Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Here we go again?

On the way home from school yesterday I sat and listened proudly, and in awe, as my child read a book to us from the backseat. My child who last fall refused to read lists of words, wouldn't even try. But when we introduced the concept of reading words IN BOOKS, well.... The growth brought tears to my eyes. The Big Guy and I were just coming out of a conference (regularly scheduled, everyone does one this time of year) with the teacher. The teacher, Mrs. B, spoke of how well The May Queen does with the academic part of school. How she is learning and progressing. How her writing is improving. How she asks for help when she needs it. How she doesn't get tired and want to leave school early in the day. How she follows the rules. We beamed with pride.

Then the teacher told us about how at recess The May Queen chooses to play with kids in the Pre-K class. How she gravitates to the younger children. She gets along fine with the kids in her class, but seems to prefer the company of the younger children. And being the youngest in her Kindergarten, but nearly a full year in some cases, this makes sense. As Mrs. B said, she's right on target for a 5 year old. But she's in a class of 6 year olds.

So The Big Guy asked the question. He laid out for her how we had
fought for Kindergarten, taking her to this private school that would accept her even though she was three days past the public school cut off date. And he asked what she recommended: keeping her on this track and putting her into first grade, or putting her into kindergarten at a public school? I held my breath. "If it were my daughter," she began, "I would put her into kindergarten at a public school, where she could be put in the advanced track and still challenged." She went on to say that she thinks she'll be fine if she stays and does first grade.

My heart wanted to scream "No!" I really had a strong reaction against this. And while I don't want to disregard that reaction, I also want to look at it more objectively. Be willing to see another side.

I really thought our stress related to this issue was over. As I read back over my post about our decision to put her in kindergarten I found I still feel the same way, only any concerns over academic readiness are completely gone. I was willing to just go forward and not think about this any more. But now I am thrown back in to wondering if she will be mature enough. Are we taking away a year of her childhood by keeping her moving into 1st grade? What will it be like when she's in high school and all of her friends are driving and she's not? What if she's socially awkward through junior high (and I mean more than the usual social awkwardness we all go through!)? How does this weigh out against be gargantuanly tall when compared to kids her age and younger? If we hold her back, will she eventually be MORE mature, like I was, and resent being with the younger kids? Am I projecting my own insecurities and frustrations on her, and not allowing for her to grow and face those challenges on her own? And is preferring the company of younger children such a big problem, really, and will that not change a bit next year when she's no longer at recess with the younger kids? She plays fine with older kids at church and in the neighborhood.

Ack. The Big Guy and I haven't had a chance to discuss this yet, but it has been taking up a lot of my brain power since yesterday afternoon, this old problem that I thought we were done with.

As I listened to The May Queen read that book in the car yesterday, and again today, I'm torn. She has come so far since her
first day of kindergarten. Academically there is no reason she shouldn't advance. But maybe there's another, more compelling reason to hold her back. I just don't know. I want to make the right decision. Yet I wish it didn't have to BE a decision.

40 comments:

Chaotic Joy said...

I don't have advice for you but I would like to tell you about Allison's experience. She made the public school cut off by 7 days and so we sent her on. She was academically on track but maturity wise, she wasn't. It took us several years before she made any real friends at school, because she really was more immature than they were. Even now she is a young middle schooler. I see that sometimes she gets ridiculed for being immature, but who doesn't get ridiculed some in middle school. Also, Allie has an extremely healthy self-esteem and a strong sense of herself. She doesn't understand the ridicule but she isn't particularly bothered by it. She has just gravitated towards other kids that are young or at least young in spirit.

Do I think she has been permanently harmed in anyway by being younger? Nope. Do I wish I had done it differently? Sometimes. Do I know what you should do? Clueless.

zellmer said...

I don't have advice either, but I am a strong believer in going with your gut, and it seems like if your gut told you to fight for kindergarten, then that's what you believed was right before someone else made you second guess yourself. And you know more about what's right for your child than anyone else, even her teacher. Maybe you can send her on to first grade, see how it goes there, and if she seems too mature next year, consider having her repeat first grade instead. Or, second grade. Maybe you can wait and make the decision when she's old enough to tell you what she wants to do.

Amy Y said...

This is a tough one! I was in a similar position as MQ when I was in school. I was academicly ready for school but as a September baby, was the very youngest in my class.

