Another first day of school

by Ginger on September 21, 2015

in Random

In my last post, I mentioned fighting with the administration of J’s school district about getting him assessed for first grade. So here’s what’s up with that.

First, background. Here’s the whole kit-n-kaboodle, but the TL;DR version is, we put J in private kinder last year because he missed the age cutoff. It was the absolute perfect decision for our kid, and he absolutely loved (and thrived in) that program.

However.

When we registered J for that program, it was apparently “no big deal” for kids to move directly into 1st grade after this kinder program. However, something changed this last year, and what was no big deal suddenly became very convoluted and insane. And no one at the (new public) school, or the district, seemed to have any clue what was going on.

We started asking about it in January. The first couple of people we talked to said, as we had expected, “Oh sure, no problem, he’s already done a year of kindergarten, it’s a done deal.” Then the story changed. And kept changing. No matter how many people we talked to, no one had an answer that matched anyone else’s, which gave us pause.

Finally, in June, we reached the person at the top of the chain, and she gave us the official details: the kid would have to enter kindergarten, have his teacher assess him in the classroom for social and emotional readiness, then take some academic assessments, and then have the district approve his move to first if all those assessments show he’s ready. We were not given an official time table–somewhere between a week and 2 months after school started was what we were told to expect.

We’ve struggled with this whole process for multiple reasons: the difficulty with the district & school is one, but there’s also the “are we making the right choice to advocate for this” and the “I swear we’re not doing this because we think our kid is a genius special snowflake” reasons, the pros and cons of him being the youngest in his class reasons, and the “oh man, this creates quite the logistical nightmare reasons.”

But, we really do think it’s for the best. J went from a full day kinder program where they finished the year doing 1st grade curriculum stuff to a 1/2 day program where they’re working on writing their letters. In just the 3 short weeks since school started, he’s ALREADY talked about being bored. (One day he said “Mommy, why aren’t we doing any math at school?”) So we did push for the process to move forward, and luckily, after fighting w/everyone for so many months at the beginning of the year, everyone was very willing to work with us.*

J has been assessed socially & emotionally basically since day one in the classroom. They had an intervention specialist do some academic assessments, & last week, we all met to discuss the plans. The long and short of it is that, 3 weeks after his 2nd first day of school at this school, today was his 2nd first day of school, this time as a first grader.

He’s nervous about going to the “big grades” (they have a completely different schedule, playground, cafeteria, etc., so he has to basically relearn everything from the past few weeks), and sad to leave the friends he’s already made in the kinder class, but man it’s going to be so good for him. We met the teacher today and I think she’s going to be great for him. We’ve seen the curriculum, the schedule, & yes, even the homework, and oh it’s just going to be so much better for him. The transition will probably be rough (all transitions with this kid are kind of rough), but in the long run, I think it’s going to be good.

N.C. & I spent a lot of time talking about this over the last 9 months, and the thing with this parenting gig is that there’s no right and wrong answer to these kinds of situations. You take what info you can get, what you know of your own kid and his needs & personality, and you hope for the best. You advocate for your kid when you need to, and you back off when you need to and you really just cross your fingers that you’re not screwing things up too much.

(Although I’m preeeeeety sure we’re not screwing this one up).

***

*Turns out, our struggles to figure this out were a result of the process changing this year & us being so vocal (nicely, but firmly) helped the district see that they didn’t have the process well documented or explained for the schools, so they’re working on that. In addition, they’ve seen that the process as it stands has some…disadvantages, so they’re working on revising that as well. I don’t like to be the squeaky wheel, but it got my kid what he needed and may help future parents, so I can be ok with having the be vocal in this case.

 

 

Carmen September 21, 2015 at 2:39 pm

Man, that’s a complicated process. I’m so glad that things worked out in the end – it’s not cool to have a kid coming home every day reporting that he was bored at school.

I don’t know if you remember, but we went away for my son Kieran’s Grade 1 year, and I homeschooled him for that year. He’d been to a private kindergarten, so for the homeschooled year I registered him at our local school (following the procedure of the school district. The school seemed confused as no one at the school had ever homeschooled before, apparently.) When we returned, I presumed they would test him for Grade 2 readiness before school, or in the first week, but we had the opposite thing happen: they just put him in the Grade 2 class and said they’d “see how it went”. Well. THAT wasn’t confidence inspiring, let me tell you. But it all worked out okay in the end. He was fine. And J. will be too. He’ll make friends again, and quickly. It’ll be fine and I’m defiiiiiinately sure you’re not screwing this one up. 🙂

Tragic Sandwich September 22, 2015 at 12:35 pm

We went through an alternative version of this with Baguette, and really we’re not done yet. It should not be this hard to get children the free and appropriate education that is required by law to be provided.

I hope J loves his new class.

Cloud September 24, 2015 at 8:07 pm

Yikes! It seems like a dumb process, if you ask me. To make the kid transition twice in a short period of time is just… mean is the word that comes to mind.

But I’m glad it worked out and he’s where he needs to be now! I’m sure this will be a blip to him soon- in the process of helping Petunia adjust to Kindergarten, we talked with her and Pumpkin about Pumpkin’s start of Kindergarten, and Pumpkin doesn’t really remember all the tears. *I* remember them all! But she just shrugs and says she loves school (which she does, now).

nonsequiturchica September 29, 2015 at 12:50 pm

That sounds like quite the process- good for you for sticking to your guns! I went to private school growing up and jumped to 1st grade early because I was already reading. I have been the youngest person in every grade from 1st- college. While it sucked to be the last person to drive, last person to turn 21, etc. being with older kids pushed me- both athletically and academically. I’m so glad my parents made that decision for me.

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