The decision of educating our children crept up on us. When our first daughter turned three, were faced with the decision of whether or not to send her to preschool. This is where our journey into childhood education began, where we found a maze of options for educating our daughters. Following some sense of cultural obligation, but not my instincts, we sent our 3 year old off to preschool. I cringed each time I had to say good bye to my girl, fighting back the tears as I drove away from her school; she did too. Many people think that this is simply part of the package; separation is inevitable and necessary to build strength and independence in children. I agree that this is appropriate in the later years, but my three year old just simply felt too young to know how to cope socially and emotionally on her own. She was lost and withdrawn much of her first preschool year. We got through that year, as I constantly questioned my decision to send her. The next year of preschool was a breeze, as she happily waved goodbye to me from the rocking chair in school's front window. She had grown comfortable there and knew then what it was like to be away from me and how fun the school day was. She was also a four year old, a four year old that was much more awake and stable than her three year old self. Little did we know, this decision was the easiest one we would have to make about our children's education. I loved her school and loved that she was only there two days a week. But, this was soon to come to an end. Prekindergarten was creeping up on us quickly, as we narrowed our search for options. There are no schools that offer two-day programs, beyond preschool. It cam down to either full time school or home school. I knew many Santa Feans home schooled their children. At first the thought of this sounded a bit crazy, or extremely difficult at best. Me? Educate our children? NO, I am not an educator, this is not my territory.After many a conversation with experienced home schooling parents, our comfort level with this option began to shift. I had many ill-formed preconceived notions about home schooling, which over time were dispelled, by simply educating myself. Home schooling can come with many stigmas, and like any stigma, the stereotypes are often empty. Very often, home schooled children thrive academically, often surpassing their peers. They tend to be self-led and highly motivated individuals, finding from an early age the joy of learning. Many times they have a very full schedule, with a bountiful variety from who and where they learn. They learn in an environment where they are less distracted by other children's behaviors or by other children learning at very different levels. Home schooled children are usually very comfortable socially. By being around a wide range of ages in his education and daily life, a twelve year old child learns from an early age how to have a conversation with either a toddler or an elder. This is the norm for a home schooled child, a child who has been integrated into the full spectrum of our society. Our home school journey began this year. Prekindergarten is a good place to start. It is still simple and sweet. We also formed a home school co-op that our children are part of once a week. The children not only create and grow together, but celebrate festivals together. It is a place where the spirit of the child is honored. I already feel a deep connection to the families involved, as we discover this new territory together. The dedication and passion of these parents is undeniable. My husband and I have only just begun this new adventure and have a very large learning curve ahead of us. Undoubtably this job is daunting and teaching our own children does not feel like a small task. It does, however, feel very fitting. Somehow I tend to want to do things myself in this world, sometimes peddling uphill the whole way. I do not consider fierce independence a blessing. Home schooling is a job I am willing to pioneer though, whole-heartedly for the moment, summoning prayers along the way.
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