Did I turn out Ok? I like to think so. But I was very talkative (a Virgo quality perhaps?) and immature. I found kids in my own class to interact with, though often had friends in younger grades too. The ones in my class that I interacted with were also on the immature side... But hey, we had a lot of fun. :) The class that I'd have been in if I'd been held back a year turned out to be full of extra catty bratty girls, so I was happy in the long run my mom had put me in the class that she did.

I think whatever you do, will be Ok in the end. You (or in this case MQ) make the best of the situation you find yourself in.

Sorry that isn't really great advice, but perhaps you were venting and wanting to put your thoughts out there rather than asking for input? ;)

Good luck, Mama! You'll all be Ok, don't stress out *too* much about it!

Heather said...

Oh my. So sorry you are having to rethink this! I never realized how hard this parenting thing would be!

MQ is in good hands...she'll do great whatever you guys decide because you are behind her!

Suz said...

I was always the youngest or one of the youngest kids in my class and, yes, I was immature, but I don't think that it was anything that holding me back would have helped. I did need the academic challenge.

alejna said...

That does sound like a difficult decision. I'm afraid I have no advice or relevant experiences to offer. But I am inclined to think that MQ can thrive in either environment. It sounds like there are advantages either way.

I guess I would most want to make sure that I knew something about what teacher she would have in either case. Is this even possible? (My daughter is too young for me to be looking at schools. So I don't even know what info is available.) I know that in my own experiences as a kid, my happiness in school depended most heavily on the particular teacher I had. (So I guess that is sort of advice and experience. But possibly not all that relevant....)

Mad Hatter said...

Ya, like Alejna said I'm certain that MQ will land on her feet no matter what--still I know that this must be a very stressful issue for you. It's hard to renegotiate ground on hard-won battles and it is even more hard to be thrown back into that state of anxiety that caring about our kids puts us in. I'll be thinking of you.

JCK said...

These decisions are so incredibly hard. I never expected to be struggling over decisions to make at the preschool age.

I tend to lean toward giving a child a bonus year, that extra year to just grow and be their age with other kids. I know that academically they can be ready, but the social readiness is key, also. Can you get some more opinions from anyone else in the school setting? I am confused as to why an option wouldn't be to stay where she is and repeat Kindergarten? Why would she have to switch schools?

I wish you much luck and good thoughts in this difficult decision. I do think it is important to listen to your gut and not necessarily your head.

Lisa said...

Hi. Am sort of new to your blog. (And love it, btw.)

Our son is the youngest boy in his kindergarten class. (He's a mid-June baby and the cut off was Aug 1.) Socially he seemed ready. And he's a quick learner. So we sent him to kindergarten. He's done ok with school but he has confidence issues as well as attention issues. I'm beginning to think he also has auditory processing issues. His teacher is advocating he be held back a year. She thinks it is a lack of maturity. SHe thinks he'll struggle next year in first grade.

I'm torn. I don't want him to struggle so much that he hates school for the rest of his childhood. I'd hate to think that throughout his years at school, he constantly felt unprepared for what was being taught. But I think it would really hurt him to see all of his friends advance but he wouldn't. He internalizes everything. I worry it would affect his confidence even more so. And one does need some confidence in order to learn.

The hubby wants him to go on to first grade no matter what. But I don't know...I'm not sure what the best course of action is...

Am eager to see what decision you and your hubby come to.

jen said...

oh babe...i don't have anything useful to offer but i'm here listening.

thailandchani said...

I think your instincts will be the correct ones. You interact with her, you live with her, you know her.

Regardless of what anyone else says (including us), ultimately you will know what's best for her.

Anonymous said...

Follow your heart. Deciding in love is always best, though not easiest. Remember, growing up is hard no matter what, and either choice will have different difficult issues for her.

Was staying where she was the right choice? Are you glad that you took the iniative and went ahead and moved her?

Love, thought and prayer. You are being a terrific and loving parent.

Kay-T

susiej said...

I HATED sending my this year to kindergarten... he's doing well... and even though there are kids older than him. But, he is so "ready" -- he doesn't think the cutsey stuff is cutsey... he's perfect right now for kindergarten, and yes, I wish I had held him back, but next year, he would think K is dumb. And he's right on track for next year.
I know how you feel -- and you will know.

Christine said...

this has been on my mind, too, in a way. my son is three but an august baby. will he be mature enough when kindergarten comes around or should we keep him back a year? but if we keep him back he'll be older and (BIGGER) than all the kids and the one driving first and wanting to date first, etc. but if we send him too early will he flounder and be too socially young.

uggg

these are hard questions. good luck

Running on empty

cce said...

