Spring is in the hair

Sunday, April 22, 2012

{Harry wanted to wear blue hairspray (school colors) to school on Friday and I let him.  Will did this too.  You have to see it here.}

The next month is going to be so crazy around here.  Both boys are "graduating" or moving on from their schools this year and with that comes tons of end of year stuff. There are special field trips, awards ceremonies, year book signing parties, music programs, a ballet recital, a violin concert.  I am not kidding when I tell you that the next month is completely packed.  I feel so anxious just thinking about it.

Harry is leaving his elementary school and heading to middle school.  He is SO ready.  His school in an international baccalaureate program so they do an exhibition project at the end of 5th grade.  The exhibition is a collaborative inquiry project that incorporates all the primary year principals they have learned.  The children choose real life issues and try to make some impact in the community at large.  It is exciting to see the kids incorporate all that they have learned into a practical learning experience.  I cannot wait to see what he does.

Will is doing an 8th grade dissertation and he is very ready to move on too.  He is applying for summer jobs, looking into drivers's ed (YIKES!) and participating in a junior lifeguard program this summer.  He is really excited about high school.

Both the boys have Spring fever in that they have kind of "checked out" of school.  They really just want to hang out with their friends and have fun.  I remember those days:)

And Miss Kate....well she is doing just fine.  We have decided to repeat kindergarten next year though.  I posted about my hesitancy to send her to kindergarten this year (here and here).  Overall, I am glad we went forward with kinder this year because it was the only year of her entire life she could ever go to school with one of her brothers.  It has been very nice watching them walk the halls together.  Harry has had opportunities to be in Kate's class helping with things.  It has been very special.  In fact, I cannot imagine her there next year without him.  When I told Kate that her Habu was going to middle school next year, she was very sad.  She said, "But Mama he is not tall enough yet." 

And Kate has grown tremendously this year.  She is finally finding her voice (slowly but surely) and she is learning how to be her sweet self AND stick up for herself too!!  Boy, have we worked hard on that one.

But the bottom line is... Kate is young.  She is a happy-go-lucky 5 year old girl who sees the best in everyone and everything.  She just wants to dance and sing and paint and laugh.  The school day is LONG for her.  She is not super interested yet in academics.  And our neighborhood public school (which we love) is very rigorous.  At this point in kindergarten, Kate is expected to write 7 sentences in her writer's journal with capitalization and punctuation each morning.  Most days she does it (albeit spelling phonetically) but it is a struggle.  They are counting to 100 by 2's and 5's and that is a bit abstract for her.  She struggles with that.  She also struggles with multi step projects and kind of shuts down.

Also, Kate is so optimistic and naive that some things just go right over her head.  I think it will benefit her socially and emotionally to be a little older and more confident as she navigates school.  In all honesty, none of us (me, Dave or Kate) really want her to repeat kindergarten.  Dave and I are no spring chickens, y'all!    We are ready to move on.  Will is going to be in college and Kate will still be in 3rd or 4th grade!  This will be our 5TH go around with kinder (which is very parent involved at our school).  Will did kinder twice, Harry did it once and now Kate is doing it twice.  But, after lots of discussion with Kate's teacher and some other well informed professionals, we have to do what is best for her.  And we know deep down, it is best to give Kate another year.

The other day I was in the classroom and the teacher said to the kids...Y'all are almost 1st graders now. Kate turned to me with panic on her face and said, "Uh-oh Mama.  I don't read well enough for 1st grade yet! We better hurry!"  I reminded her that we are in NO HURRY at all because she gets to do kindergarten again.  Her shoulders relaxed and she sighed and said "Oh that's right."  I told her she was exactly where she should be and that school is not a race. The truth is Kate's reading is right on track for 1st grade but she feels behind (probably because she is behind in other ways).  She feels young and I do not want her to feel that her whole life.

The book Outliers has an excellent first chapter for anyone considering holding a child back. I will tell you that it made some excellent points and they helped influence our decision a little bit.

Sorry this was so long but I know a lot of people have asked me this year about our decision with Kate and I wanted to share this.  Next Saturday is Kate's birthday party (early) and my Mom is flying in for a visit so I have a ton to do this week.  Wish me luck!

