Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Pressure Continued

Continued from This Post...

So, I decided Sweetheart was ready to begin Kindergarten when she "should" have, according to our state law. That means that she was 4 YEARS OLD for the first 2 weeks of school. What was I thinking? She was so excited though and loved it.

By the way, I don't remember ever asking my husband what he thought about her starting or waiting a year. I thought it was all up to me. I was an independent working woman who made all the decisions about What could my husband say that would help? Sigh.

Anyway, she started Kindergarten. I quit work that year because we couldn't find care for 9 month old Little Bit and be able to shuttle Sweetheart to and from Kindergarten too. So I babysat for extra money and stayed home. So WHY didn't I keep Sweetheart home? I could have had a whole year at home with her! It's because I felt she needed to start. I felt she was ready. There was pressure, people!

And three weeks into Kindergarten, when my baby had been 5 for a whole week, the teachers called me in for a conference. They were concerned that Sweetheart didn't know all of her letter sounds.

Excuse me?

Was there some memo that said I was supposed to teach her a certain number of things BEFORE she began school? I thought I sent her to school to LEARN. Well, as it turned out...she did know her sounds she was just nervous when they tested her. I asked them to try again and spend a few minutes chatting with her before they began. It worked. And the teachers explained to me that they had so far to go with the kids they had to know their letters and sounds at the very beginning of the year.

I won't even go into detail about all the things Sweetheart had to be able to do in Kindergarten, or what an effort it was for us to keep up. I should have waited. I had no idea Kindergarten would be like that. Thus, she repeated first grade later.

We still have pressure though. Thank goodness we are out of the public school pressure factory where, this year, she would have to pass the state's test in order to go on to 4th grade...even if all of her grades were passing. I can't even let myself think about the pressure those poor public schooled kids down the road are under. I know. I used to be the Applier of the Pressure.

But there is still pressure. Pressure to be involved in all sorts of activities. Scouts, sports, clubs, organizations, etc. etc. etc. There are so many things to do that are really good things for your kids to do...and we have to choose. This year, money is helping us choose to say no to a lot of things and I'm not so sure that's a bad thing.

Do you know that children used to get raised all the way up without ever participating in an extra-curricular activity? Unheard of, I know. I believe that what they can learn at home is wonderful. I believe in our family doing things together---not apart. I believe in a lot of things....but I still feel badly that we aren't doing __________. It's that pressure. I feel that I am letting my kids down, that they are not getting the good experiences that other kids are getting. I feel guilty.

Does anyone else have this pressure? Someone tell me it's OK that my kids are home.


  1. My older girls are not involved in any extra stuff until the spring time when they run track. They are in school, but let me tell you, the pressure is there, too: even though with homework and the like there really isn't enough time for them to devote to all that stuff.

    Their friends play league soccer, volleyball, etc. These are for the puprpose of keeping skills sharp during the down time from the school sports seasons. my kids just help with the cooking and baking and play with their little sister after school. Oh, well.

    I feel the pressure sometimes, too. I just refuse to give in to it. I don't have the time, money or energy to do so.

    Totally unrelated: Lisa (my surviving thoughts) just popped up on my bloglines.

  2. I know what you are saying. With boys, there is already the pressure that they should be playing sports on teams, even at 3 and 5 years old! I just don't think they are ready for that or there is any reason to do that. Okay, just think back to what you were doing at Sweetheart's and Little Bit's ages. When I was 4, I was at home with my mom. Yes I did a couple things at age 9, but it wasn't the craziness of today. Your girls don't really "need" all those activities out there! Neither do my boys!

  3. I know exactly what you're saying, and my kids are pretty young too! I've never done Gymboree and have no plans to. None of my kids are in extra-curricular activities right now, although Noah has played football in the past. But, at 6 years old, it's just too much. And besides that, he would much prefer to be outside playing with his neighborhood friends than "pretending" to play football. Seriously, what ever happened to "hide and seek", "red rover, red rover, "1,2,3 Red light", etc.

    Oh, and my friend's little boy is in K4. She asked the teacher this week how he is doing (meaning, in general) and the teacher replied that he is not very good with scissors and cutting things. Seriously! He just turned 4 in July. Talk about pressure! My friend commented that she doesn't allow him to play with scissors, so he's never used them before:)

  4. That scissors example just made me realize: the pressure comes from what we percieve we are preparing them for. That K4 teacher knows that kid will NEED to be profiencient with scissors and soon! Since we (my readers, I assume) are raising our children differently, what ought we be doing with our kids for what WE are preparing them for???

  5. Yes, I have pressure, lots of it. I am starting to cover my ears and say "Lalalala! I can't hear you!"

    It is okay for your girls to be home, just like it's okay for my kids to be home, too. We are not letting our kids down, as they are gaining things that are eternal and more valuable than they would ever get in __________.

