Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Round Two - Revisited

Two years ago I wrote a post detailing our decision to have Luke repeat Pre-K.  You can read the whole thing HERE, but here are the highlights...

- When Luke started PreK he was in a class of about 15 kids (the only PreK class at MCA) and he was the youngest child in the class by far.  I remember going to another child's birthday party during the first month of school where the boy was turning 5 and thinking how much older he seemed than Luke (who had turned 4 a few months earlier).  



- Luke has never struggled academically, but falling into the stride of a classroom environment wasn't a natural fit for him. 

- Luke lacked a bit of social awareness.  For example, the teacher would say, "Hurry up Luke, we're all waiting for you" and that wouldn't bother him :)   

When we sat down with his teacher at the end of the year and looked at all of his progress, we decided to have him repeat PreK.  Mainly, his age with respect to the rest of his classmates and his social development.  



Luke went into PreK for a second year and we immediately noticed a difference.  He was a classroom leader, he was extremely social and since he knew the expectations... he excelled.  Several boys with birthdays around his joined the class after coming out of other local PreK programs and it was obvious that we made the right choice.



Luke is well aware that he repeated PreK and, honestly, the only issue that he has with it is that the second graders are getting to work on some robot project that he really wants to do :) 

 

So.  That brings me to Mason :)

Mason's birthday is two weeks later than Luke's and so we went into PreK with the mindset that, like his brother, he would do a second year.  He's also TEENY compared to other kids his age so that even further affirmed that we thought he'd do a second year.  



But, even though we've always known that Mason and Luke are very different from each other, this year has shown that more than any other.  Mason came home on the first day of school and he knew all of his classmates names.  He knew friends names in ESS (their after school program) and he knew who his specials teachers were.  He fell right into the flow of the classroom and understood the expectations from day one.  Academically, he's a totally different story than Luke.  He has struggled to get his letters and letter sounds down and he can be a challenge to work with because if he doesn't completely "get it" the first time around, he doesn't want to do it at all.  He is extremely hard on himself and throws in the towel early for fear of failure. 


His teacher (a different teacher than who Luke had) has been a God send this year!  Mrs. Anderson is amazing.  Which I know is an overused word - but I don't really know how else to describe her.  She has been caring and nurturing, while still maintaining a high standard of behavior.  Her classroom is all about play, but every single activity they do has an educational purpose behind it.  SHE LETS THEM BE KIDS while still helping them grow and she goes well beyond the call of duty to help her kids succeed.  I mean...she pulled Mason from ESS at least once a week to work with him individually on his letters and when he finally got them all down she took him out for pizza during Spring Break because she knows how much he thrives with one-on-one attention.
We ADORE Mrs. Anderson.

She and I have conferenced several times and she has assured me that Mason is more than ready (socially AND academically) to head on to Kindergarten and so we're trusting her expertise and sending him on.  



It was a hard decision mainly because we had spent so long talking about all the benefits of having Luke repeat...  being an older kid in his class, having an extra year to mature, etc....  if that was what was best for Luke, HOW was it not best for Mason???  

We prayed a lot about it, talked to his teacher and ultimately decided that since we had made what we felt was the best decision for Luke and the situation he was in and we wouldn't do anything less for Mason just because his brother did it one way. 

In some ways parenting Mason is easier because we feel like we've "been there, done that" a little bit.  You know.... we started taking Luke to the dentist when he was 3, so we'll do that with Mason.  We took away Luke's paci when he was 2, so we'll do that with Mason.  We knew what to expect going into PreK because Luke had already done it. Stuff like that.  But, it turns out that sometimes parenting the second is actually tougher because you have a child who's NOT like the first (which is amazing!) and doesn't need the same things.  For example, we had a great discipline plan that worked WONDERS with Luke, but Mason literally laughed in our faces when we tried it and we had to come up with something totally different!



We try our hardest not to look back and second guess our decision for Luke.  He is with a WONDERFUL class of kids and has absolutely thrived.  Big parental decisions are hard and stressful, but as my mom likes to say, "It is what it is". :)  You do the best you can with what you're given and don't look back.



I am by NO MEANS an expert on this topic, but I know how comforting it can be when you read someone else's story and can really identify with it.  I know that this is the time of the year some of y'all are thinking about decisions like this and so I wanted to share. I also wanted to encourage anyone struggling with a "big" parenting decision to pray about it, go with your gut and then LIVE that decision without looking back. 

