Thursday, April 24, 2014

Round Two

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!

46 comments:

  1. Sounds like Luke has really benefited from the second year in pre K! My mom chose to have her c-section with me on August 31 (which was cut-off day) so I could go to school earlier, ha! I always liked being the youngest, but I'm sure it's different for girls.:)
    www.floralandfudge.blogspot.com

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  2. Andrea! This was such a great post! I love that you shared this decision with your readers! Luke is such an amazing kid, and you're right, you get to keep him with you another full year. To me, that would be the biggest blessing for both of you. Loved this post! And love that kid too!

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  3. You know your heart and your child better than anyone else....trust me....you did the right thing for all the right reasons and they will pay off in a big way in the future. Lucky little boy to have two strong parents looking out for him each and everyday.

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  4. Wow! This post came at the perfect time for me! We have a 4 year old with a late August birthday and we always knew from the start we wouldn't start him on time. His birthday is only 4 days before the cut off so it makes sense for him to be the oldest rather than the youngest. What I didn't expect was all the negative attitudes I've received from people when I say I'm not starting him this coming fall! It really makes me second guess our decision! I love reading your thoughts as an educator, I kept telling people that while he might be ready for kinder he still has 12 + yers of school ahead of him! Thank you for this post, it just reassured my thoughts on "holding him back."

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  5. Way to go, Mama!!! Thanks for sharing your heart in the this post AND for putting your sweet boy first!!

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  6. I commend you & your husband for making the decision you did!! My son's bday is Sept 2 & our cut off is Sept 1. While our decision was "made" for us, I too am so, so glad he will be one of the oldest in his class & not the youngest. My son was NOT ready AT ALL last year, but I know come August he will be totally ready for school!! Now my daughter's bday is at the end of May & we sent her at 5 because she was ready at that time...girls are A LOT different than boys, which I'm sure you know as a teacher ;) You & Dave seem like wonderful parents & in turn all 3 of your kids are as well.

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  7. Such a timely post! My husband and I have been talking a lot about this -- our twins have late birthdays. If they were to start "on time", we would have only one more year with them at home. Academically, I think they'll be fine but I do worry socially. I know I have another 6 months or so to decide but it's such a big decision! Thanks for sharing about your choice!

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  8. Such a great post. We have a July birthday at our house and I am still torn.

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  9. Such a great post!!! I know my sister and brother-in-law did the same with my nephew who also has an April birthday. He is now 9 and thriving!!!

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  10. I'm so glad you shared this! I appreciate it. I'm surprised you get pushback on the decision at all. My boys have a Janusry birthday - nowhere near the cutoff and they'll be middle of the pack age wise - and I'm already getting questions asking if I'll delay them. They're only one! Who's thinking school yet?! I guess it's fairly common to hold twin boys back but it's still a shocker when I get the questions and even odder when people just assume we'll hold back until they are six.

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  11. Such a great post, thank you for sharing your experience with us. Luke is one lucky little boy to have such awesome parents and to have been able to spend that extra 365 days with you!!!! Every child is different and you always have to do what's best for them!

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  12. Thank you so much for sharing this.
    I am a former kinder teacher and I can not tell you how many times I have wished parents would wait.
    I have never had a parent say boy I wish we would have put them in early. It was always I wish we would have waited!! What a gift you can give your child!!

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  13. First comment but long time reader and buyer of all your matilda jane shows...BUT I completely AGREE!!! You have paved a way for him to excel and I admire you and Dave for doing so!!! Pat on the back to you!!!

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  14. Great post, Andrea. My two older kids bdays are in late Sept and Oct. When my oldest was ready for school we were upset that he would be held back because of his age. Now that i look back I am so thankful we did. Academically and socially they both have thrived! My oldest is a boy and I think if he were not held back he would have struggled with the social part. My daughter on the other hand would have been absolutely fine, even if she were not held back. Now my third child is a June baby (boy) and did struggle in Kindergarten, first and second grade, more with the social aspect. He is now in 5th grade and doing awesome. Enjoy them because life just happens so fast. My oldest is a senior and will be going out of state for school. The water works for this mama have begun!

