6.03.2013

Goodbye, Preschool

Kate & I have another 9 days of school left (single digits!!!!!)
But Claire finished Preschool last week. 
And, by finishing Preschool, I mean she is done with Preschool..... Forever! 
It was her first (and last) year.
You see, Claire has a September birthday.
And, for those of you who are teachers or who have kids with Fall birthdays, you know the dilemma:
"Do they start Kindergarten or do you wait a year?" 
In California, they cut off date for Kindergarten has been December 1st,  September/October/November kids can start Kindergarten at 4 (almost 5) years old, but most people in our wait until they are 5 (almost 6) years old for those Fall birthdays.
I remember when I found out I was pregnant with Claire & that I was due in September. 
I remember agonizing about my unborn child's birthday.
"Oh no! A Fall birthday! I will have to decide if I send he/she to Kindergarten at almost 5 years old or wait until they are 6?"
Yes, this is what I was thinking about when I was pregnant with her. Ridiculous.

Most parents in our area hold their Fall birthday kids and wait until they are almost 6 to send them to Kindergarten, and we are doing the same thing with Claire, for a couple of reasons.

1. If I send Claire to Kindergarten this Fall, that means she is going to college when she is 17. Um, no way.

2. If I sent Claire to Kindergarten this Fall, she and Kate would only be a year apart in school. Knowing their personalities, I think Claire would totally invade Kate, her friends & activities. 
I think having them 2 years apart in school is a much better fit for both of them.
(Also...looking to college, having a 1 year break for double college tuition will be nice. Just thinking ahead)

3 . In the last few years, California has changed the eligible birthdate for Kindergarten, so instead of December 1, it bumped to November, this year it will be October 1 and then the following year it will be September 1. Because of the date change, the last 2 school years, our school district has offered a Transitional Kindergarten (TK) class for those kids with birthdays between September 1-December 1.
Not all Elementary schools in our district have TK, but ours does!
You better believe I signed Claire up for that....and she got in!!!
Did I mention it's FREE? 5 Days a week for 3 hours AND taught by credentialed Kindergarten teachers in our district?

But, the 4th (and a big reason) that we aren't sending Claire to Kindergarten this year is because her Preschool teacher told us that she wasn't quite ready for Kindergarten and that another year of Preschool (or TK) would be a better fit for her. 
OUCH.
Even though *I know* she wasn't ready and I wasn't planning on sending her to Kindergarten, it's still hard to hear that as a parent. Especially as a parent who is a teacher. 
And, I do admit that because I was never planning on sending her to Kinder, we haven't worked with her on her numbers/letters/etc like we did with Kate.  Let's just say as soon as her teacher told me that a few months ago, I went out & bought a practice workbook for Claire & we work on it often and her writing/letters/numbers have totally improved.

On her last day of Preschool, her teachers had nothing but praise for Claire saying how much she had grown up since the beginning of the school year. 
She is a better listener, more helpful & made a ton of friends along with the improvements to her "academics"


Claire came home with a Preschool Scrapbook that she made at school this year & I loved seeing how her drawings have changed since the first day of school. So much more detail!
 The past 9 months have been so full of change for Claire...not being the youngest child anymore, having a baby brother, starting Preschool for the first time. Clearly, she is okay with Luke in the family.
 And, even though I do ridiculous things for holidays, like Bunny Prints & Elf on the Shelf, I am glad that my kids still know the real meanings of holidays. Phew!
 Let it be noted...I have made my kids jello maybe 5 times in their lives. Glad it was memorable. LOL.
 "Jesus Loves Me" what we sing to the kids at bedtime.
I love these answers. Butterflies & Flowers. Gotta love free spirited 4 year olds!
  I will miss our Preschool (for the next few years until we send Luke...but I won't miss the monthly tuition payment. Preschool around here is expensive!)

I could send her to the Pre-K program at her preschool, but we are doing TK (did I mention it's at our Elementary School and FREE?) It's just logistically easier for us to have her go to the same school as Kate next year.

Our Preschool has been a tremendous place of growth for both our girls. 
It's the preschool at our church where both Kevin and I went.
The teachers are caring & kind and the families are wonderful.
Claire's class was a really special class. Only 15 kids. She made some really good friends, friends that she can call her own. (Most of Claire's friends up until this year have been younger siblings of Kate's friends, so it has been huge for her this year to make her own friends)
 
I know it is such a hard choice when you have "bubble" birthdays that are close to the cut offs.
It is a HUGE choice and an individual choice.
I have friends who sent their Fall birthday kids early and they have done awesome.
I have friends who sent their Fall Birthday kids early & then had them repeat Kindergarten another year.
As a middle school teacher, I can usually pin point the Fall Birthday kids the first month of school (either old or young for their grade) It's mostly a maturity thing in middle school. But, on the other hand, I have been surprised by some Fall Birthday kids.

