Parenting would be awesome if it were only about buying cute clothes, doing fun activities, watching them learn new things or just sitting and snuggling. But, the time inevitably comes that you have to make decisions for your child that you just don't know what to do. Sometimes those come early on where daycare is concerned because mom needs to work. The big debate out there right now is about vaccinations. The more you read, the more concerned you become. Everyone has an opinion and most people are very passionate about their side. The big issue in our life right now is what to do about Kindergarten for Jonah next year. (Yes, we are worrying over something that isn't happening for another year!!)
This blog is obviously a very public forum and I'm choosing to write here because I value the opinion of my readers. I know there are several teachers, educators, nurses and doctors who read. I'm hoping for insight from many of you but also from parents who have walked this road.
Jonah is a late July birthday. So, he is eligible to begin Kindergarten next August. If he does, he will be in a class with kids who were born as early as September 1 of the year before his birth. That is as much as almost 11 months difference. He has been in half day preschool classes since he was just over a year old. The differences were very obvious in those classes but the option was always ours to hold him back when we noticed a huge difference. His teachers always discouraged us because he is ahead academically. Socially is a different story!
I remember walking into his toddler class at Jefferson Street to see several kids almost a head and a half taller than Jonah. Just the size difference alone dictated him to be the more passive child. He always backed away from the bigger kids and let them go first or have whatever toy he was playing with. They weren't bullies, they were just bigger. Sometimes he would hand them his snack for no reason. His teachers that year told me he was very passive around kids who were bigger.
The next year, when I mentioned holding him back to his teachers, they begged me not to do it. He was one of the first two in the class to know every color, shape letter and number and was spelling his name already. They gave me the feeling that he would become bored if he repeated and would end up being a behavior problem. I was leaning more towards letting him always be the youngest but Dan still stood pretty firm in him being held back so he would be the oldest instead.
Dan's reasoning always went back to the standpoint of him being a boy. He said it would give him an extra year of strength for athletic purposes. It would also mean he was the first of his friends getting a drivers license versus the last. He approached it all from the standpoint of him being a boy and those being big things to boys.
At the end of his 3 year old preschool year, his teachers told us they saw no problem whatsoever with him compared to the other kids in the class even though he was the youngest. They were consistently impressed with him academically and felt that outweighed any social issues he had. As far as I was concerned, I wanted him go ahead and do VPK this year then Kindergarten next fall. All the while, Dan was saying he wanted to wait.
As you know, he started VPK this week and is once again one of the two youngest in his class. The differences have been blaring to me this week. First of all, the height difference is very noticeable. Verbally, Jonah is equal to or ahead of most of the kids. Academically, he spelling all of his name where some of them haven't mastered their first name. He is writing letters and numbers that many of them can't do yet. But, just today, he got a yellow light for talking rather than listening when he should. His teacher said he just can't control his mouth. If he has something to say, he says it.
Behavior has never been an issue for Jonah. I've never picked him up from anything and been told he was a problem. Usually, it is just the opposite. But, back during VBS, I was told consistently that he would not participate in any of the games/song/activities. When asking him why, he always said he was scared. I knew he wasn't being rebellious but that he really was intimidated.
Earlier this week, Dan sent me an article from USA TODAY. Click here to read it. The basic premise is that the younger kids in the class get diagnosed with ADHD when really their issue is immaturity and not hyperactivity. That makes me wonder about Jonah's yellow light. Was he misbehaving or is he just that much less mature than the other kids in his class?
I do not want to be nor do I ever plan to be THAT mom who always makes excuses for why her child is in trouble. I want to find solutions for his behavior and not mask them. But, at the same time, I have to be his advocate and do what is best for him. Ultimately, he must learn to behave whatever setting he is in. But, I have to be responsible for choosing the setting that is best for him.
So, give me feedback. Give me your opinion. I told Dan this afternoon that there is a fine line between disciplining Jonah over his yellow light and recognizing he may be in trouble because we are expecting him to act a way that his maturity level hasn't reached yet? It is tough. Ideas?