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Posts Tagged ‘Kindergarten’

Is it just me, or does it seem like the last few months of the year go incredibly fast?  We hit October and there’s Halloween.  You blink and it’s Thanksgiving.  You blink again and it’s Christmas/Hanukkah, and one more blink and it’s an entirely New Year!

New Years Eve

As I wrote in a previous post, we celebrate many holidays in our home.  We keep the Christmas decorations up after the New Year until the 12 days of Christmas are over – January 6.  The Littlest E was on break from school for 2-½ weeks and my husband took a staycation for 1 of those weeks.  It was wonderful to have both of them home.  Tom and I didn’t need to set an alarm clock because we knew our lively lad would wake us up around 6:30. I think once or twice during that week, we were blessed with a 7:00 appearance.  The luxury of sleeping in!  Part of me does look forward to the day when The Littlest E is a bit older and actually, truly does sleep in, however, I love the mornings when he wants to come in bed with us and hang out.  It’s awesome family time.  And, of course, our dog, Pepper, has to get in on the action, too.

Holiday time is such a busy time, with vacation, visiting friends, holiday gatherings, all the planning and prep it takes, etc., etc., etc.  Many people take time to reflect at year’s end and come up with resolutions for the approaching year.  I used to pick Angel Cards to see what words would be my focus for the year ahead.  I’ve never really been a New Year’s resolution person though, and, since bringing The Littlest E home with us from Ethiopia 4+ years ago, there doesn’t seem too much time during the holidays for major introspection.

That time happened on January 6.  Tom started back to work on January 5, and The Littlest E went back to school the next day. After I dropped him off, I came home, walked the dog and then proceeded to put away all our holiday decorations.  It was the first time in a couple of weeks I was alone for an extended period.  Pepper was resting and the house was quiet.  The only sounds were cars driving by on a street nearby, the heat coming through the vents wafting warm air my way, and an occasional bird making its voice heard.  It was the perfect opportunity for a bit of contemplation about the year past and the year ahead, and the floodgates of my mind opened with numerous thoughts rushing in.

Meeting Mickey

We had a good year as a family last year.  We traveled a bit to see our families, went to an Ethiopian adoptive heritage camp, went glamping with classmates from preschool, and took The Littlest E to Disneyland for the first time.  The Littlest E began asking more questions about his adoption.  Both Tom and I provided him and will continue to provide him with answers that are appropriate for his age. You’d be surprised at the kinds questions he was asking.  Kids are perceptive and understand more than we think they do.  I won’t go into details because it gets into territory that belongs to our son, since his adoption is his story to tell. I’m just really glad we are here at this point, and he’s asking.  It’s so important for him and for everyone concerned.

I love my family and honestly, couldn’t ask for anything more, well, maybe a bigger house, but that will happen in due time.  Our nightly gratitudes we say at dinner make me feel, well, grateful.  I hear the things my son is grateful for and it puts a smile on my face. Pepper, joined the family this past September and she’s love personified.  She fit right in with minimal adjustment.  Our new routine of daily walks including one in the morning with my son, allows me special one-on-one time with him, and a bit of exercise to boot.  I love just being with him.  We’re all good.  Tom and I could always use more date nights, but I think we have a balance that works.  I want to continue to love and support my hubby in all his endeavors.

Lightsaber!

The explosion of growth that has gone on with The Littlest E this year, not just height, but brain power, imagination, energy, and appetite.  You name it.  He’s sight-reading some words, and they’re learning to write in class.  Watching him figure things out is one of the neatest things I’ve seen or when he’s focused on building something with his Magna Tiles or figuring out answers to questions from his Sylvan learning books, it’s the best.  His imagination is on fire. The first part of last year was all about the Ninja Turtles.  Then the last six months and currently, it’s everything Star Wars. Everything is a lightsaber or sword.  He’s watched a Star Wars movie with lightsaber in hand ready to do battle along the other Jedi, literally. We have rules of play in the house that he observes (most of the time).  He can fight with Darth Wingback or Darth Couch, but can’t fight with Mom and Dad, if neither of us cares to join in.  And he loves stories, too. Right now Tom is reading to him a lot of Greek myths.  The Littlest E LOVES them and regularly asks on the way to school, “Tell me a story, Mommy.” Star Wars, Disney movies, Eurydice, anything made up, often make the ask list. Being a Mom is the coolest thing.

Myths

A headspace occupier for us this past year has been the quest for a kindergarten.  When I was a child, schools were vastly different. So it’s been a blog-worthy journey trying to figure out the best option for our son.  We’re not sure how things will unfold.  We’ll know in the next few months.  We just hope we do right by our son, and are excited about where he’s headed for his next phase of life and education.

Aside from a bit of skin cancer, I had a pretty good year.  Now that The Littlest E is older and heading off to kindergarten in the fall, I’m ready to get back to work and start contributing financially to our house.  In serving on the board of Connect-A-Kid and working on my project, I discovered that I’m pretty adept in reaching out to strangers, making cold calls, and networking, particularly when I truly believe in something.  I’ve got my project and I’m also partnering with a girlfriend to help her event company thrive.  I’m excited about both opportunities and have faith that it’s all going to fall into place one way or another. Somehow the Universe has always provided, when I do the footwork.  The biggest challenge from last year, as I think with any parent or person for that matter, is balance, when to say yes, when to say no, and when to take action or take it easy.  Balance will be key this year, too.