    And, your question in your comment? You are right, we are preparing them for something different. So if our kids don't know how to use scissors until age 6, but they know that God made them and loves them and that Jesus wants to be their SAVIOR and friend forever, then I think we are certainly on the right track.

  6. Hi!

    Enjoyed reading your topic. i just like to point out that there are two forms of pressure as well... internal and external. Many of us homeschool Moms face internal struggles that are generated from external issues. Much...Much prayer is needed daily for preventing this.


  7. While my children all attend school outside our home, they are not involved in ANY extra-curricular activities. I'd like to do piano lessons or Irish step dance lessons, but at this point, I just can't see us shuttling the whole family do have one child do something. And financially speaking, fugetaboutit!

  8. Well Brenda I have to say that if you want to lessen the pressure on yourself, just compare yourself to me.

    My girls don't do anything outside our home except what is church related. Not only are things expensive, but we don't trust people!

    Who knows what will influence my kids while they are away from me? And while they will eventually be let go to live on their own, right now they are 7, 6 and 5.

    So, pressure lifted. We are homebodies too. How will they learn to be keepers at home if we're never here?

  9. MMT--I agree. I've heard someone point out that when one kid is involved in something, the whole family is captive to the calendar and schedule for that thing. Mulitply that by however many kids and YIKES!!!

    Juliemom--Thank you. I will relax.

  10. You might have just saved me $60 a month. I was CONVINCED just yesterday that I needed to put Lorelai in a babynastics class. Convinced. She's 20 months old. Seriously?

    So, we were supposed to start today (had the leotard and everything) and I didn't go. So, thank you!!!!

    You're spot on with this stuff. You are so great with articulation of how you feel/what you believe. You always impress me, Brenda!

  11. Juliemommakes an excellent point about being keepers at home.

    Your point about the whole family being captive to the calendar is one of the major reasons why we limit extracurricular activities. I have a neighbor, a nice Christian mom who spends an awful lot of time in the minivan, in particular with her oldest who has an outrageous schedule. That's not including her other two who are pretty busy as well.

    When she inquired about a particular activity that I declined to let my daughter be a part of this year becasue of the time commitment I told her point blank: I refuse to hold our family hostage to any one child's busy schedule. and I also refuse to have our kids so busy running in different directions that our family can't even have dinner together on a regular basis. Not to mention that fact that my kids have to pull their weight around the house in the form chores. Her kids don't do chores so that's not an issue. We, however, think that children contributing to the family in this way is vitally important. Are we weird? We must be becasue I don't know many families who see this as being as important as we do.

  12. Have you read the recent article in parent's magazine? My daughter is in preschool, but the article even rubbed me the wrong way. I think they should have you write a counter argument.

    You always provide a grounded, well thought out example of balance. Its crazy the amount of pressure public schools place on kids these days. Its not about experiences or real learning anymore (the kind that allows for mistakes and trial and error), its about meeting the standards to pass the test. Very frustrating.

    From the moment of birth, pressure is there. I remember a mom sitting next to me and upon hearing my daughter could roll over, literally rolling and coaching her 11 week old to roll!

  13. I totally agree with you- I do miss the dance classes, (more than my kids, I think...) and sometimes I do feel like I'm not giving my kids all the "extras" that they need. However, a dear friend in the city made a comment- "if my kids stayed with you for the weekend, they wouldn't want to come home" Here I am regretting that being an hour away from town it is time and finanacially impossible to participate in stuff, and she is thankfully reminding me that I have so much here. As far as what they learn when, learning about Jesus as their Savior is really tops- all else will fall together as it should. I don't know why I let myself worry as much as I do.
    Have a wonderful school day!

  14. Oh Rachel---I have a new title for my blog!!!!


    What do you think????? :)

  15. Your kids are okay at home! :)

    Some years are more full than others - this just sounds like a good year to be home more!

  16. It's more than okay. It's wonderful.

    I still exempt my children for one year, using the level of maturity waiver. So all my kids start a year "late."

    In our state there is a whole litany of things they have to do when they ENTER K. It's insane--sight words, count to 100, etc. Amazing!

    Off to read your other posts. Just back from vacation.

  17. I pressure myself, however, I find that the older I get the better I am at saying no. Paige is 5 and has never been in any outside activities, her siblings had been in several by her age.

    All my boys play baseball and we all go to the games and help out. The kids also take piano but since we are now homeschoolers this happens during the day so it doesn't interfere with our evening family time.

    I completely agree that today's kids are over scheduled. I love to stay home and just enjoy each other and our home.

    Great post!

    p.s. What kids need to know for Kindergarten is ridiculous. I feel sorry for the kids, teachers, and parents. Children should not be under that much pressure.


I don't get to talk to a lot of actual grown-ups during the day, so your comments make me really happy! :)