Happy Tuesday, Friends!!!

64 comments:

  1. Great post, Andrea!! I bet this helps a lot of mamas!

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  2. You're such a good mama. I know these decisions weren't easy for you...but you're making the best decisions for each boy. Love you friend!

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    1. Awww! Thank you! And thank you for always lending me your ear while all of it was happening!

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  3. As a mom to 5 I can totally say how different it is parenting each child, and what works for one usually doesn't work for the other ;). I'm so happy to hear that you're letting mason start kindergarten!!!

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    1. right?!?! Wouldn't it be awesome if there was one playbook for all of them! hahaha

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  4. My daughter who is a teacher pleasing school loving 15 year old has a December birthday. No question of when to begin school. My son who suffers from ADHD and anxiety has an April 25th birthday. Ugh. We decided after to keep him in preschool another year. This is common practice here. He needed the gift of time. Now that he is 10 and in third grade he is really struggling with "I was held back." No buddy you weren't. He has scored off the charts in being superior cognitively gifted as well as math and language arts. The mom in me second guesses myself all the time with -was it just his undiagnosed ADHD and anxiety at a young age and he would have been fine? But being a third grade teacher myself, I have to tell myself-I did the best with what I knew at the time. It will work out in the long run. I didn't hurt him one bit. Just wish their birthdays would have been switched!!! Luke and Mason and GG down the road will all turn out just fine in school because they have loving supportive parents who are trying to do the best for their kids.

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    1. Thanks, Beth! And exactly - you do what you can in the moment! Thanks so much for reading and taking the time to comment!

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  5. I don't know you personally & have never met you, but I can tell you you are raising 3 amazing kids!! Our situation was similar to yours about school except it was with our 2nd, not 1st. And I am SO, SO, SO glad I didn't have my son start a year earlier!! He is the oldest in his class & is thriving soooo much better than he would have otherwise. I know it's hard not to look back & play the "what if" game, but I can tell just from your blog you guys made a GREAT decision with Luke :)

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    1. Thank you, Julie!!! I've never heard of anyone regretting doing a second year in the long run.

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  6. I have two September birthdays. The cut off in our current state is 10/1. My youngest is 9/28. We always knew we would be moving to another state where the cut off is 8/15, so we went by their cut off.

    For my oldest, she is doing amazing. She is a leader, academically thriving and rocking 3rd grade. In fact, we have been asked to skip a grade, but social is just as important as academic.

    My youngest has severe vision issues, so having him redshirted another year has been amazing academically! He went from pre-reader in the beginning of K to reading middle 1st grade!

    A lot of people told us on our youngest you should redshirt him for sports, because he's a peanut or Jose Altuve size ;) However he's playing on a team of 2nd graders & kicking booty.

    Anyway, you are doing the best for each of your kiddos. Great post! Xo

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    1. Good for him for getting after it and kicking hiney! :) And yes!!! I've had several students who have skipped ahead for academic purposes and it can be so hard socially! Thanks, Kim!

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  7. Thank you for sharing!!! My mama's heart needed to it!!! My husband always tell me the same..."it is what it is".

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    1. Awwww!!! So glad it spoke to you. Thanks, Paige!

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  8. We live in Ontario, Canada and our kids start junior kindergarten with a cut off date of 12/31. My youngest is 12/08. So he was 3, going to school ALL day EVERY day and he is super tiny. He has 30 kids in his class with a teacher and an ECE teacher. 4 years ago the Kindergarten program has become a play based program but it's still tiring for my little guy. I sometimes wonder if I should have waited a year (they don't legally have to start school until gr.1) but he seems to be doing great (he also has 2 older siblings which I think helps). We will see how he does in SK. Your little fam is adorable. Great little post.

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    1. When we lived in Ontario we did JK and SK as well! My brother did a year of Junior Kindergarten and then when we moved to North Carolina he didn't make the cutoff for kinder and my mom had him at home for an extra year! And yes... I think that second and third siblings have a total advantage ;) hahaha

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  9. I love the truth spoken here. I had my children in public school through 4th grade and 2nd grade and I finally decided to trust God and homeschool them. It was a hard decision. Parenting usually involves a lot of hard decisions and a lot of trusting God. Thanks for reminding me today to not look back. Your blog always touches me!

