30 Nov Trusting Instincts: Preschool and homeschooling

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The first bell welcomed a favorite moment of the school day: the anticipation of learning with “my kids.”  I stood watching the school entry. Some students hurried in with confidence. Others entered bashfully. While I took in each face and posture, one entrance filled my heart. A dark-haired four-year-old boy entered with his mom. His hand grasped hers as they strolled to the preschool room. As I smiled for them, my heart beamed in anticipation of the day that I would walk, hand-in-hand, with my children to their preschool room.

Eight years later, I grin as I remember that duo. Heart-felt hopes for all that school would hold for my children also come to mind. I had visions of them enjoying dynamic learning opportunities in a nurturing classroom. I was determined for my children to know that reality. When my firstborn was preschool age, I researched recommended programs. Meanwhile, my instincts told me that my son wouldn’t be enrolled. As friends discussed the preschools their children would thrive in, I felt insecure. The vision I once saw for my young children would not become reality.

Rather than holding my preschooler’s hand while escorting him to his classroom, we walked side by side through community excursions, neighborhood explorations, and backyard field trips. Instead of wishing him a good morning at preschool, I hosted a good morning for him at his home school. This was not the vision I held for my children when I was a professional educator. Yet, once I acquired the title of “mom,” real life challenged me to trust my instincts on what was right for my children. As a parent and educator, I had to trust in my decisions that veered away from tradition, expectations, and dreams.

My husband and I decided to homeschool during the preschool years. Our decision was not founded on special circumstances or a shortage of quality programs. Rather, this decision was rooted in the best interest of our children. However, trusting intuition that conflicted with a dream and traditional practice took time and validation found in meaningful experiences. As I immersed myself in our homeschool reality, I was mindful of state benchmarks while implementing learning opportunities based upon my child’s interests and needs. The decision to follow intuition led to dynamic, educational, and real life experiences for my preschooler in a nurturing environment. Dialogue within the homeschool community also strengthened trust in our decision. In my combined parental and educator role, I had progressed from insecurities to trusting my intuition.

Upon concluding homeschooling the preschool years with my oldest, he was well-adjusted, socially appropriate, and academically on-track. He was proud of himself and ready for the traditional educational realm of kindergarten. When the first day of school arrived, he walked confidently into his classroom. Standing in the doorway, I peaked in on him as he sat on the rug, awaiting his first traditional school experience. This time I was the loving mom, smiling at the welcoming teacher. As it turns out, my dream came true, even after trusting my parental instincts that veered away from hopes, tradition, and expectation.

Kate DeJong lives in Grand Rapids with her husband and three children, who are eagerly anticipating the adoption of two Haitian siblings into their family. Prior to motherhood, Kate taught at the elementary level in West Michigan, Honduras and the Dominican Republic and received an M. Ed. in Special Education and another M. Ed. in Educational Leadership. You’re invited to follow their adoption journey at www.dejongfamilyadoption.wordpress.com
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