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  15. I'm so glad I read this today. My oldest just turned 5 (April birthday as well) and we have been discussing and praying about what to do for the fall. The points you mentioned about Luke are the exact same ones that are wanting us to have our son repeat pre-K as well. He does great w academics but lacks a little on the social awareness. I feel like I couldn't have read this at a better time! We have an appointment originally for this Monday for registering , but instead I'm gojng to get feedback from the K teacher there and see what all is in store for K and if we feel he can handle it. So overall , everything has been just fine holding him back? Any cons at all? I just love that you posted this. I felt like I got to pick the brain of a mama going through the same thing that I am :)

    lilbigmonkeysmama@gmail.com

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  16. I think you were very kind to post the reasons for your very personal decision, knowing it will help someone. And you are very right - this really is a decision that is different with every child. As a teacher and parent, I applaud you for really putting Luke first.

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  17. We did the same for our son and although it was a tough decision it was without a doubt the best one.

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  18. Well said, Mama!!!
    As a former kindergarten teacher and mama to three boys, I totally agree with your decision. For sure, every child is unique but for me the benefits seem to clearly outweigh the negatives. This wasn't the trend when we were growing up and I'm happy to see more parents having this choice. The best part is the extra year we have them at home at the end of their childhood-what a blessing!

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  19. This is a great article and I wish I would've seen this 9 years ago! My son will turn 14 next week and he is one of the youngest in his class. I think he's mature for his age but he is a whole year or more younger than most of his friends. I was given the option of holding him out of kindergarten but decided to go ahead and send him. I have to say I have had the what if's come into my mind several times. If I had talked to someone who had already been thru that decision, it might have helped me. Thanks for sharing!!

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  20. Andrea,

    I'm 25 and love your blog! I don't have children yet so I can't speak on the subject but I wanted to offer an interesting perspective. My boyfriend of 2 years repeated Kindergarten as well. We didn't meet until after college but because his mom had him repeat, we ended up graduating from two different schools around the same time, both moved to the same city and started working at the same company at the same time/same level (which is where we ultimately ended up meeting). Had he been a year or level above me, he would have been my "senior" and our relationship probably would have never happened. Some day, some girl might thank you for making that decision too :) I know I'm glad his mom did! You are a great mom!

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  21. I love this! Our daughter has a late birthday, in November. And she's small for her age, extremely smart, advanced for her age but will either always be the youngest or the oldest. We've made the tough decision to have her go through a full year and half of all the classes at her daycare, based on how she advances. She just moved into Pre-K at less than 4 1/2. My momma heart about broke, but I know she needs the advanced curriculum. She'll be in Pre-K for over a year and half, all of her class now will graduate and she will stay, and her old class will move up with her. She'll start Kindergarten 3 months shy of 6. Deciding these decisions for our children is so hard, giving them a name, deciding the education they'll get, the beliefs that will be instilled in them, those are decisions that keep us parents up at night. If we didn't worry, didn't fret, didn't pray....what kind of parents would we be?

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  22. Wonderful post! My youngest has a bday two weeks after the cut-off and I love that he's one of the oldest in his class. Having a 3 1/2 year old in a 2-year old class is interesting, but it's really brought out the leader in him and that's been a blessing to see. Thanks again for sharing your heart and decision making process!

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  23. Thanks for sharing. You made the right decision for you and Luke and that's all that matters. :) I'm having a BOY in June, so I'm sure I'll face this same scenario, so good to hear another person's views.

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  24. Oh I love hearing this. Our oldest is missing the pre-k cut off by 10 days and I have stressed and stressed and stressed about this. She will be one of the oldest in her class and because she's already pretty far ahead for her age I've been worried she would be totally bored since she will be six for almost all of kindergarten. (She will be 4 in Sept so we will have a year iof preschool and then pre-k.) But I have also wondered if it will actually be a blessing having her older because hopefully she will be more mature and make wiser choices when she is older. Anyway, I keep reminding myself that God picked her birthday so He has a plan and it's all under control! Hard for me to let jt go though :)

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  25. Andrea I love this post! It is so well written and thought out, I'm so glad you get to share it with your readers. As a lower school teacher (k,1 & 2) I can not tell you how important it is to be sure your child is completely ready before "pushing" them just to so he doesn't have to "repeat". My son is only one but with a March birthday I'm having the same concerns already! I'm so glad I'm not the only one in this boat! Thanks again for sharing!

