We have had a wonderful preschool experience so far. The girls are learning to get along with others, work a a group, follow directions, and they get all of this is a warm, loving environment. With this said, I have had a ton of mommy-guilt this past year about the lack of time I have spent working with them in the same way I was able to work with the boys. When the boys were small, I had more time to sit and work with them on letters and numbers, time to make up big games to learn concepts, etc. This go 'round, I am swamped. Funny enough, I would have felt less guilt if they were on a normal level for their age. However, they are in love with learning, close to reading, and already adding and subtracting. I know they crave more, they are ready for much more, and I cannot provide it all. There is only one of me!
I had talked to their preschool a few times throughout the past couple years about their advanced level. Sadly, they just weren't able to do anything for them. They had talked about maybe letting Olive skip the 4's, but that was years away. Ivey has an October birthday, so she was put in the 3's this ast year, even though she was 4 right after the cut-off... and already knew all of her letter sounds, how to write all of the letters, etc. Basically, they could not be flexible. I understood. Really. It's so hard to arrange classes, and you cannot simply move people just because their mom wanted them to. I was disappointed, but understood. I continued the school year with the weight of providing the girls with all of the new material that they were to learn.... while tackling a large year for the boys' school.
After I had already registered the girls for next year's preschool class, I had a revelation. They don't have to stay where they are. Maybe there is somewhere that can allow them to be placed where they fit, academically. I searched around and found that there were options that were less "stuck" to the September 1st deadline... that had flexibility, and that were less "stuck" in the public schooling mentality. I visited one and was amazed. They would put Olive in an advanced class for those who already know their letters and are learning to read.... even though she is only 3. They would put Ivey in a K-5 class, for those ready for Kindergarten... and she will also be learning to read. I could see the proof that the kids in that class were working on math concepts like place value. They even said they will continue to assess their needs and move them to whatever group is the best fit.
A huge weight was lifted off of my shoulders.
I didn't have to send my girls somewhere just for social development... and learn all of the academics at home. I didn't have to settle for a model that I reject for my older children. I am a homeschool mother. I don't give a rip about September 1st. I don't care what concepts are "supposed" to be taught at certain ages. These are my children, and I will allow them to flourish and thrive without these arbitrary and narrow-minded assumptions and restrictions.
Then, I was met with words that send a bubbling flood of anger and disgust up from my toes to my head.
"You know... kids can be really advanced and reading at an early age... and then, in a few years, they level out and you cannot even tell them from the rest."
I guess the eace of God came over me, as I was able to keep in the reaction I was feeling and simply say, "Oh no! We don't have to level out. We homeschool."
I have never in my life felt more committed to homeschooling than I did after this phone call. I did not know that the program had many rooted in the public school system at the time. It wasn't until this conversation that it hit me. Hard.
The pot of homogenized fodder can have itself. It will never have any of my children, so help me.
We will not settle.
We will not accept a narrow-minded view of education.
We will not blindly follow.