In the haste of Monday Morning, we forgot my daughter’s sleeping bag for her Kindergarten rest time. Having the luxury of working close to her school, I ran it over at lunch time and decided to stay for a few minutes to see what life is like for her in her mini chairs eating the lunch we packed with the friend she always talks about.
One four year old sitting to my right started quizzing me immediately. “What’s your name? Where do you work? Why are you here? Are you the one that named her? Did you pick out her clothes today?” I answered some politely and ignored others to talk to my own daughter who was quietly eating and singing a song from their morning music class. My daughter’s teachers came over to tell me what a glorious job she’s doing.
The four year old didn’t stop.
And at this point I turned in to one myself thinking, “Hushit! I’m trying to listen to teachers brag about my daughter you little blabbermouth.”
I am SO mature.
Her teachers told me how great she is doing in reading and writing and the knack for language my daughter has. She’s creative! Expressive! Self Confident! And the only one in school that can speak Spanish with the correct accent and all the kids look up to her.
Both literally and figuratively since she IS the tallest one in Kindergarten.
The four year old continued, “Why are you here? Why don’t you look like her? Why is one eye bigger than the other one?”
I stopped trying to ignore her and looked right at her.
She almost gloated.
Kids are like dogs, they know our sensitivities. And the lunge for them.
“No, really, why is that eye bigger? What did you do?”
“I don’t know” I replied, honestly. “It’s my pirate eye. RRrrRRRRR”
At this point her sister, sitting next to her, gets up and looks directly at me as she whispers something in her ear.
The four year old looks at me and says, “Whatever. You’re weird.”
And then I decided that little shit will never hang out with my daughter in my house.
It was at this time I realized how harsh school kids still are. My daughter’s sandwich is different because I make homemade bread. “Why is your sandwich ugly,” she asked. My daughter is tall and clumsy from her long body, one that girls will hate one day, but now can mock, “she’s too tall,” the four year old declared.
Little four year old bully.
My daughter is comfortable there. She is strong and confident and flourishing. Even though she doesn’t turn six until October, her teachers are confident she will do well starting first grade this fall. She is a leader, a gentle spirit, a love of many boys. She includes new children in to her play and creates art hourly with hearts and flowers of her family.
She’s well adjusted and happy.
I’m unsure now what to do.
Yesterday I learned two very conflicting lessons: On the one hand, my daughter is growing and excelling and “ready to move on” and on the other hand there are going to be twice or three times as many bullies when she enters first grade in a glass three times the size she’s in now, in the luxury of her private Kindergarten. I have the option to hold her back academically, giving her another year in this space she is excelling in, or I allow her to move on to continue to be pushed as she reads at a 2nd grade level and strives to challenge herself.
I realized I can’t comfort her against a bully. But her environment gives her the power to let it wash over her back.
I wish I had the same power. I wish I knew the answer of what the best choice for her is. I wish I could see the future to know if she would struggle too much with peer pressure in her teens being one of the younger students or if she’d grow too bored if I held her back and open her up to idle time and temptations to stray.
I wish I knew what to do. Either way we have to choose soon.
The future starts next week in registration.
What would you do?
Delurking to say I am in a similar situation regarding sending my son to kindergarten next year, he will be 5 end of April, so the plan is to send him, but bullying it starts so flipping young…. my niece (who is 8 and in 2nd grade) came home every day last week crying because a 5th grader is picking on her…. it totally sucks. I wish I knew what the answer is…. I am trying to trust my gut instincts, but seeing my niece’s reaction to bullying and it kills me that I am about to send my son into that world.
By Melanie on 2010 03 09
I’ve been hearing a lot of moms lately talk about how bulling starts younger & younger. I don’t think that’s true. I very clearly remember being bullied in kindergarten. (A couple of boys decided that I was fat, and that I apparently deserved hell for that.) I think in many cases, bullying is all about control. Kids don’t have a lot of power in the world, so they try to establish some tiny shred of it in their small environment.
That said, how do you guard your child from it? Well… You can’t. And it sucks, but there you have it. I think that if your daughter seems ready for 1st grade on an academic level, then it’s probably better to let her go ahead & start. I don’t think an extra year is going to give her a thicker skin against the Mean Girls of the world. She’ll figure out her way through the social situations. (Also, the “too tall” thing might work to her advantage in 1st grade, since she’ll be about the same size as the other kids there.) I think you’d probably have MORE behavior problems on your hands if she was bored at school.
By cindy w on 2010 03 09
I’d like to point out that the parents of the “bully” probably view her as curious, open, highly verbal, mature.
I’m sure she’s not doing it to provoke, she’s just never been told to shushit.
Move your gal to the next appropriate grade! It does get easier then harder and easier….
By Lgirl on 2010 03 09
My son started school when he was almost six (and is one of the tallest in his second grade class, now) He had almost an extra year to learn to read, and so he’s at the head of his class in reading and comprehension and English-type things. He’s okay with his peer group. We went through a huge brouhaha with the school board here to get him enrolled early (the enrollment time ended *four* days before his birthday)but dropped it when I had a long talk with an Early Childhood Development person and she said if kids are put into school too early (and the child is not confident in their abilities) she begins to see problems around fourth grade.