    Mandi

    Best Little Moore House in Texas

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  26. My husband and I are both teachers in Katy (he also coaches football) and we started having this conversation when we found out we were expecting a boy with a summer birthday. This year he started preschool and it's clear he is behind his classmates in many social areas (of course, that's a lot bigger difference when we compare toddlers to kindergarteners.) Our preschool offers a transitional kinder program that kids will be "tested" for when they are 4. We plan to apply for that in a few years.
    I love the pros you listed. I had not even considered the extra 365 days we will get with him. That's great. And since kinder is not mandatory we figure if at the end of traditional kinder we feel like he's ready for 1st we could always make a jump then.

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  27. This was a great post! As a reader, I appreciate that you've been so open with this topic. My daughter has a May birthday, and I'm curious to see how she will fare when we get to that stage (although I do think it's different for girls). I've never heard anyone say that they regretted an extra year before Kindergarten.

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  28. Seriously loved this post (well I like all of your posts hahaha) but this was just an extra special one from the heart of a mama that opens her heart in so many ways. I know this post will help SO many <3 <3

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  29. I do think it needs to be emphasized this is a personal decision. We have a son with an April birthday and we did not hold him back. He has done very well,but I feel like there is more pressure to hold back than to not, so it was a tough decision met with push back from several. We need to remember that children can be successful and leaders no matter when they start school.

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  30. I teach first grade and I think it is great what you did for Luke! I live in Southwest Florida and our school starts August 8th, but the K cut off day is September 1st. We always have several parents who send their 4 year olds to K as they turn 5 later in the month. Those students tend to struggle more with the social and sitting aspects of K and 1st. With all of the new standards, I really feel that K is what we grew up as being 1st and 1st was the old 2nd. Boys especially have a hard time with the less social time we have to give them, as we are required to spend more time on academics throughout the day. The extra year you gave Luke will definitely help prepare him better! I think as a parent if you see that your child needs the extra year, the sooner the better! Statistically the best time to repeat with the most benefits is in P-k with K being a close second. It is better for him to go into K strong and confident than always feeling behind! I appreciate you putting your story out there for other parents to think about!

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  31. It is such a great choice to give your son that extra year to mature before K. If you hadn't he would have always felt like he needed to catch up, or that he was behind the other kids. That has a lasting effect that could effect much of his life.

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  32. I have friends who are going through the same thing and being a teacher I totally think you did a great thing for Luke. I ponder the idea sometimes with my second child because of his birthday and him being a boy. You know what is best for you child! Thank you for sharing.

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  33. First of all, I stumbled upon your blog through a friend of a friend of a friend of a friend...but I think you're so fun and a great mom so I love to follow you. Anywhooo...I love this post because I have a little guy who will be 5 in July. He's technically "kindergarten eligible" here in Illinois, but there is NO WAY I'm sending him in the fall. Just like your little guy, he is fine academically/congnitively, but socially he has some of the same issues you mentioned. I feel he needs another year to catch up and I'm so glad we are giving him that. I think it's so much better to be one of the older ones than the youngest. Especially with boys. Good job momma. Also, my daughter is just a couple months older than yours...love her style!

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  34. My son is three, almost four. He's enrolled in the Headstart Program here in our county. While he still has another year of Headstart, it's obvious that he is delayed socially right now. Hubby and I have already discussed keeping him out of school until he's 6 unless we see some major maturity next year. I definitely think it's different with each individual child. My oldest was ready for Kindergarten no problem. I don't want to compare the two though and want to do what is best for HIM when the time comes. I think it's wonderful that you didn't let your pride get in the way and made the decision you felt was best for HIM!

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  35. I stumbled on this and started reading. Our oldest is an August birthday and we had him do 2 years of pre-K for the exact reasons that you stated. We have never regretted it and loved that extra year he was home with us. He is in 1st now and I am so thankful that he is one of the oldest in the class.

