Several months back, I started questioning whether I would be sending my son to 5-day a week full-day Kindergarten at the same school where our daughter is currently attending.
Our town actually has 3 school districts we could choose from. One is ours and the other requires a transfer request and fee. Our neighborhood elementary is actually one of the better elementary schools in town and probably would have been fine for now, but we knew the other district had a great reputation and started her there. Despite it being a great school and that she has a great teacher, it has still been an adjustment for her as she went from 3-day to 5-day for the first time. My son has done both 2-day and 3-day, but I knew it would be an adjustment for him too next year.
Along with the fact that he is a June birthday and fits the bill for the young boy that would likely do better if he waited an extra year to start Kindergarten. I am totally not worried about him academically. It was all the other maturity stuff I was a bit worried about.
Besides, Mommy is not for pushing her ducklings out of the nest on a full-time basis too soon. I like my kids in a learning and social environment outside of the home part of the time and spending time with me the other part.
So I have fretted the past several months. Not because I didn't know in my heart what I felt was best, but for other reasons. One reason is that school choices are limited around here and there are no viable options for what we had before; a small private Christian environment. The other reason was trying to explain to my husband why this was so important for our son. I could never seem to articulate the words to convince him. He is the no-nonsense, good-old-boy type when it comes to these types of things.
He is also the one who wants us to live on land miles from civilization.
But that story is for a different time!
Over the past few months, I talked with many people. Mostly other moms. I got two stories. Either they waited another year and were so glad they did. Or they did not wait and wished they had. I chatted with my daughter's 1st grade teacher as well.
But I still wasn't getting anywhere with the other decider. In his mind, it didn't help that the decision meant another year of paying for education when free was available.
So I finally sought the advice of a special wise friend. She is older than me, has raised her own 3 children, been the much-loved director of Christian school I know, and has been an educator (Kindergarten specifically) for many many years! Her response back to me made me cry a bit. She took what I felt in my heart and put it into words.
I thought I would share her words with you today.
I would like to recommend a book to you that may be helpful – The Hurried Child by Dr. David Elkind.
There are evaluations that we used to do at LCS to test for kindergarten readiness. L’s readiness for kindergarten has NOTHING TO DO WITH HIS INTELLIGENCE OR THE AMOUNT OF ACADEMICS HE HAS BEEN EXPOSED TO. It is a question of where you and your husband would like to see him THROUGHOUT his academic career – at the head of the class in leadership and academics or somewhere in the middle. This is why it would be very hard for you to find anyone who regrets waiting a year to start school. Their children rise to the top almost 100 percent of the time. Why? Because they are OLDER and more MATURE.
The two top kids in my present class this year were both 6 when school started. The boy is by far the strongest leader of the group and the girl is the brightest academically. More and more parents are realizing that emotional, physical, and intellectual maturity is so important in our world at ALL ages. I can almost guarantee L greater success if he is given the gift of TIME . Think about the future. If L starts school as a young 5 year old, when he is 15 years old, all his friends will be 16 and DRIVING. Now I don’t know about you, but I was glad my children were the older ones in their crowd.
I always ask parents this – “Would you put a newborn in with a one year old to play? Of course not. One year in the developmental years is HUGH difference. If L starts at 5 years and 3 months, he will be up against a few that are a whole year older than him. Definitely not to L’s advantage.
Ok. I will get off my soap box now. I would recommend a good preschool if that is available. It is often perceived as “failure” to do the same grade twice. 3-5 days (or mornings) per week with a strong phonics program would be wonderful.
My best to you all in this very hard and emotional decision. Trust your gut instinct and pray, pray, pray.
Remember, this is just my opinion, but as an educator with TOO many years in the business, it breaks my heart to see a child who is not ready or is struggling in later years just because they were always playing catch up
I forwarded her response to my husband and thankfully it was the information that allowed him to realize how important this was for me. I realize there are always exceptions to the norm, but I truly believed this would be best for our son.
I met with the owner/director of his current school and we are set for next year. She was in agreement with me and was excited that he would be in their higher-level Pre-K program. Apparently, the teacher has been there for awhile and is very good. Also, the director mentioned that she always hears good things about the kids that went through this class. In the Fall, he will go 3 days a week until 12N and until 3pm on the two days I work.
The other part that fits with this story today is one which has brought much relief as well.
I knew that I would need to continue to work after the baby was born. Not immediately, but starting in the Fall as well. Thankfully, I just work 2 days a week, but you can imagine my stress in wondering who would care for my precious 3-month old.
I didn't know anyone that I loved or trusted enough in this town to leave my baby in their care.
One night at church, my MIL told me that her sister had offered to keep the baby for me. She has kept babies before and actually prefers to keep them from birth to 1 year. She had actually turned down others over the last few years for various reasons.
But she offered to us!
Now, I can rest easier, knowing that someone who loves me and my children will be loving and caring for my newest child as well!