Carter's kindergarten graduation was Tuesday. Carter was very happy to be finished. In the morning we all woke, showered, and dressed. Kurt was in California on business, so he was unable to be with us and Carter was pretty upset. To help cheer Carter, I asked Uncle Brian to come to the Graduation with us for some support. With cocoa (for me) and coffee (for Uncle Brian) in hand, Harrison and I took our seats and saw the first round of Kindergarten graduation- it was Sean's! We cheered, took pictures, and talked about how adorable all the kids were. Harrison was bored but behaved well, it was nice.
After Sean's group left we snagged better seats for Carter's. The clock ticked and soon parents began to worry why the other Graduation Ceremony had not started. An announcement on loud speaker told everyone why: "Will Carter's mother please come to his classroom as soon as possible!?" Ugh. I ran as fast as I could down to the class to see that Carter, who was to be the first student called in the entire program, was refusing to walk with his class. Carter saw me and his tear filled eyes instantly brightened. I hugged him and asked what was wrong. He told me he was scared. I assured him I would be right in the front, and I would be waving to him. He didn't want to go- he just wanted to hold my hand. I hugged him tight and told him that this was the moment he worked for all year, it was almost over, and then we could be home. He put his graduation cap on, and he marched away.
Carter's name was the first called. The children sang songs, and Carter did great! After the graduation there was a celebratory lunch and the children laughed and enjoyed the attention. I took pictures of Carter and his teacher, and then we all came home.
This year was hard. Carter had such a difficult time being at school. Carter had a wonderful teacher, and wonderful staff support- but in the end, it was not what he wanted- he wanted to be home.
We tried to get him excited. We talked to Carter about his new school- his new teacher, playground, and school bus! Carter was adamant that he did NOT want a NEW school- he wanted to learn at home. We unsuccessfully tried to get Carter excited for First Grade. We grew more discouraged every single day.
When our children were first born Kurt and I discussed home school. When they were little I took the advice of a friend and taught the kids in our kitchen "Mommy School." The boys did not go to a formal preschool until Kurt and I were separated and I was in school full time and couldn't be home. The children learned more in "Mommy School" than they ever did at their academically driven formal preschool. My kids could both read at the age of 2, and they both knew their colors, alphabet, shapes, and numbers. I taught them this at home. But let's be honest- doing colors and teaching grammar are two different things. Aren't they?
Carter thrives with one on one attention in school. Yes, I am sure all other children do as well, but I am not the mother of all children - I am Carter's mother. Carter is a very bright and capable child, and it was extremely difficult for Kurt and I to see him develop a deep dread of going to school each day. He would scream, fight, and cry. It was so hard. I wonder if I will ever forget the look on his face each day when he would drop him off- his huge blue eyes filled with clear tears, attempting to keep a stiff upper lip, as he would slowly walk to his desk.
One of the few comforts Carter had was bringing something from home to school with him- a lovey of some kind that acted as an aid of comfort. A few weeks before school was over I turned to see Carter sitting at his desk, round shouldered and quietly crying, clutching his toy. His teacher walked to him while making an announcement to the rest of his class, and snatched the toy from his grasp. He loudly wept with sorrow. It wasn't about the toy- and I knew it. He ached for home.
We have had so many people tell us that "the problem" is that Carter just needs to grow up. Kurt and I are able to take this criticism because we know our son. The anthropologist in me wants to scream at people when they tell me Carter needs to "grow up" or I have to "cut the apron strings." No other time in human history were children pushed so far from their parents, so young. And for what? In the name of "progress?" My special needs toddlers read more words than most kindergardeners. In the name of "socialization?" I am not impressed by the behaviors that are commonly exhibited by children at school, and I would rather my son not emulate those behaviors. This is not about apron strings. Kurt and I appreciate that here in Nevada we are seen as highly interactive because we work with our children, I choose to stay home, and we volunteer in activities with them- but parents like us are extremely common in other places (most of my friends can out "SuperMom" me ANY day of the week, and I can't hold a candle to the mothers I admired in Uganda). I take extreme offense to being told that my affection for my son, and my concern for his emotional well being have something to do with my own emotional needs as a mother. Those who know me, know I am anything but a helicopter parent, and I am very proud of that.
Kurt and I have thought and prayed for months, and we have decided that Carter will be homeschooled. We asked Carter, and he had told us his desired, but we did not tell him the outcome until after he finished his Graduation. The day after Graduation I talked with Carter and asked him again about going to his new school- he adamantly proclaimed he wanted to learn at home. When I told him that I would allow him to be home schooled his little face beamed. He has been so happy, every day, knowing that he will be home.
Carter will be doing the k12 program for first grade. He will have his own computer and printer. He will take a lot of field trips. He will read a lot of books. His P.E. time will consist of golf, swimming, skiing, and whatever else he feels like doing. He will play team sports. He will learn the things that the Nevada public schools are teaching other kids, in addition to support curricula that Kurt and I are researching presently. Carter will be happy. Carter will thrive.
We have not made decisions regarding second grade. We have not made decisions regarding Harrison. Harrison is ineligible for kindergarten until 2012 anyway, so we have decided to just add a preschool curriculum and teach Harrison right alongside Carter.
We are so thankful to be in a position where homeschool is an option for Carter, and we know that this is the right choice for him at this time.
Happy Graduation, my little man!