So, no resolutions, though more exercise should be on the list as well as cutting back on watching so much television, just ideas and thoughts about 2015, and reflections on 2014.  With life there are ups and downs. Hopefully, the year ahead will have more ups than downs. Hopefully, all the grandparents will stay healthy.  Hopefully, the year will be filled with wonderful adventures, good times with family and friends, and personal, professional, spiritual and emotional growth for the three of us.  We’ll see how the year unfolds!

Images: Cindy Kilpatrick, Melanie Elliott

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For many parents whose child is facing kindergarten in the coming year, it’s a slam-dunk decision.  They know their child will be old enough for kindergarten or their child is a girl and, even if she’s on the younger side, it’s known that girls mature faster than boys at this stage in life.  The decision has not been so easy for my husband and me because The Littlest E was born in the later part of July, he’s a boy, and he’s adopted.  You may be wondering what does being adopted have to do with anything?  I’ll address this in a bit.

Kindergarten

We live in Los Angeles and, according to the Los Angeles Unified School District, for the 2014-2015 school year, a child must be five by September 1, 2014, to be eligible for kindergarten.  Since The Littlest E was born in July, he’d be on the younger side if we sent him to public school kindergarten next fall.  For most private schools, the cut off date is later, so our son would be too young to start kindergarten next year anyway.  The public school in our area is not one that we are comfortable having our son attend.  We could try applying to a charter school for next year and take our chances with the lottery that he’d get into one of the schools we’d apply to, and we could also apply to the two magnet schools in our area that have kindergarten.  However, those magnet schools are exceedingly popular with over 2,000 applications for roughly 90 spots.  There’s still the question of his maturity, readiness and age.  Plus the head and assistant head of our son’s preschool both highly recommend he start later.

I was a December baby and, according to the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC), the cut off date for kindergarten was December 1st 40+ years ago.  My folks had my IQ tested and I tested high, but the testers felt I was too young to start school and that I wouldn’t fit in socially.  As a result, I was older when I started kindergarten and still had trouble fitting in socially.  My husband, on the other hand, was born in July, started school young and skipped a grade in elementary school.  He graduated high school at sixteen.  Both of us went to public schools, had differing experiences, and were open to having our son start school later.

Insulinde

Starting a child later has several names, “redshirting,” “bridging,” and the one I like is “giving the gift of time.”  There’s a controversy over redshirting kindergarteners.  If you do an Internet search, you’ll find many articles on either side of the issue.  For example, Malcom Gladwell’s book “Outliers” details, among other things, the benefits of redhsirting.  While “Top Dog The Science of Winning and Losing” by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman examines the other side of the argument.  I have not read either book, but am providing them as resources should you want to read them.  I did read an interesting report by the PPIC, “Changing the Kindergarten Cutoff Date: Effects on California Students and Schools,” published in May 2008.  The authors looked at 14 studies and concluded there were benefits to moving the start date of kindergarten from December to September.  Coincidentally, the woman I spoke with at the PPIC had a 4-year old son born in August, and she and her husband are almost certain they will bridge their son for next year.

I know I’m getting a bit technical here, but in making the kindergarten decision I wanted to look at many viewpoints.  A friend of mine emailed me an article from The New Yorker against redshirting “Youngest Kid, Smartest Kid?” by Maria Konnikova.  The article brought up solid points about not being challenged academically as well as not being motivated if you’re an older child.  Dr. Konnikova referenced a number of studies in her article.  None of these studies, or the studies from the PPIC report, mention adoptive children.  I emailed Dr. Konnikva asking if she knew of any studies on this issue about adoptive children.  She actually sent me a lengthy reply.  She didn’t know of any studies, and she added that the bottom line is it’s a personal choice and to listen to my gut when deciding.

I bring up adoption because it factors in.  My husband and I attended a session with educators at a heritage camp we went to as a family.  In the session, the speakers talked about giving your child every advantage and how there may be latent learning issues as the child gets older and as the realities of their adoption truly sink in.  There may be grief, and other emotions that pop up that could affect learning.  Right now, we don’t see any problems with our son, but down the road, we just don’t know.  I emailed the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute inquiring if they had any research on this issue, and, as of the time of this writing, I am still awaiting a response.  I did post the question on a private Facebook group for other Ethiopian adoptive families of which I am a member and received over 40 candid and honest responses.  The majority of these responses favored having their child start later.  They had no regrets about it at all.

Having fun at school

With all this information, my husband and I finally made a decision.  We are giving our son the gift of time.  Even without the information, this was where we were leaning.  As Dr. Konnikova wrote, it’s a personal decision and my gut was saying give him the gift of time.  Another friend of mine, whose son is a couple of weeks older than The Littlest E, is sending her son to kindergarten next fall.  She and her husband feel their son is ready.  It all boils down to the simple truth that it’s a personal decision for each family.  I feel like we’re doing right by our son in giving him this opportunity.  I also believe that when the time comes, we’ll choose the elementary school that’s best for him.  In the meantime, he gets to experience life at his preschool and continue his love of learning.

Images: Kevin Jarrett, Mark Ou, Melanie Elliott

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