Henry had his last day of kindergarten a week ago. We were already a couple of months into the school year when we felt inspired to start a family homeschool, and we gave Henry the option of finishing out the year in kindergarten since it was in the afternoons and he could participate with us in the mornings. Even though the scheduling was often a pain (interrupting lessons so that we could rush him off to school, for instance,) I am so glad that Henry spent this year in kindergarten.
For one thing, Henry fell in love with his teacher, Mrs. R. I know that this is a pretty common occurrence, but up until last fall I don't think that Henry had been in love with anyone but his mommy. This was a big deal for him. And I watched him blossom as she poured out love on him, praised him, and appreciated him. She always had something special to share with me and acted like he was her favorite kid, but I watched her with other students and their parents; I think that one of her gifts is to make everyone feel like her favorite. When she and Henry said good-bye on the last day of school, both she and I had tears in our eyes. Henry looked between us, confused by our weeping. But I knew that she had touched his life, and he, hers.
Henry also made big strides in overcoming some bashfulness this year. I hadn't really realized that he was bashful until sometime last year when I observed him in a large group and saw that he always gravitated toward the adults or just hung back from the crowd. At home he has no problem asserting himself, but I watched him struggle to keep his place in line or ask for something he needed, especially if it involved getting someone's attention. Now he seems much more confident in himself in big group situations.
Henry has been able to see himself as smart. We make a big effort to not compare him to his brothers, especially when it comes to intelligence, but Henry has grown up comparing himself to his older brother. Kimball is advanced academically for his own age, but even if he wasn't, it would be hard for a younger sibling to measure up to that at this point in his life. We have always reassured Henry that Kimball is older and a lot of the skills that Henry will acquire as he gets older. Being in a group of his peers has helped him to gain confidence in his abilities, as he found that he excelled in the kindergarten curriculum. He has always loved learning and never complained about spending all morning in homeschool and all afternoon in kindergarten. He just drinks it all in. Now Henry knows what we already did--that he is smart and capable.
All of these reasons will surely have my critics wondering if we should be moving forward with the plan to homeschool Henry full time next year. I will admit that it gives me pause as well. But we will move forward with the faith that if the Lord has prompted us to do it, then it must be the right thing for him. I know that Heavenly Father will continue to direct our family as we strive to rely on Him and seek His guidance. If we feel prompted to return Henry (or any of our kids) to public school, you can bet we will do so. Until then, I feel so grateful that he had these experiences and opportunities in kindergarten. Perhaps they will prepare him for what lies ahead in homeschooling.
What I want to know is this: if we homeschool year round, how will we know when to have a celebratory last-day-of-school lunch, like this one at Red Robin? The kids ate like they'd never seen a french fry before!