Thursday, August 19, 2010

Sometimes it is tough to be a parent

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?

14 comments:

winstead family said...

nikki,

cole has a june birthday and has ALWAYS been almost a year younger than his peers. at first we didn't notice any differences...especially in k3-k4. by first grade i could tell that he was struggling in math and spelling a little bit. we always tried to work with him at home to compensate. we have spent MANY nights working on flashcards and sight words! in reading, i would say he is as fluent as any other child.
cole's personality is that he is very laid back and sensitive. he has never had any issues with maturity level because we have always felt he is more mature for his age.
i have wondered if we did the right thing by NOT holding him back...strictly from an academic standpoint. as you know, cole is the size of a 12 year old, so he is much taller than most of the boys in his grade, so my fear in holding him back would have been that he would have been TOO tall and feel out of place.
shan has said to me that he wished we would have held cole back because of athletic reasons...i guess they get more playing time??? not really sure on this one, but all i can say is
a. take jonah's personality into condideration. if you feel like maturity level is an issue, then it may be best to give him another year...
b. if you DO hold him back, you could continue to teach him things...heck, he could know all of his states by k5!! :) eventually i do feel like it would even out.
c. go with your gut! :)

can't WAIT to hear the verdict. i think y'all are some really awesome parents...in fact probably some of the best i know. in fact, i would love to read more on your parenting tactics and beliefs one day.

Avery's Mommy said...

Hold him back. You get to keep him at home one year more, simple as that ;)

Penny said...

I have some in my class this year whose birthdays are in Sept. (the deadline is Sept. 30th in LA) so they won't even turn five until 5 weeks after school starts. In my past experience, I've had a few with late birthdays that excelled. But most, even that did well academically, were not muture enough emotionally. I held my own Aug. 1st baby back and let her repeat kindergarten. Torri had trouble getting her to do her work, paying attention, and wanting to be right under her. She would have to put Mal in the desk next to her just to get her to do her work. Torri told me, "I really need that desk for the bad ones." LOL I only know that it helped Mallory (who was simply still young) do much better in first grade. Once in a while she would whine about me "making her go an extra year of school," but even she know we did the best thing for her. She simply wasn't ready at barely five. (That may be something you and Dan decide to do, instead of him repeating pre-k.) You really are the only ones that can make the best decision for Jonah. And y'all always do. :) Trust your gut and heart.

Jamie said...

nicki- we have been dealing with that a lot around here to, mainly because Olivia would be going into 3 year old preschool at 3.5-knowing A LOT more than most of the kids in her class. (our situation is different, I worried she would be a trouble maker because she knows too much and is very bossy.) From a mommy standpoint, I think back is better, sometimes we tend to forget that our children may be super mature in certain cognitive skills, but lack maturity in other areas. From an educator stand point, back is better too. They will have an extra year of maturity in all those things. And I agree with Dan, Jonah is a boy, there are tons of boy type things that being a year older will help with. (our decision has led us to homeschooling Olivia with another family with a boy that won't be 5 til October and his sister who will be 2 in November-)

hope my 2 cents helps!

Ben Beck said...

Obviously I can't comment from a parent standpoint, but I started school a bit older (my birthday is late June, so I was 6 in Kindergarten). However, I was pushed ahead in K to 1st grade stuff (I don't really remember that much. . . I was only six haha) so I was 7 in second grade. And then, I was in a combined 2nd/3rd grade class, and early in the school year I was given 3rd grade stuff so that by the end of that year, I was promoted and started 4th grade at 8 years old. I didn't have anything to do with it, and I have never really talked to my parents about why they decided to do that. I can say that it did have some affect on social development. I didn't really develop any significant friendships until I got into middle school, and that was more from the people I took piano lessons with than the kids at school. I was ridiculed a little bit for being "the young one" or "the really smart one," and even today, as much as I know that most people don't really mean offense by those jokes, it really does get old (ironic?). Also, because of the age difference, I didn't really get into sports until high school, and even then it was hard to connect because I didn't really know most of the people on the team (I played tennis) outside of academics. I didn't get a driver's license until after I started college. Although I can look back and say that I was definitely mature in some areas, I still today feel somewhat at a disadvantage in certain social situations (and now living alone in a "new" place has taught me a lot) because I didn't learn some of the conventions and acceptable social practices I might have if I had been with kids my age. I don't know a whole lot about human development, but I know that there are leaps and bounds in social, emotional, and intellectual areas in the early ages. I think it's better to wait. From reading this blog and seeing you guys, I know you are great parents and can supplement whatever academic needs he may not be getting from the curriculum with stuff to keep him engaged at home. It's a lot harder to supplement the social needs at home. If the academics really become a glaring problem (to the point where he is getting in trouble at school because he already knows everything and is therefore making off task decisions to keep himself engaged), then you may want to consider pushing him up, but even then I don't know.

