Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Summer Birthdays


Recently, I have been wrestling with the decision over whether or not to enroll our first-born in kindergarten this Fall. Mary is an August baby and as any parent who resides in a school district with an August 31st cut-off can tell you, the decision to enroll or not to enroll can be hard. Maybe it's harder for me because I am a teacher-mommy? Maybe because I am an August-baby and was the youngest in my class. I'm not for sure. All I know, is that while my logical brain was telling me one thing, my heart was telling me another.

As a former elementary classroom teacher, I can tell you from experience that the June/July/August kiddos do tend to struggle more than those Oct/Nov/Dec. babies. Typically, it's more obvious with boys than girls. And more often than not, it's social issues more so than academic ones. Are there exceptions to the rule...absolutely. But as any parent and classroom teacher can tell you, kindergarten is no longer the great social experiment it once was.

In the district where I formerly taught, 5-year olds are expected to be able to tie their own shoes, zip their own coats, and read by the end of the year. District-wide testing begins in first-grade with state testing starting in third. Stakes are high, stress levels higher, and opportunities for the arts and physical activity have recently been slated for cuts as budget crises affect state funding for public education. (I'm already a little concerned that my dramatic, artistic, and imaginative child is going to have difficulty functioning "inside" the box required of public-school kiddos. I can't imagine her going to school the entire day focusing only on the three Rs!)

So...what did we do? We decided to wait on kindergarten enrollment and instead shopped around for a preschool that would be a better fit. And what did I find...a pre-kindergarten program "designed for that summer birthday child" who is waiting to start school. BINGO. I feel so at peace. After touring the facility with Mary during school hours, I know that we have made the right decision.

I'd be curious to know your thoughts on the subject. Are you, or is someone you know, a summer birthday who started school as a young "five"? What was your experience? Do you think waiting is beneficial for young fives?

5 comments:

  1. I was a November kid...EVERYONE was a year older than me...I'd say wait, it will give her more confidence and you can selfishly enjoy a little more precious time with her.

    As for your question...Dan the Man does NOT have to relocate. He has a little commute up to Fort Leavenworth and is working inside the base. We are staying put! We love our home Acorn Cottage and love Kansas and are very, very happy with life just the way it is!

    Glad you enjoyed Sylas and Maddies!

    Smiles, Nancy

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  2. I was a November kid as well. We didn't have public school kindergarten when I was coming along, but I went to a private kindergarten and started first grade when I was five.

    My mother says that every time the teacher had to leave the room, I left as well. In the long run, I don't think it hurt me any, but it's different these days.

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  3. I can relate to you, to a degree. Our Oldest will be 5, within days of our early Sept Cut off. And in our State you can skip the kindergarten. (Various ways, as it is not a state required class. YOu can unschool, home school, private school, anything without any documentation, and they can go right into First Grade). Now this being said, it is not something I wish to do. We too have our concerns about Lil E fitting into the little square of public school ways. With her birthday, we are able to homeschool and her skip kindergarten, and go into First Grade early or keep her out the year. To me, I think she is too young to go to kindergarten this year. I do not feel it is going to benefit her. After watching my cousin put their oldest daughter (also an August baby) in within a week or so of turning 5, and seeing how far she was from the others, like you said in social skills, we have decided it is not the option for us. We too have searched for a pre school program, and living where we do, ours are pretty limited, but I feel very comfortable with Lil E's Pre-school for next year. And it's only 2 days a week, so that sure helps Mommy! I don't know that I am ready for her to be off to school all day 5 days a week. And I still stress about the public school or to home school her. Sorry to ramble!
    Hugs and Blessings,

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  4. Wow, Nancy and Kathy! I can't even imagine having a November birthday and being the YOUNGEST in the class instead of the oldest. Times sure have changed (so has kindergarten, that's for sure!).

    Patty, don't apologize for rambling! Sometimes talking out loud helps us to sort through the musings in our head! In Kansas, our state cut-off is August 31st. In Missouri the cut-off is
    July 31st. Will I ever move back "home", i.e the MO side of the state line, more specifically St. Louis, I don't know. I just know that the thought of sending her to school at this point just doesn't thrill me.

    Interestingly, she has resisted learning about numbers and letters all year. Could barely even identify her name...all of a sudden, she not only counting to
    20, but she's doing SIMPLE subtraction in her head! Letters fascinate her and she's "writing" words. BUT, her dance class friends who turned 5 in September (of 2008 and missed the cutoff) have been identifying letters, "writing" words and counting for a year now. So, it goest to show you that Mary really would be developmentally 1-year younger than most of her classmates!

    Like KBeau said, in the end, I don't think it makes much of a difference (I still ended up being successful as an early five kiddo), but school sure was hard for me along the way!

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  5. Wow! What a blessing that her preschool class all worked out. While I am only 20 and totally not qualified to speak about all this, my sister was held back and it was the best thing for her. Of course there were times like when she was a junior thinking "man, I could be going off to college right now" but she has say many times that she is so glad my parents held her back. Good luck with all this! Your daughter is a very lucky girl to have a mom that loves her so much!

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Thank you so much for taking the time to comment. Your kind words are appreciated! As Mother Teresa said, "Let us always meet each other with smile, for the smile is the beginning of love."

Valerie