I have a pit in my stomach. It is not because I sent my 5-year-old to school for her first day of Kindergarten like all my peers. Nope. Rather because I am getting all angsty about how the heck I am supposed to educate her. I am trying hard to focus and figure it out but I feel like I am spiraling... just a little bit. When I get like this I know that something is off balance and we need to adjust in order to get back to our normal cadence.
My 5-year-old should be starting Kindergarten this year. My 3-year-old (who will be 4 next month) "should" be starting 3-year-old PreK. There should be one empty year between the two of them. I highly value relationships with their peers. I feel that skipping grades would isolate my 5-year-old from her peers and that would not be a good idea. However... if she is homeschooled, who is going to know? If I tell her she is in Kindergarten (which I am totally doing), she will tell people she is in Kindergarten; it's no one's business that we are rapidly making our way through the first grade curriculum. I don't want there to be more than one blank year between the girls, for whatever reason that I cannot quite put my finger on. It just feels like it's against my gut. Until my gut gets more information and can change it's mind, my gut wins. I've learned over the past few years to always follow my gut.
In order to not have more than one blank year between them, I need to slow Aayla down. That makes absolutely no sense... and also, more importantly, I DO NOT KNOW HOW.
She generally does not need to practice anything more than once. She is acting frustrated with the pace of our curriculum and for the past two weeks she has had to be dragged to the table for school. She needed the first grade math level when I tested her while choosing curriculum. Now that has had the place values concept click she has been CRUISING since then. She can be told something (basically) one time and it clicks. She gets it so completely that I find myself telling her to SLOW DOWN. Why? Not because she is missing something, but because I am so scared that she is going to miss something, or I will teach it wrong and ruin her for the learning that gets built later off of what is taught now... and it will be all my fault for letting her rush through it. I think I'm killing her love of learning. It has made me sick to my stomach the last few weeks.
I am very suspicious that she is Gifted in the capital G sense of the word. Not, ohhh your kid is a genius because they can repeat that weird thing that you taught them, Curly Sue style... but really has no understanding of what they said. She thinks through things so well and thoroughly that it makes me confused. Her brain is seriously amazing. I am so conscious of "not pushing" her that I am starting to wonder if I am now holding or pulling her back.
I have NO CLUE what to do with a child that learns like this. I do believe that homeschooling is our very, very best bet at this point still... but how exactly.
So what would happen if I let her go? What would happen if I grabbed lesson plans all catawampus style and just turned her lose? She can add. She needs a little more help with subtraction. She can count money. She can tell time. She can skip count. She can read at a 2nd grade level. She has memorized through the first grade sight words list in exactly 6 weeks. (what??!) I am not introducing the 2nd grade list but rather am going back through the pre-primer, primer, and first lists to use as spelling tests. Because I DO NOT KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH HER. It's a good problem, I understand that, but it's still a problem... until I figure it out, that is.
I am fairly confident, as I look over the curriculum for this year and at the Common Core Standards for 1st grade, that she would probably get through the rest of what she needs to know in about two months. And then what?
I don't want to "steal her childhood" by cruising her through academically at the expense of her social maturity. I doubt that would really happen. I do not worry for her socially; I am not a fan of staying home and so we are out and about and playdating/outing ourselves silly now that we don't require naps everyday (just strongly encourage them). I don't want to cruise her through and make her dependent on praise for how smart she is; I want her to assume she has to work hard for what she knows.
Could we really just finish 1st grade by Christmas and then play with science, geography, maybe a foreign language, maybe a musical instrument, and reading from January through August? We could keep reinforcing what was learned for the "year" in Math/etc. Is that allowed? Could we Unschool for those extra months to really cultivate her love of learning and self direction? Could we/should we do this every year? Get through the standards and then "play" the rest of the year?
This is what I am leaning toward. If I get a better idea, I will adjust as needed. I am really nervous to turn her loose.
In other news, I have freaky real dreams. When I wake up, it usually takes me some time before I can separate reality from the dream. The other night I woke up thinking that my hometown (about 20 minutes away) turned their old, unused elementary schools into a gigantic children's library. All of the hallways were lined with every children's book every printed. Each room was turned into leveled reading rooms. Asher played in the pre-reading room with a childcare worker (can you guess why this was devastating to wake up from?? haha). Ameira played in the earliest-reader room with all sorts of fun games and drawing activities and consonant-vowel-consonant books to read. Aayla was lost in rows and rows of books that she could read while sitting on fancy bean bag chairs, etc, etc. I woke up thinking, oh we are TOTALLY going there TODAY. It took me about 45 minutes to realize it wasn't true. I only realized it when I started forming the thoughts to tell Ryan where I thought we would head for the day. Sigh. Someone needs to make that place a reality.