As my oldest nears the age for kindergarten, a popular topic of discussion among my mommy friends is education. When will I send my kid to school and what kind of school will it be? As I anticipate the education of my children, I look back at my years of schooling in which I attended public schools in foreign countries, wore a uniform at a private British school, studied with a tutor, home schooled, spent a year at an international school, and, finally, graduated from a boarding school. My parents were flexible, choosing what they thought best and financially viable for that period of our life. As I was reminded recently while reading Tsh Oxenrieder‘s book Notes from a Blue Bicycle, never discount a particular form of education. There is a time and place for everything.
During this period of our family’s life, we have decided that being together as a family is more important than most other things we could focus on (evening routines, consistency in nap schedules, extracurricular classes, etc). My husband has been traveling for the last six weeks and we’ve joined him for a good two weeks of that time. My oldest is preschool age, so she could be in preschool. She also could miss preschool for trips to see daddy, but I’m too cheap. If we’re paying for it, we’re going to do it, so no skipping a private preschool education so we can travel. I actually tried that already. She went to preschool twice a week for several months while my husband was away and we couldn’t join him. The school was fantastic. She loved it and I loved that she loved it and could do the school thing. But it was a bit constricting for our lifestyle. If I decided to take a trip and skip Thursday school, I felt guilty wasting the money I had allocated for an education she was not attending to. Do you know how many cups of fresh roasted coffee I could have bought with that money? Nevertheless, the school was a blessing and just what we needed for that season of life.
That brings us to today. She’s four – barely an age that requires formal education. So, I informally homeschool. A couple times a week we work on reading and writing for a half hour or so. Sometimes she doesn’t want to do it, which is fine. I happily let her know she is absolutely under no obligation to do school – she just can’t play her computer ABC game until she completes her work. Works every time. I taught her to use a computer mouse when she turned three so she could navigate a phonics website. We don’t have a touch pad or touch screen anything and I thought teaching her to use a mouse would help develop hand eye coordination. That’s completely unverifiable, but now that you read it here, in print, on the internet, you can assume it must be true. So, Little P has learned how to open her website and find her “game.” I’ve used several different free educational websites and free trials. Starfall.com and ABCmouse.com are two that she has enjoyed. We haven’t tried it yet, but K5 Learning has an online reading and math program for kindergarten to grade 5 students. For the purposes of full disclosure, because I’m a blogger I have been given a six week free trial to test and write a review of their program, if I mention them in a blog. (If you are blogger, you may want to check out their open invitation to write an online learning review of their program). I am a lover of books and hard copy materials my kids can touch, smell and sometimes, for the baby, taste – things that don’t emanate artificial light. However, I currently do enjoy that fact that there are some great online educational platforms my daughter begs to play because she thinks they’re games. I’m biding my time until she figures it out. . .