Mourning Kindergarten

[My oldest the year we attempted Pre-K.  It was not. good.]

I recently drove by the marque of our local public school and saw “Kindergarten Round-Up Time!” My heart sunk. ….

The backpack.

New shoes.

The Pledge of Allegiance.

Name tags on the desk.

Fresh pencils and crayons.

The infamous first day of school.  As a former teacher, and certainly as a mother—I dreamt of it. It’s the beginning of their academic experience. I’d pack the best lunches and never miss a PTA meeting. I’d laminate like no room mother has ever laminated before!! I’d envisioned teacher conferences in which there was nothing but praise for all the hard work my child was doing. And wait till they’d see my Christmas teacher gifts!!!! Handmade stationary monogrammed with Teacher’s last name—and a Starbucks gift card! Oh yes, Public School is for ME!

So, when the decision to homeschool was upon us—I immediately started to mourn public school. Mourn. It’s really the only word I can use to describe how I’ve felt…and feel. Slowly, but surely, I had to begin to let go of the ‘great-American school experience’.

Folders and recess…the stoplight in the cafeteria. The cafeteria!!! (although, I don’t think my kids will miss it much).

Trips to the nurse’s office.

Being Star of the Week. …

{sigh……..}

I went through a few stages:

1. Denial: I won’t really homeschool. This will wear off right around the time Kindergarten rolls around. It’ll be fun while it lasts.

2. Panic: How on EARTH could I deprive my child of the ‘great American school experience’ and all the rituals…and the SOCIALIZATION?

3. Loathing: Ugh. I will NEVER get a break, will I?! I’m going to be strapped with these kids 24/7 with no brunches or afternoons at Barnes and Nobles alone! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH. Hand me a paper bag, quick!

4. Acceptance: Well, I’m just going to have to put on my girl panties is all. This is best for my kids and whether I like it or not, I’ve been CALLED (Thanks a lot, God!). We’ll take it year by year and do our best.

5. Embracing: [Cashier at Target to my oldest]: “What grade are you in?” [Me chiming in before my son has a chance]: “We HOMESCHOOL! I wouldn’t trade it for the world!”

It’s funny how I went through these stages just as plain as they are written. However, once I reached #5, I’ve really felt a peace. I’m so thankful to be given this opportunity with my children. I’m thankful to experience a DIFFERENT American education experience…our OWN! If there’s anything my husband and I have learned–being weird definitely has a silver lining!

Comments

  1. Danielle says:

    Thank you!! This is exactly what I am feeling at the moment with pulling my 6 yro out of K today. I will “teaching: my 3 year old as well and I have two older sons (12, 11)that will finish out their school year and will be hs in the fall. My head is spinning but underneath it all I feel that this is right! Thanks again!

    • Elizabeth says:

      Thank you for the sweet comment Danielle!!! I’m so glad you can relate! That’s why I started this blog–to hopefully encourage others that not all of us are ready to dive right into homeschooling–but yet, we know it’s the right thing for our kids. Blessings to you Danielle! And thanks for visiting my blog!

      • Oh my, your post was written for me as well!! I have always wanted to homeschool and this year, now that it is time for public school we considered it. I have been going back and forth on just putting him in school, mostly so it can relive me of stress or feeling overwhelmed by it all. How selfish of me. I have had the same thoughts as you, but I cannot deny the tug inside my heart to homeschool. Thank you for being so open and writing this.

  2. Great summation of the steps we go through. I went into homeschooling kicking and screaming against my will lol. That was 13 years and 4 kids, 1 grandkid ago. I am LOVING it now and wouldn’t chose any other direction.

    • Glad you could/can relate!!! I think it’s such a misconception that we homeschoolers were all for it from the moment we gave birth! I think it surprises alot of people!

  3. Thank you for this post. I have also been called to homeschool. My son is in the second grade at a public school. I have had all the same thoughts, and keep second guessing myself. I’m not sure to pull him out now, or let him finish this year. I also have a 5, and 2 year old. My 5 year old will start kindergarten next year.

    • Hey Stacie. That’s so hard! I’m sorry you’re going through this rough decision. It really isn’t as easy as some of the homeschool websites make it seem. I’ll be praying for you in your decision!

  4. Thank you so much for writing this! My eldest just turned 4, so we’ve talked about doing a dry-run of pre-K this year to see if we’re really ready to commit to homeschooling. It’s such a hard decision. All my daughter’s 5-year-old friends are going off to Kindergarten at the local public and charter schools, and I’m struggling with the desire for her to attend there, and for me to be a parent there. My husband and I have talked about homeschooling since before we had kids, but I know it will be difficult to choose a different direction from most of our friends and all of our family. Thanks for the encouragement and the honesty!