Just want to say I feel this one acutely. Both my children are young for their grade and I've been known to rant and rave about the red-shirting rash that has taken hold in these parts (holding a child back for no reason other than to improve their odds against others in their grade). Someone, someone HAS to be the youngest...it's just really, really hard when your child is the one. I'm holding the line and keeping them where they are but there are times I suffer the decision a little. Wishing you a resolution you can live with!

Melissa said...

We have the "red-shirting" here, too.

I have a lot of issues with my younger guy. He was reading Harry Potter BEFORE kinder. Each year I get asked if we want to advance him, and each year I say no. He just needs to be with his age group. Advancing him into to older class would do absolutely no good whatsoever.

Anyway, hang in there, listen to your heart, and you'll get there.

Bayou Belle said...

Sorry I didn't read everyone elses comments first, short on time, sorry if repeat. but I want to say go with your gut. Moms seem to know their child best and teachers can say things that ring so loud they make us doubt when in reality we know the truth. My brother got held back in Kinder (Sept 22 b-day) for immaturity - teacher recommedation - but 37 yrs ago. He didn't do well in school and now tells me he hated that he was so much older than everyone. Why? I don't get it. He doesn't even have a real reason.

Hard decision girl. Call me if you want me to weigh pros and cons with you.

wheelsonthebus said...

Whatever you do, do not listen to people of our generation who tell you about their own experiences. Children are being held back much more regularly now, so even though I pushed forward, I am quite certain my experience has little bearing on the situation today.

Teachers today almost ALWAYS push to keep the kid back so she is the eldest, not the youngest. I wonder whether this advice was unique to MQ or whether she always gives it.

Beck said...

My son is the very oldest in his kid - thanks to his January birthday - and I actually find that the extra age helps him out a bit. One of my aunts was skipped ahead a few grades back in the sixties, and she told me that the very worst part of it was being a skinny little girl while all the other girls hit puberty. Ugh.
I'm not a fan of putting kids into school early - I think that can be very, very hard on children - but you DO know your child best. Do what you know is right for her.

Gunfighter said...

Our youngest missed the cut off by three weeks... and we made the decision to "red shirt" her. Today, she is an energetic third-grader, whio is doing well academically, and socially.

We made the right decision.

Chrissy said...

We had the same struggle last fall with Tommy turning 5 in late August, only we decided to leave him home another year. I believe most of the time that we made the right decision, but I still question it from time to time. We really won't know until they're older and in the thick of it, but it would be nice to have a peek into how they are going to do.

I agree with the comment about going with your gut. You know her best. Good luck.

Sarcasta-Mom said...

We went through this with G. He is well advanced intellectually, but socially he has a lot of issues. Our school is great because it offers a program called Step-Up, which is a grade between K and 1st, that allows kids to move forward academically, but also focuses on social issues and emotional maturity. We're incredibly glad that we chose to put him in this group, to give him the chance to catch up a bit. This year he's doing fabulously, no melt downs, and no behavior issues all year.

It's all up to you though. You know MQ best, and any decision you make will be the right one in the end.

Crow said...

While I am not a parent, I do have some experience with this through my cousin. She was a year younger than me, but my aunt wanted to send her to school at the same time as me. She constantly struggled with a maturity issue, and has well on into her life. She went to college young, and as a result dropped out and has never finished. Do I blame all of this on going to kindergarten too early? No, I place some of it back on my aunt and uncle and their parenting. I also worry about making a child grow up too fast.

I don't envy your decision. Good luck with it!

Luisa Perkins said...

PM, only you and BG can know what's best. But here's my $0.02:

I learned to read when I was two and was reading at a fourth grade level by age four. Because of this, my mom sent me to kindergarten a year early and later skipped fifth grade.

Junior high was a nightmare (I was 10 in seventh grade), and high school was not much better. I wasn't eligible for Driver's Ed until my senior year. I graduated from HS when I was 16 and went to college the very next fall.

Because of AP credits, I was in upper division lit classes my first semester--with people at least 4-5 years older than I was--which is a HUGE gap at that age. I was YEARS away from being old enough to go to clubs or bars or even on-campus parties.

I was miserable and transferred to a Jr. College the next semester, where I managed to make a few friends. But after a year, I dropped out and moved to San Francisco to work for a couple of years. I ended up going to BYU when I was 20, and finally felt like I fit in with the rest of the crowd.

