Saturday, August 20, 2011
Thoughts on Sending My 2-Year-Old to "School"
It's a decision I've been torn about, but my husband and I believe it is the right one for our daughter. Our home is not typical in that we are juggling the needs of multiple generations as well as some very special needs. We don't want our daughter to get lost in that mix. While having Grandma in the house with us comes with numerous blessings, it also presents a few challenges (especially when Mommy and Daddy are old enough to be grandparents ourselves). The same is true for having a young adult who is developmentally about the same age as our daughter, but physically many times her size. While it is heartwarming to see them play together, not all the behaviors our daughter has picked up in the process are appropriate for her, regardless of whether our niece can help what she does or not.
I hope I don't sound cold-hearted. We do want our daughter to love and appreciate every person she meets regardless of age, race, disability, and so on. We believe our home situation will help foster greater empathy for other people, regardless of differences. We are aware of the good that can come from our family structure. But we are also seeing in our daughter a hunger for playmates her own age. Having no young family members nearby, we have often taken her to play with other children at the library, park, mall, and other public play spaces. This has been good for her, and she enjoys it, but there is no regularity in the kids she sees or the behaviors she learns from them. She will never see most of them again and I think on some level she is a little sad about that. One day she asked why there were no little girls or boys who come to her house to play with her. Having been an only child myself, this nearly broke my heart.
So this is why we're sending our two-year-old to nursery school -- we don't care if she learns phonics or spelling right now. We just want her to have the opportunity to form ongoing relationships with children her age, who share her faith, and whom she will see on a continuing and regular basis. And we are blessed to have found an affordable place where she can spend a couple of days a week outside the home singing songs, playing, and making friends she WILL see again. We are so grateful to have found a co-op of Catholic homeschooling parents who have formed a wonderful little "school" for their children.
And the best part? I don't have to drop my daughter off and leave. I get to stay, help in a variety of ways, and possibly even teach others. I am so excited to get to share this experience with her! She is not "leaving" me. We are setting out on an adventure together, where she can learn to be independent while still knowing I'm just in the next room if she needs me. To me, that is the best of both worlds.
So even if this does make me the worst mother in the world in the eyes of some, I know my husband and I have made a choice that will bring our daughter joy and put her on the road to making friends and learning at a comfortable pace. This is a time for joy, and loneliness doesn't foster joy. She's extremely excited about the prospect...so why shouldn't we be?