despite my worries, we have been doing pretty well. We took a whole whopping week off, but then Finn wanted to have stuff to do. Scheduled, structured stuff. So, we started homeschooling at the beginning of June. I ended up using the curriculum Bookshark. If you are familiar with homeschool curriculum at all, you may have heard of Sonlight. Bookshark is the secular sibling. Same company, same curriculum but without the religious/missionary books included. Sonlight/Bookshark is all about books. The kids learn about science/history/LA through reading stories. What I liked about them is 1) all the books. I felt that Finn would learn more through the reading of stories than textbooks. 2) multiple options to pick from in other subjects. For math you pick between Horizons, Singapore, or Saxon and for phonics Handwriting Without Tears or A Reason for Handwriting. Everything then comes together with an instructor guide and a schedule. It makes for very little work on my part.
I am surprised at how much we get through in very little time. We cover all of our material (which is pretty substantial) in about 2 hours (or less), 4 days a week--basically the time it took just driving Finn to and from preschool. Now that we have started swim lessons for the summer (4 days a week in the morning), we are doing about half the work (30-45min). We squeeze it in between breakfast and getting dressed for swimming. That way, we still have our afternoons free which seems to be what Finn prefers.
It is fun to see what he remembers from our very short lessons. The other day, he mentioned that Egypt is so hot, you could cook an egg outside! (A tidbit that he remembered from the kid encyclopedia we had read a week before.) He excitedly showed me a picture from the front of a National Geographic because it had the same columns that were on ancient Greece buildings. (Another point from the kid encyclopedia.) It is nice to be able to reinforce ideas that we have talked about during our lessons throughout the day/week/month. We have had a lot of thunderstorms lately, and we have been discussing weather during science--lots of opportunities to repeat information from our books.
Am I going to do this forever? (Or for 13 years?) I don't know. I am just taking it one year at a time. All I know is that it was the best decision for this year. Who knows where we will be in a year from now? I would like to see Finn interact more with kids his age. So far we are limited to church, swim lessons, and the occasional playdate we can schedule.
Just for fun, beginning and ending pictures for preschool. I can't believe how much they both changed in a year! Where are my babies?!