(This is a continuation of yesterday's post about making the decision to register or hold back our summer birthday boy. If you missed it, check it out!)
Getting the news that Carter scored below the kindergarten readiness cut-off score put me into teacher overdrive. My mind was swirling on how to get him caught up! A week straight of researching, lesson planning, organizing, and brain storming along with talking to every teacher and therapist who would lend an ear (I was subbing with our local district at the time so I had plenty of opportunities to chit chat with fellow teachers.)
Just like with breast feeding versus bottle feeding, cloth versus regular diapers, organic versus non organic, baby wise versus attachment, every one I spoke with definitely had their strong opinions (whether I necessarily asked for them or not). It seemed like once we decided to reevaluate sending Carter to Kindergarten, EVERYONE we met asked if Carter was starting kindergarten next year, which paved the way for their opinions and suggestions!
But as with any decision relating to your own child, it comes down to understanding YOUR child and what needs they have. Here are the main points that played a key role in our decision:
- I am a teacher. If we did put him in school this year, I am equipped to help him as much or as little as he needed.
- Carter has an extremely dedicated support system. He is blessed with 2 involved parents and 2 sets of grandparents that would do anything to help. Along with Jeremy and I having some amazing friends that love Carter as their own. We are beyond blessed and know that this support system would be strong enough to help him, if needed.
- He is bright. Even though his kindergarten readiness assessment did not show it, he is extremely bright. And I still believe that some of those scores were just because Carter didn't feel comfortable in the environment and he didn't want to "perform" that day. The assessment is just one way of showing whether a child is ready or not. We didn't want to rely on only just that one piece of information.
- Carter is the baby of the family. Believe it or not, birth order plays a huge role in this decision. Carter doesn't necessarily love school (as does his first born brother), is more of a free spirit and easy going, enjoys unstructured free time. He is more likely to question the order of things and established rules. He seeks attention (positive and negative, just as long as he is getting it over his brother). He is a comedian! And he doesn't necessarily want to make the decisions and is perfectly content to be a follower (which can get him in trouble sometimes). For more info on Birth Order, check out Dr. Kevin Leman's books on the subject. I absolutely LOVE all his books!
- "No parent ever says that 'they should have NOT held their child back'" We heard this over and over and over again from many who we respect. Think about it! How many parents make the decision to go ahead and put their child in school, forcing them to adapt, and then a year or two or even longer, they realize the child is struggling way too much and then have to make the decision to repeat a grade level. Jeremy and I did not want to force Carter into school where he may (or may not) struggle. I want my children to LOVE school, love learning, succeed and do well. Would I be setting him up for failure if we forced him into school this year? Maybe? Maybe not? We were able to speak with many friends, parents, teachers, therapists and administrators who had to make the decision to hold their own child back after kindergarten. They didn't think it would happen to "their" child but in reality it did.
- "Do you want Carter to be jumping into a car with his just-turned 16 year old friend while he has just turned 15?" I know this one sounds silly, but let's face it. Carter will be 10 months younger then some of his peers. Do I want my 15 year old driving around with them? Or would I rather have him the oldest, the first to get a license. (I am aware that he may have younger friends and this sound ridiculously selfish but it weighs on our decision). I would rather Carter be the oldest of his peers, possibility allowing him to fill a leadership role then to be the youngest of his peers and want to follow in the steps of friends who may get him in serious trouble or danger. Remember the previous birth order info? He is naturally a follower. That scares me!!!
- "Do you want Carter do be starting college and living in a dorm at 17?" Although he will have just turned 18, this is identical logic as the driver's license. Do I want my free-spirited, rule questioning, authority challenging, peer follower to be in a dormatory with older guys making stupid "first year of college" decisions! Oh my word: NO FLIPPING WAY!!
- Jeremy was held back! He does not resent that decision at all. It set him up to succeed in school. Would he have been okay if he hadn't have been held back, probably but we will never know. And besides we would have never met if he hadn't of been held back (ha side note!)
- Do I want a son who may be mediocre in school? One who may not enjoy it or feel that he's not good enough (which is also another birth order characteristic). Will we need to have tutors and extra efforts put into his schooling? Would holding him back decrease the chances of average or below average abilities? Would I rather him be bored with school because it's easier for him? When it comes right down to it, I would rather him breeze through school then for him to be mediocre or average. I would rather school be too easy and he gets bored, then for it to be too hard and he gets discouraged! Of course, those are assumptions. He may still struggle if we hold him back, but at least his maturity level may handle it better. Only time will tell!
- Carter has always done things on his own schedule, and usually behind the national averages. He didn't crawl until he was 11 month old. He didn't walk until 14 or 15 months old. He couldn't climb a ladder, skip, ride a bike with training wheels until late last year. He fought me on potty training. And anything that involves competition - FORGET about it! He will decline to participate. But the funny thing is, when he DECIDES to do it, he does it perfectly! He is so laid back and carefree, he does things when he wants to do them. Can you imagine this attitude and personality in a school setting that is trying to force him to do something? Oh goodness! The stress on his poor teachers. And the stress put on him to compete!
Jeremy and I had a huge decision to make and one we didn't take lightly! Tomorrow I will finish this journey with you and let you know what decision we finally came to.