Luke is an August baby, and YES, I am already thinking about what I might do, since the cut off will be Sept 1st for him. As of now, I am "planning" on sending him to Kinder when he is 6 for a few reasons:
1. Boys usually mature later and I don't want him being a whole year younger than most kids in his class (since people in our area tend to wait to send)
2. Kevin & I were both late bloomers, so giving him an extra year is a good thing.
3. So that he can be in the same grade level as his brother cousin Jack who is September) but, who knows, he might be ready to go at 5. Plus, he is my baby, so I want him home an extra year!

We will obviously make the final decision when he is 4, not 9 months old ;)

Bottom line: 
It's a Kid by Kid decision. Go with your gut. Trust your instincts. No one knows your kid like you do. Do what's best for them.

I feel we are doing what's best for Claire.
I feel 100% confident about our decision.

Goodbye, Preschool.
Hello, Transitional Kindergarten!

21 comments:

  1. Our cut-off is Sept 1st and I know many parents who have kids born on August 31st and Sept. 2nd feel the exact same way!!

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  2. My son has a October birthday and I thought the same thing when he was born. I did not send him for many of the same reasons you are not sending your daughter. We have the same free TK program in our district in No. Ca as well but it did not start until the year AFTER my son started kinder.

    Yay for almost summer...our vacations started on Thursday.

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  3. I grew up with a mom who was a kindergarten teacher, so I often heard stories of parents that sent their kids to school too early (and what a struggle it was on everyone involved) - my mom was SO happy when we announced my pregnancies and she discovered I would have November and December babies (the cutoff was moved up years ago here in Virginia). I'm so happy you have such a great option for sweet Claire - and the 'free' part is amazing!

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  4. That is so awesome that your school is having a transitional Kindergarten! She will really thrive having an extra year in "preschool" before she starts school since she is so yooung. In texas our cut off date is September 1st. So in texas she wouldn't be going to Kindergarten anyways until next year. I too did the same thing when I found out Pearson had a June birthday, because in Texas us Teacher Mommies stress out about Summer birthdays. Especially if they are boys. Boys just seem to need a lot more time than girls to mature. So I have to make the decision in a few years if we want to hold Pearson back or not. I working really hard at getting him ready to go just in case we decide not to hold back. He going to do 2 day a week preschool in the fall.

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  5. That just means Claire and Kensington will be in the same graduating class :). I think that's fabulous! Plus...we get to keep them home one extra year. I love her scrapbook...so sweet mama!

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  6. How exciting! Hudson has a June birthday (June 5! He'll be 4 this week) and I have been agonizing over what to do. He's our first born and knows all his letters and numbers and can write them all, but I worry about his maturity level. I think we are going to have him do 5K at his preschool and then repeat Kindergarten at his public school. So he'll be 6 when he starts. ACK! That just seems SO old. What do you think, teacher? :) Help!

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  7. I am the mama of 3 September birthdays! Ugh.. I totally get this post.

    My oldest daughter was very mature and academically advanced so we sent her to kinder at 4. School started in August so she was 4 for the first month of school (a hand full of kids were already 6!!!). Academically, she has always been advanced but I didn't like her hanging out with kids that were a year older than her. She was exposed to things earlier than I wanted.

    So with my twins I decided when they were 2 that I wasn't going to send them until they were almost 6. So we paid for 3 years of pre-school (times 2)- ouch!!! It ended up being good for me because Nate died the year before and I wasn't ready to let go of them yet. But it was really good for them because they are so much more mature than the other kids and the teachers are pretty good about giving them higher level work since they are older.

    SO...from a mother that has done it both ways I commend your decision to wait. My oldest will be going off to college at 17 and it's REALLY scary!!!

    Hugs,
    Trisha

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  8. Thanks so much for posting about this! I am a teacher too and so have opinions about this. I also have 2 kids with fall birthdays Sept and Oct and my first thought during both pregnancies was exactly the same as yours! (My hubs thought I was crazy!) it was great to hear your reasons to do transitional K because that is what we are leaning towards with my oldest. We will likely do th same with our younger daughter bc of the same age difference issue!

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  9. Have you read The Outliers? Absolutely a must read for all parents and teachers. It's started a phenomenon where more and more parents are sending their kids to school late... some even lying about birthdays so they can have the oldest kid in class. Sigh...

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  10. What a cutie! I am expecting my first baby in September and as a teacher, that was literally my first though upon finding out my due date. Our cut-off is August 31. I went to K at 4 years old and I was 17 when I went away to college. It was right for me but like you said, you have to figure out each kid as you go. It will be a big deal for me to find the right preschool.

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  11. Love this post!

    I so agree it's a different situation for each child to be made by their parents and not fall into the trap of what everyone else is doing. My oldest (a boy) was born in June and our cut off is Sept 1. I struggled for weeks trying to decide what to do. In the end we went ahead and started him when he was five mostly because academically he was so ready, he is like a little old man sometimes with his maturity level and he is so tall I was afraid if we waited a year he would look like a giant next to his peers. It was the right decision for him and we have never regretted it, in fact he has thrived in school and has had no trouble keeping up with the older kids in fact is ahead of the curve with everything. However my sister has a son that is two weeks younger than my son and decided to hold him back for her own reasons. It has been amazing to us both to see how even though we made different choices we made the right choices for our kids.

