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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

more school woes...

So, just when you think you have everything figured out...well, you never do, right?

Our little nature school program isn't working out like we thought.


Well, we have had a few run-ins with the teacher. She is one of these awkward around adults people, more comfortable with the adoring children at her knees. She tries to tell us what we need to do to "fix" little man - which makes me bristle and immediately defensive.

More importantly, little man isn't really loving it like we had hoped. The first day he was ecstatic. Butterflies! Walks to the lake! Rain puddle splashing! The next week he was crying when I picked him up, and its been down hill since then. For the past three days now he has woken up anxiously asking "is today school?" and then when I say no he looks relieved and says, emphatically, that he doesnt want to go on the appointed day....

which is tomorrow....

or ever again for that matter... "Can you just ask for your money back?" he asks pathetically. (And I feel like crap that he knows we pay money for him to do this.)

So now you see our dilemma.

Do we stick it out and send him?

Here is the thing about that though. This isn't like kindergarten. He doesnt HAVE to go. Its not like day care either. I dont NEED him to go. This is supposed to be fun. Making new friends. Learning and growing. It's not school. It's a NATURE PROGRAM. Is it worth it if he spends three out of seven days each week dreading it, crying, and then the day of upset and, frankly, mad.

Last week his teacher even told me he cried on and off all morning, wanting mama, bravely trying to save face by telling the other kids he got "something in his eye." Doesnt that just melt you??? I mean, do you force that to happen every week??

And more, does he NEED to "learn to be away from mama" at FOUR, as the teacher keeps telling me? I mean, is that an important "skill"? I doubt he will be doing this at 12, or even 8 for that matter, so, is it that so crucial so as to force him to do it?? We are not "cry-it-out" at 6 weeks old because they "need to learn to self-soothe" kind of people, so this attitude just doesnt really feel right to me.

And he CAN be away from us. He goes into Sunday School every week just fine. He has friends there. He plays happily, listens to storytime, sings the songs. No problem. We have never had any screaming incidents. No tears of separation. (Although we didnt force him to go until he wanted to, our kids never go into nursery, they sit with us in church.)

And I guess you could say we should be teaching him stick-to-it-iveness (made up word, sorry) Don't quit even when its hard, etc etc. and all those good things. four? Over something that literally makes him anxious for days out of the week? Why? What is he really learning? That playing in the sprinkler or going to the lake with kids he doesn't know all morning is an important life lesson? More important than his feelings?

And then I also wonder, is the whole new baby and changes coming up throwing him for a loop? Maybe he needs me, needs to be home?

So really. Here is the question.

Why is being at home so bad?

I mean, if we take him out, and GASP, do "nothing" next year (and I put nothing in quotes because everyone knows nothing is hardly NOTHING in the life of a SAHM) is that really so bad of us? I mean, are we stunting his development or something? Are we holding him back by well, holding him back?

I feel like I will have to justify his being at home the whole year with some kind of program or something. But frankly, the idea of driving a kid to school at 8am, preschool or whatever, with a newborn and toddler in a Minnesota winter....not too appealing.

But of course that is not the issue here, my convenience, its about him.

If he wants to be at home, still needs that, is that so terrible? This morning he told me he doesnt want to go now or in the fall, maybe when he is "bigger, like eighteen."

And if I am okay with that, and I really am, does that make me some crazy antiquated mother??

Sooooooo ready to move to my goat farm where there are no preschool programs for miles around and be done with the whole question already...dammit.


  1. No, follow your son's cues. Follow your intuition. Do what feels right.

  2. And in England, I think, kids aren't even starting school until age 7. And if you read the book "The Magical Child" by Joseph Chilton Pierce, he talks a lot about the different stages of every 7 years (birth through age 7, 8-14, 15-21, etc), and how our brain development is involved. So, just stay home and do "nothing" with your child next year. Or come over and do "nothing" with us (and hopefully my boy won't push over your boy this time).

  3. If it's not a good fit with the teacher, that *alone* would make me switch. Ben started preschool with a teacher we thought would be great, because she was so calm. Actually, she had no understanding of 2-year-olds and expected things out of him that were impossible. I did NEED him to go that year, but I wish I'd worked on a dialogue with her, so we could've come to a reasonable understanding of where the other was coming from.

    He started out that year VERY excited about preschool and really didn't like it after a couple months.

    I also think you really don't need to do anything to justify not having him in a program or school at his age. But if you want something to do with him, Heart of Dakota has a preschool program called Little Hands to Heaven that is short and sweet. The little miss could participate as well.