    • I know it seems lonely right now. But you’ll make homeschooling friends with your same schedule and you’ll always be busy. Give it a try. If not, public school isn’t the end of the world! Just a different path! Praying for you on your journey!

  5. I could’ve written this same post! We had the same experience with our 8 yr old (pre-k did NOT go well and we pulled her out after 8 weeks). I went through the same mourning process as well. I even felt it a little last year when my son would’ve started K. I know homeschool is right for our family though and we receive so much joy from it.

  6. I was also a public school teacher turned home school mom. The only difference is my kids never attended public school and we went straight into homeschooling instead 😉

  7. motherof3 says:

    I too never thought I’d homeschool. I did send my kids, quite gleefully, to pre-k, k, and 2nd and looked so forward to “me” time… By the end of the first year of them all in public school we were all pretty miserable. I felt out of the loop, they were stressed and anxious… I wondered how, as a teacher, I was finding that public school was not for us but I wasn’t sure homeschooling was either! We tried it and now here I sit one year later smirking (yes, smirking!) as all my friends mourn the loss of summer vacation and are going through the whole back to school routine with their kids. We’re at the complete opposite end of the spectrum now as “unschoolers” and we LOVE it!!

    • That’s awesome! It’s so true that you can’t knock it till you’ve tried it! So glad it’s working for you! And unschooling…that’s awesome! I think we may even get there one day! THanks for stopping by!

  8. For those who are on the fence about homeschooling .. watch this video by Samuel Blumenfeld. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KfIN9J7Y9us You will be at peace after watching it that homeschooling is the best option for the kids.

  9. This is great! I think those of us that had good public school experiences feel all of this. I finally had to realize it wasn’t about my past, it was about OUR future

  10. thank you so much for these words. Yesterday was the first day of school here, we had started last week and had a great, very first week ever, of homeschooling. Yet that day came around and we were off, because daddy was off, and it just felt soooo odd. Homeschooling is truly what I want but sometimes it is so hard and it makes you feel lonely at times to go against the grain. Thanks again for this post !!

  11. I have taught Kindergarten for the past 17 years (public school). This is my 1st year homeschooling full time – something I NEVER thought I would do (and my daughter is in 10th grade this year!! We started last year with 9th but I still taught K full time) . As school started back this year I thought I would be sad that I wasn’t going – instead I have felt excited for this new journey. Don’t get me wrong – I miss Kindergarten but I have realized I miss the Kindergarten that I was able to teach when I started 17 years ago. I miss the fun & excitement. I don’t miss bubble in test, no home center, no free time, outside play being cut.. the list goes on and on! I feel very blessed to have these last years with my sweet daughter before she leaves for college. Thank you for sharing your journey with us. Most of my teacher friends do not understand why I would make this choice 🙂

  12. It has been part of my plan to home educate my children since before they existed, and yet, this time of year, even I feel the bittersweet twinge of nostalgia. Maybe even a little bit of mourning. Thank you for acknowledging this feeling that many of us experience.

  13. I think it is a bit of ‘mourning’ maybe. I removed Keilee from PS the 1st week of 2nd grade and she is in 8th now. I really don’t think I mourned but I don’t remember. The main thing is finding a group of kids and MAMAS. I hope you have an amazing K year and never look back!!

  14. We decided to begin homeschooling my daughter about midway through her 3rd grade year after dealing with bullies and a stalker (for real…we’re talking 2am phone calls and getting cornered in the hallway by a fellow 3rd grader.) That summer, my daughter’s biological brother joined our family (which we had been waiting for since she had come 2 years earlier). We figured it would be a good way to build into our relationship with him as well as give our daughter a foundation to handle scary situations like that, should she ever have to face one again.

    It has been a looooooong 2 years.

    But we are thrilled to be home now because I am expecting a baby (the second biological baby doctors said I would never have). Now my daughter age 12, my older son age 10, and my younger son age *almost* 3, are all working hard to finish a BUNCH of schooling so we can take November and December off and just enjoy each other and our new baby girl…an opportunity that would not be afforded us in the tradtional school setting. (And one which I feel is very important because of my older children’s past “family” life.)

