We have been wrestling for the last couple of months with that very kind of decision. We were not sure whether we should let Evan progress to the first grade or have him stay in Kindergarten for another year. His teacher thought that he was doing fine. She told us that he wasn't a kid that she would normally recommend to retain. I think that I had unfair expectations of where he should be and what he should be doing because I compared him to Spencer. (I know that every kid is different and you should never compare them! But as a Mom, I compare my kids to each other.) Spencer went to DK, so Spence was a year older than Evan is in Kindergarten. So obviously, Spencer was a little bit more advanced in some areas. Don't get me wrong, Evan is not dumb. He is right where he should be and right where Spencer was in most areas. Where he struggles is the reading and writing that they have to do. Yeah, you read that right. Reading and Writing. In Kindergarten. When I was in Kindergarten we were just learning letters "I'm Mr. M...with a Munching Mouth....My Mouth goes Munch, Munch, Munch...". Back in those days you were some kind of genius if you could write your name before Kindergarten. We won't even talk about my sister who in DK used to sit in front of her class next to the teacher and read to them. Overachiever. I kid because I am jealous....my sister IS a genius. Or maybe she was just never traumatized by having to write her initials on a piece of paper and having kids in her Kindergarten class laugh because her initials were "J.J." and compare her to the character on Good Times.
But, I digress. Evan struggles a bit with reading and writing. He gets frustrated because it does not come easily to him, so he just kind of shuts down and doesn't give it his best effort. So I thought maybe repeating Kindergarten wouldn't be such a bad thing. Give him an extra year to get it all down pat and then move on to first grade.
First grade seems so old to me. I know that he is going to be six next week, but I swear when I look at him I still see that sweet little baby face. First grade means that he will be in school all day. Gulp. At this point it is so hard to imagine my days without him in it. I thought back to how the extra year Spencer had gave him and Evan another year to be able to play together in the afternoons and bond. My heart was telling me that Evan and Hailey needed that same kind of time together to learn to get along, because heaven knows their battles tend to be epic. I really think that I wanted someone to tell me that he needed to repeat Kindergarten. Nobody did.
The night of our parent teacher conference when I was tucking Evan into bed, he asked me what his teacher said about him. I asked him what he thought she would say and he told me "she will probably say that I have to try harder at writer's workshop." The kid knows what is going on. I told him that Daddy and I were trying to decide if he should go to Kindergarten again so he could get more practice at writing and reading or if he should move on to first grade. He looked up at me with his big ol' brown eyes and said "I want to go to first grade." Gulp.
Then it hit me. If his teacher who is with these kids all day and knows what is expected of them thinks he is ready to move on, why don't I have the same kind of faith in my own child? Do I think that he is not ready to move on, or am I just not ready to let him go?
The simple answer to that question is that I will never be ready to let him go, but I know now that I have to. If everything stays status quo, he will move on to first grade in the fall. We have been doing some extra work on reading and writing in the afternoon while Hailey naps and he seems to be improving by just a little bit of one on one practice.
As for the title of this post, he brought this home from school the other day and it just made me so happy. Can you read what he wrote? Sound it out phonetically....
I feel good about our decision, but I still pray that we made the right one. My biggest fear is that he will start school feeling behind and that will seep into his psyche and cause him to lack confidence in himself. I want him to be as proud of himself as we are of him. He is such an amazing person!