Kindergarten

is just not so great. Selam doesn’t like it. We have big sobfests every Sunday night about going back. There’s nothing in particular wrong from her view, but nothing in particular is right, either. I’m ready to be done and move on.

I just read/watched this piece.  And while I have some discomfort with it, I sort of wish I’d done that.  I sort of wish I’d sent her to one more year of pre-school, not because I think she wasn’t ready socially or academically, and not because I want her to be a leader or to excel in athletics.

I just think she isn’t ready to be a big kid. She hates being called a big kid. She still watches Dora the Explorer and Sesame street. She still believes that the cat eats the monsters in her room at night. She still believes in monsters. I kind of wish I had honored the fact that a) she’s young for her grade, b) she’s an ELL, and c) she lost much of her 2 year old year to constant moves and changes while in ET, d) she spent the year she was three learning a new language, culture, food and families–and going through way too many medical tests and shots.  She misses her little girl-ness. She didn’t get as much of it as she should have, due to circumstances beyond her control.

I remember considering it, briefly–we don’t have the funding for an extra year of pre-school, so it was, really, just conjecture. My concerns about holding her back were: her height–she’s already one of the tallest in the class; she would be the oldest then–and turn 18 in the fall of her senior year of high school.  Of course, I turned 18 in the December of my senior year of high school. I don’t know why I thought this was a big deal, but I did.

We could repeat kindergarten, of course, but I think that socially, she’d struggle with that. And honestly, I don’t know if I can take another year of this. Please tell me first grade is easier??

 

 

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10 thoughts on “Kindergarten

  1. Susan – My friend, Lori, is saying the same things about her third grade boy. She hates the pressure of school and says he is just a little boy. You are not alone in your feelings. And you are correct that Selam has had lots to deal with in a short time. But her weekends are so wonderful that that she may probably does not want them to end and, of course, she wants to be with you all of the time. Encourage her being a little girl and let her do little girl things at home. She is a darling little girl – my sweetie-pie. You are a great mom!

  2. In my experience (N=2), it didn’t get easier until second grade. Which must feel like a really, really long time from now. But it *did* get easier eventually.

    In the meantime, sending you enormous amounts of sympathy. I remember the sobfests on Sunday nights as knives to the heart.

  3. We kept El back. Sorry to say that it was a decision that we have NEVER regretted. However, first grade has been easier than kindergarten because of less transition. We have half day here and going from one set of rules to another was AWFUL! It gets better.

  4. Our oldest (a preemie) has a birthday in October, so she would already be one of the oldest in kindergarten. But we’re being encouraged by her doctor to hold her back another year. She’s behind in all developmental areas, and the doctor says this may make the difference between special ed and regular. We have another year to figure it out, but it’s pretty persuasive.

    All that is to say, thank you for this perspective, and for the link. And sorry that your little sweetie is sad about school. That’s hard.

    • Wow, Selam is an October baby, too, but the cutoff here is December 31, so she’s on the younger end. There is one girl younger than her–with a December birthday. But the others born in November and December either waited or repeated kindergarten and started turning 6 right after she turned 5.

      • Ah, it’s a September 1 cutoff here. Basically, you have to have already turned 5 to start kindergarten. So, if we do hold her another year, she’ll be 6 when she starts kindergarten and turn 7 soon after. She is super-tiny (literally off the charts) for her age, so we don’t anticipate that being a problem. Still, she’ll be almost two years older than some of her classmates. Agh. It’s the kind of thing that keeps you up at night.

  5. Oh, sending so very many hugs your–and Selam’s–way.

    I think the it-gets-easier route is so dependent on teachers. CG had a fabulous kindergarten experience, a meh 1st grade, a rotten 2nd grade, and is now having an awesome 3rd grade. And that’s all been dependent on the teachers. (We did loop CG around in pre-K, actually, a decision that I was angsty about for the whole year in which we considered it (after her pre-K teacher suggested it in a fall conference). That’s worked well.)

    CG is one of the oldest kids in her grade, as a result (although she is also probably the smallest in the grade, even with that). She is very much a young kid–still talks about fairies, still plays all kinds of pretend, will sometimes still want to watch PBS kids shows like Curious George or Super Why even at 9. Whatever grade Selam is in, you can nurture that younger self. (kids seem to have a pretty wide range of tolerance for habits and tastes.)

    But, mostly: hugs. I wish this were easier.

