For many years, my children’s education was high on my list of worrisome things as I didn’t want them to experience what I did. While in high school I was reassured that the education I received had prepared me very well for college. In fact, even though I felt like I was not prepared, I enrolled and dutifully took the weed out courses given to incoming pre-med freshmen where I realized that my fears were indeed reality. I really was not prepared. So ill-prepared that I was embarrassed by a chemistry lab teacher in front of the entire class in my first week of college because I was expected to know something that I, unlike the rest of my classmates, was never taught in high school. (Granted she did apologize later, but the wound is still here.) I did not want that for my children. Due to my various negative educational experiences (I have quite a few), I developed a list of what I wanted for my children. I desired for my children to
•Know everything they needed to know.
•Know how they learn best so they can teach themselves.
•Have confidence in who they are.
•Enjoy learning and not be bored in the process.
Because of my concerns, I kept Giant out of HeadStart because I heard how ill-prepared for school the children in their care were, but the best preschools were financially out of our reach. So, for his preschool years, we chose to teach him at home. We figured that I could better prepare him for kindergarten and give him a good starting pont for the rest of his schooling. Of course I had some doubts about my ability. I mean what if I forgot to teach Giant something he really needed to know? But I was given a booklet which contained the syllabus for kindergarten in our state, gathered up some courage, and used that book as my starting point. My hope was he would know everything he needed to know to enter Kindergarten and be ahead of the game. I read to him everyday, multiple times a day. I utilized Sesame Street, Between the Lions, and Word World along with Wheel of Fortune for letter recognition. We focused on writing his name and maintaining the correct grip.
•The library was our friend.
•The Internet was our friend.
•The printer was our friend.
Everything that I could find that was free or extremely close to free I utilized. It is absolutely amazing what you can help your child learn utilizing today’s technology and your child’s future as motivation!
We moved to a new school district and just like everyone else we decided to send our oldest to public school. Since we moved after the lottery occured to get into the best elementary school in the city, Giant was assigned to a regular low performing school. Spurred by my concerns, we called the principal of the best elementary school (a magnet school) in our city and asked if she would allow Giant into the school. We were so relieved when she said yes! There was only one hitch, he must pass the entrance exam which all of the children entering kindergarten were required to take. This made me nervous. Would he know everything? He hated handwriting, would the handwriting battles we had be worth it? Would all of our hard work pay off? I walked him over to the school and introduced him to the teachers then it was time to close the door and commence the exam. The results? They were astonished at how much he knew! The exam did show me that I did forget to focus in on rhyming words, but Giant knew enough to make up some of his own rhyming words!
We made it! My goal was met and my oldest boy was in kindergarten. I gained more confidence to prepare Roly for kindergarten. The new goal was to go back to work after Roly entered school and help make some money for our family. Maybe go back to school to earn a masters degree in psychology and eventually become a medical doctor. But those dreams were soon placed on hold because of some issues with the school system which required a change of course…