We noticed about a year ago that our once shy, introverted son was becoming quite the social butterfly. And quite the student. He was starting to come home from preschool every day and recite, verbatim, every single thing he’d learned that day. Then he would proceed to the craft closet, pull out his preschool workbooks and whip through them. Soon he moved onto Kindergarten workbooks. Now, well, he’s up to second grade. About two weeks ago, he picked up one of his sister’s level one books and read it cover to cover. He’s moved onto level two. He also frequently engages us in conversations about outer space – every planet, from nearest to furthest from the sun…needless to say we felt it was time to make an important decision — to test Garrett for kindergarten (early).
I know this topic can rapidly turn into a heated one, so I will preface with why WE’VE chosen to do this and why we completely understand some people don’t agree with said decision. Eric and I feel it is in Garrett’s best interest to be in a more challenging environment next school year to avoid his recent “acting out” due to boredom. He misses the kindergarten cut off by a mere two weeks, and he has several friends entering kindergarten in the fall which will make it smoother for him. Plus he is extremely comfortable at my daughter’s elementary school — he knows every staff member by name, has a report with our librarian that involves her showing him where to find the books he’s interested in by subject each day because they have lengthy chats about what he’s into. He is on the receiving end of the “high five” line at drop off every day with the First Graders. They are his buddies. He loves them. He’s just so ready.
The test for early kindergarten entrance is in two weeks. It consists of a 30 minute social and academic exam administered by a kindergarten teacher. After that, we will find out the results in two weeks. We signed him up for this test about a month ago, after speaking with his preschool teachers and some friends in the teaching world who all agreed this was a smart move for Garrett.
We get the questions almost daily: “How will he handle being away all day? He’s so small, how will he fit in with bigger kids? Won’t he be bullied? Doesn’t he need another year to mature?” Yes, we see all your points. We’ve considered them. Some days to the point of obsession. But we choose to give Garrett a bit of a push because we feel he can handle it. We don’t want to stifle him, and in our specific case, we feel holding him back another year would do just that.
Hey, we aren’t perfect. This whole parenting thing is a learning experience. Sometimes we are faced with tough choices. Choices that we have to make now, that may not have an effect until much later on. And we have to go with our guts, with our hearts and read the signs our children are showing us. I will be honest. I have no idea if Garrett will pass his test. If not we will be equally proud of him and make adjustments for continued preschool that will challenge him as needed. If he does pass, then we will jump into kindergarten with both feet and encourage him like crazy. I promise to tell his story either way and give parents who are making the same decision as we are, food for thought. A different perspective. Because there are always “nay sayers.” We are choosing the path less traveled.