So--academically, the whole time, I was challenged (sort of). Socially? I had very few friends from fourth grade on.

But I'm not the MQ and she's not me. Her experience may be wildly different. Trust your heart, and forgive my longwindedness.

Luisa Perkins said...

*I* skipped fifth grade, not my mom. ;)

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

I spent 15 years working with students like Mayqueen... I'll write you offlist about this. I also would agree with everyone who says go with your gut in terms of how happy she is, etc.

Angela said...

Oh mama... what a hard decision. I know what it feels like. Best advice I can give you is to pray about it and then listen to your heart. ((HUGS))

Magpie said...

I have no advice for you - but I surely don't envy the decision.

I was always the youngest kid in my class (born three days before the cut-off) - and it never mattered to me. At least I think it didn't. It just was was it was.

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Kyla said...

With an August birthday, I was always just under the wire for school. It never affected me negatively. I was young for my grade, but then additionally I skipped 11th grade (because I accumulated enough credits in advance) and graduated at 16. I never had problems because of my age.

But I echo the go with your gut sentiments. I'm sorry you are back here again.

Sober Briquette said...

do you want to send her to public school?

if she went to public school, would it be a half-day K class? would you like or dislike that?

How many in the class? What other activities does she do? Are there children in the neighborhood?

If there are enough opportunities for interaction, she'll find friends, real friends. If she has not had any "problems" socially this year, I'd keep her "on track."

imbeingheldhostage said...

Better late than never. I agree you have to go with your gut. We agonized over keeping our son back-- his IQ tested at near genius, but he was very immature. We finally kept him back in 8th grade (he had really messed up his grades spiting his teacher). If we hadn't had such a gypsy life, I would've never done it, but he was able to start in a new school with a not-so-new year. It was the best thing for him, although we did have those pangs and questions about whether we made the right choice (we did-- he would've failed his high school Freshman year and then those grades would've haunted him into college). Good luck with this!!

Flower Child said...

My sister was born in December (back in the days when that was the cutoff) and my brother was November. She excelled and would have been bored if held back - in fact she was so bored at the public high school that my parent put her in private school. My brother ended up repeating 6th grade b/c he just hadn't matured like his classmates. One extra year was all he needed. My point is, go with your gut, age is just a number.

Defiantmuse said...

I have a December birthday and started school early. It was difficult when I was in high school in that my friends were often allowed to do things I wasn't but all in all I think it was the best choice my parents could have made for me. As it was I excelled and was often bored, if I'd been even a year behind where I was I would have gone insane with boredom, I think. And often it seems that children that aren't challenged and are bored will tend to become a little lazy and lose interest. Or maybe that was just me :)

Kathryn said...

The difference between being 5 and being 6 is much different than the difference between being 14 and being 15. It will get easier. I think she will be just fine. My best friend, my husband, and my mom were all 17 when they graduated high school, and they were completely fine with it. I was almost 17 (in too many extra activities at school to get in my drivers ed time) when I finally got my drivers license and I was fine with it. So were my friends.
I don't really have any solid advice for you, but I just thought the above would be something to think about too.
Good luck with your decision!

nomotherearth said...

I thonk there's ups and dowms for both decisions. When that happens, I always go with my initial gut reaction. You're an actor AND a mother - trust your instincts.

nomotherearth said...

typing one-handed in the dark...sorry

Aliki2006 said...

I don't know--one parent told us years ago that a parent NEVER regrets holding a child back, but that there could be regrets with NOT holding them back. We felt L. was so academically ready but perhaps not socially; still, we sent him to k-garten when he turned 5 only weeks before starting.

Of course, looking back and knowing what we do now, we should have held him back. But ours is an usual case and not at all yours. I agree with what others have said--she'll thrive no matter what. Even in our case, there are positives to be seen for having sent him, so I think there will always be pros and cons.

slouching mom said...

Oof. I wish I had read this sooner. I am facing a similar dilemma with Jack and whether to have him skip first grade and go into second. Academically, he's advanced. Truth be told, he's probably working at the 3rd or 4th grade level (he's able to do long division; Ben's 4th grade class is working on long division). He's been reading since he was two.

But, but, but, but. He's shy, and this year has been such a coming out party for him. He's finally learning to throw off that shyness and enjoy himself.

Will all those social gains be lost if we skip him?

Damn, damn, damn. I wish I knew what was right -- for me, for you.

Probably things'll work out whatever choice we make. They usually do.