Summer break dwindled down as kids returned to school last week. If you don’t have children in school, you may have noticed this change by the increase of first day photos in your news feed. Some kids may feel excitement, jitters, maybe sadness, apprehension…those priceless first day pictures are full of a range of feelings and emotions.
I always hate to see the summer end. Someone recently asked me if I was happy that school was starting back, assuming I am excited to get the kids out of the house. It actually could not be more opposite. Recognizing how precious time is, I cherish the days we have together. Sure, some are more stressful than others, but it is time together as a family.
This school year, my oldest was so excited to start 4th grade. He loves school, challenging himself and working hard. My second son, starting 3rd grade, was excited to see his friends, but was not so much excited about school starting back. My daughter was excited to start Pre-K, well, until I withdrew her application just a couple of weeks before school began.
This may sound crazy to some, but hear me out.
With my daughter turning four at the end of July, I had fully anticipated her starting Pre-K this fall. After further thought however, I had a discussion with her preschool teacher about postponing Pre-K. In Tennessee, children can enroll in Pre-K between the ages of three and five. We live just over the Tennessee line, in Georgia. A lot of children begin Pre-K at the commonly suggested age of four. I will admit, she was eager to start this year and was rather disappointed to have to wait a whole year. To a certain extent, I believe it is arbitrary for our education system to determine what grade a child should be in based on a birthday cut-off date rather than their developmental stage.
While my daughter is intelligent, independent and mature, I pressed pause on Pre-K for a number of reasons. While I believe she is intellectually ready for the curriculum, it made sense to postpone Pre-K for my daughter because socially she is reserved. Sure, she could adapt to the atmosphere, but allowing her another year of preschool prior to enrolling in a more structured learning environment could also help to develop those social skills. Having a conversation with her pre-preschool teacher was also useful in making this decision. She will assist with my daughter’s academics during the day while recognizing the areas in which she should be challenged. That noted, at only four years of age, my daughter still needs moments set aside for imaginary and social time.
My youngest son’s birthday is in August and he just turned three. He will also be starting Pre-K at five years of age instead of four. Thinking about the future, he and his sister will be a year apart in school, which is the grade difference between my older two. They will be the oldest in their class, rather than the youngest and it simply works well for our family.
Every child is different and what works for some, may not work for others. I would highly recommend you observe your child, their needs, and do some research before making the decision for your child. We made this same decision for our oldest whose birthday is in September. All in all, this has worked out well for us. Maybe you’re reading this and you have older children. I would enjoy learning about your child’s age and experience when they started Pre-K or kindergarten.