Friday, September 16, 2011

redshirting kindergarten

parker just finished his first week of kids day out (with style):

my work is usually flexible and i often pick parks and pax up at 1pm and work from home while they both nap (until 4pm this week!).  parker's sweet teachers commented both days about how smart he is and how they are impressed he already knows his colors and can count.  of course i smiled with glee and a little pride in myself for diligently working on these things with him.

last year parker's teachers never commented about him being smart.  he was still learning to talk (did not turn 2 until the last month of kdo) and was 5-8 months younger than all of the other kids (he was in the older 1 yr old class).  i even heard one teacher tell the other "you can really tell whose parents read to their kid" and i wanted to tell her to shut up--parker is a boy and he is by far the youngest kid in the class!

so hearing parker's teachers comment on his intellect this year makes me excited.  he is now in the younger 2's class (the 2nd half of the school year birthdays) and so all of the kids are within a month or two of his age and i've realized it is all about who you compare him to.  the same thing happened at church--one day his teachers raved about how he knew all of his animals, sounds, etc., and it was because he was in a class with kids younger than him.

so what does this social observation want to do?  redshirt him for kindergarten! after reading this ny times article and malcolm gladwell's book, outliers, this summer, i was seriously contemplating trying to give parker a competitive advantage by not putting him in kindergarten until he turned 6.  i still haven't completely made up my mind, but i'm leaning toward not doing it because he is in the 95% for height and weight and would just troll above the other kids if he was a year older than most, even with a late birthday.

through observing his school and social interactions, i know parks can hang with other kids who are a little older.  his pediatrician said she thought he would be just fine, but i don't want him to be just fine or hang in there--i want him to excel and be at the top.  maybe i just need to give that up...or i can use those desires for him to be the best and brightest to motivate me to work with him every day when we are home.

even though it is so easy to turn on the tv or get on the computer to "relax" when i come home from work, i am doing everything i can to keep both of them off until the kids are in bed.  when i give parker direct attention through playing together on the floor or reading cuddled up with him, he is much better behaved.  so for now i will keep watching and working with him on developing new skills and knowledge.  we will press on with shapes, numbers, letters, etc. and hopefully he will be more than ready for kindergarten in 3 more years!


wendy said...

I think he'll be just fine :). At this age, there's huge gaps between what kid a can do compared to kid b. My mom (and one of my best friends) are both kindergarten teachers in Springdale. Jonas can count/shapes/some letters/colors, and they said he's in a great place. There are kids that come to school each year unable to count at all, etc. I'm also just comparing him to Jonas since they're a month apart, and they both seem to be on the same level. Parker being younger in the class (and really, not that much younger) won't really matter after a year or two of school anyway-it usually all evens out quickly. I'd be more concerned with him feeling embarrassed when he's 19 and graduating high school (with how kids think).

Now with Noah, we may hold him back a year because he's only 2 weeks shy of the current August 1st cut-off. Of course if he's ready we have no issues with it, and we hope he will be.

Melissa said...

we're big redshirting believers in this house :)

Erin said...

My Ph.D. adviser wrote this paper on the subject.

Averages though, are just that - averages. We can think of plenty of counter-examples (hopefully myself included). I have to believe that these effects are bigger for kids who don't have involved parents. I would just try to judge if Parker is 'ready' for kindergarten mentally and socially - regardless of age.