Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Redshirt preschoolers

I’m preparing to get myself motivated to seek out school options for Will next year. Beyond having no clear sense of where he’ll go to elementary school, we’re also still wrestling just a bit with whether to have him repeat pre-K this year. Ever since he was born on his August 31 birthday, I’ve been leaning towards two years of pre-K. Even Rob, who was once a proponent of sending Will on if he seemed intellectually ready, is hesitant to send our not-at-all-tall son into the daunting world of kindergarten, where he would be about 2 years younger than some of his “redshirted” male peers who would doubtless look something like giants next to him.

Will’s got plenty of maturing to do, but at least so far, he’s kind of a do-gooder at school – focused during circle time, careful in executing written work, happy to sit very still for just about any book – all of which sort of complicates the issue. He’s not necessarily one of those jumping-off-the-walls-boys for whom school is a cruel punishment inflicted way too soon. Still I’ve heard many stories from mothers and educators who regretted sending their son too soon (some of whom didn’t come to regret the decision until their sons were in high school) but I have yet to hear from someone who regretted holding their son back. And there’s a good part of me that likes the idea of protecting Will from that grueling 8:00 to 3:00 day that is public school kindergarten for an extra year. I may wind up holding him back a year just to keep him playing creatively and moving around for several extra hours per week. In the end, maybe he’ll learn more?

We’re still mulling it over though. If you’ve got any advice on the matter or your own personal story, I’d love to hear it. Here’s an interesting article on the subject from Australian psychologist Steve Biddulph.


Monkey's Mommy said...

No advice. Just struggling with this issue myself. Eli turns 5 June 8th. While he knows the numbers/letters/colors portion of PreK already, his attention span and ability to follow directions? Horribly lacking. This may go a bit deeper than a boy that is younger in that Eli may have a processing disorder (we are debating having him evaluated after Christmas and getting an official diagnosis or waiting a bit longer). I've talked with his current PreK teacher, his STEPs teacher and some K and 1st grade teachers in public school and my husband and I still aren't sure just what we plan to do for next year. Heavily leaning towards "redshirting" him. I'm thinking that even though he knows the (loosely used here) academic parts of PreK right now, the extra year in PreK will allow us more time to work on his attention span and ability to follow two and three-step directions as well as work on social skills as well.

Summer birthdays are tricky. Especially since school in Columbus now starts the first week or so in August instead of September. My husband & I keep pondering if they will move the cut-off back to August 1st because of the earlier start.

Grace said...

PRE K again!! The school day is too long, zaps creativity, starts the cloning process too early! Let him develop more self confidence and just play and enjoy being his little 4 yr old self a while longer.

Is that too strong of an opinion????

Miss you terribly.

Annie Addington said...

Probably both Will and Eli could benefit from another year of not having to do too much sitting still and hand raising. I worry that many school settings don't create enough time for moving and playing for really young kids. Jane Healy's book "Your Child's Growing Mind" offers some interesting insight about the ways in which we can best promote children's learning at various ages.

shannon said...

What about the public pre-K? My child went and it was a transition from no school or day care of any kind to a long day but not full-on "sitting still and hand raising". Though it wasn't an easy year for me, Nora fared just fine and found her way so that Kindergarten was delightfully joyful, even if more structured. I believe Nora would not have had such a happy, easy Kindergarten year had she not eased into the school through pre-K.

I want to point out that Nora's days in her preschool (she's now in 1st grade) were never dull or strict. There's lots of art, 2 recesses outside for pre-K and Kindergarten, singing and creative play.

Of course, Nora's also a great example of no cloning going on- I think this has a lot more to do with what the parents teach than the schools. She also has a heavy dose of self-confidence, a lot from her loving parents but also growing as she accomplishes tasks in school.

(totally see where you're coming from Grace, just thought I'd add my experience with the public school system where I live)