Today, my middle child returned to preschool. She went to preschool from about 18 months old until just after turning 3, when I pulled her out a few weeks after pulling my oldest out of kindergarten. I've been teaching her at home since then, using a variety of things - educational computer programs, some BJU K5 material (both video and non-video), Rod & Staff preschool/kindergarten books (A-B-C through G-H-I books), CLE Learning to Read material, and things I've pulled off the internet.
She's been doing great with all of it really, but gets tired of it after a while, and I haven't pushed her since she only just turned 5 last November. I just give her something from my "curriculum stash" whenever she asks. Still, she's already reading simple books, can blend 3-letter words, and knows quite a few addition and subtraction facts. On DreamBox (web-based math program), she's already doing some 2nd grade math. Based on what the public school expects kindergartners to learn by the end of the year, she's already beyond kindergarten level in most areas (her handwriting could still use some work, though she is almost as legible as my 2nd grader).
So, originally, I hadn't really thought about putting her in school this coming fall, when she is officially old enough for kindergarten. I figured she'd be too bored unless they let her skip to 1st grade, at least, which no place around here, public or private, seemed willing to do. But I had begun to realize that she really would like to be in a class with other kids. She is my most social child, and she thrives in an environment with lots of others. I knew that I really would like to give her a chance to experience a classroom setting, at least for a little while.
I looked into various schools in the area - several Christian ones, and a new university-model school that just started in our area (where the kids go for 2-3 days a week, and complete their work at home the other days). But then - I don't know why it took me so long - I remembered that the preschool where I'm sending my son right now (the same preschool my girls both went to earlier), also has a private kindergarten program. Kindergarten, not first grade. But when I looked into it more, I realized that, being Montessori-based, they let the kids progress at their own rate, and they even advertise that graduates of their kindergarten program will have completed a 1st grade level of work.
I talked with the teachers some more, and it really sounds like they will be able to provide my daughter as much stimulation and advancement as she wants, and will be able to start her at whatever level she currently needs. It's a small school, with probably only 6-10 kids in her class, and it's extremely close to our house. And my son already goes there. And it's not too expensive. And my daughter has been begging to go there.
So I signed her up to start today, 3 mornings a week, just like my son, in their accelerated pre-K program. Then next fall, she can attend their kindergarten, 5 days a week, 8:30-2:30.
She absolutely loved her first day today. Her teacher said she's going to speed her really quick through the first levels of the readers they use, since she had no problem at all reading the ones she started her on today. She also will get her a 101-200 number chart instead of the 1-100 one she started her on today, since she could point out any number she (the teacher) called out with ease. Made me proud!
We'll see how things go the next few months, but unless my daughter blows through all the material they have before the fall, we'll probably be sending her there to kindergarten.
I don't want to send the kids to a public school, and I know we can't afford a private school for all 3 kids (or even 2) every year (and I don't even like most of the private schools and their curriculum choices anyway), but this seems like a good thing to do this year, especially for my middle child. When she finishes their program, I can just resume homeschooling her at whatever grade level (2nd?) she ends up needing. My oldest will be quite independent in many areas by then, so I can spend more time with my middle, and my youngest - well, maybe then it will be his turn to try out a private kindergarten.