I know that I don't have to justify our decision. But right now I feel like I do. To myself. To other mothers of four year olds. There are some people who think I am crazy for sending my 4 year old to kindergarten. She will be a full year younger than some of her classmates. The trend here is to "redshirt" 5 year olds with summer birthday to give them an extra year. I have completely done the opposite.
I am so nervous about her starting school this week. I am pretty sure I would be this nervous even if we waited until next year. I know she will do fine. I am worried about me. I am worried about logistics. Pick ups and drop off in two places. Packing a lunch. Getting home later than before. Afterschool activities. Every thing she does that isn't "perfect", I will worry that she is doing that because she is "young". I am hoping that after a few weeks and we are all in the swing of things that I will feel better about this decision. As everyone has reminded me, no regrets. I can't have any regrets for the sake of my daughter.
1. She only missed the cut off by 24 days. Would I have looked into the waiver if it was 25 days? One month? I don't know. If she had an October birthday, I probably wouldn't have.
2. She is big. She is tall. She will not stick out for being "little". She will physically fit in fine. Right now she is the size of an average 6 or 7 year old. Waiting a year would give her another year to grow even taller than the other kindergartners now. We don't know how big or tall she will be in the future but with a 6'4" dad and a great aunt that is 6'0", height is in her genes. Will she be behind in sports? Probably not. Especially if as a girl, she hits her growth spurt earlier than later.
3. Why did we look into the waiver in the first place? That is the question I am struggling with the most. I am a gut decision maker. I don't have reasonable, logical explanations very often. My gut told me that she would be ready for kindergarten this year. That is the simple answer. She would be fine if we waited another year. But it just seemed right.
4. Is she mature enough? I struggle with that question. Again, everytime she does something not "perfect", I worry that she is not ready. But then I see 6 year olds doing the same thing. We talked to so many people about this decision - kindergarten teachers, my mom (a pre-k teacher), her teachers. She's ready.
5. What advantages does she have in going early? I don't know. Charlie and I had a long talk before her evaluation about why we were considering this. I came to the conclusion that unless they say she is at the top of the class, we wouldn't sent her this year. They have an enriched program at her school. I would rather her be in that program than not be in it because she started earlier. Her school district did not have a waiver program until this year. I worked with the assistant superintendent as she developed the criteria. She gave her a cognitive test and she had to score at least an 89 percentile to be admitted early. She scored a 92 and was only one of 2 out of 12 that were admitted early. That made me feel better and that the test is legitimate and that they won't allow anyone to attend early. I have always known Laci was something special. I felt like I was right and Laci really is something special. It seemed the stars were aligning for her to go this year.
6. We talked to her current teacher and the director at her daycare. They give the kids their own evaluations to put them in the right class there. The total possible points on the evaluation was 140. She scored 140. The next highest score was 104. They basically said that their advanced pre-k class (similar to a transitional year a lot of preschools have) was not the right fit for her. They moved her up to that class the last two months of school and she excelled in it. They were afraid she would be bored in the class again. Laci is an attention grabber. If she is bored, everyone knows it. The teacher was giving her a lot of extra attention because she finished the worksheets before everyone else and needed more. That wasn't fair to the other students. The stars were continuing to align for her to go to kindergarten this year.
We went through so many scenarios as we made this decision. How will she feel being the last of her friends to get her driver's license? How will we feel about sending our 17 year old to college? I talked to as many people as I could that I knew were "young" for their grade. They all said the same thing. It wasn't an issue. My brother pointed out that he didn't like not being able to go to the bars with his friends for awhile. (That may be a good thing. :) ) We prayed a lot. But what the decision came down to is what is the best thing for Laci this year. And right now, this is the best option for her.
And I hope next year I will be able to report the successes she has had started kindergarten when she did.