Our Kindergarten Choice

Kindergarten Jonah

It probably seems funny for a homeschooling mom to send her youngest to public school kindergarten, but I did it.

A lot of people have been asking us why. Although I know Donnie and I don’t have to defend our choices to anyone, I don’t mind sharing our thoughts because I realize this seems like an unusual decision for our family to make.

The short answer: it just seemed best for everyone.

The long answer, is of course, a bit more complicated.

Last spring, Jonah was diagnosed with sensory processing issues and possible Asperger’s. At least, they used to call it that–now the new thing is to label it high-functioning autism. One of the clinicians felt that his quirks might simply be related to giftedness and suggested having him re-evaluated when he’s a little older. The psychologist, however, wanted to go ahead and give us an on-paper diagnosis, stating that if Jonah did need therapies or services, it would be easier to obtain them with something in writing.

Knowing that the public school system offers this kind of help was a big factor in deciding where to place him. We’d been seriously considering a private kindergarten, but they all state up-front that they don’t have resources for kids who need special help. And Jonah is so far ahead in some areas, and so far behind in others, that it just seemed logical to place him where there is greater access to help he might need, including gifted programs.

That said, a lot of my friends, especially other homeschooling moms, asked why I didn’t just homeschool him. He does, indeed, seem like the kind of child that would thrive on homeschooling because each subject can be catered to his needs.

The short answer: I’m….

Not Supermom

I like to pretend I am, and I have friends who jokingly call me that, but Lord have mercy. I. Am. NOT.

My two middle-schoolers are being homeschooled again this year. They go to a co-op academy one day a week for history, math, science and composition. Then we do extensive homework on those subjects throughout the week, in addition to the other subjects we cover at home. Since they are teenagers, I won’t go into their struggles publicly, but I will say that each of them have special circumstances that would make homeschooling them a bit challenging for any teacher-mom.

And Jonah’s favorite thing in the world is to distract and engage his siblings. All day long. And one kid in particular is extremely easily distracted.

And I just can’t face that all day, every day. Not with kids who are getting close to high school and really need to buckle down on their work.

I had to raise my hands in surrender, throw in the towel, and every other metaphor for realizing one’s limits. I wish I was one of those super homeschooling mamas who can teach a dozen kids of different ages with various special needs, but I’m not her. I’ve never been that patient. Or organized.

Which brings me to one of the final deciding factors in choosing public school for Jonah. This child thrives on routine and structure.

And he clearly didn’t get that from me!

Out of all of my kids, he’s the one who blossoms most under structure. I suppose it’s part of the rigidity that accompanies Asperger’s, how they’re so resistant to change, but he just adores the predictability of school. Try as I might, I could never structure our homeschool as tightly as he’d need for it to be right now. It’s just not in my DNA.

So, that, my friends, in a rather large nutshell, is why my little guy is at public school this year. I have no idea what’s going to happen next year. If this school ends up being a good fit, we’ll probably keep him there. Even though we adore homeschooling and I think it’s a fantastic way to educate children (and have been doing it since 2007), I’ve realized that each kid is different, and each year is different. My oldest almost decided to come back home for his junior and senior years, but then changed his mind and stayed at his public high school. So we take it year-by-year, kid-by-kid, and prayerfully decide what is best for each one.

Which, at the end of the day, is all that any of us parents can do, right?