Sunday, July 27, 2008

Ahhhh... My baby is starting Kindergarten!

Yep, my baby is beginning Kindergarten this year. (Sigh.) She has been talking non-stop about going to her first class next month to be with the other kids and beginning to learn new things. We have been ramping up all summer by tweaking her preschool skills - letters, numbers, colors, shapes, beginning letter sounds, writing, etc. I can't believe what they expect entering Kindergarteners to know these days!! I talked with a teacher friend who read that Texas may have to begin making preschool and Kindergarten mandatory because too many kids are coming into the classroom without vital skills. UGH!

As my mother tells it, when I was a kid, Kindergarten is where you learned all that stuff! Kindergarten isn't even mandatory in the state of Texas at this point - but that will have to change due to current trends in education. In truth, I really have never pushed Kayla too far when it comes to early learning. I guess I just didn't want to chance making her into one of those awkward kids that knows how to read and write by four but can't hold a conversation or relate to other kids to save her life. Since I was a pretty nerdy kid, I guess I didn't feel compelled to pass on that particular torch just yet. (Just wait - there's plenty of time to break out the pocket protectors and taped glasses during high school!! )

For those of you who may not know this, I had planned on homeschooling Kayla for as long as I was capable - at least until the Math got too hard for me! LOL! Since I still have a current Texas teaching certificate and have actually taught in a classroom before, I thought that I would be up to the challenge...oh, but was I ever wrong on that one! Firstly, I knew she was ready at four to begin learning... she is pretty smart and has a great memory. So, I began with my favorite Phonics reading program as well as a beginning Math program. Again, I wasn't pushing, just starting slow and easy. I had planned to incorporate additional subjects over time as we progressed and I had it all mapped out into a handy little lesson plan book.... in comes the DA DA DA DUMMMMM...

Our first day at the table, we cracked open our books and set to work. About fifteten minutes later, we were both frustrated with each other and nearly in tears. I can't tell you exactly what or where we went wrong, but I can honestly say I was disappointed. She and I clashed like I have never clashed with any one prior. By the end of the day we had kissed and made up and I vowed that I would do what I could to make the next day successful. Well, as you may have already guessed, I never did make it successful. Each day found us both miserable and frustrated. We would both walk away from the homeschool table completely defeated and dreading having to begin again the next day. A friend suggested that maybe Kayla just wasn't ready for school yet, so we backed off for a few weeks and tried again. And though we had a few successful days together every now and again, every day I woke up and dreaded that trip to the table. It got to the point where Kayla didn't even want me to read her a story because she hated school so much. That is when I made the decision that homeschooling was NOT my forte'. I suck at it!

Since the last day our homeschool ended with both of us crying in frustration, I never asked Kayla to go to the table for school again. After a few weeks, I began to read to her again and she actually enjoyed it. After a few more weeks, she and I began doing crafts and games together - it took her a long while to let her guard down with me. She was certain I was going to slip up back into the dreaded homeschool curriculum and acted very nervous about it. So I sold all my curriculum so she could rest at ease.

My hubby and I prayed about our desire for homeschooling, and I finally admitted out loud that I hated it. It occurred to me that I didn't just hate homeschooling, I hated teaching! Me, a retired classroom teacher HATED teaching! When I thought about it even more, I came to realize that I had also hated teaching in the classroom! I did it because I thought I should love it since I had gone to school for it - but I never really liked what I was doing! I loved certain aspects of teaching such as lesson planning, classroom set up and design, creating new learning connections, planning - but my fun ended when the kids walked into the classroom. I really loved the kids, but I really disliked the teaching. It was hard for me to come to that conclusion and it is still difficult for me to accept that the one thing I was the most passionate about was something I didn't really get much enjoyment from.

After James and I thought, prayed, and talked about our homeschool situation, we both came to the conclusion that school would be best for Kayla. Of course, our journey in discovering which school is an even longer tale that I won't bore you with now.... BUT, what is truly important is that we have our paths set and know what is coming. Kayla will be starting school at a brand new small community school much like the one I taught at. I plan on calling up her teacher next week to see if I can help out with classroom set up and design - after all, that was my favorite part of teaching and I was pretty good at it. Kayla is super excited about learning again (as long as it isn't with me) and is counting down the days until her first school day. And for the first time in a very long time, I am counting down the days until school starts too!