We just got this email in. What advice would you give James?
“We’re going into the 3rd month of pre-k (at school), and Rowan (my 4-year-old) is still throwing a fit to leave us. Today he was pretty forceful in saying he doesn’t want to go to school. He actually got away from us this morning and ran back to the van (he hasn’t done that yet), and one of the aids actually has to convince him to come into the school. What to do, What to do. I can understand for the first month or so, getting used to the idea of school everyday, but now into the 3rd month and still the same, if not worse? Something needs to change – Homeschool? or is he just not emotionally ready?”
George Hughes – Separation Anxiety
Not knowing this child I cannot comment on his readiness for school. I can only relate my experience with my oldest son. My son did not cry or make a fuss about going to preschool; he just stopped talking. He did not say one word to anyone at the school for an entire school year. Thankfully I listened to my heart (I believe God was leading me) and not the school officials. I homeschooled my children all the way through high school. My oldest, who became very shy for several years after I brought him home, is now in college 700 miles from home. He is an outspoken, bold young man who loves The Lord and desires to take the gospel to the lost. I hope my story will be an encouragement to pay attention to what your child is clearly trying to tell you. Whether you homeschool for a year, several years, or all the way, you and your child will be blessed by the experience! I am praying for you!
I would say the latter – what does he learn at Pre-K that he cannot learn from you at home? And better? And in the comfort and protection of his family?
James does know you are homeschool writers and speakers, right? What did he think you’d suggest? The answer to homeschool seems pretty obvious–what sane child WOULD want to leave the love and comfort of home at the tender age of 4?!?
It is worth it for us to think outside the box. The only advantage of pre-school or gov’t school to a set of married parents that I can think of is a second income possibility. That, by the way, has been shown to usually be consumed by the expenses incurred by the job itself and school. (Think of all the services and extras you pay for instead of doing yourself or finding unnecessary when mom brings home a check, too, and the hidden expenses of a “free” gov’t education). If a parent is quite ill, all the more reason for a child to be able to be near and comforted instead of away and worrying, and unable to tell of their own troubles out of concern for the sick parent.
Since the only advantage isn’t, then I recommend reading up on the tremendous advantages of homeschooling. It will bolster you to take the “non-traditional” or “alternative” step. That can be scary when you aren’t trying to be “alternative” in the first place. But trying to be alternative for alternative’s sake is unwise, so you are in a good spot if you are simply and straightforwardly trying to act in the best interests of your child. A well-researched position as you move to homeschooling will keep you calm, assured, enthusiastic, delighted, and gracious in the face of opposition.
By the way, in our own little world we have known of 2 children in separate families who begged their parents to homeschool them. It was in about fifth grade. The boy graduated from high school around 5 years ago, went 180 degrees from the spoken values of his parents and at least for the time they have lost him to resentment and bitterness towards them. He wanted away from the world, they refused, and he embraced the world farther than they ever imagined. He couldn’t live with their values in the school in which THEY placed him and survive, he felt. The girl has not been so dramatic or openly hostile, but she has left much of church life and activity and has also embraced social values held by her school. These are anecdotes, but ones worth noting. A child wanting to be near you is a blessing! It is not a sign that your child is too sheltered or unsocial. Don’t you want people to want to be near you? Don’t you have something to offer? We as a culture still think its alright for your spouse to enjoy being around you. Why not your children? Have a look at the lives of some of the great, tough Americans and find out about the role of pre-school in their lives. Say,for example, George Washington. May as well check out all the founders while you are at it:-) Sometimes we can’t see the forest of promise because we feel dependent on the shade from the lemming tree. All the best to you as you work to sort these things out!
Please consider homeschooling your child. Why as a society do we accept the premise that it is better for a child to be away from the family that truly loves and cares for him in order to be with strangers? Do you really think these caretakers will be more loving and effective at imparting your values? Homeschooling is a true blessing and you will not regret the decision. You can do it!
He’s only 4. He doesn’t need any formal education just yet anyway, at home or away. He needs to be outside w/ his fingers in the dirt, he needs to be doing chores w/ you and having you read to him and building relationships at home and wherever you go. He is showing his immaturity, but he is also showing what other children may feel but NOT show outwardly–how their security really is wrapped up in their relationship w/ Mama and Daddy, and that’s the way our Creator designed children to be. He belongs to YOU, he knows YOU, he loves and adores YOU, he (probably more often than not) wants to please YOU–but all the opposites are true for the nice people at school. And w/ all the time he has to be built up at home, you will still have time to research the benefits of homeschooling, which include but reach well beyond academics. Listen to his pleas — don’t deny him the comfort and security he longs for. He’s only 4 years old! Let him be little!!!
Something has to change, the problem needs to be understood first then solved. Size up the the situation first, then talk to the kid about his issues. Try out possible solutions untill succesful.
Our daughter had a similar issue on going to Sunday School at church. We tried many options over multiple years-including moving to a smaller church-and finally decided to keep her with us during church. She was able to mature in a socially “safe” environment (with us) and now is able to interact with others of all ages without any difficulty. I don’t believe this would have been true if we had continued to “force” the issue.
What are the reasons the child gives for refusing to enter school? A 4 year old can communicate “I don’t like the kids”, “I am afraid of . . .”, “I like home better” etc. I of course am for home schooling. Still, I would encourage James to investigate further with questions while at home. If this is a will issue it will resurface at home over math or dinner clean up. If there is another problem knowing it will help James make a more informed decision.
I have to agree with many writers… There is nothing that you can not teach your child at home that he/she can learn at pre-school. If you simply HAVE to send him to school because of a work obligation and you would simply be unable to provide for your family a simple style of living without dual income then I would certainly consider finding a pre-school that the child feels welcomed, loved and nurtured in. However, if your child feels everyday is excruciating then I would certainly investigate the reason. I “taught” (pre teaching degree) in a Montessori pre-school and I had kids that cried when they had to leave. Most children had first day jitters but certainly by month 3 they had subsided. Montessori schools offer very kinesthetic methods of instruction and even the most distraught child can’t help but get excited about water tables and sand sculptures. Maybe you could find a new Pre-k. Side note** I am a B.S. degree holding k-12 teacher, my husband and I chose to homeschool…
I taught my 4-year-old every thing he would have learned in preschool just using apps. I was inspired by the TED talk about the school in the cloud. He learned what is taught at preschool in about 3 weeks. I’m not sure how much is taught in kindergarten but he has mastered at least 30 phonic sounds. He understands numbers to 1,000. A few weeks ago I was stunned when he used his eating utensils and dishes to make 1,000. He has previously created 100 because we had counted to 100. He is also spelling and reading a few words. Using apps may sound like just sending your kid off with an electronic teacher, but usually we are cuddled up on the sofa.