(As an aside....for those of you just planning to start your families...don't have summer babies! I LOVE my summer babies BUT I remember the struggles figuring out what was best for Will and now Kate.  It is just easier if kids are born in the Fall!)


  1. Habu is definitely cute with his blue hair!!!!
    You're taking the best decision for Kate ;)

    Wishing you the best "crazy" month possible!

  2. I'm so glad you've blogged these few posts about Kate & Kinder! It has been really helpful to read your thoughts and the comments as I decided what to do with Molly. I've decided to hold her back as well, so she'll be starting a 3 year old program this fall and we'll enjoy two more years before we start "real" school!

  3. Sounds like things are going well... life as we know it...
    Love you and have a WONDERFUL Sunday...

  4. Love that blue hair!! So cute! Sounds like a great plan for Kate. Wow -- they do a lot in kindergarten!!

    Have a fun and busy end of the school year!

  5. Wow, seven sentences at the end of K??? IMNSHO, that's nuts!!! ;)

    Brill is going to first grade and while she can write seven sentences at home, rarely does she do that at school!!

    None of the 60 kids in her grouping can do that!!

    Good for you for making your decision!! What a great mama!!!!

    Holy mackeral, no wonder Kate is feeling stressed. :(.

    1. I know Snick...that is a lot, right? I will say that they do a lot of play and free centers too but it is pretty advanced academically. I think with another year under her belt she'll be just fine there but if not we might move her to another environment down the road.


  6. Kim,

    We are doing the same thing with our Tia whose birthday is (around) July 15th - she did private half day kindergarten this year but she just seems so young, and carefree :) so now she will go to the public, all day kindergarten. She is relieved by our decision as well!

    I've been reading your blog for most of the 4 years since we brought her home so it will be nice that Tia will be in the same grade as Kate as I continue to follow :)

    Enjoy the rest of the school year!

    xo ellie

  7. I think you'll be happy to have kept Kate in kindergarten for another year. One of my few regrets as a parent is not having kept my daughter back. It wasn't an academic issue but an emotional one. Holding Kate back also means that she'll be that much more mature relative to her classmates when she reaches the driving and dating years. Good luck!

  8. i was just talking about the may craziness seemingly peeking around the corner already!!

    our summer baby needed an extra year too. best decision indeed! :)

  9. Wow, seven sentences is a lot! I taught Kindergarten for almost ten years before becoming a SAHM and the curriculum is intense academically these days. Here in CT, the cut-off date is Dec 31st and it's very common to send 4 year-olds to K. My daughter turns 5 in Oct. and we are sending her for her 3rd year at Montessori and then will send her to public K the next year. Most people I tell my plan to look at me like I'm crazy, but deep down I know it's what is right for my daughter.
    It's a tough decision!
    Good luck with the end of year craziness! I always love to read your blog!!

  10. as a july baby, i can testify that being a little older is just fine... i always felt bad for the kids that were a whole year younger than i was, but still in my grade- they didn't get to spend that extra year at home with their mama :). waiting another year is without a doubt a great decision.

  11. Oh, your month does sound busy! Hope it goes smoothly for you. I always feel anxious too when things get too busy, but a good (wise)
    friend helped me by recommending taking it one thing at a time, not thinking of it it as one more thing to get crossed off the list, and being really present for all things. I used to always (still do somewhat) get so stressed on Sunday nights. I was thinking of the whole week ahead. Once I realized I just needed to be ready on Sunday for Monday, I really relaxed and Sunday nights were much better.
    I have twins daughters (born in China) who have July birthdays. My mother's instinct combined with my experience as a teacher led me to decide to wait another year before starting K. I am so happy with that decision! Especially when I think long term-how they will be older than most in middle and high school. An advantage academically, socially, and emotionally.
    I love the term "giving her an extra year" or in our case, "waiting a year". Holding her back sounds negative if you think about it. She's not being held back, she's being given time to grow!
    Susan in FL

  12. Thanks Susan. I totally agree with you and we use the terms "you get to do kindergarten again" and " an extra year." We tell her how lucky she is that this time she gets to be a leader in kinder. We frame it positively I promise you. I only used the term holding back in reference to the book Outliers.


