Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Saying Goodbye to Kindergarten

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!


scrap chair potato said...

Fun! Henry was lucky to have such a great teacher.
I love the pictures. Your boys sure are handsome!

Erika said...

Oh our sweet Henry. We are so proud of you.
How lucky to have a great teacher & "find yourself" amongst your peers.
We love you!!

Aubrey said...

Henry sounds a lot like Jamie. She also finished Kindergarten this year. She went in rather shy and afraid of asserting herself, but by the end of the year she found a lot of confidence and just blossomed. It is so fun to watch that happen!
We don't homeschool, but I admire those who do! Good for you for following those promtings!

My Ice Cream Diary said...

We always celebrate when we reach certain school goals. Like finishing a workbook, or meeting a reading challenge. Cookie and I had a thing going where everytime she read a Little House book and wrote a worthy book report I would take her to IHOP. She loved it.

You are doing a good thing. Remember, either type of schooling will have its own pros and cons. He got the pros of public, and now you will give him the pros of Home. =)

Anonymous said...

Henry is so cute. He has really grown. Hey your baking would be great here when I get home from the Hospital....JK Love, Julie

Prudy said...

How fun to see Henry growing up. I can relate to all the home school/traditional school grapplings. I'm so glad I can homeschool for now. I need to work in some more fun days, too. I have an agenda a mile long...

Sonja said...

Oh honey, there are SO many times to celebrate when you school at home. We like to have summer time parties in the summer and have all the neighborhood friends over. We wish you lived in our neighborhood! :)

It's not quite the same as celebrating the end of a year with kids you spent a good chunk of your day with--there is magic in that. And in having a teacher (besides mom) that you love. :)