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.