    I also think that you don't need to HAVE to go out with a preschooler, toddler, and infant in the Minnesota winter! Take it from somebody who has had a child in preschool for the past five years, getting out the door is the most stressful and annoying part of the whole thing. And being late (which I am prone to) can make things more stressful for your child and can make some teachers feel more annoyed with you.

    Another thing that I don't even see you mentioning is that you might really want him HOME to play with Little Miss while you nurse or to grab you a diaper from another part of the house, or to make sure the baby is safe while you take a shower or switch over the laundry. A four-year-old can be a Very Useful Person member of the household, and they feel important about helping with the baby as well.

    But good luck making the decision. I know you didn't put him in the nature program without thinking carefully about it, so it is hard to give up on it.

  4. You seem to have your mind made up on this point already, so go with what you & baby daddy think is best...don't worry what others think. Besides, anything other parents say is based on what has worked for their family & their doesn't necessarily apply to your kid or your family...I mean I could go on and on about our experiences w/Grif's 3 schools he's gone to on & off since the age of 2 (2 in MN & 1 here in IL) & the things that we loved & the things that grif loved & how he adjusted, etc...but that's us & him & it likely won't apply to you & seem to know what you want to do after reading your post, go w/it...that's what I say (for what it's worth). Love ya!

  5. Sara,
    You've had good training in this department from your mom and you have wonderful instincts. It sure sounds like your mind is made up and already headed in the right (for little man) direction.

    Have you ever read any of Charlotte Mason's stuff? If you can get your hand on a book called, "The Charlotte Mason Companion" I think you'd like it - or at least you may like parts of it. It can be a bit syrupy at times. I found one:

  6. As anguishing as this might be for you to hear, I really love reading about your school dilemmas. And I mean that in the best way. Mostly because we're not there yet, we're a year behind you (I think). We did have some great success with pre-school last year so I'm hoping (fingers crossed) that we've set a good tone for down the road. But here's just my thing: How on earth is it less work to get out the door than to have another person to keep busy/play with/feed/clean up after? I beg for an explanation. Seriously. I don't know how anyone would prefer homeschooling for the reasoning that it might be "less" work. Am I misinterpreting your thoughts? (And I realize that you have a million other reasons for homeschooling/unschooling, I'm just confused about how it'd be less work to keep him home.) Totally excuse me, I am just a tired momma, and I seriously love my kids, but I look at preschool completely differently. To me, after I drop my lovely off, I hear the choirs joyful singing: Alleluia!

  7. I went away from this, and I realized that I probably sound like some callous momma that doesn't actually enjoy spending time with my kids. So, I just had to say, I do actually really praise you for what I would definitely consider taking the more challenging road. It sounds like you are in a position to give this whole school thing another year or two, and that's awesome. Good luck. And as for the summer nature school, I'd say have one more chat with the teacher to figure out what's going on, but feel free to pull the plug.

  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

  9. boy that comment is so hard to read. i wish i could edit! sorry folks....

    and jayme, just seeing your second comment now. no, you totally dont sound calloused! i was just saying to dada on the phone, man, i WISH this had been a good fit. i really wanted him to have soemthing to do...but, like i said in the mongo post above, a week of anxiety isnt worth one morning with one less kid....

  10. here is the easier to read version...

    allison - thanks for the tip on the book, encouragement, and the offer :) it would be fun to see you in real life again!

    heidi - i tried to avoid the selfish reasons for not wanting him gone next year, that is part of it. five year olds really are quite useful! and i will look into that curriculum...thanks.

    beth - you are right, i knew my gut was saying it wasnt the right fit for us...i was trying to think of reasons WHY i should stick it out really...and i came up empty. you are right, every kid is different and family and needs....and frankly if he were loving it i would be SO happy to have him there, weird teacher interactions aside.

    tammy - thanks for the book tip and the encouragement!

    jayme - sounds like you wont have any troubles at all...and honestly, if it were my daughter, i have a feeling she would go skipping off to school with a tenth of the anxiety her brother has...its all about the kid, you know?

    as to your question...well, first of all we arent talking homeschool - not yet - just delaying for a here is my thing about your comment: one, he is a terribly useful kid to have around, and secondly, i am cleaning up, directing, wiping up, cooking for little miss anyhow, doing it for two is no harder than doing it for one, in my honest opinion (honestly its LESS work, mainly because he plays with her and does stuff around the house to help, i mean, he knows how to WORK THE DVD PLAYER, that is priceless...when he is not here she gets bored....maybe if it were a program for both i would feel different? i dont know...)