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    1. What a tough call - but good for you for trusting! Thanks so much, Tiffany!

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  10. I am studying the book of Nehemiah right now and a recurring theme is "pray about it and continue the work". I feel like that is exactly what you have done with Luke and Mason and no doubt with GG as well. You've prayed, made your decision and are "continuing the work". God will bless:) Have a terrific Tuesday, Andrea!!

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    1. YES!!! I've been reading "Hand me Another Brick" by Charles Swindoll and couldn't agree more! Thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment!

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  11. Such a tough decision for mamas! So glad you posted about this! Both boys are so amazing and they are lucky to have a great mama like you! Xo

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  12. This is so good!! We fully expected my son to repeat kindergarten, simply based on age and maturity. However, he totally proved us wrong and has excelled academically and socially beyond any expectations. Each child is different and you have to do the best you can to make decisions for that child, not the norm!!

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    1. Good for him!!! And yes! on making decisions for the child, not the norm. And not for your expectations either! LOVE it! Thanks, Leigh!

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  13. Great post!! I'm due in the middle of August and already wonder if this baby will be ready to start kindergarten at 4 years old. Eek! Love your perspective and it sounds like you're doing a great job with your boys.

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    1. Dave started the week he turned 5 :) You'll know what's right when it's time! Thanks, Abbey!

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  14. Thank you so much for sharing this! I asked about it last week, and I'm so glad to have your perspective. I have been doing so much research lately on Pre-K, Kindergarten readiness, school choice, charter schools, etc., lately. It makes my head spin! It's so different from how I grew up (where you just did what you were supposed to) that it feels like such a monumental decision and almost impossible to get it right.

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    1. YES! I had it on my calendar... but your commented prompted me to go ahead and post. So many decisions to make and whatever decision you make will be the right one! Pray pray pray about it! Thanks, Corinne!

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  15. This speaks to my heart! I often wonder with my late summer babies if I made the right decision. You guys are wonderful parents!

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  16. Andrea, the question of whether to send your kiddo to Kindergarten is SO hard. We have a July birthday and decided to send her to Kindergarten from her PreK teacher recommendations. Like Mason, she EXCELLED socially! On the other hand, she also is one that if she doesn't get something down right away, she is quick to give up and her teacher has been an absolute blessing! A mix of nurturing, caring but also high expectations and firmness. Thank you for sharing your experience!

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    1. Congrats to your girl on her success! And it sounds like she has an amazing teacher! Thanks so much for reading and commenting!

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  17. I had such a hard time with this choice too for my son. He just finished up an extra year of preschool and I think it was the best thing for him. It gave him an extra year to get prepared for Kindergarten and I got the chance to spend more time with him! Win-win! He seems to always be the "oldest" or the "youngest" when it comes to sports teams which I think is a blessing because he gets to experience all different experiences and stages! When it comes to my second born, my daughter, she will go on to Kindergarten without repeat of preschool because I just think she is more adaptable and knows more thanks to her brother and experiences she has gained through him.

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    1. What a great way to look at your son's situation in sports! And I completely agree that younger siblings have the benefit of watching older siblings go through experiences first. Thanks so much for reading, Blair!

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  18. I just know this post was for me. We are going through something like this with our little one and I cant tell you how many sleepless nights I have had. It seems like no big deal to most of my friends and family, but when it's your own you think of every possible scenario. It can drive you mad!!! Your story helped me see things in ways I hadn't thought of before. So thank you so much for sharing. I needed this post today. So funny that what I was looking for didn't come from my mom (where most of life's wisdom comes from :) or friends I have known forever, but from this sweet little blog that I just stumbled across. I appreciate your openness so much.

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    1. Oh my goodness!!! Thank you so much! I'm so glad that you found it helpful - and feel free to email me if you ever want to chat more about it! (Dave-and-andrea@hotmail.com)

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  19. Thanks for posting about this! It's very encouraging to know that what you've gone through and how you came to your decision. You all make decisions a lot like my husband and I. The main thing is to do what you feel is the very best for your child when you have to make the decision. My son has a late July birthday so I was so worried about him starting Kindergarten just after turning 5. Thankfully we had a wonderful PreK experience and knew he would be fine. He only went to prek twice a week and he is still one of the top in his Kinder class. My daughter's birthday will fall about a week ahead of the cut-off date for Kindergarten so we may decide to repeat pre-k for her. We will just have to see how it goes.

