Sunday, June 10, 2012


The question arose again recently about what we are going to do with Evie about kindergarten. She is a September birthday, which if we make no effort would mean that she would have two more years before entering kindergarten, shortly before turning 6. She has already completed one year of preschool, so if we were to do that, she would have had three years of preschool before starting kindergarten. 
For some reason, having this discussion always means that everyone present feels they should have a say in what we decide is best for our child. Never mind that we are the ones who spend every hours of every day with her (and seriously, folks, we have degrees and experience in psychology and education between us). People are highly opinionated about what the ‘right’ thing is to do. I completely understand that feeling. I feel the same way about birth - but most of the time I find a way to bite my tongue when I know that my input is not desired. So what are the issues here? And is there a right answer??
More than anything, I find it ridiculous that a child who had a due date very close to our own but was forcibly induced for non-medical reasons (a whole different story) - and therefore suffers all the known delays of babies brought out too early - will be starting kindergarten with no questions asked. Besides those children who were premature, whether by choice or necessity, if we evaluated every child on entry to kindergarten, how many would actually meet the criteria that someone with a September birthday will be asked to meet in order to enter? Every class will ALWAYS have a youngest child. There will ALWAYS be kids who are not emotionally ready for kindergarten, yet they go anyway and no one asks their parents for any evidence or puts those children through any amount of testing in order to start.
If we desire to go forward and attempt to have her admitted a year early (really only a few weeks early), we will be required to pay $600-800 for private testing; we will have to present these scores to the building principal, who then gets to make the decision regardless of the outcomes of the evaluation.
I do plan on pointing out that she is a third child, and therefore has been working hard to ‘keep up’ with her siblings, surpassing milestones at a faster pace than other children might. Not only that, but they have the school records for our older two children. Records that show that their parents are involved and care about their success, or at least that they are hard-working and intelligent kids. Sure, siblings could be different, but for some odd reason, our three are very similar when it comes to their drive to achieve. That is something that we as parents know that outsiders may not understand. 
It did occur to me that the building principal has other interests when making this kind of decision. Namely that in our current educational climate, she has to consider how this would affect the testing scores that now effect the passing or failing of her school. In light of this, I can see how it has become such an ordeal to bend the guidelines. Given another year, perhaps she would raise the test scores even more. And that is a decision that the principal gets to make. Not that I begrudge this position at all, but knowing where they are coming from when making a decision that ultimately effects my child more than the school as a whole, I do not think this is a justifiable reason.
People love to point out that she would not be driving when her friends are and other social issues. I know we are pretty far away form this time but like I said earlier, there will ALWAYS be kids who are last to get their driving license. Oh, and we live across the street from the high school, so I really don’t think her friends will be teasing her because she does not drive to school. I have heard that being on the other end can be just as tough when your younger peers are demanding rides form you and asking you to buy them cigarettes just because you are old enough to and they aren’t. For girls, there is the whole bodily development issue, a big issue to be sure. Having myself been 11 years old when I got my period, I would rather my daughter be in middle school than elementary school when dealing with this time of change. Girls who get 'held back’ or end up as the oldest in their grade have to face the awkwardness of developing well ahead of their classmates which can have just as much (if not more) of a negative impact on their emotional state as the opposite would have.
So really, you can’t win and it is ridiculous to say that anyone other than a group of people with an interest in one child’s future (parents, preschool teachers, and the building principal) should be making this decision.
Or we could just move to Michigan and start her there since their cut-off is December.

1 comment:

  1. Martha,

    If you're still debating whether or not to have her tested, you might want to talk to Samantha and Caroline. As girls who skipped a grade later on (second and fourth, respectively), they have insights that parents and teachers don't have.

    Cynthia Eichelberger