Due to other conflicts, our big five year old is "graduating" from preschool about two weeks early. We have been so blessed by her preschool. She has been attending since she was 18 months old and has grown up with many of the same kids in her class. The staff has been so sweet and wonderful! They found out we needed to leave early so they dressed Hannah in her cap and gown to take a picture and will have all of her end of the year photos and mementos ready for us on our last day. This photo is from their spring program with one of her best friends.
With the end of preschool comes a new adventure, Kindergarten! As I mentioned before, we have decided to homeschool. This is a decision that we have been thinking, praying, and debating about for five years. I never thought I would homeschool. In fact, when she was first born, we were adamant that we wouldn't. But from our research and meeting with other homeschool families, we have found that many of those stereotypes simply aren't true.
I don't want anyone to think that we are only homeschooling so we can keep visiting Walt Disney World. We do travel a lot, but rarely is it simply for a vacation. Out of the four trips to the Disney Destinations that we currently have planned for this calendar year, only one of them is only for a vacation. All of the rest of them have business meetings tied to them. Chet travels even more often for speaking, and, we are blessed when we get to travel with him to those engagements. We have never liked the idea of always leaving our children behind while we travel to the necessary engagements. We want to be able to experience these things together as a family.
Hannah has already learned so much from our travels already. At five years old, she has already been to one of the Smithsonian Museums in Washington D.C.; learned how to make chocolate in Hershey, PA; made friends with a dolphin; has stood under the Gateway Arch in Saint Louis; learned about trains in Baltimore; and has made countless friends of all ages all across the country. Later this year we are traveling on a cruise through the Panama Canal and will visit the Grand Canyon. These experiences aren't the same when just read in text book. Here at home, the zoo, museums, aquariums, parks are all available as well. We are excited about the possibilities!
Another reason we are homeschooling is that simply put, our family is different. Right now, most of Hannah's friends think her dad is cool. Most have grown up with him around and don't see him as any different. We do not think that will always be the case especially in the public school setting. Hannah is our little tender-heart. She loves everybody and doesn't do well with confrontation, teasing, and bullying. We know that we can't always protect and shelter her from everything, but in these early years, we can teach her to stand up for herself, learn the value of self-worth, and help her see why some people act the way they do. Someday, she will be out in "reality," but that does not have to be today when she doesn't have all of the tools that she needs to be prepared for it.
Socialization will not be an issue. We have already found a local homeschool group in our neighborhood that is full of kids around Hannah's age. Hannah is currently involved in gymnastics and will continue next year. She has also expressed interest in piano and ballet. She is getting to an age where she can participate in more activities and church. She rarely meets a stranger when we travel with Chet to his speaking engagements and on our vacations.
I have no doubt Hannah will excel academically. She has always been very bright and we will continue to teach her just like we have these last five years. We like the idea of tailoring her studies and lessons to her interests, learning style, and needs to make them even more meaningful. We are currently picking out the curriculum plans that we want to use and I already picked up a book that talks about how to create lessons around Walt Disney World! :)
This is certainly not all of the reasons that we have decided to homeschool, but just the ones that may be more specific to our family. There are many other reasons that are common among other homeschool families. Homeschooling is what we have chosen for our family. It is works best for us at the moment, but we have not made a lifetime commitment either. We will take a year at a time and reevaluate as necessary. We are all excited about what the next year will bring!