|Ferris -- Happy after preschool graduation|
I'm pretty excited for my stepson to start all-day Kindergarten.
Not because I want him out of the house, per se. But because he wants to be out of the house and quite frankly, he is ready.
Last fall he started a preschool program that was five hours per day. This sounded like an awfully long time for a four-year-old boy that had never spent even one day in daycare. We decided we would pull him out if it was too overwhelming. Occasionally at home if he gets too tired or frustrated, he melts down (what kid doesn't?) and we didn't want his first school experience to go sour.
Well, he ended up loving his preschool and the feeling was mutual. At his graduation ceremony, one of his teachers pulled my husband aside and told him that Ferris was the most well-behaved in the class. He also got a special award for being the best reader.
Now he's had a few months off and it's starting to wear on him. The novelty of summer vacation and the new baby are starting to fade. He saw three of his preschool friends at a pool playdate last week and he was over the moon.
In Florida, all-day Kindergarten is mandatory. Everywhere, no excuses. There are no arguments here because the mandate was passed several years ago and the critics have stopped wasting their breath.
But while I think all-day K is the perfect answer for my highly curious, highly social stepson, I realize it is not for everyone. My one friend (literally, I have one friend in Satellite Beach) also sent her daughter to the same preschool as Ferris. Like Ferris, this little girl had never been in a structured social environment and like him, she spent the year learning how to sound out words and glue feathers to just about everything. She graduated and was all primed for Kindergarten.
Until, she wasn't. Her mother texted me a few weeks ago and apologetically said that she was going to hold her daughter back and send her back to preschool another year. I was confused. I asked her if she simply did not like the school in their district. She said that she and her husband have just come to the realization that their daughter is not ready for Kindergarten yet. I asked her for specifics.
Her answer? The day is just too long.
After five hours of preschool, this little girl would go home and take a two hour nap. Every day. She would still be ready for bed by 8 p.m. Effectively adding two hours to that day is just too much, her mother said. In this case, the little girl's birthday is in August so she will not be much older than some of her classmates next year. Plus this means she will be going to preschool with my daughter -- a clear win for me.
During a follow up conversation at the pool playdate, she listed a few other reasons for waiting on Kindergarten and I fully support her decision (not that it matters, but sometimes as parents it helps when a friend agrees with a choice you are sort of unsure about).
Still, I wonder if all-day Kindergarten is just too much of a burden on families -- and more specifically, on kids. Is five too young to be in a structured, assessment-based environment? I guess I'll have a better idea of that answer after I go through the process. And even if Ferris does well, how will my other three handle it?
I'd like to hear from some other parents on this. What do you think? Have you been through it? Has anyone voluntarily held a child back for Kindergarten, or any grade for that matter?
You can contact Katie by emailing her at email@example.com.
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