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    1. Good for him! It sounds like he had a wonderful teacher! Thank you so much for reading and commenting, April!

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  20. Well I don't have anything to add, but loved this post! You can just tell those boys are so happy and living wonderful lives!

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  21. I love that you share honestly about your experiences!

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  22. I totally get where you're coming from, and be assured that your gut instinct is right on target. Our first was a September baby and could have started kindergarten the month before she turned 5. (there was a 9/15 cut-off date at the time). We had a similar experience as you - academically she was totally ready, but she was very much a follower in her preschool class - which was completely opposite of her personality outside of class. Having a child who follows the crowd at 5 may not be a huge deal, but having a child that follows the crowd at 15 is a problem! She did great in school and just graduated from college! Having watched her maneuver through an incredibly demanding college curriculum, find a somewhat non-traditional path that she was passionate about and convince everyone around her that she could do it, and head off to an exciting career has made me very grateful for the decision we made so long ago. We'll never know for sure, but I feel that, for her, it was part of the reason that she is self-confident and mature enough now to pursue her dreams with a lot of gusto. Every kid is so different, and I would not have necessarily made the same decision with my younger kids (their birthdays are in the winter so not really something we considered). It sounds like you've made prayerful, well thought out decisions, and that's all you ever have to do. Good job, mama!

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    1. Your daughter sounds like an incredible young woman! Kudos to you, mama!!! Thank you so much for reading and taking the time to share your experience!!!

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  23. Thank you for always being so open and candid. I have a 7 month old, but these kind of posts will stick with me as she eventually starts her academic life. Thank you!!!!

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  24. YAY for you for treating them as individuals! Wouldn't life be so much easier if each child came with his/her own manual? You figure one out and the next one is different. I remember my friend telling me this when I was pregnant with one of my kids. Andrea, you have got some seriously cute kids!!! I just can't look at a picture of GG without smiling and those boys are just too adorable in their little uniforms. It's very apparent you have a precious family♥ What a blessing!!!

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  25. I read and re-read your thought process on deciding to have Luke repeat as we made the decision for our oldest this year. He has a February birthday so it would seem there wouldn't be the need to make that choice. But he struggles with confidence and we have some concerns. Cognitively, he's great but he really struggles with coloring, cutting paper, etc. We prayed for two months and decided the best choice is for him to repeat. His teachers are amazing and they really want him to start kinder with confidence, more than anything. Funny thing is that we thought for sure our second (who is a week younger than GG) would be the one we would wait with because he was a preemie with a June bday and yet he shows all the signs of being ready to start on time! It's crazy and we have no idea what we are doing. So thankful that God will work it all together for good!

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  26. I feel like this post was written just for me. Last night I was struggling with this very thing. My son is in kindergarten and will turn six in June. His teacher mentioned to me that because he is a young he could easily go through kindergarten again and be given the gift of time and staying little. She said he's an only child so it won't change our family dynamic and while he doesn't "need" to repeat it was an option. Totally threw me off! I am worried that his friends will move to 1st and his feelings on that if we repeat. Talk about stressed and overwhelming. Sigh, what awesome timing on your part with this post.

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  27. That picture of Mason in his vest/bowtie just made my day!

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  28. I LOVE this post. We sent our son even though he was close to the "cut off" age and it has totally been the right decision, however our daughter is in the same boat with the "cut off" and we know it is the right decision to hold her back and do another year of PreK with her. It is so true that each child is totally different and you have to trust your gut and do what you know is best for them.

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  29. I would LOVE to hear about your discipline systems for them. I know this is a totally private thing, so I understand if you don't want to share on your blog. We have two boys - ages 6 and 4 - and I am STRUGGLING. Our oldest is a typical first child. He wants to impress us, he wants to try his hardest and do his best. He is completely motivated by earning points and losing points, etc. Our youngest is completely different. He is completely motivated by WHAT you can offer him. If threatening to take away a toy doesn't seem like a worse punishment than whatever he is doing, he'll let you take the toy and I know he totally feels like he's winning. He often gets in trouble at school and loses a stamp (their discipline system), but honestly, he doesn't care because the stamp isn't worth anything to him. My husband and I are both oldest children so he has COMPLETELY rocked our world. He is an AWESOME kid and he is thriving, but I struggle to get a handle on him. The boys are trying to "earn" bunk beds right now and we've set up a point system to earn them. The oldest is earning points like crazy...and the youngest is losing them like crazy. It's making our oldest so mad! I don't have a CLUE how to fix things like that. Would love to know how you're parenting them differently. I don't want to squash anyone's personality, but I DO want both kids to know who is in charge and that we have rules and boundaries. Parenting is hard!

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  30. Mason sounds a lot like me, another middle child. It's so great that you've been open to different parenting styles for each of your children - they are so blessed to have you as their momma. I encourage you to keep pushing Mason towards continuing to develop skills that don't come easily to him. My parents never pushed me to do anything that I didn't want to do, so I only did things that I excelled at and quit everything else. Now, as an adult, I don't have that luxury and it's been a big adjustment. Kudos to you & Dave for being such committed and loving parents!

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  31. My brother needed to be held back in pre-k (many moons ago), but his teacher didn't care for him because he was so hard-headed, so she encouraged my parents to not hold my brother back. My brother was the first kid, so my parents trusted the teacher. My brother struggled for years because academically and socially he wasn't doing well at all, and when it came time for middle school, the counselor told my parents he just wasn't ready. So in 6th grade when all of his friends left for middle school, my brother stayed behind and repeated 6th grade. He struggled with that for years, and my parents still feel guilty over it even though my brithet is now 40 yeas old. Parenting is hard work, and nobody has all of the answers! I love that y'all prayed about it and listen to your children's cues well enough to know that they have different needs. You're doing a great job!!!

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  32. I don't have kids, but I thought this was a GREAT post. I love how you point out that kids are SOOOO different:)

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  33. You are so wise. I am always encouraged by you! My husband was a summer birthday but his parents chose to go ahead and send him, and he was always the youngest. My brother was an end of school year birthday, and my public school teacher parents held him back so he was the oldest. Obviously both boys - and both loved school and their experiences! One of my husband and my biggest arguments was about sending kids on or not - and that was before we were even trying to have kids! We agreed we have September babies so it wouldn't be an issue. Three babies and three end of school birthdays later (ha! isn't life funny like that) we had to actually make the choice. (Well, for two, the youngest is only three.) Our oldest is a girl and that seems to make a difference. She had no trouble at all. With our middle, a boy, we talked to his PreK teacher at the very beginning of the year, letting them know we were open to different options and would love as much feedback as they could give us on his progress as the year went. We ended up sending him on to Kindergarten, and thankfully it has been great for him as well. Now to wait and see about that last one - though she's convinced she's as old as the other two, and there's nothing she can't do!

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  34. I think I comment on this post (similar ones from years past obviously) every single time it comes up. My August 3 son did an extra year between K & 1 called transitional K-1 (TK1) that we offer here. It's an amazing class that's just for those May-August birthdays, kids like Luke who academically are perfectly fine but socially might need an extra year for boost). My buddy was reading most of this sight words at 'fresh' 5 when school started (we start the first or second week of August here) and he excelled in class but he was constantly off task, social butterfly and struggled some. Mostly he wanted to play, and since he knew a lot already it was hard for him to focus. That extra year was amazing for him. We've noticed it so much this year in 1st grade. He's a true leader in his class, he takes responsibilty for his learning and success and he is a lot less of an emotional roller coaster (we can do car loop this year! that's huge!) It's only been the past week that he's talked a little about it and today I found out that one of the boys in his class has been telling him, and another kid in the same situation, that they are supposed to be in 2nd but weren't smart enough. Landen knows better and explains it as best as he can. Love him.
    My second is a May 30 birthday. We chose to do an extra year of VPK rather than K for him. He probably would have been great in K this year but I know he would have struggled the first few months. He has blossomed into a leader this year as well. Which is huge because he was the class clown, that pulled everyone down to his level and was always acting up. This year he's still the class clown, but he knows when to play, and when to listen.
    Our 3rd is an April 27 baby, and a girl, so we have no idea what we'll do for her. For our oldest, repeating VPK was never the right choice, for my middle going to K and hoping for a TK1 placement wasn't going to work. Every child is different so is every family situation. You guys are wonderful parents!

