My Year With Brooke
Brooke is an August birthday. This brings up all sorts of school questions. If I send her as a four year old, she will be the youngest in her class. Forever. Will she be socially prepared? If I send her as a 5 year old, she will be the oldest forever. And the tallest, which can be a complete nightmare as a girl. Imagine junior high school awkwardness. If she is younger in her class, she will graduate younger and be out in the real world sooner than I would like. If she is older, she will be out in the real world at 19. All these questions, and so many more, were rolling through my brain for the last year or so. I didn’t want her to feel left out because she wouldn’t be going to school at the same time as her church friends. I didn’t want her to be emotionally troubled if the first few months of school were difficult because she wasn’t emotionally mature enough yet. I didn’t want to regret the choice to send her as a 4 year old in a few years if she didn’t understand the math or the reading comprehension. I was having a conundrum. I talked to Blake about it and he trusted my opinion, which was frustrating as well, because I wanted him to tell me what to do.
I had her signed up for preschool in LeClaire before we knew we were moving two hours away. I went and stood in line at 6 a.m. and waited until 12 p.m. to get her into a great preschool. I figured if she wasn’t ready when elementary school rolled around, she could just do preschool again. But in the back of my mind, I was troubled. I was pretty sad about the idea of her going off to school when I felt like we needed more time together. In her four years of life, we had moved twice and had a baby. Not to mention she is the middle child. I relate to her because I am the middle child. I felt like our relationship needed some more growth, but I was also looking forward to 2 ½ hours of free time in the day. Then Blake was offered a different position in a new city. We moved and looked around for preschools. We toured three different preschools that had great curriculums, activities and one was even on a farm. But I didn’t feel like any of them were right for Brooke. I made a bold leap and decided to keep her home with me for the year.
I got my degree in English education and have taught two of my kids their numbers and letters. I tutored children for five years as well, so I felt we could accomplish the preschool homeschool together. After praying about this and feeling peace, I decided to go forward with it. We had days for the library, music class, art class and other activities. We did art projects, memory games, workbooks, and read hundreds of books. We had playdates, baked treats, learned to clean the right way and snuggled. It was the perfect preschool for Brooke. She would proudly tell people “I do homeschool preschool with my mom.” They would look at me like I was crazy and ask me why. And I would tell them that I felt like Brooke and I needed to cement our relationship while she was young so we weren’t repairing it when she got older. That answer always made me feel great. Like I had made the right choice for Brooke and I really had.
Besides the activities that we did, the best thing that happened between Brooke and I was a mutual understanding of each other. I discovered her learning style: busy projects and active games. She learned how to be the helper with my projects. I learned a lifetime’s worth of patience as she hates when any of her clothes get a drop of water on them. She learned to follow directions and to be a bit calmer at the store and to be the example for William. It has been a year of growth and a year of frustration and love and laughs. Many times, I would hear, “Why aren’t you sending her to school at 4? She will be fine!” or “I get my kids off to school as soon as I can!” But when I heard these comments, they only cemented my decision and my knowledge that I had done the right thing! I gave her a year of freedom, a year of learning, and a year of me. I don’t think that we would have ever gotten to where we are without our year together. This fall, she will start preschool three days a week. The next fall, she will start full day kindergarten. It will be a leap. But she will be ready when the time comes to leap. She will have had another year to mature. Another year to discover herself. And another year to have some freedom before a routine and schedule becomes her life. And I will be able to say to myself, I am so happy I listened to my own intuition. That I didn’t doubt myself when other people did. Because at the end of the day, the most important thing to me is the relationship between me and my daughter. And making this choice (even though I missed out on my 2 ½ hours of free time during the day) will always be, to me, the turning point in my relationship with Brooke.