After Luke turned six at the beginning of April, I started being asked A LOT about him being in Pre-K instead of Kindergarten. I've received lots of questions via emails, direct messages on Instagram and on Facebook - so I thought I'd address it here and hopefully answer your questions and share a little insight into our decision to do a "Round Two" of Pre-K with Luke Man :)
When I had Luke in April of 2008, I took my maternity leave and had planned on staying home after that. My mom worked in the administration office of the school where I was teaching and she GRACIOUSLY and SELFLESSLY offered to quit her job (which she LOOOOVED!) to watch Luke for me and Dave full time. It was a HUUUUGE blessing. My parents value Christian education as much as Dave and I do and my mom made a huge sacrifice to help us achieve a goal of being able to enroll our kids in a Christian school where I was teaching. There is very little turnover where I teach and I was hesitant to give up my position not knowing if there would be a position for me when I was ready to return to work. Sooooooooo......... Luke spent the first three years with Gibi four days a week and it was AWESOME! As a first time mom I couldn't have asked for a better scenario considering that I trusted her more than I trusted myself :) She and Luke have a super special bond that I believe came from them spending so much time together during those years as well. When Luke was two he did a mother's day out program 2 days per week at a local church as well.
When I found out I was pregnant with Mason, my mom turned in her resignation to Dave and I (despite us offering to double or triple her pay... hahaha.... she did it for free :) ) and we set out on the hunt for the perfect in-home daycare. I knew that traditional daycare was not for us and after a long search we fell in LOVE with Miss Lisa! Three year old Luke and 4-month old Mason started at Miss Lisa's house in August of 2011 and Luke loved it. After spending three years pretty much just with Gibi it was great (and a bit of a challenge!) for him to spend all day,every day, with a group of kids, but he adjusted well. He turned 4 in April of 2012 and started Pre-K at MCA in August of that same year.
Late fall of 2012 we started getting feedback from Luke's teacher indicating that academically he was STELLAR, but when it came to social awareness.... not so much. hahaha
Luke preferred to play independently, had a hard time moving from one activity to the next when he was enjoying what he was doing and was pretty much completely unaware of what other kids were thinking about him (for example... if he was upset he'd burst into tears... while other kids in his class would have been embarassed to cry).
He was performing academically, but socially wasn't keeping up with the other kids in his class. He was one of the very youngest kids and we were faced with the decision of doing a second year of Pre-K before sending him to Kindergarten. I was a pregnant, hormonal mess and I stressed and stressed over the decision. Dave and I talked, prayed and researched the pros and cons and ultimately we decided that the only downside to keeping him in Pre-K another year was mostly our "pride" in having the kid who was repeating. We'd do anything for our kids and so we got over that really quick and re-enrolled him in Pre-K.
We waited until WELL into the summer to break the news to him (I thought he was going to be devastated), but he really couldn't have cared less. hahaha
We talked about how his birthday party had been the last one out of all his friends and that he was too young to go on to Kindergarten and he goes, "okay" and that was that.
This year has most definitely not been perfect. He's a five (well, six now!) year old boy and he does five year old boy things. He "dog piles" with the other boys at recess, doesn't like to put away the Legos when it's time to go to the next center (surprise! surprise!) and he likes to talk. A lot. :)
But while it hasn't been perfect it's been so so so much better. We're noticing more "leader" qualities instead of the "follower" ones we were seeing last year, his social awareness has blossomed and he's fallen into the routine and rules of a classroom more naturally.
When we're out and about and people ask how old he is, they automatically assume that he's currently in Kindergarten and when he or I reply telling them that he'll be in Kinder next year almost EVERY SINGLE TIME we get an affirmative response with an anecdote about their son/nephew/grandson who waited for Kindergarten and it was awesome or someone who wished that they had waited for their son/nephew/grandson to start school.
Here are a few reasons we're glad that Luke had the opportunity to do a second year of Pre-K...
1) We want his childhood to last as long as possible
He's growing up so so so fast!!! Delaying Kinder means delaying homework and the academic responsibilities that he'll have the next 12+ years to enjoy :)
2) We wanted him to be one of the older kids in his class
Teaching middle school gives me a unique perspective and I REALLY advocated for Luke being given every chance to be one of the older boys in his grade. There is a HUUUUUUUUUUGE range of maturity levels, leadership skills and self control and we preferred for Luke to be on the upper end of that spectrum rather than the lower end. There's also broad physical differences between boys... and we don't feel like an extra year of physical growth will hinder him socially or in athletics either.
3) We get to keep him at home for an extra year!!! :)
When he's a moody, angst-ridden teen I may be regretting this decision, but for now - I'm relishing the fact that we bought ourselves 365 extra days with this sweet boy under our roof. 365 extra days of influence. 365 extra days to develop the forethought and judgement that teen boys are often lacking and 365 extra hugs that I wouldn't get if he was off at school. :)
Obviously, this decision is completely, 100% individual and I'm sure that there are TONS of kids who are more than ready for the academic and social facets of Kindergarten at or before the age of five.... but what I'm hoping you'll take from our experience is that if you don't feel that your child is ready (of if your child's teacher doesn't feel that they're ready!) you don't have to forge ahead just because that's what you're "supposed" to do.
Round two has been a huge blessing for Luke and I am so happy we made the decision for him to repeat. I'm not sure what we'll do with Mason... I'm assuming that we'll probably have him repeat as well - but he's totally different than Luke so I guess we'll just have to wait and see!
Please don't hesitate to let me know if you have any questions!!! If you comment, make sure you're settings allow me to reply (check out this bloggers post on how to check and see!) and/or leave your email address in the comments so I can get back to you!