Traditional Preschool or Homeschool or Both? | Still Playing School

Traditional Preschool or Homeschool or Both?

We're about to start a fresh year of school. The questions I get most as a former teacher turned mom is, "What made you decide to homeschool?" and "Why are you sending one child to preschool while homeschooling the other?" Our choices are due to the unique strengths, needs, and values of our family but I would love to share them with you!

Traditional preschool, homeschool, or both? What is right for you and your child?

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When I stepped out of the kindergarten classroom to stay home to raise my kids I never expected to homeschool. Then again, I never expected to resign from teaching either but suddenly I had this four-month-old brown eyed, black haired baby in my arms who I just couldn't leave. We are fortunate enough to make this choice as financially I could stay home with her. 

When she turned three, we signed her up for preschool without a second thought. I now had her infant brother at home so I was looking forward to a few hours a few mornings a week where I could concentrate on one child while the other was happily at school.

And E was happy at preschool. But as the year trickled on I found myself looking at the clock on Tuesdays and Thursdays anxious for when I could go pick her up. Drop off and pick up times were interfering with the baby's nap. He would fall asleep in the car on the way to go get her and then I could forget putting him down for a more restful nap at home later that day.

She made friends. She loved her teachers. She had fun each and every day. In November I sat at her parent teacher conference looking over her progress report. I wasn't surprised that academically she was meeting all benchmarks as I was already suspecting that she was gifted. I pointed to the handwriting mark as E's pencil grasp was my largest concern with her development at that point. The teacher explained that she held the pencil in a fist grip and when I was surprised she looked at the assistant teacher who confirmed that this was developmental. "You mean her interdigital brace grasp? It's actually not developmental and she writes so frequently that I'm concerned it'll become a habit. How can we work together regarding this concern?" I countered.

I had never told them I was a teacher up until this point but I couldn't keep myself quiet any longer. They had E in their class for over three months at this point but I felt like they hardly knew her. She was meeting her social and academic goals but they had missed important details about what really mattered to her developmentally and to us, due to her personality.

I had to ask myself if this was the best fit for her and for us. She is versatile and she'd be happy at a public school or homeschooled. I didn't know much about homeschooling at that point but I went home with the seed planted in my head and my heart that day to find out if it was right for us, year by year. I have the availability and the knowledge to homeschool my children but most importantly I see them as their mother. No one else will teach them with the same loving hands and eyes and heart and words as I will.

Last year we homeschooled for E's final year of preschool. That seed in my heart grew. I gathered resources and a tribe of fellow homeschooling families both virtually and locally. My husband and I had a lot of late night talks about this decision. The quiet questions in my mind went from, "Can we do this? Can I do this?" to "How can we not homeschool?"

This fall, E starts Kindergarten chronologically. She taught herself to read with a bit of support from us and is now reading at an end of the year second grade level. In math she is studying end of the year first grade curriculum. I'm not telling you this to boast but to explain again not only our choice but our challenges with homeschooling. She hasn't been officially tested but I am proceeding with teaching her as a gifted student due to her academic levels but also the way she learns. She is self motivated, independent, and creative. She is also an anxious perfectionist. She's ours and we can embrace her needs and challenges as her parents to meet her exactly where she is academically like no public school can. As a former teacher, I can tell you that this isn't an indication of the public school system that I was once a part of but instead it's pure numbers. You just can't beat the homeschool student to teacher ratio.

Our now 2 1/2 year old D will attend a traditional two day preschool this fall. A dear friend and colleague of mine has opened her own preschool which will be brand new this school year. There is no doubt in my mind that she and her staff will know D and each and every child in their classroom above and beyond meeting my (now quite high) expectations! We head into his academic career fully expecting to homeschool him like his sister but this start will give me the opportunity to homeschool E uninterrupted for at least a few hours a week. 

So that's our plan for this fall. I've always said that we'll take homeschooling year by year. Preschool is the perfect time to experiment with schooling to see what works best for your child and your family as a whole. You can enroll your child, homeschool, or do both like we are this year!