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  12. Around here the cutoff is Sept. 1st in our state and the neighboring state is June 1st!! So December sounds crazy to me. I have a Aug 30th baby and even though she isn't yet 2 I think about whether I will send her or not. (Who knows, the cut-off date may even change by then.) All these things we think of as parents, huh?
    And I can't believe the differences in those pictures of Claire! She has grown up so much in looks and I can only imagine in everything else as well!
    What a neat program that you can take part in. It sounds like a fantastic opportunity for anyone who as able to participate.

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  13. I absolutely agree that it is an individual choice and every child is different-you and Kevin know what is best for Miss Claire and traditional Kindergarten sounds like a great plan!

    I have a Sept. birthday and started at 4-I always did well in school, but until eighth grade, I was really small and was picked on sometimes. That stopped when I shot up to my current 5'9" in junior high! I have to admit that I LOVED starting college at 17, I actually left for school a week after I graduated HS so I was super young. It had nothing to do with my boyfriend already being at college-nothing at all! I could have done with a little more maturity and it wasn't so fun when everyone was turning 21, but I have to admit now that we are in our thirties, being younger than all of my friends is finally paying off! :)

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  14. Thank you for sharing this. We live in Pennsylvania and the cut off is Sep 1, so they encourage the summer birthdays to delay start. Our youngest turned 4 in May, not technically summer but so close. I have been leaning towards delaying him a year, but also worried about the social impact we'd be doing to him (as he's got a little gang of pals that have done preschool together the past 3 years). But my instincts have been telling me he will not be ready. I appreciate you laying out your thought process as a parent and an educator.

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  15. Love this post! You are helping lots of parents by sharing! Both my girls have birthdays close to the cut off and like you I began thinking about what to do while pregnant. I also made my final decision by thinking about sending her to college at 17 because I want her at home as long as possible. Love how all my thoughts were right in line with yours! I have never regretted sending her a year later. She has not only flown through school with flying colors academically but has the maturity to make good choices and become a good leader. I am sure your girly will also soar as the oldest of the pack. I think you are very wise! I am so glad to be encouraged by reading your thoughts this morning! Big decisions are not easy.

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  16. My birthday is August 31st, and my mom had a c-section (she is a teacher, and purposely chose August 31 instead of a September day because of cut-off day). She sent me to kindergarten early, so I was the youngest in my class. And I cannot be more grateful that she did because I was an advanced reader. I won't have to decide with Nolan since his bday is in Sept, so he'll be one of the oldest in his grade. :)

    floral & fudge

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  17. We waited to send our son and it was the best decision ever. He is the most confident kid and is now a wonderful reader. Funny thing is that my oldest has basically the same birthday and we sent him when he was younger, and it's worked out beautifully for him. Same family, different kids, different decisions, both the right ones for that particular kid.

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  18. I completely agree: tough decision, personal choice, all of it. I agonized over it with my daughter, she's a New Year's baby. She was reading at 4, knew all her letters, numbers, maturity level, etc. The choice was made more difficult because my niece is just a few months older so it separated them by a whole school year. But because of her birth date we didn't have a choice without fighting to put her in early and we didn't want to go that far. Once that school year started I was SO SO SO glad to have her home another year and kicked myself for even thinking about having her start before she was 5!! So, when our son was born almost 7 years later in late September we didn't even question what we would do...he was just shy of turning 6 when he started kindergarten and in all honesty would not have been ready emotionally the year before. My daughter is now 16 and has done incredibly well academically, has been a leader to her peers, she's goal oriented and self-disciplined. We have 5 other kids in our small neighborhood her age who are all Fall babies whose parents waited an extra year and we all agree it was a great decision. My son is almost 10 and he is also an academic kid and leader to his peers. What used to be a stigma when I was younger (people always assumed kids who were older were held back for intellectual reasons) is now seen more and more as the "norm" and will continue to be that way now that they are moving the cutoff date back to September 1st. I do agree it's a personal choice, but in our experience, the wait has been more than worth it!! I admire your decision Mel!

    Blessings,
    Dana

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  19. My son is a June Birthday, and I have agonized over when to start him (our cut off is Sept 1). Academically, he is 100% ready, but socially, he just isn't there. So, he will start when he is 6. I am praying that he will get a teacher who is a mama of boys (because boy moms just GET boys so much better) and a teacher who will challenge him academically to help him not act out if he is bored.

    I struggle so much because your schoolmates determine so much of who you are. I want him to have good, Godly friends, and can only pray Class of 2028 has lots of boys who love Jesus :)!!

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  20. I heard that the cut off is changing here.... December 1 for 2011, November 1 for 2012, and October 1 for 2013.

    I don't have to worry about that (my kids' birthdays are in March and June), but my birthday is in November and my husband's is in October. I was one of the oldest kids in my class. Although my husband is only a month older than me, he graduated a year sooner. It didn't help or hinder either one of us, but I think it's more of a maturity level thing than anything else. My daughter never would have been able to make it in kindergarten early, not because she couldn't do the work, but because she lacked the ability to pay attention and stay focused for that long. I think you're smart to wait!

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