One morning in St. Louis last week my sister, my children, and I sat on my parents’ living room floor playing. First, we played the old Marbleworks set. My sister and I reminisced about playing with them as girls while we found a way to use all the pieces and keep the track sturdy and at a height my one year old would not be able to knock over. We were probably having more fun than the kids were. F (21 months) had a blast putting marbles down the tracks, and my sister and I did as well. Then we moved on to the old Lego brick set that we used to spend hours on. I worked on a house built to the specifications of three year old L, and my five year old, G, happily worked on her own. It was nice to have the leisure to not do house work and just play with my old toys with my children. I happily remembered my girlhood and the hours that I spent at play with my siblings. Ever since my oldest two could play together I have watched, listened to, and ignored their games, allowing their creativity to flow.
As I pondered how to home school kindergarten for my five year old, I have heard a variety of things from other mothers. I know a number of mothers jumping into a first grade curriculum for their five year olds, who would normally be in kindergarten this year. At the home school conference I felt really anxious looking through massive math textbooks wondering if I could even do this. But then I heard over and over again from seasoned home school moms that there is no need to rush G into first grade level work, even if she has the ability to handle it. It will be easier to teach her when she is more mature, and she does not need to be a grade ahead. I am seeing for myself her desire to play, to learn things when she is ready, and to keep her own pace.
Since last September we have made it through 85 of the 100 lessons in “Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons.” The lessons were not always easy for G. Looking back I think that maybe it would have been easier if I would have waited to start the book with her. She is still so young, still below the age of reason, and I want to give her time to play more before the stress of full-on home schooling. This year we are going to do some work, but mostly play.
I especially want the kids to be outside while the weather is nice. I want to see them gleefully swinging and hunting for natures treasures while I tend to the chores in the kitchen. I know if we did first grade they would not lose that, but I also know that G will be just find with another year of simple school preparation. I am also going to plan a weekly craft day so that I actually have to face the set up, mess making, and clean up instead of avoiding it entirely.
My main goals for school this year are for me to keep to a daily schedule. If I do not set daily goals for myself, I am likely to spend the day reading or putzing about the house. I am inclined to stay inside and relax if I am given the choice. So, to know that I can and will home school my children for years to come, I need to discipline myself now. One day I hope to be that seasoned home school mom who can do it without thinking, but for now I need to plan and plot my day carefully, so that when we finish our short, one hour-ish school day, my kids can go and play and play and play.
We are starting next Tuesday, the same day as M starts his semester.