I love school. I loved it through elementary, into middle school, and all through high school. College was a blast, of course (!), and I’m thankful school was always something fun and special to me. Heck, I loved school so much, I grew up to be a teacher! #nerdalert More than anyone, I know education is important and a great basis for a successful life! However, my kids (thus far) have not gone to pre-school. Free (VPK) preschool nonetheless. Insert gasps here. Now let them out.
Pre-school just didn’t work for us. I work part time as a middle school teacher which means that I work every Thursday, Friday and every other Wednesday (best. gig. ever.). Caden, my oldest, was almost 4 when I started this schedule and 1 year later he was ready for his pre-school year. Much to my teacher-minded-education-is-everything dismay, we couldn’t find anywhere that we could get aftercare for just the days that I had to work. Our only option would have been to pay full time even though he would’ve only needed it 2 or 3 days a week. Obbvvviiiouuussllly working as a part time teacher also means I make half my pay which equals NOTHING. We certainly could not afford half my pay AND full time childcare. It just wasn’t going to happen. It took some time for us (me) to fully accept that realization and come to terms with it.
Then the doubts set in: What would everyone think? We were cheap? Bad parents? Irresponsible? Would my kid always struggle? Never learn to read? Fail the SAT? Drop out of HS? (ridiculous, I know)
A lot of people were super kind and supportive! I remember specifically my cousin Diana, who’s also an elementary teacher, talking me off the ledge often. She’d remind me that it wasn’t a big deal, that he was smart and, HELLO, he has a teacher for a mom! She was always a bright light when others would lead me down dark alleys of uncertainty (Thanks, Diana!!!).
I’ll never forget some of the other comments… “Are you SURE this is really the best option?????” “Can’t you just make SOMETHING work???” “Oh goodness, I think you’re really putting him at a disadvantage.” “All the student’s I’ve ever had that have failed Kindergarten have all ALSO not attended VPK” Oof… you wanna talk about feeling like the WORST parent???
But, you guys, I just DIDN’T feel like we could make it work. And I just DIDN’T feel like we HAD to. Even amidst all the naysayers, pre-school just DIDN’T feel right for our family. In that moment. In that season. For that kid. Selfishly, I also just wasn’t ready to let him go. I didn’t want to put him in an all day VPK (voluntary pre-school, which is also free, for all of you who don’t know what VPK means!) when I had finally just gotten the chance to stay home with him part time. I craved that extra year with him. My momma soul needed it, after years of praying for extra time with my first born.
An extra year at home also meant an extra year for this brother & sister to bond <3
So, I wiped my wounded, doubt-filled, uneasy, humbled tears away, and we started the school year alongside all of his VPK-attending friends at home. I had grand plans of a legit homeschool curriculum, but we traded workbooks for packing boxes and drs appointments as we moved homes and had a new baby all in that same year! It was a super busy, full season for us and I had my big buddy and his little sis right by my side for it.
And you know what? I wouldn’t change it for anything. He entered Kindergarten that fall and SOARED. He soared so high our hearts could hardly handle it. He achieved goals and met standards, and by the end of Kindergarten he was reading at a Second Grade level. Our little buddy conquered Kindergarten without the help of preschool, and I’m thankful that we followed our gut and didn’t kill ourselves over figuring something out that just didn’t feel right for us. Just because someone else said so. Especially just because someone else said so.
Caden won 1st Place in his Kindergarten class spelling bee this past Spring.
Our daughter will be 4 in a few weeks (insert mommy sobs here) and she technically could be/ should be starting VPK this school year. But she’s not. Because it still doesn’t work for us. Quite honestly, we’re not even sure she’ll be starting Kindergarten next fall. She’ll be making the age cut off by 3 days and we’re not ready to make that decision just yet. We haven’t figured out what will work for her, regardless of what her peers are doing or the state says. Aaaannnndddd my selfish mommy heart may just want that 1 extra year with her, but that’s a different story for a different day 😉
The point is, it’s not going to work for us this year. And guess how many opinions I asked for this time? Z_E_R_O. Is that to say we may not change our minds mid year when we start to assess where Adalyn is academically? Maybe she’ll be one who really DOES need a school setting, and we WILL need to make that financial sacrifice. Perhaps our youngest, Bryce, WILL go to pre-school because I’m back full time, or because we think he’ll benefit from it, or because we found a way to make it work. We will decide when we get to it. We will. Us. Our family. Because in our family, we make our own decisions with lots of prayer, based on what will work for us, and for our current life’s season.
Mommas & Daddys who work so hard to make every last best decision for your babies… you do YOU. You decide what’s going to work, what will benefit your family for that season in time, what your still, quiet Voice leads you to. Don’t let the naysayers make you doubt yourself, or feel less than. In YOUR family, you make hard choices, and then stand by them. We did, and we’re thankful for it.