Sorry if this is a little rambly. This teacher is up far too late on the Thursday of the first week of school, but I wanted to comment before I forgot about it. I'd be glad to talk to you about it in person :)

Ben Beck said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nina said...

As you know, holding him back so that he is in the "right" class behaviorally means he is in the "wrong" class intellectually.

The perfect world is a Montessori school! The child is in a family grouping so that behavior differences are accounted for. Educationally, the child advances at his own pace, not according to the grade curriculum.

It is working out beautifully for Kevin!!! I am astounded at what he learned in his "kindergarten" year!!!

Of course, paying for it is another issue.

Time to pray.

Beppa said...

(Also posted this on FB, know that not all the blog readers are on FB.) Really like the new blog look, it's so cute! My two cents worth....Cliff was routed thru school as "older" student, with a November birthday and he was 18 at the beginning of his senior year. We routed our girls thru preschool to go to kind...ergarten as older students also, there were just too many signs that the kids routed thru too early did not do as well. When they hit the teenage years I was glad that they were able to get their driver's license and not rely on friends for rides. Jonah really is extremely smart (which we've always known : ) due to his early influence, ha! ) but I wonder if he will be confidence enough to meet that challenge if he is intimidated in his early school years? I don't think that doing another year of preschool makes them bored and a behavior problem, the kids that I have seen "repeat" a year were confident and helpful since they felt like they were smarter than the other students! I think that it completely depends on how the teacher handles it, or if there is a difference classroom that he could go to instead of the same one again. Parenting decisions ARE hard, and you have to look at your child and determine what you feel like would be best for him alone. Go with your gut feeling...well, your's and Dan's collective gut feeling. : )

Friend of a friend said...

Coming from a mom who has a 10 year old(5th grader) that has been on ADHD medication since 2nd grade, I think hold him back. Give him that opportunity to mature a little more. That way you can rule out the maturity question. My son isn't a bad child at all, he just cannot control his actions and cannot focus. He needed it in K but the dr's wouldn't do it at that age. We tell him the medicine isn't for behavior but to help him focus. And focus it does. He made All A honor roll for the year last year. We started off 5th grade without it just to see if this might be the year he didn't need it. The teacher was familiar with him from 3rd grade, so she knew his history. She said it breaks her heart, and his, when she has to get on to him for talking or moving around because he truly wants to do good, just can't. She said it is very different than when she corrects those that don't care. So give him another year and see how it goes. It is better to do it at this age rather than later when he has already made his close friends.

Aja said...

We haven't dealt with this first hand, obviously, but I have thought a lot about it, especially having a boy. I think boys are often slighted in the traditional educational system anyway, so I get nervous about Holder (or another kid) being labeled ADHD when they're really just an excited boy. But anyway...

Dave has a Sept bday and so was always the oldest in his class. He thinks it helped him, even though he is fairly mature and academic in nature anyway. His brother Parker has a May birthday and repeated K because of maturity issues. It was for the best, even more so because Parker is sensitive and inntroverted in nature anyway.

I think you and Dan know what's best for Jonah because you know him better than anyone else does. But if it were us, we would err on the side of holding him back. I have already told myself, Dave and our family that if I feel like Holder isn't ready I will homeschool him or hold him back for a year because I want him to succeed and not to be unfairly labeled ADHD or something else when he's really just emotionally or socially immature. He also tends to be shy and sensitive like his uncle, even though he also seems academic (we'll see), like his dad and I are.

