Tuesday, February 9, 2010

DCMM: Kindergarten Ready?

My youngest son, Quinn, is scheduled to go to kindergarten next fall. I am literally counting down the days, tapping my toes impatiently, and drumming my fingernails on the table waiting for the day that all three of my kids will depart the house every morning at 8:30 and not return until after 3.

I'm really excited. So imagine my dismay when Quinn's preschool teacher called me in for a conference and told me, "He seems young. Maybe you should think about keeping him back from kindergarten for a year."

I may have passed out after I heard that. I reawakened to her continuing with, "Think about it. Listen to your instincts." And then I sadly shuffled out of the preschool.

It's not that I don't want to spend time with my kids—I do. It's just that I work part-time from home and because I always have a four-year-old hanging out with me, I have to do my work after everyone else goes to bed. This means that I take care of my family until 8, and then I work until midnight or 1 a.m. So I'm really looking forward to that full-day school in six months. I'll finally be able to work during the day, be with my kids in the afternoon, and not have any obligations at night. I don't think I can make another year and a half.

Here's the thing: If I had to choose between my needs and Quinn's needs, Quinn's needs would win every time. If I really thought—if my instincts said—that Quinn wasn't ready for school, I would hold him back without reservation. I'd be sad, but I'd do it.

But I think he is ready. Honestly, the thought that he isn't has never crossed my mind, not even for a second. That instinct the teacher told me to listen to? It's telling me to send him to school. I think she is wrong.

I know Quinn better than anyone. I have spent more time with him than anyone else. I think he is ready for kindergarten. My husband thinks he's ready for kindergarten. My friends think he's ready for kindergarten. The only one who doesn't seem to think he's ready for kindergarten is this one teacher, who thinks he seems young.

I like this teacher a lot. Frankly, I flat-out love her. I trust her judgment on almost all things. But I just don't think I can do it this time.

The teacher admits that Quinn is cognitively ready. He's really smart. He wants to learn. He's excited about school. He likes other kids. He knows how to play with kids his age. He likes kids his age. He knows probably a dozen kids that will be going into kindergarten at his school next year. He's been going to preschool for three years. I don't think I could possibly set up a better kindergarten situation for him if I tried.

So, I'm going to register Quinn at the elementary school. I will prepare him to head into kindergarten with his friends. I'll keep my eye on him for signs that he's not ready. And I'm going to start hiding from his teacher. But, honestly, I'm going to forgive him for acting young. Because he's four. And four-year-olds are allowed that.

Original DC Metro Moms Blog post.

Jean blogs about all her children at Stimeyland. She also runs an autism events website for Montgomery County, Maryland, at AutMont.

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