April 25, 2013

The Preschool Conundrum …


The Owlie could play Legos for hours. He sneaks into RedDog’s room when I’m not looking. Then the house gets very, very quiet. It’s only when I go looking that I find him in there building (and unbuilding) Legos.

I love this picture I took of him playing with a ship his brother built for him, but that tiny hand doesn’t look so little anymore. He’s growing and changing.

A few weeks ago I had a parent/teacher conference at the preschool. It was Spring Break so every parent had a conference. At Owlie’s conference the teacher had many good things to say about my boy. He cuts well with scissors. He holds his pencil correctly. He loves to participate in imaginary play. He’s kind to all the other boys and girls.

And then she dropped the bomb.

“We don’t think he’s ready to move on to the four year old class next year.”


When I asked why that judgment had been made, the reasons I got were: a) He doesn’t participate when we have singing and dancing during circle time. b) He doesn’t like task oriented activities like coloring. c) He talks more to the adults than the other kids.


I let the teacher know I would discuss it with my husband and get back to her.

After a weekend of discussion and prayer (yes, we even make preschool decisions based on prayer), we both felt it was best for Owlie to move on with his peers.

This is what we know: he loves singing and dancing at our house. Maybe it’s the teachers who make him uncomfortable? He doesn’t like coloring very much. At all. So what. And he is the last child in a house full of big people. He’s used to talking to big people. I’m totally okay with that.

He loves school. He talks about it a lot. He has friends there. He’s doing well (evidenced by the fact that we’ve never heard a word otherwise in the entire time he’s been at the school.)

We decided that we’d rather make a decision about postponing his kindergarten start date next year after the 4’s class. To make that kind of decision now when he’s only 3 would be to try to predict the future.

Tell me, have you held a child back in school? If so, what were your reasons?


Aiketa said...

As you know, I'm not an expert on this topic... But I would say that those reasons aren't, in my book, a big deal...
I think you made a good decision. You have always time to postpone kindergarten if you feel is necessary next year.

This photo is so beautiful. And you are right, he is changing, but he is still as cute as always.

TracyS. said...

If I used that criteria, my 3 oldest kids would still be in the 3s class!

Anonymous said...

Oh, how I feel your pain...We have been through this with Isabella. We struggled so hard and did both. When she was 3 they said hold her back. We said no. At 4 (and in a new school) the teacher said she was not ready for kindergarten for many of the same reasons as Ollie. Like you we did not see what the teacher saw. We knew that Isabella didn't like groups of kids her age and would rather be with adults or small groups. We debated what was right for our little girl. This time we actually put her in a social skills group at a local Drs Office. The Dr was able to provide us so much insight into why the teach said what they did. In our case she was socially delayed (we knew this) and suffers from anxiety (we had no clue!).
After much frustration we decided that we would hold her back from Kindergarten. It has been amazing to watch her blossom. Would that change have happened in Kindergarten? Maybe but who knows. I can just say that for our little girl the first year was not the right year to hold her back. I do think putting her in a 5 year old PreK class instead of Kinder was absolutely the right choice.

Trust in your choices and know that you know your child better than anyone else!

Much Love!

Sue said...

Mack hates coloring, too. He's been pretty obstinate about it at preschool. Our pediatrician said we really need to work on it to develop his hand-eye coordination. The thing is, he'll do it if you sit and color with him on the same paper, but he just doesn't want to do it on his own. He can think of 10 things he'd rather be doing. And I'm OK with that. He can build blocks like no man's business! And if Owlie can build Legos I'd say he's got plenty of hand-eye coordination.

In the small community of Cokeville where sports is king, a lot of parents with summer birthday boys hold them back a year so they're not small for sports. I don't know if that's the right thing or not, but I think if your boy is thrilled about school, let him go!

Nikki said...

I have a son in third grade. At the end of first grade the school told us they wanted him to repeat the first grade. We knew he was struggling with reading, but he was great in all other subjects. We prayed and did a lot of looking online. It's really scary to make decisions like this that you know will affect the life of your child. We made the decision not to hold him back. We took him to the doctor and he was diagnosed with ADHD. It's been a struggle with help from tutors and doctors, but now my son is reading above grade level and excelling in school. Don't let the school make the decision for you. You know your child best! do what you think is right for him!