  13. Kim, I totally struggled with whether or not to send my eldest son who is born in May to Kindergarten when he was 5. I thought he'd be ok academically, but I felt that he was young to move ahead. Not only did I struggle internally, but my husband opposed the extra year (luckily, just at first!); his opinion was that "when we were kids no one worried about being ready - you just turned 5 and went to school". We went ahead and gave him an extra year, but even throughout that year, I worried that I had made the wrong decision. Flash forward to his first weeks of kindergarten, I finally felt that I had totally made the right decision for him, and us. Now, as he is getting ready to go from first to second grade, I can still say we made the best decision. Kate will continue to thrive and grow, and she will have a great year next year. Lucky her!!!

  14. Bravo for your decision. I think you are smart to see this now and not later when social dilmenas can come into play. Up here in NY this is not at all uncommon and you have to do the right thing for your child. Why not give her an edge when you are such an oportune time to do so? I would do the same thing.
    Your month ahead sounds crazy busy but oh so many great things. I would give anything to go back when my kiddos were that young...enjoy every minute, I know its sounds like a cliche now but trust me you will be happy you did ( and you really seem to embrace it all which is so wonderful)!
    Good luck as you forge ahead.....sounds like you have it all well planned out!

  15. We had a year like that last year; big milestones for everyone and it was such a relief when it was all over! I love that you're having Kate repeat Kindergarten. 3 of my 4 have fall birthdays and I think that extra year has been so beneficial to them, especially in middle and high school. Have fun with all your activities!

  16. This really worries me about my girl, Tate. Her birthday is August 13 (turning 4 this year) so next year when she is just barely 5 she can start Kindergarten. I would love to start her when she is 5 to avoid paying daycare (bad mom). Really what should I do?

    1. This is so hard and so individual. My summer kiddos (will and kate) were both a little "young." Will is smart as a whip....and always has been so this was not an academic decision for him and I am not sure if it is for Kate yet. It totally depends on the child. Our Preschool teachers could see that my kids could benefit from an extra year. I'd say just keep an open mind and look for all the signs (emotional, social and academic). And you can always go to kinder and then do it twice like we did:)

      I will say that from my observation though...the daycare kids are often a little more savvy and "grown-up" in ways than the kids who were not in daycare. I think they are more accustomed to the structured all day environment. So, that is a plus for you:) Best wishes as you navigate this. It is not easy. We are totally doing what is best for Kate. Honestly, Dave and I would prefer to move her along.

  17. You have given me a lot to think about. I will definitely check out the book you mentioned. Our daughter turned 6 in March, but is so not interested in school work (and we homeschool, lol). Any other resources I should check out?

  18. Kim, I am so sorry! I did not mean for my comment to sound critical. I hear "holding back" all the time (even many here in these comments) and I automatically go onto my soapbox. You are such a sensitive and very wise woman. My comment was to maybe open eyes of others to another way of referring to waiting for K. I hold you in high regard and I am sorry if I offended you.

    1. Oh no...you did not offend me at all. I completely agree with you:) It was not critical at all. In fact, your tone was pleasant and informative. Have a great night and thank you for your kind words.


  19. I don't think you'll ever regret giving Kate another year of childhood. Adulthood comes fast enough!

    P.S. I am flabbergasted that she is expected to write seven sentences in Kindergarten. My second graders are expected to write five in their daily journal!

  20. Bravo for doing the hard thing - I know that this was tough for you & Dave...Kate 0 and hte boys - are blessed to have the most thoughtful & caring parents. Thanks also for updating - I remember reading the initial discussions and was wondering how things were going, but didn't want to intrude & ask!

    LOVE the blue hair Harry!!!!!!!

  21. Great decision! I totally support you! I don't think you will regret it....you can always bump her up again if needed (but probably not!). I would especially advise these summer boy birthdays to be older in their class instead of younger. We had a fall boy and a May boy and BOY what a difference especially their Sr. year of high school(when lots of decisions are needing to be made)! If I had to do it over, the May boy would not have started (although we homeschooled up thru 4 grade)....he was very ready academically but the emotional stuff showed up in his Jr. year of HS....I just didn't know. Oh well....live and learn.

    The good news about Kate.....it will keep you and Dave younger....longer!!!!!

    May is ALWAYS so busy for most of us! Relax, take a deep breath and it will be June before you know it!
    God Bless!

