So, it’s January 2015. Which for some reason that I really struggle to come to terms with, means parents have to make decisions on school for their kids 8 months from now. I have to make a decision for my 4 1/2 year old that will go into effect when he’s 5 and 3 months. That’s insane to me. Since I found out I was pregnant in September 2009, our first baby’s June due date gave me a bit of anxiety. People I barely knew would bring red-shirting up with me. Everyone, and I do mean everyone, has an opinion on when a summer birthday kid should start Kindergarten. There is study after study showing that older kids do better in school and have more confidence. And there is study after study refuting those exact claims. So how the heck does a parent decide? I have friends with kids on both ends of the spectrum, and they all swear by the choice they made for their child. And I think that’s what it comes down to, you have to make a choice for each kid individually.
I remember when Thomas was brand new, our neighbors who had a boy 6 months before Thomas came down with dinner and a baby gift one evening. And as we were sitting in our living room politely chatting, it donned on me that this 6 month old would be in the same class as my infant. This sitting, almost mobile kid and my baby who couldn’t even hold his own head up, would someday be expected to walk to Kindergarten together. And I remember thinking, “Well, that’s that. Thomas will be the oldest in his class. No one can tell me that those 6 months don’t make a difference, even at age 5.” And then T started talking and walking and being a kid. And we kind of forgot about those 6 months. I say this simply to state facts, but T is a bright kid – he’s got a hell of a memory and an incredibly thoughtful persona. He knew all 50 states at the age of 2, he’s been reading since he was 3.5 and he asks questions that I don’t expect to hear from a 4 year old – he’s just an old soul. So, we knew that the school portion of Kindergarten would be easy regardless of when he started. But when T went off to preschool at 3, there was a pretty obvious difference between Thomas and his classmates. Size-wise for sure – he was the shortest in his class. But he’s also just a cautious kid. He’s an observer. A perfectionist. He’s a pretty typical oldest child, and in his class these past two years, he’s the only oldest – everyone else has older siblings, which makes a difference in how kids play.
And so, after much hemming and hawing, we’ve made a decision. Thomas is enrolled for five day a week, half-day Kindergarten at his current preschool – which has an excellent and accredited Kindergarten program. The intention is that he will do Kindergarten twice – so we’ll call this Kindergarten 1 and the following year he’ll do Kindergarten again at our local elementary school. The beauty of this arrangement is that because the class is accredited, if T’s teacher next year thinks two years of Kindergarten would be a disservice to him, then we will reconsider our plans and he can go straight into first grade. So really, we’re calling this a “buying time” year, but in a Kindergarten program that is incredible. And Nell will start preschool at T’s school next September, as well going two days a week. Thomas is so excited to have Nell at school with him, and Nell is so excited to go to school because she wants to pick out a pink backpack, a pink folder and a pink water bottle. Whatever it takes, right? And we’ll be in the same boat two years from now figuring out what’s best for Nell – and by then our experience with T will have shaped our own opinions, so I’m sure it will be an entirely different ball game. But right now, I’m feeling pretty grateful that Peter has a March birthday and there’s zero gray area with that.