The past three weeks of life at my house have been full of newness: learning to nurse a newborn all over again, adjusting to life with three little girls and sending my oldest baby off to preschool.
But wait? Wasn’t it around last year this time that I wrote that I didn’t think preschool was necessary? Well, yes, that’s right. And I still don’t think it’s necessary for everyone.
But, for some families–and for some children–I think it’s a good idea. But the decision to send 4-year-old Little Girl to preschool three mornings per week (for a total of 9 hours weekly) was not an easy one.
For starters, I’ve wanted to homeschool since Little Girl was born. It’s something that–for the most part–my husband and I have agreed upon. I even gathered a list of free and affordable preschool homeschooling resources.
But my plans to work with my daughter on preschool skills at home haven’t been uber successful. During her 3rd year of life, I was super overwhelmed with adjusting to life with two very small children, and I was battling PPD. When Toddler Girl was barely a year old, I found myself pregnant again. Fatigue and nausea followed.
Oh, Little Girl picked up her shapes and colors and how to count and many of her letters, but, still, I didn’t take that intentional time with her every day that she needed. And even though she picked up a lot of the academic preschool skills, she still seemed to be lacking in social skills.* Little Girl thrives in very structured environments, and I realized I wasn’t providing that structure for her.
*I do not think that schooling outside of the home is necessary for teaching “social skills.” However, some children have issues/personality traits that may require a more structured atmosphere–at least for a time.
Then, in April, our entire family spent almost a month passing the horrible, no-good norovirus back and forth. After my husband spent a week at home with us all, he looked at me one day and said: “Little Girl needs preschool.”
At first, my heart fell. Did this mean I was a failure as a mother? Would this be the end of all my plans to homeschool? (Notice I said my plans and not God’s plans.) Did this mean I was just “giving my daughter up” for someone else to raise?
I know for those of you who send your children to school–whether it be private, Christian, public, etc.–this internal struggle may sound petty. Perhaps those of you who homeschool can relate–or perhaps you are shaking your head right now.
But here’s the thing I had to realize. My husband was right. First of all, he is my authority. I don’t always do the best job of respecting that. I struggle with it every day. But God has placed him as my head–for a reason.
Second of all, when we had children, we both said that when it came time for them to attend school, we would seek the Lord about each individual child. What are that child’s needs? What schooling scenario best fits that child’s personality? And, ultimately, where has God called us to send that child?
Whereas some parents may feel the Lord has called ALL to homeschool, we do not feel that way. My husband attended public schools. I attended Christian schools. My husband currently teaches at a community charter school (much like a private school but with no tuition). We see HUGE advantages in homeschooling. We don’t believe that when it comes to schooling there is one “cookie cutter” fit for everyone.
If the Lord mandated that everyone only school one certain way, what would that say to the single mother who can neither afford Christian school nor provide the at-home time her children need to homeschool? Public school may be her only option.* This is just one example. I’m obviously not a single mother, but my point is that we must consider that each and every family is unique.
And so, this year, Little Girl has started preschool. We were blessed to find a super tiny, Christian school with a strong biblical curriculum. So far, Little Girl has come home talking more about the Fruit of the Spirit and how it’s proper to use “inside voices” than reciting her letters and days of the week. But, honestly, I prefer it that way.
On the two mornings Little Girl is not in school, I am working with her on the skills she is learning there as well as loosely following the free, online homeschool curriculum: ABC Jesus Loves Me.
Where will she attend kindergarten next year? For now, that’s a matter of prayer. I’m hoping for a local university-model school (half homeschool and half Christian school), but I’ll have to see what the Lord lays on my husband’s heart.
Will we ever homeschool? Will we send all our children to preschool?
I don’t know at this point. I do not think every child needs to attend preschool, but I have had several friends who have sent their children to preschool before starting homeschooling in kindergarten or first grade. I believe we will take it year-by-year and child-by-child…and seek the Lord for what is the best fit for each of our girls in any given stage of their lives.
If you’re looking for a preschool curriculum you can do with your kids at home, I highly recommend Intentional by Grace’s Fruit of the Spirit Curriculum for toddlers and young pre-schoolers. This printable resources combines teaching biblical truths with early learning skills!
Did you send your child to preschool? If so, what led you to that decision?
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My heart goes out to you and your family. Decisions like this are very difficult to make. I have taught public school kindergarten for over 20 years. My own daughter attended preschool and attends public school (She is a junior this year). At one time, well meaning friends and family would try to make me ashamed that she attended school. (My husband has always felt that I should work outside the home.) When her life began, we had her path plotted and planned out nicely. She would attend my elementary school and once she entered the fifth grade, she would attend the local private Christian school and then. . . Nice packages have a way of losing their beautiful wrapping and life changes dramatically in ways that you never imagined. Since then, God has taught me many things about children and life. One thing is that He is in control. A second thing is that God needs Christians to be in a public setting and not cloistered. Looking back over my daughter’s education, I see many wonderful people God has placed in her path (at church and school) that have taught her specific things that she will carry with her always. As a teacher, I see that God loans me children and families for a season. Every child that is placed on my class roster is there on purpose. His purpose. God has something that He wants me to give that child and possibly that family. So please do not despair. God is in control and wonderful things will emerge. 🙂
Thank you SO much for your encouragement, Donna! You have a great perspective! I’m thankful the Lord has placed teachers like you in the public school sector!
