Aaron turned 3 at the beginning of the month. Cue an increase in the inevitable “when are you going to send him to nursery?” questions which people have been asking for the past two years. It’s time I had an answer.
Incidentally, I’m amazed at the amount of pressure there is to send toddlers to nursery. When he was one, a government leaflet dropped through my letterbox with “I sing songs at nursery, mum goes to work, la-la-la-lah!” on the front. Long before he was two, I had people asking “does he go to nursery?”. When I replied in the negative they would immediately ask “when are you going to send him?”. I didn’t understand why I would want to send my ickle barely-not-a-baby boy away to be looked after by strangers when I had all the time in the world to attend to his needs. Apparently, it’s important for socialisation. Taking him to groups and activities clearly isn’t good enough. Ironically, the socialisation comments usually come from people who probably didn’t even start school until they were 5.
For now, the answer is that we won’t be sending him to nursery… or school. I was home educated for four years, so home educating my own children has always been in my mind. Even so, it has been a very difficult decision to come to. It’s something Colin and I been considering, praying about and talking about ever since Aaron was born. And it’s certainly not a decision that is set in stone. Children change, situations change.
Next term Aaron will be entitled to 15 hours of free early education each week. In a year and a half he will be due to start school. In a way, each of those events are mini deadlines for reviewing our decision. By April 2011 we need to be sure that we won’t be sending him to preschool. By January 2012 we need to be sure that we won’t be sending him to school when he is 4. The way we see it, the decision not to send him to school at the moment is less significant than if we decided to send him. If home education doesn’t work out by the time he is 5 or 6, we can send him to school and it will make very little difference in the long run. In fact, other countries in Europe have shown that starting school at a later age of 6 or 7 can even be beneficial. It’s not so easy to do it the other way around.
So it’s time for us to officially begin our adventure into “preschool homeschooling”. It will be very informal and flexible at first, with the emphasis on having fun. It will also be a useful exercise for me in lesson planning and record keeping. I’m hoping to keep track of our activities and progress on this blog, so feel free to follow our journey!