    also, i have a very "hands off" policy when it comes to play. i might suggest activities (i just told little man to go get out the playdoh because he was bored while sister slept) but i rarely interfere in their play. they are also quite involved in what i do around the house, crafty stuff, housework, etc. so frankly, i dont do a lot of kid entertaining (which i find mind-numbingly exhausting)

    and finally i suppose i am kind of in the minority here but i LIKE being at home. we do our thing. i sip my coffee. read blogs. write. they play. i do some housework. make lunch. do naptime. we have pick up time. dinner prep. eat. bath. bed. it flows. it works. it is, for the most part, peaceful. i know its weird of me. some moms i know are aghast at my kids NOT being in programs/classes but....its easier for us, just more peaceful. but that is me and my personality at work. even pre-babies i liked home life. this is not to say we dont go out. we have about a playdate a week, plus some kind of outing...but this is what works for us, its just where we are in life!

    and no, homeschooling is NOT less work. (i was homeschooled and my mama worked her arse off for us) but, if that is what we choose, down the road, it will be worth it if that is what they know?

    and like i said in another comment...if it were a happy thing for him, then sure, its nice for him to have something, fun for me and sister too to have some time, but in the end, it just isnt worth a week of angst for a morning with one less kid around....

    phew, how is that for the mother of all comments. :)

  11. I am posting again because you answered my question and I wanted to thank you. I get the having a rhythm. I had a really great day today, and it was the BEST. Now, yesterday, it was a different story. Just as Beth said (Hi Bethy!), it totally comes down to what you and your family find that works. No way is a week of anxiety worth it. You tried, it didn't work, no use in making anybody cry.

  12. OK, so I'm a little late to the party. ( I worked to day!! YAY!!) But I just wanted to add some more encouragement to do what you know is best for your little man. If he seems genuinely concerned and your gut says it's not a good fit, then stick with your convictions, no apologies needed. (And your child does NOT need to be "fixed." Grrrrr....)

    These are highly unlikely, but the only possible reasons I would think to stick with it would be if this whole thing looks behavioral or manipulative (i.e. let me see how much I can get away with to push Momma's buttons), or if he doesn't want to go bc they're asking him to do something challenging (i.e. this is too darned much work, let's toss in the towel.) But that doesn't sound like what you're describing. Only you can know, bc only you know Little Man!!

    If you really want to try to make it work for a few more sessions, then maybe talk w the teacher again and come up w some solutions to address Little Man's concerns (and yours as well). If there are no solutions offered that you're comfortable with, then don't take them! Again, no apologies, you're doing what's right for your family, your child, and your parenting style.

    These decisions are so big and scary, and they're even more intense bc it's the first time you've had to do it. Just think, by the time Baby goes to kindergarten, you'll be able to write about this with as much eloquent perspective as your Birth Story post. If only someone could make a Crystal Ball of Parenting, so we can look into it and see our kids in 20 years to see if we're doing this right. Hang in there!!

  13. If I've learned anything from having Ina in part-time childcare for most of her life, it's that my instincts are usually right and that I need to listen to her reaction to the situation. We just pulled her from a preschool that was stressing her out - she was constantly worried about what day it was (she knew that M-F she went to school), was biting nails, wetting the bed. Way too stressful! There weren't any good reasons to pull her except that I knew she shouldn't feel like this about going to preschool (kids have plenty of time to be stressed out about school right?!). So she took a month off and it was really hard having her home (2 parents trying to work full time from home, yikes). Suffice to say - do what your gut says, 'cause mama knows best! hugs - S

  14. point taken tracy... and i do value the whole keep at it mentality and we talked about that every morning when it was a struggle...but when it turns into every day three days prior dreading the thing, well, that to me is more than he didnt want to do the work to make it work, you know? not when there are tears and nightmares involved...

    sarah - hope you found a good fit for ina! i have worked at home with kids and that is TOUGH.

    Thanks for your input all...and those of you wise mamas who emailed me personally...obviously i was just about as worked up as him on this one :) (i tend toward that sometimes, i admit it!) but...we did have a family pow-wow and decided to pull him from the to the new school year...cross that bridge when we come to it. as he asked me the next morning "can i be homeschooled now mom?" (his adored cousins are homeschooled and he thinks its the best idea ever) i said, sure love. you can learn from me, at home (whatever that means....whatever that looks like!)

    phew. glad that one is over. i was seriously a wreck for 48 hours.

    thanks again friends. i love our little community here!


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