My daughter is in Primary (Kindergarten) now, and the enrollment date was pushed back (by provincial decree, not by us) so she went into school when she was almost five. We’re monitoring her closely - so far, so good, although we’ve had a couple of hiccups.
But those are MY children, with their strengths and weaknesses. I think putting Cass (my boy) in at almost six worked the best for him, and I think putting Rosey in at almost five worked for her.
A VERY long comment to say that I think Cindy W (above) had it right - bored isn’t good. And she wouldn’t be the ONLY one who would be young, right?
By daysgoby on 2010 03 09
I too was in the same position with a (late) October birthday, and was always the tallest in my classes through high school. My parents opted to have me do the 2nd year in kindergarten to ensure that I’d ALWAYS be ahead of the curve. I think it worked out great and I always liked being one of the oldest in my grade as opposed to one of the youngest. I also LOVED my kindergarten teacher (at least my parents tell me I did).
By Maggie on 2010 03 09
I would personally let her continue to 1st grade. If it were my decision I would go ahead and put my child in public school, worst case you pull her out and find a new school.
We considered holding O back because he is the youngest, but he keeps up with all the other kids so far. I figure he won’t ever know anything different anyway, maybe it will make him push harder being the youngest.
Also, I believe our feelings (adults)are hurt much more so than our children when something shitty is said, we could take a few lessons from them and get over it as fast as they do too.
By Ashley on 2010 03 09
I’m also delurking to give my two cents. I agree with commenter #3 (Lgirl). I’m not a parent, but I can speak from the perspective of a child whose parent had the option to put her forward or keep her back.
I scored exceptionally high on my standardized (and some other) tests in the third grade, and my mother had the option to put me into fifth grade the next year or to just keep me on track with the rest of my classmates. She chose to keep me with my classmates not because she didn’t think I could handle the academics but for fear that I would be ostracized and wouldn’t be able to adjust socially. I understand that it isn’t the exactly the same option for you, but for what it’s worth, I wish my mother had allowed me to skip fourth grade; I was bored, and I needed the academic challenge. I know that, socially, I was a chameleon throughout elementary school anyway—I found my niche in high school. Kids are good at adjusting.
Best of luck to you.
By Allie on 2010 03 09
You and Mr. Flinger do what you need and want to do. Your internet friends are a nice sounding board, but both of you are strong parents who make wise and loving decisions.
By Oma Flinger on 2010 03 10
I wish there was an easy answer for that question. I have a son who is in the 8th grade now. He’s insanely smart, his teachers LOVE him, he’s incredibly sweet, I adore him. Obviously. But, he’s been challenged his entire life, he is developmentally delayed in alot of areas, speech, fine motor skills, etc. he’s been the picked on kid. When he was in 3rd grade a little girl in his class decided to “look out” for him I guess you’d say… She made sure he had what he was supposed to have for the activity they were doing, was on the correct page, etc etc. She was a true gift to him. She saw what he needed and just did it. We all are so appreciative of her. What she taught him and us, is priceless.
Whatever your choice, it’ll be the right one. Who knows Maybe with how you’ve raised your daughter, she’ll be the one to step up when she sees a classmate who might need some extra attention.
By Jamie, Mom of 3 on 2010 03 10
I agree that if she gets bored it may be harder for you but I also agree with Oma that ultimately the decision is up to you and Mr. Flinger. I would even include your daughter in these discussions….but I am sure that she will do fine in first grade.
By Heather @ Domestic Extraordinaire on 2010 03 10
I think the best thing is to make your daughter bully aware, and give her the self confidence to deal with them. When bullies lose their power they shrink.
A gifted child who gets bored won’t even learn at the normal rate. I am sure she’ll find friends and allies and be just fine.
By pixielation on 2010 03 10
I think if she’s excelling at her current level and her age matches that of the others then it is appropriate to let her move on. I wouldn’t want to hold her back and her be the oldest in the bunch. I know that could in some ways be beneficial to her later on… getting her license before everyone else in her class. There will always be bullies and as long as you raise her to be strong and confident, she’ll do fine.
By Rachel on 2010 03 10
I would ask the teacher what she thought about holding her back vs. starting first grade.
Honestly, you are such a good parent I don’t think you could get it wrong either way. My sister was one of the oldest in her class and did well. My husband was one of the youngest in his class and he’s turned out fine too. I don’t think it’s an age issue as much as a maturity issue.
By Heather, Queen of Shake Shake on 2010 03 12
Step one: cut apron strings
Step two: go into corner, assume fetal position, rock and cry.
lather, rinse, repeat. Watching our kids get bullied, get smarter, and grow their individuality is the best thing and the worst thing about parenting, all rolled into one huge snot-coverd ball of wax.
By Texan Mama on 2010 03 19