  15. I went through this exact same thing. Our 5 yr old attended public school for 2 weeks and I couldn’t do it. I can’t even explain my feelings through all of it at this point. This is our 2nd day of Homeschooling, and for some reason sitting on the couch watching My Little Pony with ALL three of my children feels so much better then sending him off on the bus. Thank You for sharing your experience, its nice to see that other mama’s have gone through the same thing.

  16. I love this on so many levels!!! I went through the same thing! But I would never trade our homeschool memories now!

  17. Side note: you had a stoplight in your cafeteria? I thought my elementary school when I was little was the only one! Did yours light up according to the loudness levels?

  18. We to are homeschooling one of our 4 kids it is the right thing for him. But it is a daily struggle to get him to do his school work there is anger fights and tears, We pulled him because 33 kids in a class with a slight ADD child who is dyslexic was to much for him and them, he has been out since Jan 2013 and will not go back until high school in two years! We are struggling daily!

  19. Such perfect timing!! We started first grade online school last week and the public school we pulled out from starts this week. My facebook is flooded with “first day of school” pictures and stories. I was feeling the mourning for sure. Your post reminded me that I am doing the right thing and that I’m not alone!!

    • Those pics are so hard! I take my own now! I print out first day signs and all. One time I even loaded up the boys in the SUV, drove around the block and back into our driveway and said ‘we’re at school!’ The boys got a kick outta that!

  20. Marilou Purpura says:

    I thought of homeschooling every year, but lack of courage and now its too hard to start. BUT I am encouraging my daughter to do it. My granddaughter is 4 hopefully she will home school. BUT I think the thing that my friend said was the best. Every year I make up my mind based on the kid and the grade. I believe that if the schools were better, and the catholic school was not crazy expensive more people would choose private education. I am still wondering if I did the right thing. I still have two at home 1st year of high school, and a 7th grader. MY 7th grader is a wonderful student high honors, and she is begging me to stay home, if it is not better by January I will.
    Keep up the good work, and if you cant do it as a former teacher then what are we doing? lol There is so much info out there right at your finger tips, just google any subject and you have the info…My daughter wants to home school because she loves to read, and they make you do things and she just wants to read. She has an hour in gym, she is like why? Just so our home room teacher can have a break? according to her it takes about 20 minutes to change and get outside, and another 20 minutes to pick up, and change again she says that is stupid, we do not even get two innings in! She really makes me laugh. I know she loves her teachers that is not the problem she can not handle drama….and she feels bad when someone is picked on. She told a kid yesterday…” dont feel bad, today was your day, tomorrow will probably be mine, they pick on someone every day..just watch them they are not happy…..(while this is such a grown up thing to say–it makes me sad.)

  21. I think I’m going through phases 1, 2, and 3 right now. We are getting ready to start our first homeschooling year, and I’m petrified. Part of me is also like, “Am I REALLY going to do this? Am I REALLY going to give up all the free time I’ve been looking forward to?” Ugh… I think it’ll be for the best, but it’s a scary decision that’s for sure. Thanks for sharing and making me feel normal! 🙂

  22. Thank you, thank you, thank you.. Oh, and did I mention THANK YOU?!?!?! Your blog post so eloquently put into words all of the things that I have felt since we made the decision to homeschool several years ago. There are still days that those thoughts go through my mind, there is still a part of me the itches to go back to school shopping every August, there is still a part of me that immediately feels the need to explain to everyone why we choose to homeschool. On the other hand though, each day is a totally new and exciting experience that I get to enjoy with my children,I have the opportunity that not many have. I have taught my daughter to read, I have been more than excited to sit down and try a new art project, I have giggled like a school girl when a science project did what science projects do, and most importantly, I have just gotten to “be” with my children and see life and school through their eyes. Thank you again for putting words to what myself and so many other mothers who venture on this path have felt!

  23. It was mourning time for me only during the anticipation phase. Then when we actually woke up naturally and had a nutritious breakfast before starting our homeschool routine, the joy set in. There was no harried running out the door, no crying that they couldn’t find their shoes, no making of lunches or finding coins to pay for one, no staying up ’til 2:00 a.m. helping a child with the math homework (I’m not kidding). Peace, serenity, joy, excitement in learning were what we got in exchange. With my 7 children I did public school, private school, and homeschool. Homeschool was definitely the best experience.

  24. You seem to like public school. Why did you make the decision to homeschool? In my area public school is a nightmare. The parents see school as a daycare. The kids are monsters.