My youngest is 9 now but her two older brothers who are 21 and 18 both went to a christian preschool and it was awesome and the best thing for them. Then we waited until 2nd son was in 1st grade when first daughter was born! She never went to preschool. Partly financial and partly because it just didn’t feel right for us at the time and 2nd daughter also didn’t go to preschool. But I’m happy that the boys did and it was the best for all of us. Now after daughter #1 going k-5th at the local public school, I have her at home now 3 days a week doing 6th grade and in school 2 days – its a hybrid program that is working great for us. It is a miracle that my husband was on board with this but that just shows how it is God’s plan for us at this time! I am sure your daughter will LOVE preschool.!!! And it is SO fun to see the papers and pictures they bring home!! God Bless you in this journey !! Hugs!
Leigh Ann @ Intentional By Grace
Great post, Erin! I’m so glad to see God at work and moving in your life, and even more excited to see you guys following him instead of giving into “peer” pressure. Glad your little one is enjoying preschool! 🙂 Mine isn’t ready for preschool yet, but we’re doing what I’ve dubbed, Intentional Toddler Time. It works for us, and it is my hope that it will continue and set us up for a great time of homeschooling. However, like you and your hubby, we plan on seeking the Lord each year, for each child. Thanks again for sharing this! I’m sure so many were blessed by reading it.
I believe you have made a good decision. We have 8 children, some of whom have been homeschooled and some who spent some years at a reliable Christian school. It is essential to look at each child and your current situation on an individual basis, which is precisely what you have done. Whatever you do, don’t beat up on yourself because some stranger in blogland says that you are not fulfilling your obligation as a Christian mother. It is much more beneficial to have a healthy relationship with your child than to be in her company 24/7, and sometimes we need a bit of help from your community to maintain our sanity and that relationship.
Thank you for this post! I can totally identify with you. When my hubby suggested preschool to me last year, I wondered why we’d do that because I planned to homeschool our kids. I was homeschooled and while my husband attended public schools, he had various problems there and liked the homeschooling idea. We’ve always talked about that. But several friends (from different circles) recommended the same preschool to us, so we decided to enroll Sunshine (age 3) two afternoons a week. She LOVED it. She thrived there. It was so good for her. This year, we put her in five afternoons a week. She continues to really enjoy it – and to talk about Kindergarten. Leaving me torn again. I still want to homeschool. But I’m not sure it’s best for her. So this year, we’ll have to do a lot thinking and praying about what the right schooling option is for her for next year. 🙂 So thanks for sharing your journey!
I’ve had several friends that were homeschooled, and it seemed to work for them, although I would say that transitioning to college made them feel out of place and a little socially awkward.
My son, almost 3, is in preschool, and I am so thankful that I found a preschool that would take him before his birthday and without being fully potty trained. I have a 5 month old girl, too, and am a stay at home mom. Like you, I free lance edit and write SEO, so we’re able to bring in a little extra. We’re able to afford preschool because we moved into a cheaper (yet larger) place. I had a hard time after baby girl was born, and without preschool 2 days a week, I’d be an absolute wreck! Sometimes you have to consider the needs of the parent, husband or wife, who stays home all day with the kids. I admire you for having 3. I’m #4 of 6, and my husband is #6 of 7…but wow, two can be hard! (I consider my mom a hero for having us 6 kids and not going barmy.)
Are there horrible experiences in school? Oh yes. But you’re never given more than you can bare. Chin up. If I’ve learned anything from coming from a large family and marrying into one, you cannot compare yourself or your kids to others…you’ll go mad. If your daughter is learning and growing, then she’s in the right place, and so are you!
Tiffany–you sound so much like me! I’m glad to know I’m not alone in this. I really struggled…and felt so vulnerable writing this post. I think I was afraid of judgement. But so far–so good! My daughter is thriving at the school, and we are hoping to send her to a university model school (half homeschool) next year!
I’d venture that this article has saved me more time than any other.
thank you so much for this post, I was praying to God TODAY about whether or not we should put our oldest son into preschool. Although my husband already decided that we would put him in preschool, I was still struggling with that decision and contemplating whether or not he made the right choice. I see now that I am not being obedient to my husbands decision and have come to accept whatever the Lord wants. Everything you mentioned about feeling like not a good mother, or a failure etc, is what I have been feeling for such a long time. I have intentions of homeschooling but I am not sure if its a right fit for our family. Don’t get me wrong I think it has so many benefits, but like you said its not for everyone.
I am SO glad to hear that you needed this post today, Melissa! I hope you will have peace in your decision and in following you husband’s lead. I so know where you are!