I've been wrestling with a rather important decision lately, going back and forth between options, and asking the opinions of those I respect. Ultimately though, the decision falls to me and Marty, and it's one we can't put off much longer.
We have to decide whether or not to send Jonas on to Kindergarten. His birthday lands smack-dab in the decision zone and it's a really hard place to be.
Right now, he's the youngest child in the class, having started preschool at 3 years and two weeks old. He's now a solid 4 1/2 and will turn 5 just two weeks before school starts again.
Our options are to send him on the Kindergarten or send him to a third year of preschool.
I'm fairly confident we are going to keep him in pre-K. I don't say, "hold him back," because that's not really what we're doing. Academically, he could probably do it, but it would be a struggle. He passed most of the testd they use to predict Kindergarten preparedness, but not all of them, and it took a couple of days to test him as he still has a very, very short attention span. Socially, he's finally coming out of his shell after two years of painful shyness. He finally made a friend. And physically, he's still very small, but his coordination seems to be improving. He did not pass the fine motor skills portion of the testing, which the teacher says is essential the Kindergarten skills of writing, cutting, and gluing.
I started thinking that another year of preschool would be best for Jonas months ago. I was pretty confident in the decision.
Confident until last week when I saw a special segment about "redshirting" on PBS.
I didn't even know that what we were doing had a name, much less all the stuff I learned about "parents like me."
Apparently, redshirting is on an upward trend of among white, affluent (I wouldn't use that term to describe myself, but whatever,) privately-schooled families. Like lots of documentaries, this one set out to demonize these parents for just those three reasons alone.
Many "parents like me" are keeping their kids back a year so they won't be the youngest kid in the class. They want their children to be leaders, rather than followers. They want them to have an academic leg-up by letting them mature before high school. They want them to be physically larger so they have a better chance at succeeding at sports.
Those are all reasons I've stated for not sending Jonas to Kindergarten this year.
Then, it gave a whole list of reasons why redshirting would have negative effects not only on a particular child, but the entire education system in general.
Needless to say, I was pretty bothered by it all. Making good educational choices for my children is at the top of my priority list. It's something that I absolutely must get right. I put a lot of thought into these kinds of decisions. So much so, that I've waivered in my decision ever since seeing the show.
How could I just hop onto the next trend? Could just one year really make that big of a difference? Will he get bored because he's older and quit high school? Am I being selfish by wanting him home for just a little longer? Am I being, whisper it, "affluent?"
I guess I am because my gut tells me that Jonas is not ready.
At his school, they have a special afternoon class just for redshirters. It follows the Kindergarten cirriculum, but at a much slower pace. This class allows children like him to keep moving forward, not repeat another year of pre-K.
And, the final factor in my decision was this thought — education is changing rapidly. There are so many opportunities open to high school students these days, so many means to the same end, that anything I do now will probably matter very little by the time that extra year comes into play. By that time, it will be up to Jonas to make his own decisions about how and when he wants to get that done.
I am going to be "one of those parents," I guess. Demonize me if you wish, but I've decided what's best for my child, and mine alone.
Now, like most parenting decisions, I'm just going to cross my fingers and hope for the best.