A Change in Plans

by Ginger on March 10, 2014

in The Kid

We’ve known for a few years that Jackson was going to miss the cutoff date for kindergarten. His birthday is JUSSSST shy of the cutoff, and (from my limited understanding) there’s not a lot of getting around it. So for the past year, we’ve been trying to figure out what we’ll do instead, confident in the knowledge that we had another year to figure out kindergarten.

In some ways, this delay was something we thought of as a good thing: it would give him more time to mature, to learn to sit still, to ready himself for a larger classroom where he wouldn’t be able to get the hand-holding through behavioral stuff. In a lot of other ways, though, there were some concerns we had: he already knows many of the kindergarten standards, so would 2 more years (transitional k, then kinder) of similar curriculum bore him? When he’s bored, his behavior gets worse, so would boredom lead to classroom behavior issues? Would he be branded the “bad” kid because of that? Would he stop loving school and loving learning new things because the pace was slower and more repetitive? (Why yes, I can over-think everything, why do you ask?)
Plus, there were the logistics questions. Transitional K is only 3 hours, he’s used to a full day–would we put him in aftercare? Where? How would we get him there (seeing as how we only have one car, and I can’t come 30 miles home every day at lunch just to take him from one place to another)?

Well, about a month ago, we were talking with the director of J’s school, which is a combo daycare/preschool/kindergarten, about our options. We were asking about either their PreK 2 class, or after-care if we chose to do the local district’s transitional kindergarten. I had reservations about both options (for a variety of reasons) and I was going over some of them with the director when she says:

“Well, he could do kindergarten here you know.”

I swear there might as well have been an audible record scratch. I did not realize this was an option, until the minute she said something. We had thought that since he missed the cutoff for public K, that ANY kinder program was going to be out of the question. But apparently, private kinder has a little more wiggle room. (I guess that’s what you get when you pay for the privilege?) Because he’s been in this school for 3 years, they know he meets their standards, so he doesn’t even have to test into the program. We just have to sign the paperwork, and (gulp) pay the deposit, and he’ll be enrolled in kindergarten.

Despite my sadness that we will spend another year paying for school, this solves so many problems, and brings Jackson so many bonuses. This class is capped at 16, I believe, and right now it looks like it will be closer to 12, which means J will be able to get more hands on time than he would in a transitional k class of up to 31. The program is a more rigorous curriculum than the transitional K or public kinder curriculum, while still having lots of play-based activity, which we think will work better for our infinitely curious little boy. It’s a full day, year round program, including aftercare, that allows him to keep the schedule he’s been used to the last 2 years. He gets to do karate, art, music, and cooking (!) as part of the program. He gets to stay at the school where he knows ALL the teachers, administrators, staff, and where they ALL know him. Also, we’ve had 3 years to watch the kindergarten teacher at this school at various times, and she is AMAZING. She is seriously like the kid-whisperer, and we know she will be a great teacher for Jackson.

I can’t help but feel a little bit odd knowing we’re going to pay extra money for something we could get sorta* free in another year, but it then I think about my specific kid and this seriously feels like the best thing for him. So what’s another year of the budget we’ve worked with so far if it means we’re providing the thing that is the best situation for him? Right? Right.

The only thing throwing me for a loop? A month ago, I had another year before I had a kid in kindergarten. Now I have 4 months. This whole “time” thing is KIND of bullshit.

*Sorta, because not really. Public kindergarten here is only 1/2 day, which is really just 3ish hours, so we would have to pay for an aftercare program somewhere along the way. BUT that would be 1/2 of what we’re going to be paying now, so definite savings. And we’ll likely always have to pay for some level of aftercare, or afternoon sports/activities (this kid needs to BURN), so it’s kind of a false argument anyway.

Cloud March 10, 2014 at 10:16 pm

This sounds great! Don’t worry, you’ll stop stressing about your kindergarten choice at some point. I second guessed our decision until about Christmas time, and now (nearing the end of first grade!) it is just another one of those parenting decisions that seemed huge at the time.