Additionally, for what it's worth, I know a woman who was the head of the Teacher Ed department at Stetson and she felt that no boy should start school until they're six. She thinks they just need more time to mature socially and emotionally. Good luck!!!

rob h said...

I was a June baby, so all my academic life, I was always surprised when I found somebody younger than me in my class. I didn't have the athletic considerations to worry about though. Ha!

I can't advise you on one direction or another, because there are valid arguments on both sides, but I would say that if you DO hold him back, I would recommend doing it BEFORE 5K kindergarten.

I say that purely because I can tell you the names right now of the two kids in my kindergarten class in 1981-1982 who were held back. And I don't know why they were held back, it may have been the same issues you're considering, but when you're in first grade and someone you were in kindergarten with last year is still in kindergarten this year, your six-year-old assumption is that it's because that person is stupid.

I would hate for Jonah to go through 5K twice and think that there's kids a grade above him that don't know him and don't know the situation, but always have in the back of their heads that he's the kid that failed kindergarten. And to me, that's not fair.

So that's my thoughts.

And I saw that USA Today article as well.....made a lot of sense to me. I've always thought far too many boys are diagnosed with ADHD and put on medicine when their only crime is being boys being boys in a class with a teacher that doesn't know how to handle boys.

Jimmy said...

First of all, I look at Jonah through the eyes and heart of a grandparent. I have never seen him do anything wrong and probably never will, now, does the problem lie else where in the Glenn household...HE IS A FOUR YEAR OLD BOY.....who just came off a long summer vacation and he spoke out of turn on the first day of school...OMG >> what does the rearing a 4 year old manual say about this. Parents have you tried waterboarding, denial of food or water, If he has a short attention span maybe hunting with Dick Chaney" that will get your attention" and here is my all time favorite "exorcism" know any "good" preachers....
WHEW!!! Now that I've vented and had an opportunity to catch my breath let me add my two-cents worth.
Since jonah's birth his two wonderful parents have presented to him opporutnities and challenges that some may not see their entire life and he has "STEPPED UP" and met everyone of them with wide-eyes, open-arms and enthusiasm. Never have I seen a child that honestly cares for others more than himself(he surely gets this from Dan, not Nicki). You are surely faced with a tough decision and there will be many more to come but first and foremost all ways ensure your decisions are in the best interest of the child and not the parents. If you choose to hold him back a year do you open the door for a "ho-hum" life where he will never have an opportunity to be challanged. I agree with Dan that as a boy he would certainly excell in some areas but I would surely hate to see Jonah lose the desire to "see what's behind the other door". I would also not like for him to be in an areana where he is total out of place or feels uncomfortable and then goes into a shell...Whatever your decision, and I'm sure it will be a good one, don't suppress that enthusisam he has for being just a little better than the next guy...he has a big heart for caring and an even stronger one for learning--don't take away the challanges of life.....Remember, you will alway be by his side-he won't be alone.

Ethan said...

I don't know if you read or listen to a lot of Dr. Dobson, but he has some great insights about boys and education. It might be worth looking into. Hope ya'll are doing well! - Lauren Horton

Gator Mommy said...

Nikki,

I know you don't have a clue who I am. I found your blog through several friends at Colonial Heights BC in Madison, MS. I have followed your blog for several years now. I have three boys. Caleb- 6 years, Jonah (!) 2 years, and Micah (!) 7 months. BTW, I LOVE your choices of names, ha ha.

My advice is to continue doing what I know you are already doing- PRAY! You may be surprised with the answer He gives you.

Caleb has also been the "baby" of the class with a June birthday. But, he also has always been academically advanced. Last year in Kindergarten, we got lots of yellow lights. He was bored and constantly talked because he was not challenged. We were praying about possibly moving him to a private christian school with ABEKA. The answer God gave us was the last thing I would have imagined for us.....homeschool!

I'm not saying that is the answer for your family but just be open and prepared for the answer you seek.

Good luck and I will continue to follow along with your newest little blessing. Visit us anytime @ www.g8rfmly.blogspot.com and www.babyg8runiversity.blogspot.com.

Erin

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