Tracie Carter said...

That's really interesting. I didn't know you could be held back in preschool! My kids have their own myriad of challenges and I guess I figure it will all shake out in the end. I don't have time to get into these deeper feelings, but I know you guys will do what's right for Ollie. Cute little man!!!

The Queen Vee said...

Lots of good advice and support in the comments above. I know you'll figure out what's best for the Owlet, he's a smart bright little fellow. Cute pic, he wanted to play with Soren's legos last night but the door was shut, maybe next Wednesday we can do that.

Apis Melliflora said...

Information is good. The teacher is giving you information. But you also have loads of information. You're doing a great job of balancing it all out and doing what's best for your boy!

MelancholySmile said...

The lovely (and frightening!) thing about parenting is that every child is different. There is no blanket solution or answers, which is why prayer (even regarding preschool!) works so well.

Our E is homeschooled along with our other children, but goes to an Enrichment Program once a week. It's basically one day of school, and gives the opportunity for field trips, learning an instrument, being in theater, and all that.

Anyway, E has been struggling to read for years. It came to a head this year when he started expressing his desire to avoid going to Enrichment. I realized just how self-conscious he was becoming, and how much his good hearted teacher wasn't able to give him individual attention. After meeting with a reading specialist, we've decided to take E out for the summer, and possibly the entire next school year, as we work on his reading.

Taking the pressure and 'magnifying glass' off of him allows him to learn at his own pace, relish in the things he excels at, and get plenty of personalized attention.

Just our story. Do what works for your individual child! No one knows there needs better than you & The Lord.

jd said...

I was held back... kind of. Twice in my elementary school career, they wanted me to skip a grade, because I am a genius. My mother said no both times, as she was worried I'd become snooty (and afraid I'd be smarter than her, probably). The ramifications of this have been endless, the most painful being that Mensa won't let anyone join who didn't skip at least one primary-school grade.

Or, she "held me back" because it was the best thing for me. I was short, I was a late bloomer, socially I wasn't ready to be with older kids. Which I actually think was probably a really good decision. And seeing the subsequent classes/friends/situations/experiences I had in the years following, all the way up to and through college... I'm so glad she did, even though it may have been at the professional world's loss to not have me enter is sooner. And Mensa sounds pretty boring, anyway. They probably don't "get" sarcasm there.

My mom chose right for me, and I think you're making the right choice for Owlie :)

jd said...

p.s. I purposely misspelled "it" as "is", so as to pretend imperfection-- it's a habit. People are just soooo intimidated by genius.

Anonymous said...

Both of my kids did Developmental Kindergarten for different reasons. With our oldest we've never regretted it. As soon as his ADHD was diagnosed, it changed school for me. He's more mature than his classmates, and starting middle school this year, he went thru a changed of friends. I'm ok with that because there were a couple that concerned me. Now, I don't have to worry about it because he's made better friends.

As for our daughter, she's always been on the small side and has a late birthday, and then add that she walked late and stopped talking when she started walking. She did speech and adaptive PE, but by the end of the first year of speech, she was were she was supposed to be with a couple of gross motor delays. We had her tested by the school district to see if DK would be a good thing for her. She did well, but she wasn't totally cooperative (which is kind of part of her personality. You have to prove yourself to her.). They said DK would be good for her. It was. She's still one of the smallest kids in her class. Only her Japanese and Korean friends are smaller. Academically and socially she's really strong.

This year is probably the only time I've kind of regretted it, but that's because of her teacher. Personality-wise it's not a good fit; the teacher isn't a strong teacher; and watching her body language, she doesn't care about how her students behave. What this year has taught my daughter, is what makes teachers good and bad. She can identify characteristics that her DK-2nd grade teachers have that made them phenomenal teachers. And we're struggling to teach her to be more tolerant of others who don't meet her expectations like her teacher.