The First Week of School

I was not looking forward to the start of school for a variety of reasons.

For starters, I like creating my own schedule. I don’t like someone “else” determining what I do with my own children and at what time. I don’t care for inflexible rules. I love summer, sunshine, freedom, and easy days and nights. I don’t respond well to other adults telling me much, least of all, what to do, and when to do it, especially with my own children.

Hey, I’m the descendant of commercial fishing captains. We do our own thing.

However, I also live in the real world. I’m familiar with reality. Realizing that reality, and taking into account each of my children, I made the best decisions I could going into this next school year. So far, everything has worked out well, and that has made the start of school so much more pleasant!

Eva entered first grade, and we made the decision to enter our Vincent into (private) kindergarten—in spite of his summer birthday—because we felt he was ready to progress to the next level. It was a hard decision; I didn’t think Vincent was ready for public kindergarten, but I did not want to see him in preschool for another year. I did not want him with 3-and-4-year olds; I really wanted him learning alongside children his own age.

Vincent has been at a disadvantage due to his late summer birthday and because of his hearing and speech challenges which were recently, and finally, diagnosed after five years.

However, just because Vincent does not hear perfectly well, or does not speak perfectly well, does not mean he does not know his colors, and letters, and numbers. He does know how to follow directions, even if he doesn’t always hear the directions. We felt that just because he has specific challenges, it didn’t mean Vincent needed to be held back from progressing in his learning and socializing with children his age.

Therefore, we made the choice to enter Vincent into a small, private kindergarten. I brought Vincent to kindergarten each day this week and stayed for a while each morning to observe his manner, his interaction with others, and the interactions of others with him.

Nobody is more vigilant, sensitive, or alert to the needs or challenges of my Vincent than me, and I wanted to be sure we’d made the right decision and that Vincent was in the right place.

Each morning, I watched Vincent’s teacher interact with my sweet boy. I observed the way he would gently rest his hand on Vincent’s shoulder and make sure Vincent was looking right at him before he began speaking. He made sure Vincent could see his mouth as he spoke, and he spoke in the direction of Vincent’s left ear, which is the better of Vincent’s two ears, before he continued.

I watched Vincent smile, nod, and respond to his teacher.

When I felt comfortable to go, I gave my sweet boy a big hug.

“Have the best day ever,” I said each day. “I love you so much.”

Then I’d go home and figure out what to do next. (Fortunately, baby Valerie helps dictate that plan of action.) I returned every afternoon to pick Vincent up and was so pleased to see him playing in the big field underneath a blue sky and making friends. I received a note from his teacher telling me how much Vincent enjoys the Listening Center and that his favorite part of the day is reading books.

I also walked the baby up to Eva’s school this week in the nice weather to see if I could catch her at recess and give her a hug. Eva wasn’t at recess, but she just happened to be outside working on an art project, and it was so much fun seeing her with hands covered in red paint.

I’m so proud of my two big kids. They melt my heart with their backpacks and their joy. They are each in the place that is perfect for them, and that has made all the difference.

Comments

  1. I think you made a good choice starting him in kindergarten instead of holding him back. Because Larkyn’s birthday is in August, we will have to make the same decision next year. Better to be challenged than bored, I say!

    • Hi Robin! Thank you! I tell you, it was agonizing going back and forth about it all last year. Clearly, Vincent was not ready to enter public school where he would not get the individual attention he needed this year to catch up. But did that mean he had to attend half-days with younger children? That didn’t sit right, either. Finally, I felt we made a good choice. I just feel so happy when I see him already growing and flourishing at school.

      Having a boy with a summer birthday presents challenges, and the “school thing” is definitely one of them. But each child is so different. I know a boy with an August birthday who went to kindergarten with Eva last year, and he was a leader in the class! I also know boys born in June who definitely should have stayed back.

      We have to get together soon. I miss you guys and your boys, and we still have Larkyn’s birthday present! :)

  2. I thing you did the right thing. I have two sons with July and Sept. birthdays and I kept one home a year and sent the other (he was reading Harry Potter already!). The one I kept home has done SO WELL in school all the way around. The one I sent, while a great kid and super smart, has really struggled with maturity issues (He’s a Senior this year! Whew! We made it!). Each child is so different! And forgive me for harping on the hearing impairment stuff, but I wanted to tell you, in case no one has said anything to you, that there are things that can be done in the regular school classroom to help kids with hearing loss, mandated by law for people with disabilities (IDEA). Our advocate from the School for the Deaf helped us with this. When Kate went into kindergarten, she was set up with a plan called a 504, which specified what kinds of accommodations she would need to function with the same opportunities as the other kids. The district installed a sound/field system in the classroom, which is basically a set of four speakers in each corner of the classroom hooked up to a microphone that the teacher wears during the day. The research on sound field systems shows that it is not only beneficial to kids with hearing loss and kids with other kinds of problems, but ALL the kids in the classroom. That system followed Kate until fourth grade.
    When she began to have several teachers during the day, we switched to a personal FM system, where the teacher wears a microphone that is directly connected to Kate’s hearing aides, so her voice is amplified for Kate. Kate can still hear what is going on around her, but the teacher’s voice is amplified and she never misses instruction (because of distracting noises and conversations). When the systems work and the teachers will wear them (you would be surprised at the resistance sometimes)and make it a positive experience, it makes all the difference between school being frustrating or great. Kate’s having a great year and doing well. I just wanted to make sure you were aware of Vincent’s rights and the technology available to him. :) Oh, private schools are not required to follow 504’s and provide accommodations ($).

  3. I have a 1st grader this year who is a late late August Birthday and is 7 already. I struggled when he was ‘5’ on what decision to make as well. He is a 2nd child and he’s pretty comfortable in his own skin socially. But academically I finally decided he was NOT ready. So we kept in him in Pre-K a 2nd year. Most of the kids in his Pre-K class that year were 5 or turned 5 before December so it was a great fit for him. Each kid is different…but I wanted to let you know that you were not alone in that difficult decision. It’s a tough one and it’s about the only thing that has given me so much anxiety as a parent.

    What we did for our youngest was the best for him….he’s even learning to use his leadership skills for good and not evil! Which I am sure would have never happened if we had put him in Kindergarten when he was younger! :-)

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