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  36. Nobody knows Luke better than his parents. Every child has different needs and a different pace at which he/she develops. I'm glad you went with your instinct and didn't get caught up in what people would say and think.

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  37. I feel you on this, except I have the complete opposite situation. My daughter was born 5 days after the VA cutoff date. 5 days! And while parents are always allowed to keep their children back a year, they are never allowed to push forward. Now just like you know your child enough to know he needs more time, I know my daughter enough to know she NEEDS to be the youngest in the class. She is socially advanced, class leader in her preschool class (I.e. Already a bossy mean girl LOL!) and has been academically advanced for a while (7 years between kids has given her an advantage in certain things!). So we just know that if she is the oldest she will be bored and a bit too much for the other kids to handle! Thankfully private school will accommodate special circumstances. God bless you on your choices and the parents that you are!

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  38. We waited to send our son to Kindergarten and we are so glad we did. He was ready academically but was so quiet and shy. He is now is 2nd Grade and at every conference we have had over the years his teachers have always commented that he is a class leader and does what is right. That makes me so proud as a mom! I want him to do what he believes to be right and not be swayed by others. I am sure that it will be more difficult as the years go by but I am that he has a solid foundation to build on.

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  39. I posted my comment on Mix and match Momma before I read your post, but I totally agree with what you said. We went through the same thing with our 18 year old son, who will graduate from H.S. in a month. It was THE BEST decision we could have ever made, although at the time we were not so sure. I will never regret that extra year we gave him. Our daughter is a Junior in H.S. this year. We didn't get that extra year with her, and it makes me very sad, but she did not need it. My son is going to swim in college and major in Chemical Engineering. Not bad for that extra year in Pre-K!!

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  40. Love this post! Hudson is a June baby and we're moving him ahead to start kindergarten at our preschool this year. He'll be five and he'll go half day. Our plan is to have him repeat kindergarten at his permanent school. Academically he is doing fantastic. And he really does well socially, too. But he's not a leader. He is a sweet sweet kid but he isn't a leader. I'm not sure if that will change with an extra year of kindergarten, but it's probably worth finding out. :) thanks for this post!

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  41. We home school and chose to delay starting kindergarten with our son. Boys are wired differently.

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  42. I love this post. I wish we would of made the decision to start our son late. He started PreK when he was 4. He has always been smart. Knew is alphabet at 14 months and could read before he was 4. I felt that if I didn't start him in school that I wasn't helping him any. Boy was I wrong. His birthday is May 30th, so he is always the youngest in his class, sometimes by almost a year. Academically he has no problem, socially is a little harder. When boys are young and growing, even a few weeks can make a world of difference. He will turn 12 next month and he's already in his first year of middle school. He's still a little boy. He's a natural leader and when I see him interact with kids, it's always the kids that are in a grade below him that he gets along with the best. It's one of those "If I only new then what I know now" situations. It makes me sad and in a way I feel like I ended up doing more harm than good.

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  43. My daughter's birthday is in August so she barely made the cut off for kindergarten. We debated on holding her back. We went ahead and enrolled her though! But your post is really great because you were able to slow down this school process a little and all the stuff that comes along with it! He'll be with you for another year and that's precious time you just can't get back.
    Thanks for sharing!

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  44. After reading your post today (which was awesome!), I was very interested in reading this post! My husband and I are really struggling with the decision of sending our daughter to kindergarten or not in September. We live in Ontario, Canada so things work differently.. We don't have PreK, they go to all day, everyday kindergarten in September of the year they turn 4. My daughters birthday is December 22nd so she will only be 3! She will only be 5 going into grade 1 and barely 17 graduating highschool and going off to university! It's so hard to tell if they're ready or not. I've been home with her the last 3 years, so on one hand I think the socialization will be great for her, but also worry she's going to be behind! You have made so many great points in this post that I'm going to talk over with my hubby and hopefully we can make a decision soon! If you have any other advice or tips I'm totally open to hearing them! Thanks and sorry for the novel! Hah! brittanycousineau@live.com

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  45. Great decision for you and your family! Both my boys will be on the older side for their grade levels and I definitely think there are advantages. We have to do what is best for our kiddos and our families. So glad this has been positive for You all!

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