FWIW (which is next to nothing), I think you are right to accelerate Jackson a bit if you’re worried he’ll act up when he’s bored. It is great that you can do that at a school he knows.

Alexis March 11, 2014 at 7:58 am

That is great! Liz is in the same position, and (as a result of long discussion with the school’s child development specialist that is far too convoluted to get into here) we have chosen to just wait the year. I feel lucky that we have access to these options so we can do what is right for each kid as an individual…I know that is a true luxury in the school-scape of 2014.

Good luck, Jackson will have a blast and be really comfortable/prepared for that great venture into “big-boy/girl school” as Liz likes to call it.

Leah, agirlandaboy (@agirlandaboy) March 11, 2014 at 10:03 am

This is awesome! The best part, of course, is that it sounds like a great solution for your particular kid, especially since the teachers know him and what he’s capable of. It sucks that you have to pay for another year of care (I feel you on that BIG TIME), but how great that you’re paying for a kindergarten curriculum instead of a preschool one, right?

One thing you might need to check on: Here, there’s some pushback about letting kids into 1st grade before they’re 6 (kindy isn’t mandatory, so it’s the 1st grade birthday deadline that really counts), so just make sure that’s not going to be a problem next year.

Ginger March 11, 2014 at 10:31 am

We’ve talked about the first grade thing with the school, and are planning on going to our local public school’s open house in a few weeks to talk to them too, but what we’ve heard is that a lot of the kids who go into this kinder program but aren’t age eligible at public school end up testing into 1st grade based on the curriculum. It’s not a guarantee by any stretch, and there is definitely a little bit of “eh, we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it” in our decision making, but it’s apparently not uncommon for the local school district to allow testing into 1st.

Leah, agirlandaboy (@agirlandaboy) March 11, 2014 at 10:34 am

Ah, nice! And how weird that they allow testing into 1st but not testing into K. I will never understand how schools work. Never ever.

Cherie March 11, 2014 at 10:18 am

This sounds perfect! But, because I’m a simpleton, will this matter on the other end? Will he transition right into first grade regardless of the age cut-off?

Ginger March 11, 2014 at 10:40 am

You’re not a simpleton, that’s definitely something we have had to consider. It’s not a guarantee that he’ll be able to transition into first grade–there’s an age cutoff for first as well. However, we know that many of the kids who do this program end up testing into first, so we’re hopeful that it will resolve itself that way. Or he may end up needing to do another year of kinder, we’ll see. If that comes to pass, we’ll have to figure out what to do then of course. There’s definitely a bit of eh, we’ll deal with that later going on here, but I’m sort of going on the idea of everything will work itself out.

Bree March 11, 2014 at 6:13 pm

I think you have made an excellent decision. From reading your posts Jackson seems more then ready to start K. The last thing you want to experience is his getting bored, it can make for some school problems for the rest of his school years. In my experience it was very important that keeping my children challenged was the key to their excelling in school.

My children and grandchildren all liked school, oh there were moments. My experience has been that oldest child really excels in school and continues their education beyond their college degrees.

You are about to embark on the most wonderful journey with Jackson.

april March 12, 2014 at 8:05 am

I think sometimes kids NEED the challenge (I hope I don’t get blasted by “let kids be kids” types, because I agree with that too). Henry’s birthday is RIGHT AT the cut off, and I just don’t know if he’ll be ready for school in a year. That freaks me the heck out. But maybe Spencer was too ready and Henry will be fine? Every kid is different, and you have to decide for your own kid. Being in the same school is definitely a plus for him, much less in the way of changes for him.

melanie jean juneau March 12, 2014 at 2:24 pm

best decsion- little boys are 6 months to a year brhind prissy, little girls who love to sit still and do scgool work. so much better that he will be a year older than many girls when he starts public -school

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: