Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Works Out In The Wash

Let me start by saying I am a HUGE proponent of giving your child an extra year to grow. As a mother of two summer birthdays, both my girls started kinder at six for different reasons. Not all children are the same, not all decisions can be one size fits all, but this is a decision that requires much thinking. You can think I am nuts, crazy, and wrong. That's okay. I am confident in my own parenting decisions, just as I am confident you make the best decisions for your child. Like my entire blog, this is my opinion.

It's that time of year again, when parents agonize about bridging their child, repeating a grade, or simply starting them late.
It's that time of year when other parents take offense to another parent's actions or take offense to what a teacher is trying to tell them.

This is my second blog post dedicated to "holding back" your child. With my daughters' summer birthdays, it is a topic often discussed in this family. With my education background, it is something people often ask me about.

I will say I am a firm believer in holding back, bridging, starting late....The cut off date for the great state of Texas is September 1st. Years ago, this topic was not as hot as it is now. It has become more common than not to start kindergarten at 6 if your child has a summer birthday. Children with birthdays in April and May are beginning to be bridged so instead of your summer kiddo being 10 or 11 months younger than the September birthday, they are 15 months younger than the oldest child in the grade.  Does this anger many parents? Yes, hell yes. Should this be what determines your decision? No. There is much more to think about.

What should you think about?

Think past Kindergarten. Think about your 10 year old going to middle school with fourteen year olds. This coming year, school starts August 15th. If the start date had been pushed a few days earlier, which could happen in years to come, many 10 year olds would start middle school. That is something you should think about.
(Had I not started my girls late, and with the current state of when we start school, they would be 10 entering middle school - yikes.)

Think about college and the responsibility that comes with being away from home and managing money. Think about how many colleges have summer programs. Now think about a 17 year old joining a community of 20 something year olds. Think about your 17 year old who has only been driving a year, driving across the state or across the country to move into their college dorm.

Let's go back to the younger ages...let's think about the 5 year old and the 6 year old. Let's think about the formative years. Let's think about self esteem, leadership, and confidence.

Think about whether or not your child can make their own lunch, tie their shoe laces, get themselves dressed, tell you about their day in the order in which things happened, problem solve, resolve conflict, take turns, wait their turn, share, make friends....Are they a leader? Are they a follower?

Think about whether or not your child has struggled academically. Typically, children do not need tutors in kindergarten. (There are exceptions to every rule, I know this.) Is your child struggling to learn to read? If they are one of the younger ones, this is okay as reading is developmental, but it is a sign that you may want to pay attention to. Reading is the foundation for every subject, EVERY subject. If your child is getting ready to leave kindergarten and you're thinking they just need the summer to fine tune their reading, ask their teacher. If your teacher recommends your child to repeat kinder, be bridged, start late...LISTEN. Really LISTEN.
(And the few summer weeks between camps and vacations probably wont be enough to catch them up. I'm sorry to be realistic, but there are very few success stories in this area and there is a huge difference between a summer to keep abilities going and a summer to hopefully achieve grade level.)

The last thing to think about is your child. The decision to hold back your child is not about you, your parenting, your love, your attention, your financial status, your race. It is about your CHILD. It is about whether or not your child is ready academically, socially, and emotionally. A child needs all three to be successful.

For every yes, hold them back there is a don't do it - it all works out in the wash opinion. The opinion that all children eventually catch up. The opinion that all children end up on the same playing field. In my opinion, this is not true. In elementary there are kids in reading and math groups varying from high to low, there are gifted children k-12, in middle school we have Pre-AP classes and in high school, AP classes. If everything works out in the wash and all children end up on the same playing field, why are classes still leveled by academic abilities?

Am I saying that all children who start kinder at 6 are at the top of the class, hell no. I would never say that. However, the curriculum being handed down by our legislature to our teachers is much harder than the curriculum we studied as children. A more challenging curriculum requires a child to be ready to not only learn the material, but process it, and apply the knowledge. The curriculum requires a child to sit and learn for a long period of time. Do I agree with the changes in curriculum? NO, but I am not a lobbyist and that change is beyond my reach (at least for this week).

Before you make a firm YES I am holding back or NO I am not doing that, THINK. Think about everything. Talk to your teacher, visit the next grade level's classroom, think about how one seemingly tiny decision really can change the course of your child's life.

As you will hear when you ask around, no one ever regrets holding their child, but plenty spend each year wondering if they should've.

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