Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Kindergarten or PreK for your 4.9 y/o

I've run into enough parents that have struggled with this decision and are surprised to learn of the "option" we've taken, so I want to share with you:
Our Kindergartner has gone back to preschool.
You may recall from this post, like many parents of 4.9 year-olds, in September, we vacillated between sending her this year or next. We could make a good argument for both sides. Initially our plan was preschool, and last minute it became Kindergarten.
Kindergarten is not what it was when I went in the 80s at 4. Personally, I had no trouble: went on to AP and Honors courses in high school and my girl is quite a bit like me. We studied the curriculum beforehand and were quite sure she'd reach the benchmarks, even if extra effort was required outside of school. And we were right. Our girl is nothing if not competent and a go-getter. While she'd rather be distributing supplies than working on her own project, her teachers were pleased with her achievements and certain she'd meet the year end standards.

However, a few red flags were raised as she compared herself to the children that are nearly a year older than she is in her classroom. Her young age on the spectrum seemed to be under-serving her in a few ways that were enough for us to take action.After respectful discussions with her teacher and principal, we made arrangements to pull her from Kindergarten and send her back to preschool for the remainder of the year. Primarily, this decision was made because we are thinking long-term: how her experience will be in advanced years of her education. Which, was our initial reason for not registering her. (insert: sunken shoulders and should've trusted our gut slaps)

Marvelously, any anxiety we felt regarding how she'd perceive this move was squelched when with no prompting, she asked us if she could go back to preschool. You can imagine our relief! She knows that she's got a special situation being 5, but when she's 6 she'll no longer be able to make a change.

In case you find yourself in this predicament:
You may have options. Respectfully, discuss this matter with your child's teacher and principal. In our case, we needed district approval. It was a first for our principal.
If your gut is telling you that you made the wrong decision, figure out a way to serve your child best. You don't know unless you ask.
Because our district prohibits retention, that was not an option for us, but it is for many. I, personally know a Kindergartener, who met the benchmarks but struggled significantly enough as a 4.9 year old last year and is now repeating with great success!
If it is not an option for your family to keep your child in preschool for an additional year, do not fret. Many schools, including ours, have resources available to meet your child's learning needs.
This decision is a tricky one, with lasting impact. I'm learning to trust my gut, when I can argue both sides.

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