Why Kindergarten?

posted in: Apollo, Public School, Special Needs | 21

Boy playing in sand at the beach

Yes, it’s true, Apollo’s hair is cut and he is getting ready for Kindergarten. Why? Why after homeschooling for so many years are you suddenly packing your youngest off to kindy? It’s a fair enough question with a  complicated answer. So here it goes.

One of my first thoughts when Apollo got his feeding tube and we were told he would likely need it for years (maybe even for the rest of his life) was, “boy am I glad he won’t be going to school and I’ll never need to deal with a feeding tube and school“. So, yes, it feels odd to be in this position….but here’s the deal. Could I homeschool Apollo? Of course. I could teach him to read (he is so close!) and count and add and subtract. He could bake with me, go on walks with me and take trips to the library with me. But I know, deep down, that would not be best for him right now. 

Apollo, despite being the youngest of 14, has had my undivided attention more than any other child (my firstborn included). Apollo is very attached to me…in an unhealthy way. He still doesn’t sleep through the night. The psychologist we saw back in December 2013 explained we can’t expect him to stay in bed all night alone if he never has a chance to practice being alone (i.e.: without me) during the day. He only wants me at bedtime. And he usually falls asleep with his arms around my neck and his legs clinging to me like a little monkey. Sweet? Yes. Endearing? Yes. The best thing for a five-year old? Probably not.

Apollo’s anxiety spills over into everything. When his siblings were off at school this spring, he was terrified to be alone in the quiet house with me. He wouldn’t sit across the room from me. He wouldn’t even sit beside me on the couch, he had to be on top of  me. He wasn’t exploring or experimenting as a four-year old should. He was missing out on life because he was afraid to touch the floor! We have been doing what we can to work on his anxiety. We started sending him to Sunday School at church and to his own class at MomSpot twice a month. This has been hard work for him, and he has made mild progress, but needs more “practice” away from me.

Boy in toy car in hospital

Apollo at Texas Children’s Hospital in 2012.

At school he will have a bus ride with his siblings, a school day with other kids. He will eat away from his family’s watchful eyes. He will learn to be a kid not a medically complex sick kid. This is so important for him right now. Out of necessity he has always been treated differently. We have catered to him and made him the center of everything (because we had to for his survival).

toddler hooked up to tubes in hospital

When you are in the hospital for 10 days with a two-year old, he is going to be the center of your universe. Of course he is! And that is as it should be.

But what does Apollo need now? He needs to know he is safe without me or a sibling in the same room with him. He needs to learn to take ownership of his hunger and meals. He needs to gain the confidence to learn and explore. He needs to overcome five years of not just being a kid. School for Apollo will be therapy.

Just don’t tell him that.

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21 Responses

  1. I get it. We’re sending kestrel to yoga Preschool because she needs more confidence in her physical self. She’s made amazing strides with her anxiety recently and I don’t think it’s going to be a hard transition for her, but I hadn’t known that when we registered! The teacher is a Homeschooler to her child too so I’m looking forward to combo. And I’m looking forward to giving my little boy some one to one time which he rarely gets.

    • bakersdozenandapolloxiv

      Ah, so nice to know someone is in the same boat. Funny how similar Apollo and Kestrel have been. Enjoy that time with your baby boy!

  2. Good job, mom and dad! Public school will open up a whole new world for Apollo.

    • bakersdozenandapolloxiv

      Thanks. I was so proud of him at Horse Camp this summer! Baby steps…

  3. and also, don’t you think there is a spiritual element here? If God is sovereign, I have the freedom to send my kids to school. Our reasonings can be different, from medically complex to I just don’t feel equipped or desirous. From, we used to do that, were led of the Lord to, and we were all in. But God has led & changed us into someone/where new. And now we are changing what we are doing.
    What do you think?

  4. Elizabeth

    I figured that was a lot of the reasoning. It is encouraging to see you treat each child and season individually.

  5. Makes a lot of sense, you are a great momma and doing what is best for your family has changed over time. I hope he truly thrives in kindergarten.

  6. Kathy Barber

    I also think being the youngest child, as well as medically needy has kept Apollo from the chance to do something all his siblings have done; help another child learn or practice a new skill. In the classroom, he will have an opportunity to be the helper instead of the one being helped, and I bet he will really shine when he can do that.

    • bakersdozenandapolloxiv

      YES! If he had a younger sibling, i might be different. For now, we will use all of those typical kindergarteners to help hi.

  7. Fantastic. I get it, it makes so much sense and my prayers will be with you guys as you start this new adventure. Ten years ago I would have had big opinions about this, after parenting medically fragility and trauma my opinions are smaller, better considered and much more fluid. If you happen to meet me-from-ten-years-ago with the big opinions and bigger mouth, I pray she shuts up. If she doesn’t, I pray you have the strength to remember that uninformed opinions say more about the holder of the opinion than you. In some ways having a bigger family homeschooling, having medically complex and traumatised kids means I feel more freedom than ever to make the choices that suit my family most because WHATEVER I choose, there will be vocal critics! I pray you have support and love and Apollo finds his ow feet, his confidence and can shine.

  8. Sounds like you have thought this through and have a good plan. Praying his time away is a blessing for him and helps him grow.

  9. Very cool! We plan on sending our oldest next year. Sunday School class and MomSpot time away from me has been instrumental in his growth as well and I am so thankful for them.

  10. You are so wise. <3

  11. This makes perfect sense now! Thanks for taking the time to explain this. 🙂

    Like another commenter said, I appreciate the way you consider the needs of each of your children individually in regards to education (and other aspects of life, too!). I have always said that, in terms of schooling, I want to take one year at a time and think about each child at a time. So far, we’ve always homeschooled; but I hope I would have the grace and humility to embrace another option, if needed.

    I take my hat off to you! 🙂

    • bakersdozenandapolloxiv

      Thank you. It was not an easy decision. Especially with him being the youngest…what mom doesn’t love having a little one who is so attached to her? But, I need to to what is best for Apollo right now.

  12. Sending Apollo to school really makes sense–school has a completely different meaning for him. For your other children, homeschooling meant community and family, but none of them had the serious medical issues. I’m sure you’ll now have the experience of leaving him at the kindergarten and having to leave when he is still crying–I remember how awful this was for me. And then we’d pick the kids up and they would not want to leave the kindergarten. I was sure my oldest wouldn’t want to stay from 8:00-4:00 (his day-care had ended at 1:00 or 2:00) so I went to get him at 2:00 and he said, “What are you doing here? I’m working!” But there were also a very few days when a child got very clingy and desperate–those days we let them come home or even once, to work with me. With each of my three children, we had one day like that–when I could have just said, “Oh, you stay at the kindergarten,” but did not. And I’m glad I let them do what they wanted on those days. My daughter sat in my university classroom with a little picture book and when my husband picked her up after half an hour, she said, “Daddy, I was so bored I wanted to scream, but I held it in FOR HOURS!”

  13. Great move! All the best for Apollo!

  14. So wise. You have thought this through carefully. He doesn’t need school for the learning; you can do that at home. He needs it for the social skills, and that is, in some ways, MORE important than the book learning. Sticking to a plan decided years ago just because it was THE PLAN isn’t always wise, and that is a good lesson for your kids, too! Plans are great, but only when they are flexible and adjusted for the situation. It’s going to be great for him! But it won’t be easy. I am praying for a fabulous teacher and some great new friends that will help the adjustment.

    • bakersdozenandapolloxiv

      You hit the nail on the head! It isn’t about academics, but social skills and learning to be apart. Thanks for the encouragement.

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