The past few days my Facebook newsfeed has been overloaded with adorable back to school photos. Cute outfits, new backpacks, adorable Pinterest worthy signs, and big smiles. My friends are sending their kids, big and small, to school. Many of these friends are holding back bittersweet tears as they drop their babies off for their first day of Kindergarten. My little boy should be joining them. It’s supposed to be his year. But after many long talks with my husband and weighing the pros and cons, again and again, we have come to the conclusion that an extra year to grow and mature will do my son a world of good.
The crazy thing about all of this is that my son is only 4. He would be starting Kindergarten at 4 with a room full of kids who are 5 and 6. He has a late birthday, early August, when the school age cut-off is August 31. If he had been born just a few weeks later we wouldn’t of even had to make this decision.
I’ve heard the arguments about following the suggested ages and sending your kids when they are supposed to go. I understand where these parents and educators are coming from. But as a former elementary school teacher myself, I know what happens in the classroom. I see the struggle that some kids have. If I have the luxury of gifting my son an extra year to mature, develop and be a little boy for one more year, why wouldn’t I?
Earlier this year, when we were on the fence about what to do, I attended the local school tours. I walked into Kindergarten classrooms and saw large groups of kids sitting on the carpet and listening to the teacher talking to them. There was lots of talking. I read over the class schedules and saw how little time there was for exploration. I came home and I looked at my son for the little boy that he was and got really honest with myself.
Would he be okay if I sent him to Kindergarten this year? Sure, he’d skate by. Thankfully, he’s not a kid with many behavior issues, he’s very compliant. He’d sit there quietly as long as the teacher asked of him, but would he gain anything from listening to her talk? I know him. He’d be in his head, thinking about Legos or Hot Wheels or snack or whatever else his little boy brain could conjure up. He wouldn’t learn much this year and he’d struggle to keep up. Developmentally, he’s just not ready for that. And honestly, I wonder how many of our kids are. Have you read the studies about how Kindergarten is the new First Grade? If you haven’t, I encourage you to do so. It’s really eye opening. I worry we are asking too much of our kids too soon.
So today, instead of snapping a photo on our front steps and dropping him off for his first day of Kindergarten, I packed a snack and a lunch and drove across town to a new preschool. He’s having a blast at a half day of summer camp. My hope is that he’ll make some new friends and get used to the environment before school starts this fall. Instead of Kindergarten, he’ll be attending Transitional Kindergarten at a local preschool. Five, half days a week he’ll work on social skills, literacy and math and be a little boy. When I toured this school, it felt right. It’s just the thing he needs to prepare him for Kindergarten. An extra year to grow and mature.