Are you homeschooling for preschool? If so, I'm here to tell you, "You CAN do this!" and cheer you on! Our website is founded on play based learning activities that you can use to teach your preschooler at home. Are you sending your child to public school? If so, I'm here to tell you that as a teacher, most of those at the public school care deeply for your child as well! I hope they will do their very best to meet your child's needs. If you have questions or concerns, I'd love to assist you in speaking up as I needed to do at E's former preschool. Perhaps you will send your child to school but enrich a gifted learner at home or work on additional skills in the areas where your child needs extra help to apply that loving momma-teacher role for your kiddo as only you can!

I'd love to know your plans, support you either way, and hear your thoughts in the comments!

More Preparing For School Tips from the Early Childhood Education Team:
Back to School Tips for Parents PLUS Visual Morning Chart! by The Preschool Toolbox Blog

Back to School: Starting Routines by Tiny Tots Adventures

Setting Literacy Goals by Growing Book by Book

Teaching Preschool at Home by Raising Lifelong Learners



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18 comments :

  1. Isn't it awesome that we as parents have this choice! We debated homeschooling and decided it would work best for us to send the kids to public school and really focus on afterschooling them so they had the well rounded education plan we oh so craved!

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    1. Sounds perfect for your family, Amanda!

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  2. Wonderful post! We also suspect giftedness, but haven't had our 8 year old tested. I admire your authenticity and your bravery in coming out about this. I have thought about it, but don't feel brave enough. Your daughter is quite blessed in having you as her mother and champion. 😄

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    1. Aw, thank you Erin. We know that we know our kids best. It IS intimidating to say (or write) the way we know they learn when there is such a social stigma to labeling children as gifted. Thank you for your kind words and support!

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  3. It is such a gift to have the choice to homeschool! I was speaking to a European friend and she had never heard of homeschooling. She was thoroughly confused as to why anybody would choose homeschooling over public schools. The personalization and student teacher ratio can't be beat! Nobody know your kids better than you!

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  4. We've been homeschooling for 8 years now & every year we still assess whether or not it's the right choice for that year. Thanks for sharing your experience!

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  5. We are going back and forth with this decision right now. I am hoping it all becomes clear this year, but I am definitely leaning toward homeschooling. Thanks for sharing!

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  6. We school but with a heavy emphasis on support schooling at home - I guess the BOTH option. I have two gifted children but one also has a developmental delay so with normal schooling they either focus on his abilities (mainly this year) or his delay (last year) which means that we do the extra support the delay or extend his giftedness.

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  7. That was really interesting to read your decision to try both. We are doing something similar and are on the fence as to which will be our eventual direction. We have one who is in the gifted category which makes it tricky to decide what's best.

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  8. I always find it fascinating to discover what leads another family to homeschool their children and whether or not they will take that route for all their children. Thank you so much for sharing a little of your world with me :)

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  9. I'm in the same boat as Danielle. We are trying to decide what the best choice is for our boys too. I hope that this year brings lots of clarity. Thanks for sharing your experience.

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  10. I'm in the same boat as Danielle. We are trying to decide what the best choice is for our boys too. I hope that this year brings lots of clarity. Thanks for sharing your experience.

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  11. It always helps to see someone else struggle with the same decisions that you struggle with.

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  12. Really appreciate the advice given in here!

    We decided to homeschool for many reasons and I was never one to even think in the homeschool direction until it was needed.

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  13. Thanks for sharing all of your thoughts, as well as the process you went through to decide! I love that you're able to really choose what works best for your kids and your family! Homeschooling isn't an option for us since I'm a single mom, but I still really appreciated that peek into your decisions. I think this will help so many parents, and I love your enthusiasm for doing just that!

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  14. Thanks for sharing all of your thoughts, as well as the process you went through to decide! I love that you're able to really choose what works best for your kids and your family! Homeschooling isn't an option for us since I'm a single mom, but I still really appreciated that peek into your decisions. I think this will help so many parents, and I love your enthusiasm for doing just that!

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  15. Great ideas for helping families decide what works best for their own family and children. I love that you have offered support for very personal choices! Blessings for a great start to your own school year at home!

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  16. Brave, wonderful piece, Devany. You know how I feel about homeschooling gifted kids. ;-) Your little E is lucky to have you for a mama. I'm looking forward to watching her blossom, and reading your successes. <3

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