  22. Kim, I think you are making a very wise decision. Working in special ed, I see many kids we test that are very young and should never have been in school as early as they were. There are differing schools of thought with this one and while many educators do not advocate for retention, I am an educator that strongly advocates for retention in the early grades (K and 1- sometimes 2). To give a kid an extra year is invaluable!! The curriculum already is way too advanced for these kids developmental level and it pushes kids in areas they do not need to be pushed in yet. It frustrates me and sadly, many of these "young" kids end up at my door being tested for special education when really, an extra year would have done amazing things for them. In California the cut off has always been Dec 1 for Kinder. This next year it is moving back to Nov 1 and next year Oct 1 and the following Sept 1 so we will finally be inline with much of the country for kinder start age. Very smart move for CA.

    Mia is Oct 29 and could have officially started kinder this year but being that she was a month off the deadline and next year would not have even made the deadline (pushing the entrance date back)we chose to hold her out and she will start Kinder next year (2012-2013). Finley is Oct 12 and she will be doing a new program for CA that all the kids who are Sept, Oct and nov bdays can be in a transitional or developmental Kinder program. So luckily, both girls will officially be in kinder next year but Fin will do 2 years which is best for her-- she is not ready yet. They will have the same recess and same school but be in different classes.

    One more point is if anyone is considering private schools, many of the kids in private are older. Both our boys attend private Christian school and they did most of their elementary in public school and transfered to private when Ethan was in 6th and owen in 4th. They are both summer bdays as well and in their current grades at private school, both boys are very young. Many kids are much older than they are beucase lots of parents keep their kids out and dont send them till they are older. If we knew the boys would end up in private school we probably would have held them out another year. Just a word for others if they are reading.

    Good Choice Kim!!!!

  23. I am in my 40's and I just found out a couple of my childhood friends repeated kindergarten. All these years I had no idea...I just thought they were "smarter" than me..I started kindergarten at 4 and went to college at 17 and struggled. I now wonder if it would have made a difference. But I love the journey I am on so it all worked out. I sent my son at 5 and his first grade teacher confirmed that there was no way he could have been in kindergarten this year so I know I made the righ choice. I have a child turning 5 this summer and she is still young, she likes to play make believe etc and so I have decided we will wait a year. I think as a mom you know it your gut what is right for your child. I applaud you for sharing your journey with us!

  24. What a comfort that your decision has been made. Now just rest assured that you are making the right decision.

    On another note it depends what state you are in regards to the age you send your children to school. My girls are both FALL birthdays (Oct. & Nov.) and are the youngest in their class. In NY your child must turn 5 before December 1st to enter Kindergarten. So Fall birthdays are NOT easy in NY! We too have struggles with our decision of having our girls be the youngest in their class. :)

  25. As I'm stressing over my caboose (#4) and whether he will actually pass everything so he'll graduate from high school in 4 weeks....I can honestly say from the rearview mirror that it's just so hard to know what to do. We probably should've waited a year for kindergarten for both our boys, and though his birthday is actually in early April, he's much less mature than his brother (August) was at the same age. We like to say he's 18 going on 14! And he wants to get away and be independent, but I have no confidence he will be able to do it and we are still very up in the air with his plans for next year. On the other hand, I know I've said this before in this same conversation, when our older son was a senior all we could think was that we were so glad we didn't wait until he was 6 to send him to Kindergarten because I'm not sure we would've been able to survive another year with him in the house. After 20 years of dealing with school, I am ready for my nest to be empty.

    I have a November birthday and could've gone to school before I'd turned 5, but my mom opted not to send me.....and then I ended up skipping a grade. So I guess you just do the best you can with the information you have at the time, and hope for the best!

    Good luck with all your changes...are you sticking with IB schools? Both my girls got the diploma and it was worth every bit of what they put into it.

  26. What a hard decision to make! You are such a thoughtful mom and it is smart to go with your gut!

    I've thought about this a lot with my kids but more now than ever because schooling is so much different than it was when my big kids were little Emma, who is also 5 (July 1st birthday) and in kindergarten, is doing very well in her classroom when she gets home, she is totally exhausted and needs time to decompress. Some days she is very touchy and falls apart for a bit. Her program is only a 1/2 day program, but she has to be academically on task for most of that time and it just must be so tiring for her.