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  35. My daughter is very hard on herself as well and throws in the towel when she doesn't do it perfect the first time. She too is entering kinder next year. She's failed at swimming, riding her bike, and tying her shoes so she just gives up and says she doesn't want to learn it anymore. So super frustrating :(

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  36. Oh I just love the excited expressions! So sweet!

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  37. This is so helpful for us! We have a little boy who was born premature and turns four at the end of this month. He already acts younger than the kids he plays with with his social mannerisms, so we've of courses talked about holding him back from kindergarten one year. Like yours, our little boy is way ahead academically but socially very immature. I had never thought about him doing pre-k twice! I just thought he would stay home that year which worried me. He's signed up for pre-k in the fall, and knowing that I can just have him repeat it if he needs to, makes me feel so much better about it. Thank you!

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  38. None of my kidos were in this situation as they all have birthdays early in the school year, but I totally agree they are all so different and you can't make a decision for all based on one. Good job mom!

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  39. I love that you posted this and shared your experiences! I know I would've loved reading it when my now second grader was in pre-k! He's an August birthday and my gut always said to send him on time to kindergarten even though a lot of August birthday boys wait a year. He was completely ready academically and socially, but is a sensitive kid. I thought about it all the time and with the help of his teachers decided to send him and I definitely feel like it was the right thing to do for him. I feel like I got questioned by a lot of parents that didn't really know him, but every kid is so different and I think parents really need to decide what's right for their individual kid. I know if my middle child had been a birthday near the cut off my decision would be different for him. Thanks for sharing your story! I'm sure it was helpful for other parents going through this!

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  40. I'm not an expert on this subject by ANY means, but I am a retired elementary administrator and I taught first grade for 25 years. The best advice I can give anyone in this situation is, if you've even CONSIDERED repeating kindergarten, then you've made your decision. I know it's easy to have lots of reasons why they are ready to move on, but something has made you wonder if a repeat would be best. That's an instinct that shouldn't be disregarded. I know you'll discuss pros and cons at length with your child's teacher, but let me offer some other considerations. As a more mature responder, I can offer some considerations for the long run... Your "younger" kiddo (especially boys) will ALWAYS be the younger kiddo in their class. Which means all of their peers will be getting their license and driving almost a FULL year before yours. Will you be prepared to let your younger kiddo go off in a car? What about dating? Younger boys naturally mature slower than girls their age which can make this transition even more awkward for a younger boy. And what about college? You will be sending a "just turned 18" kiddo off to college. Just a few things to consider that are more long range!

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  41. I have been struggling with this subject lately. My oldest son, Jake, is now 9 and we held him back in first grade. He struggled in kindergarten and was diagnosed with ADD. Because of the school, they prefer to hold back in 1st if needed so they can get the fundamentals and build on those the second time around. He went to first grade and by the first half of first grade, they already knew they wanted to hold him back. We did start him on meds and it helped tremendously! We waited until a few weeks before school started to tell him he was repeating... And honestly he was like "OK...can I have a snack??" He could have cared less! It really was a blessing holding him back and he has done really well this year in 2nd grade.But now....we are revisiting the holding back again for my youngest, Lucas. Lucas turned 6 the day before school started and so he is probably the youngest in his class. He has struggled this year in first and I have already had conferences and will have more meetings in regards to him repeating. I know its probably the best decision but it doesn't make it any easier as a parent to have to tell your child that he won't be moving on with his friends. Parenting is hard work!! I just always want to do what's best in regards to my kiddos and I appreciate you being so upfront and open about your situation. It helps other mamas know we aren't alone!!! :)

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  42. I so appreciated this! It seems like everywhere I look, people are opting for the 2nd year, repeat, bonus year - whatever you want to call it. I have a September boy and I have been struggling with sending him on time this upcoming year. NOT because of him, but because the extra year seems like such the norm that I talked myself into thinking I would do him a disservice by not. I was worried about him being the youngest, even though he is that in his 3-year old class now and keeps up in every way totally fine.Sometimes birthdays don't tell the whole story! Thanks for writing this, I needed to hear an explanation for sending your kid ON TIME when I've been surrounded by the opposite.

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