  6. Not sure if this is a possibility, but could your daughter repeat Kindergarten at a church preschool /the JCC? Perhaps a private preschool which offers financial assistance if cost is an issue? I taught first and second grade for many years and always felt that chronologically younger students who had been given the “gift of time” of an extra year were often leaders in the class. I’d take my cues from your daughter. If she enjoyed school and now does not so much enjoy it, my hunch would be that the pace and the pitch of the current program is geared towards kids who are a bit older. You might think about it as putting a 10 month old and a 22 month old in the same room and having the same expectations. Technically they’re both infants, but the extra year of living and brain development at play for the 22 month old allows him/her to interact with the environment quite differently. While the developmental differences aren’t quite as stark by age 5/6, there’s still a great deal that falls into place cognitively and emotionally even over the course of six or nine months for a Kindergarten-aged child.

    Something else to consider- Grade level match is not so closely linked with discreet skills at this age. A child can be able to read, able to spell many words comfortably, can engage with big ideas and be quite verbal at home, yet not hit their stride socially or in terms of overall comfort at school in Kindergarten or first grade when the pitch of the class doesn’t honor where a child is developmentally. In addition, anytime an infant or very young child has had to acclimate to a new language/culture, that also impacts development. As you know, it’s huge to move to a new country and join a new family. While kids are amazing at accommodating the new tastes/smells/caregivers/social mores, those months of switching gears are also at play for many kids when they move from the structure of preschool to the more formal instruction of most Kindergarten and first grade programs these days.

    If there’s any way to pull off an extra year at your current school or in another local program for your daughter, I’d snap it up. It could make school less stressful for your daughter in the long run and allow her to flourish. I’m sure she will likely do that in her own time anyway (as it’s clear she has a wonderful advocate in her mom). With more time to mature before the leap to first grade, though, the next several years will likely be a much smoother experience for her. I’d be happy to email or talk offline if that’s helpful.

    • Welcome, June (I’m totally curious as to how you wound up on this page, but that’s a story for another day, I imagine.)

      I agree, a year at a different school would be great. Unfortunately, it’s a magnet school system, and if we pulled out for a year, we’d likely never be let back in, which would force her into one of the schools with vacancies, which means one of the failing schools (and also means long busrides across town to get there–I have one friend who forgot to register for the lottery and her kindergarten spent 75 minutes EACH WAY on the bus every day–without even leaving city limits!). Sadly, that did play a part in starting kindergarten when I did. We got in. Had we not gotten into one of our 3 schools, I might have looked at another year of Pre-K or a private kindergarten as a warmup act to public kindergarten.

      I have not yet raised the question with the school. I’m not sure how I feel yet. I’m just gathering data and seeing what happens. She does seem to be accelerating her learning==this happened last year, too—-she sort of hit a reset button in February or March and learned a ton of new stuff at once. Seems to be happening again.

      today I asked her if she wanted to go to first grade next year, and she said no, she wanted to go back to the Aryot Room (PreK4).

      • Hi there, Susan,
        To answer your question on how I found my way to you blog, I am on what I hope is the road to adopting as a single mom in the near future. I’ve just been re-certified for the “foster to adopt” option in my county. I meet with a new social worker to whom I’ve been assigned later this week. Wish me luck… I wonder at times how I’ll juggle parenthood with full-time work, but them I read blogs like yours and those of other single moms and I see that it all works out – that when kids are loved and are central to a parent’s life the rest falls into place. Albeit, it sounds like some days are tough.

        I have a clearer sense of why you’ve landed in K this year. While you can certainly check in with your daughter’s school, my sense is that the bar which allows teachers in most public schools- even magnet ones- to suggest a grade repeat won’t resonate for them if your daughter is excelling skill wise. In your gut, you’ll know what the right choice is for her. One way to look at a gap/transition year would be that if your daughter got into this program despite all the odds that she wouldn’t, then she could land back there or a comparable placement in a year. Fate, so to speak. Maybe the school would even hold a spot? Would the principal or school counselor be able to hear your concerns about her young age coupled with the fact she adjusted to a new home in her early life. Malcolm Gladwell’s book “The Outliers” paints a pretty compelling picture of how so much of what fall into place for people is about being asked the right thing at the right time in one’s development. Perhaps in checking that out, you’d have a framework to use with your daughter’s current school.

        Lastly, could you can explore more with your daughter about what she misses about her last experience? If her longing is based on missing staff with whom she bonded well, that might mean something different than if the pace and structure of the day bothers her. I wish you were in Maryland, as I’d surely work to find your youngster a classroom placement in which she could settle in and feel affirmed next fall. Fingers crossed that you forge a plan that feels right to you and to your sweet daughter.

        June

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