    It seems like more and more parents are being put into this stressful situation and most of it has nothing to do with their children but because kindergarten is no longer developmentally appropriate for 5 year olds. From everything that you post, Kate appears to be a very normal, very bright, happy, dreamy, creative, imaginative, innocent, sweet five year old! She seems like an outstanding and delightful example of a developmentally thriving 5 year old!!! It seems that many, many schools are no longer developmentally designed for the children they are supposed to serve.

    We are in Massachusetts, where there is a huge emphasis on education, and the 1st and 2nd grade curriculum has trickled down into kindergarten, kids and families are being stressed by expectations that have no basis in research or developmental psychology. So, I'm sure, under the circumstances, you are making a great decision for Kate. It is just sad that kids can't spend their days in learning environments that are, first and foremost, attuned to meet their developmental needs.

    I just found this video from Nancy Carlsson-Paige who is a person in our area (Boston) who speaks out on developmentally appropriate schooling. I've just now started listening to this, but I'm sure it will be a good interview as I've read her work before and deeply respect her point of view (she happens to be Matt Damon's mother). Oh...about 1/2 way through, she talks about kindergartners counting to 100 by 10s and how silly that is :)


    Some of my colleagues from the school where I work just got back from a conference last week where there was a lot of discussion about this issue and the fact that many believe that there is about to be a seismic shift in education to address these issues and to make school developmentally appropriate. I hope they are right!

    We may look around at different alternatives. I want my kids to be happy, relaxed, enthusiastic, life-long learners and the current school climate makes that tough! Best of luck with Kate!

    1. Wendy, Thank you for your thoughtful and informed comment. I too think that education is really going in the wrong direction. I have been involved in some panel discussions on the movie Race to Nowhere and it had opened up so much for me. Not only are schools developmentally inappropriate in the early years but the heavy emphasis on both testing and homework are counterproductive. It is ironic how wrong we are educating in the US. I really love our neighborhood school and the IB program and I hope it will be a good fit for Kate with this extra year but I am open minded:) And yes, I think she is absolutely right on track too.

  27. Oh Kim...first of all, could Harry be any cuter with blue hair?!?!? I think not!!!
    Only you can decide what is best for Kate, and YAY for getting to do kindergarten again!! Hard to believe the end of the year is closing in. Can't wait to see Kate's birthday party :) xo

  28. LOL Somehow, Harry pulls off blue hair like a rock star! Handsome Dude. :) If it's any consolation to you, my husband and I have had or kids in stages. Our oldest started college the year our youngest started Kinder. They both have July birthdays and this year he will be 21 and she will be 8. We have a 15 year old in the middle. I don't know how old you are, but I am 42 and I will say, I understand the desire to be done but at the same time, I sure am enjoying this time with the little one. It's so much sweeter now that I'm older and know how very very fast time goes. Oh and here's another chuckle. He got his motorcycle license the same day she got her first bike sans training wheels!

  29. I have never met anyone who regretted holding them back. And I say that too, but it really is not holding them back you know? I rather like to say allowing their wings to unfurl more!

    We had two bio sons with summer/early fall birthdays. Held oldest one back, NO REGRETS. He didn't repeat kinder but he started at 5 years, 11 months old. Next son was always so advanced it seemed, trying to keep up with his older brother. We sent him on at barely 5 to kinder and didn't repeat. Oh how I regret that so much now. :( He is 9 and just finishing 4th grade, won't be 10 until this summer. I would love to hold him back (or rather allow his wings to unfurl more) but he doesn't want to now b/c of "his friends." Sigh.

    Since we homeschool, it is less of a deal but I see his young-ness (I know not a word but immaturity didn't seem quite right) at church, in other social settings. But I do think holding him back at this point would do more harm than good, so we say he is finishing 4th grade and go with it.

    With our two kinders, they are 6 going on 7 (son this summer and daughter in fall) and I am so glad we waited on officially doing kinder when they were 6. However, both went to PreK last year, which was a lot like kinder, one in PS and one in private school, and that was great too.

    I love your blog btw! Don't get to hop over very often, but always smile when I do. Thanks for sharing your beautiful family. LOVED Kate's birthday party pics.


Thank you for your kindness.