Thriving Family published what I consider to be a snippet of a story I originally published on this blog last year after Corey and I wrestled with whether or not to send Lewis to kindergarten. You can check it out in the Family Stages – Discovery Time section of their March/April issue here.
Lewis absolutely LOVES EK. We have zero regrets now, but we had to weed through some serious doubts last spring. The following is a repost of what I published after we made the EK decision last year. Would I make the same decision again? Yes, definitely.
When Expectations and Reality Clash
Lewis is going to EK in the fall. That is early kindergarten for all of you who aren’t savvy with elementary school lingo.
Early kindergarten was not my plan. In fact, after I got off the phone with the EK teacher who told me he was “on the fence” and EK might be a good fit for him, I was a bit perturbed.
Mama Bear came out inside my head. “What? Are you calling my kid stupid? My almost five-year-old is not qualified for kindergarten? Seriously?” From there the internal dialogue moved on to something like this. “Oh my goodness. Lewis might not be ready for kindergarten. What did I do wrong? Did I not read to him enough? This is my fault. I have failed somewhere as a mom.”
I was thrown for a loop. I knew Lewis would be one of the younger kids in his kindergarten class, but he is such a little social bug that I never even considered he might not be ready for school. Maybe if his was a summer birthday I would have thought differently about it. I don’t know for sure, but I do know I was not prepared for the phone call.
The funny thing is I had talked to a friend about the possibility of EK for her child just a couple weeks before. I had reassured her that everything would be okay, and that she shouldn’t get unnecessarily stressed out about it. Now I felt I needed someone to have that conversation with me.
After I got over the initial astonishment that kindergarten might not be the best option for my baby boy, Corey and I spent several days weighing the pros and cons of EK. What we came to realize after we stepped back and considered the facts, was that we agreed Lewis might be better off in the long run by spending a year in early kindergarten.
Fact #1 He will either be one of the very oldest kids in his class or one of the very youngest. We can’t change that. It’s just where his birthday falls. We can name numerous benefits to being on the older side, but found very few, if any benefits to being the youngest in the class.
Fact #2 Lewis is a boy. (I know, I know, brilliant observation.) But seriously, in case you haven’t noticed, boys and girls are different. Where your average little girl might sit and do crafts and read books for hours, your average little boy would rather spend that time practicing his long jump of the back deck or chasing frogs in the creek. Maybe Lewis will benefit from a year in a more playful, less structured setting.
Fact #3 Kindergarten in 2012 is not the same as kindergarten in 1980. (Yes, that is when I went to kindergarten.) My kindergarten was only three days per week, and nobody expected me to recognize all my letters and be able to write most of them before I started. School has changed. I can’t draw from my experience as a factor in helping to make this decision, because my experience doesn’t even compare.
Fact #4 Public school is an institution. (Thanks to my friend, Cinnamon, for helping me sort through this idea.) The school system does not have the resources nor does it have the funds to think of each kid’s individual needs all the time. They see my boy as a person they need to fit into their institution. They are not looking at their institution and considering how they can change it to meet the needs of my boy. Good or bad, that is just how it is. There is not a perfect solution for each child.
Fact #5 Lewis is a lot younger than his brothers, and sending him to EK will put him even farther behind them in school. With EK, Lewis will be finishing seventh grade when Owen graduates from high school. This is really one of the only facts that made kindergarten more appealing, but it wasn’t important enough to let it play a big role in the decision making process.
In the end, I am confident we have made the best choice for Lewis. It was a difficult decision to make, but I have been reminded over the past week that my expectation of what is the best for my family is sometimes proven wrong when I’m forced to step back from my preconceived notions and weigh my ideas against reality.