Free Pre-Kindergaten, why not?

From the womb our last born called the shots. She was my only full term birth, and the biggest. However, this wasn’t why she took so long arriving on the scene!

I love a book by Kevin Lehman called the Birth Order. There is something to be said about this. Surely their birth order plays a part in their personality.

And surely our last born’s personality was shining through when she decided to be unlike the four other 2011-11-23_12-33-00_671births and come when she decided! Just as she continues to decide or so she thinks about everything else in our home.

The first day of Pre-K was normal. Most children are always a little unsure of the separation they’re about to experience. If intrinsically children were designed for connection and dependency on their mother, particularly, during the formative years, what makes us think the process of going to school is that simple – kiss them goodbye, and leave. I suppose that then is the argument – is Pre-K helpful in nurturing the design of our little people. Does the separation they experience nurture there need to remain connected, and especially to their mommies!

I must pause at this point to speak to the mommies that have to work.

But I also feel the need to clarify “have to work”. And I am perfectly aware I may offend some people by this. I don’t “have to work” to afford the car payment, mortgage payment, credit card bills, and yearly vacations. Such a sacrifice as motherhood can be quite costly.  Believe me, my husband and I understand full well what a one income home with a salary of 40k (if even that) covers!

Single moms or wives that have husbands that are unable to work have to separate from their child, respectively. In my experience with my eldest, as a single parent, children are resilient and will one day honor their mother (or father) for their sacrifice and hard work.

So why universal pre-k – then I thought about the woman who has a toddler left at home and wants to work part time. Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten (VPK) doesn’t help this situation either however because our society is only geared for one way – two parent working homes, while children are in school in between before and after care. Who then are these supposedly experts on the matter really helping when they recommend a mandatory Pre-K system with all children entering public schools.

As our country continues the discussion about universal free Pre-K, I continue to be challenged by the question of why? 

I am not clear how this helps a majority of the children (mostly from middle class homes who will use these services). I am certain they don’t need 9 hours of over stimulation and separation from their mother in particular. I also am sure that it doesn’t take 4 hours that VPK allows now, to learn their ABC’s and how to count to 10. Not to mention pre-school children need to play! And I am strongly convinced it is not the job of the schools to train a child.

As for Isabelle she only lasted two weeks before we decided to keep her home another year. At the time, I was already home-schooling one child while the other attended Kindergarten at a private brick and mortar school. One year later for Kindergarten, Isabelle did great and was ready to go to school. Overall, she is still quite stubborn and most definitely the last born!

Commercial break

Thanks to the idea of a faithful friend, I decided to take a break from My Story and share some insights gained from our schooling experiences. Aspects of this topic can be controversial without even trying to be. Despite that, I would not discourage anyone from sharing their views. I believe every child is different. Consequently, each child may need a different approach of schooling.
Each year my husband and I pray, discuss and decide how to school each child – home school, private, fundamental, magnet, traditional public, and last is the virtual, public school. My intent is to explain in greater detail what I liked and disliked about each approach including what I learned about the curriculum. I do not claim to be an expert in anyway. I also hope others will share their experiences. This post is an overview of each experience, further explanation will come in separate posts.
To add to my experience; I wrote my thesis on parental involvement in a child’s education in comparison to home schooling. I will share parts of that research throughout as well.
Xaviar and his brother
My first experience was with my eldest son in 4th grade. I had just removed him from public school after it was recommended that he be tested for ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). That was in the early part of this decade when medicine was becoming a quick solution to “problems” in the classroom. My interpretation of his “problems” was more related to what I saw as the whole child and how he learned. Xaviar was and still is gregarious, charismatic, outgoing, articulate, curious and just a little strong willed…So we started with the “Unschooling” method, where I let him learn from his surroundings. For Math and Phonics I used Saxon along with a few others.
Isabelle and chick
The second experience included our eldest son dual enrolled – home schooled and at his zoned public, middle school. For our 5 year old, we hit the “lottery” and were offered a seat in a public fundamental school. While the two youngest children remained home with me. During her first school experience we saw the beginning signs of struggles with comprehension that would eventually be uncovered as years went on. Overall the experience was acceptable and yet somehow I knew, like with my eldest, the way they would handle her “behavior” would present challenges and conflict.
MIchal counting
Our third experience was with Classical Conversations for our eldest daughter who we removed from the fundamental school. Her birthday is in August and as a result started kindergarten very early. It was recommended that we have her do another year of “kindergarten” to which we agreed knowing that we were home schooling her. Meanwhile, our youngest was a toddler at home and our son was in Pre-K part-time at a private school. Classical Conversations approach to education is classical. They use memorization of Math and Science concepts, Grammar, Latin, Geography and History through song.
Abram at Science Center
Then, we had the opportunity to put all the children in school. By this time, Xaviar was in 10th grade at a Christian, private school. The youngest was in Kindergarten and ready and willing to go to school. Our son was in 1st grade and our eldest daughter was in 2nd grade. Our evenings doing homework were busy and exciting to say the least.
Abram and Isabelle learning
For our eldest, he spent his last two years of high school as a dual enrolled student – home schooled and at the local community college taking courses that satisfy both high school and college credit. For the three stooges, our most recent experience was in the public, virtual school. My husband and I shared the load – he taught Math and Science while I handled Language Arts and Social Studies. The remaining subjects included in the curriculum were Art, Physical Education and Florida History for higher elementary grades. The curriculum was advanced and well designed. However, they require attendance and the same standardized testing the public schools require.
IMG_20130130_170452In effort to adjust to recent changes in our home life we made the decision to remove them from the virtual setting. We felt there was too much time taken from family, most of which is what is known as “busy work.” We took a more traditional approach with the basics with a twist of Un-schooling as I enjoy seeing the children learn through their environment.