Last fall I took the kids to get new shoes before school. I went to a particular store in Richmond, one that has a reputation for how well they measure and fit shoes for children. Because of this reputation, I consciously ignore their high prices and the 47 other shoe stores I pass while driving across town for this particular store.
I forgot to bring socks for the fitting, so I grabbed a bag to purchase and the sales lady encouraged me to get the next size up. “They’ll shrink in the dryer,” she told me.
“But I don’t use my dryer,” I replied.
“Yes, but even if you dry them just once, they’ll shrink.”
“But I don’t use my dryer at all. I will never dry them.”
“Just in case.”
I got the socks she recommended, but I have never, ever dried them. Never. Not even when our kids were sick and we were in the middle of a 48-hr blizzard and our washer and dryer were both going nonstop (and even still the laundry piled up).
I didn’t dry them on principal. Because that would show her.
I told that story to illustrate this point: I can be stubborn.
I have to admit something, when I wrote the post about David going to kindergarten early, I had already made up my mind. I wanted him to go this fall.
Then I received a lot of generous wisdom, advice, and experiences from friends and readers who I respect, several of whom are both moms and educators. All of that advice and feedback caused me to do something that shocked both Tom and me: I changed my mind.
We decided to wait a year for kindergarten.
If you missed the first post, you can read it here. I imported the comments that were left on Facebook to the blog so they’d all be together. They are very, very thoughtful and helpful.
Here are some of the comments that stuck out to me:
Being ready for kindergarten is not about being smart or knowing your letters…
…socially [the teacher] thought [my son] would be a follower if he went now, a leader if we waited.
When little boys perceive school as being hard the nice ones shut down or act bored and the not-so-nice ones throw fits.
Would we rather send our newly turned 18 yr old off to college, or have another year with them under our roof?…while we don’t want to make our decision because of what other parents are doing, it does influence us that the median age in a class is going up because so many parents are deferring for a year, bc that makes our child “doubly” young in comparison.
Before I tell you why I changed my mind, here’s what I was thinking initially. Tom was inclined to wait, but I was on the fence and — to be honest — I figured I could convince him to agree with me. I’d read a few studies and blog posts about the benefits of waiting a year, but I kinda didn’t think they applied to my kid. When I think of David, I’ve always considered him to be a kid who is smart, social, a leader, and a kid who thrives in the classroom.
That was my starting point.
The reasons for waiting seemed anecdotal, and not compelling. For example, I am not concerned about him getting his driver’s license after his friends.
Then there’s this. Lots of parents have told me they wanted another year with their kid at home. And, honestly, I was sort of looking forward to getting David out of the house. David and Mary Virginia bicker and pick at each other nonstop, and it makes our day so much more stressful. When one of them is out of the house, everything is smoother. So while other parents were relishing in another year with their five-year old, I was excited about the opposite. Then that made me feel guilty, so I’d fall back on my other reasons: he’s a leader, he loves the classroom.
A few days after I wrote the post, I had a chance to talk to David’s three-year old teacher, and she had some great insight about him as a student. She was incredibly encouraging, but everything she said helped me realize that David at school is different than David at home.
I already knew that, but she talked about traits of his personality that I have never seen. She never implied that he’s not a leader, smart, social, or a kid who thrives in the classroom. But she did help me see that when David is with an authority figure who’s not his mom, and peers (rather than his younger siblings, he’s different. That’s something that had honestly never, ever crossed my mind.
That conversation, and all of the comments truly did change my mind. Two that stuck out to me the most were:
- When little boys perceive school as hard they throw fits
- You could get another year with your 18-year old before sending them off to college
That first one? As soon as I read it I said aloud, “Oh my gosh that’s what David does!” While I don’t think David throws fits in school, it made me think about how kids generally don’t show their best self when they’re overwhelmed or feel intimidated. That scenario is more likely the younger he is.
Second, I mentioned that I’m looking forward to a change in routine with five-year old David, but I REALLY want more time with 18-year old David. I only get 18 years with my kids, so if I wait for kindergarten I just bought myself another year, right?
Now that we’ve decided, I’ve actually started to get excited. Like, really excited. This year has been tough, what with adding a new baby to the mix. But next year is going to be awesome. Our new baby will be a new toddler and we’ll have more freedom and energy to GO! and DO! and SEE!
So that’s what we’re planning to do. Kindergarten can wait.