About a month ago, we enrolled Bella at the CDC (Child Development Center) a little ways down the road from our home. It’s an on post child care and early school program that is highly monitored and adorable to boot.
We’ve loved it. I have her going about 3 times a week for a few hours – either so I can work or be in therapy.
A few weeks ago, one of the teachers approached me about her upcoming class for the school year. It’s a morning preschool/PreK and she thought Bella would be a great fit. She showed me her classroom and the teacher inside of me wanted to pack my bags and move in. It was so perfect, with a schedule for the kids I couldn’t have made any more delightful.
I went home and suddenly doubted my desire to homeschool. After all, it was only 8-11am. We could homeschool in the afternoons. I would have time to work and clean, run errands. Bella would be with friends in a wonderful environment and with a great teacher.
What pulled me the most was the thought of normalcy that would come with it. I could be a room mom. My daughter would be in a school setting. After all the things that we’ve had to work through, this would just look so normal to everyone from the outside. We could seem – ok. That was a very huge draw for my heart.
Over the past 2 1/2 weeks or so, I’ve really struggled with the thought of having her in the class. Not only would I still need extra care on certain days when therapy ran past 11 (and have to pay extra on top of the preK fees), but hours were a factor. Bella has a tough time getting to sleep still, so she usually wakes up around 7:30. We’d need to be up by 6:45am five days a week to make it work.
Above all was this: I believe God has laid homeschooling on my heart for a reason. I know, I just know, that if I put her in this program, I will fill that time. That next year, when she is age-ready for public school kindergarten, I will have found ways to fill the time she’s been gone, and undoing that to make time for her will be difficult. I probably won’t do it. I know myself.
As I struggled over this, and these past two weeks have brought more heartache and stress, I asked God if I was even on the right track anymore. Was I being selfish? Should I put her in this program instead of pursuing my desire? Was this even as big of a deal as I was making it? Enroll my kid and move on.
Last Friday the teacher of the class caught me and explained that all of the children in the class would be 3 year olds this year, but not to worry – they usually had a few leave in December and the waiting list 4 year olds would be put in. However, she wanted me to know that the majority of the class learning would be focused on the 3’s because of their number. I listened to her and nodded, but in my heart I knew that was my answer. Bella will be 5 in November. If she were a young 4, I’d still be on the fence. But as a nearly 5 year old, and with us wanting to start kindergarten curriculum with her, a class full of 3 year olds was too big of an age gap. She’s more of a follower than a leader, and I don’t know if not having any peers her age to be with would be the best idea 5 days a week.
With encouragement from my family and friends, I pulled her name off the enrollment list today. While the staff was a bit baffled even as I explained – I know it’s the right decision for us. She’ll still go to the hourly class as needed. We will start school here in a few weeks and if she needs to sleep till 8am, there won’t be any guilt or rushing or fighting about getting ready.
For us, it’s what we’re supposed to be doing right now. I feel good about it, even though there still is a tug when I see that perfect little classroom waiting to open.
I wanted to share this with you in case there is anyone else out there who is feeling this way as school starts. Maybe you’re not sure if you did the right thing – even if your decision was different than mine. What helped me was reading another mama who poured her heart out about waiting another year to school her oldest, so it can’t be just us two that struggle with these feelings of doubt and wondering.