As school looms closer, I am left struggling with the decision about what is best for my five-year-old son. The only boy in a houseful of girls, he’s grown up playing with tractors but also nail polish; he trails behind his older sisters and takes care of his younger sister. He’s sweet and rambunctious—he drives me nuts but melts me with his dimples.
And honestly? I just don’t know what the heck to do with him this fall.
As a work-from-home mom, my kids have always been with me. But if I can be honest, it’s getting ridiculously hard to pull off working with him at home. I have two children who are in full-time school and two who are not, so if my son doesn’t go to school, it’s just him and my three-year-old daughter at home. Which doesn’t sound bad in theory, but in reality?
My son is bored out of his mind.
Although he and his sister get along pretty well, they are at very different stages, and they have their limits regarding how long they’ll play with each other. Plus, he’s an active boy that loves nothing more than hanging out on the farm with his grandpa or working on some project with his dad, while my three-year-old girl is very much into playing dress-up. So they enjoy different things and trying to keep him happily entertained and engaged, while spending time with my daughter, while keeping up on my house and chores and cleaning, while working full-time from home is kind of making me crazy.
That being said, the question of putting him into school is starting to feel like it’s more about me than him. And that’s troubling.
When I consider what is best for my son, however, I am genuinely at a loss. He tested into kindergarten and our children go to a very small, private school. With only nine potential children in his class, he would get plenty of one-on-one attention, so honestly, I think he would be fine at school. It might even be more beneficial to have that small, one-on-one setting than it would be to wait a year and send him to a larger, public school environment.
I know that just because my son is old enough for kindergarten, it doesn’t mean he’s necessarily ready. But on the flip side, is it so terrible to send him to school when he’s bored and driving me crazy at home? (His favorite mode of entertainment is breaking everything he can get his hands on, so there’s that.) It’s not like school is torture, for crying out loud; he’ll have all the friends he went to preschool with, a lovely teacher, a whole playground to go wild on, and they even do nap time every afternoon with a movie. Odds are, he’ll have way more fun at school than at home with me, barking at him to go play so I can get some work done, which is horrible to admit, but is the reality of a work-at-home parent.
But then I consider what putting him in school does–it starts the long road into adulthood. Although I think there are so many positive aspects of school, there is still a sadness and a loss that comes with starting him. I feel like kindergarten equals “cutting off” his childhood early. There are no more unstructured days, no more lazy mornings, no more spontaneous lunches out or afternoon adventures to the park.
While homeschooling is not for us, I am a big believer in kids having freedom to play and explore without it being overly structured. But at the same time, bored kids = an unhappy mom. For us, it’s a hard balance between my wishes to give him that freedom, and to do what’s best for us overall as a family, especially because I work from home.
School starts in less than two weeks and I’m still not 100% sure what I’m going to do. In the end, for us, I think that the decision to send our son to school is one that has many factors: whether we think he’s ready, whether we believe school will benefit him–even if he has to repeat a year– and which path is best for our family as a whole. Part of me feels incredibly selfish to admit it, but the older I am getting, the more I realize that parenting decisions are never one-size-fits-all the older I am getting, the more I realize that parenting decisions are never one-size-fits-all, and that sometimes, the hard questions come down to what works best for my children and what works best for me. As the mom, I’m an important part of the equation too.
So tell me: how many of you are delaying kindergarten for your children? Or do you believe school is a better choice than being bored at home?