Wednesday, May 6, 2009
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?