  25. We decided (were led) to do something different this year. Instead of the local public school we enrolled in a virtual academy. I have a 2nd and 4th grader and a 2 year old. As I received the books and talk to the teacher I know we have made the right decision. Both boys will be able to move at their own pace and move up when they finish. They are more excited than I have ever seen them starting school.

  26. I also mourned the public school experience that I originally wanted for my kids. Thankfully, the Lord led us to homeschool. We’ve now found what works for our family and we’re happy!

  27. WOW! It’s great to know that I am not alone!! I also was a public school teacher and am homeschooling my daughter now! This year we are hitting Kindergarten material! 🙂 Most days I LOVE it and am excited to see her learn and have this extra time with her and be able to watch her grown in God as well as academically… but there are those few days when I miss being in the classroom, when I feel “guilty” for not giving her that experience. Thankfully, those days are few and far between, but God gives me strength for EVERY day! Thanks again for sharing what I have felt many times!

  28. Exactly the stages I went through. And I laughed at #4…Thanks a lot God!, I’m with you on that one too. I never thought I would do this. It was entirely HIS idea!! Which whenever I think of it that way, it always blows me away. He has been leading me to a different curriculum and has done everything to place it all in front of me to where I finally had to say, “Ok God, I will give it a try!”. I have yet to start it, but after I made the decision I felt at peace about it. I’m jumping in with both feet and really trying to listen to him rather than listen to my own fears. This year should be enlightening!

  29. I thought I was the only one!! My oldest is supposed to be starting kindergarten this year and when everyone with kids the same age started posting pictures on social media, I have to say I felt that mourning feeling as well! (from another former PS teacher)

  30. Christina says:

    I completely relate to this! I really did mourn the no K thing. I still doubt myself sometimes as we struggle to get it going. I hope I get to 5 eventually. lol

  31. I am so thankful you wrote this!! I have a 4 and 5 year old. My daughter is 5 , and last year she attended a pre-k at our church , and it was such a great experience , and she LOVES school! My husband got a job transfer to hawaii this past january ,so i had to pull her out early… which really broke my heart , and unfortunately, for being one of the most expensive places to live, they have the worst public school system. I decided to try homeschooling this year for Kindergarten and see how we like it and so far it is going great ! I have my 4 year old doing the lessons with us and they both are doing so awesome I am really proud of them, and myself too , because I was very worried about not being enough . I have been so worried about the social aspect of not being in a public school , but then as i prayed about it , I remember it wasn’t all pleasant as i was for some reason convincing myself of. It is hard enough trying to figure out who you are and learn all the stuff this world is made up of without the peer pressure that comes along with public school and the teasing and hurt. I am going to enroll both of my kids into activities outisde like karate and gymnastics for social, and try to get involved with a church over here to get to meet some moms and they can make friends at sunday school i’m praying ! I feel very blessed to get to teach my children and get to see how they are progressing and the pride that comes over them when they sound otu a word and write it out for the first time ! This is a blessing to be able to stay home ! I am praying God will give me full assurance and peace that I am doing the right thing, or that it is okay to let my children go to public school here , if that is what they really want .

  32. I wonder how the parents felt 100 years ago when they sent their children out of the home to be taught by someone they didn’t know and didn’t have the choice of how or what to teach when? Just a thought.

  33. Steph Trax says:

    Thanks so much! You nailed it with those steps. I travel in between the first three steps a lot right now, and touch on 4 from time to time. Once in awhile, when I think about my daughter’s food allergies, or buy a new workbook or something I touch on step 5 🙂 It’s hard because its still so counter-cultural. But we are trying to embrace some traditional stuff in some ways by being part of a co-op that she can also call her “school”, and we try to sign up for an extra curricular each semester that she also calls school. She’s just 4 1/2, so she doesn’t totally get “home school” and tells everyone she just goes to “swim school” because she wants to be a swimmer when she grows up- LOL. And I’ve decided to go along with the public school schedule as far as when we work (it makes sense, too, because my husband is a teacher). So, we’ll still have “back to school” and “summer vacation” excitement, and school friends, and new pencils 🙂

  34. Hi,
    It’s so amazing that no matter which continent you homeschool in,our experiences are similar.We are relatively new to homeschooling in South Africa so when my husband and I made the decision to homeschool,we faced the most negative responses from my parents.You would think that my dad being a pastor would understand and accept our choice.I must say that 2yrs on an he has sort of accepted us choosing to homeschool.So when you talk about being weird,I can totally relate to it.God bless us as we accept the challenges and embrace the special moments of homeschooling.
    Mum to Samuel(10),Sarah(9)and Elijah(16mths)

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