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Sunday, June 07, 2009

Kindergarten, Take Two

Last year I contemplated on sending Kayla to Kindergarten and here we are at the end of another school year and I find myself contemplating sending her to 1st grade.

Last year I said if she were to repeat any grade I'd rather it be Kindergarten instead of another grade when she's older. I still feel that way. I'm still ok with her repeating Kindergarten...for the most part.

No one has suggested to me that she repeat Kindergarten, and in fact I was told the principle frowns on having kids repeat a grade, but I've been thinking she would benefit from another year in Kindergarten. Yet I'm having a difficult time with this decision.

I have a difficult time with making any decisions actually! I stew over it and avoid making a decision for as long as possible, and even after I've made the decision I second guess myself as to whether it was the best decision or not. The problem with making a decision is you can't see in to the future to how it'll turn out, and you can't change the past if it doesn't seem to be the best decision.

The reason I'm thinking of having Kayla repeat Kindergarten is because of her age. She has a summer birthday so she'll always be one of the youngest in her class. She'll turn 6 in July and start first grade in Aug. What's frustrating me with making this decision is because I know if she didn't have Down syndrome there wouldn't be a decision to make - she would be going on to first grade.

I won't have to make this decision with Lucas because of when his birthday falls. He'll be 6.5 yrs when he starts 1st grade and in fact will turn 7 in the middle of 1st grade. So it shouldn't bother me to have Kayla wait until she's 7 to start first grade.

I'm just not sure if she's ready for first grade - having to sit at a desk throughout much of the day; having only the teacher in the class and no assistant. I was told there is a special ed teacher that floats among the 1st grade classes, so she wouldn't be in there all the time. I'm not sure if they have the resources for a 1:1 aid for Kayla or not; will have to find that out.

If she repeats Kindergarten she can have that year to really work on her reading and writing skills and gain another year of maturity. I also have to realize that Kayla will always be behind her classmates and it's ok for her to be IN a certain grade, but not working AT that grade level - that's what the IEP and accommodations/modifications are for.

I just feel like if I make the decision to hold her back and repeat it's as if I'm sending the message that she can't handle first grade...as if I'm telling her I don't have faith in her that she can do it...as if I'm not giving her a chance to even see how she would do in 1st grade. I know that's not what is really happening, but there is a small part of my brain at war with the rest of my brain :)

I also know I'm not making the decision by myself; Joe does have an opinion! LOL We talk about it; what is best for Kayla and where her placement should be next year. But ultimately it's only my voice that will be heard as I'm the one that has to go to the IEP meeting by myself.

The IEP meeting is on Tues and school is out on Fri - this will be the first time we've discussed her placement for next year and I'm not sure if it'll be resolved in one meeting or not.

I don't know how Kayla will handle 1st grade, I don't have a magic crystal ball. As a parent you're supposed to know what's best for your child; but I honestly just don't know what the best decision is to do.

I just need to pray for God to show me the guidance and wisdom in making this decision.

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Michelle said...

Karly was in kindergarten twice - it was a very hard decision, the school didn't support it, but I requested it. Ultimately, it was the best thing for her. She's now a year older than her classmates, but that's not really a big deal.

LauraJ said...

I think if there's any grade a child should repeat it would be kindergarten. The kids are young enough not to have it affect them as much. I made that hard decision as well and in the end it turned out to be a great one for Aaron. Wasn't it a few weeks ago you blogged about Kayla's antsiness of not being able to stay in her seat? This is easilier (not a word!) addressable in kindergarten than First Grade where things start turning more academic.

ABandCsMom said...

It is a hard decision to make. I really thought Carly would have to repeat K. The school really did help me with this decision. They were'nt pushy at all. The special ed director was fantastic helping me sort all this out. Although, I realize that Carly will likely always be falling short of her peers inside the classroom. I decided that we just have to let it be and go with it. As you know, Carly is going to first grade in the fall. I really worry about her because of her speech. Kayla seems much more vocal than Carly is. Carly has no problem sitting still and following directions and so on. So I dont worry too much about that part of it. But her speech is so lacking. Carly will have an aide in the classroom. The aide is going to be in place to help Carly when needed, but not sitting with Carly. The aide was told that she is to float around the classroom. We want Carly to blend in with her peers. An aide will limit that. So. We will see how it all pans out. I too wish I had a crystal ball to see just what the future holds.
This will work out for the best for both of our families. I just know it!

Cate said...

Such a hard choice. (And one I'll probably be looking at too, given Abby's birthday.) I don't know, I don't think there is any one right answer. I think you just make a decision and stand by it, and yet also be willing to backtrack and change things if it isn't working.

This is probably a bad fallback, but aren't you guys moving pretty soon? You could probably change things when you move, if you had to? Also, that means the opinion of this one particular principal she has right now, doesn't matter all THAT much.

My gut feeling is that spending the extra year in K won't hurt and might help. but that's just me.

Good luck at the meeting. I'm sorry you have to go by yourself -- I'd go with you if I were nearby!

the three amigos said...

That's a tough decision. Honestly I would probably have Kayla repeat Kindergarten if she was my daughter. Then she might be less behind her peers in 1st grade. Does that make sense?

Good luck with your decision. I know it's a difficult one.

Anonymous said...

I am grateful for Junior Kindergarten. Next year, Gabe will go to Senior Kindergarten. So, in effect, I have two years to make the kind of decision you're trying desperately to make. I have no advice because only you and Joe know what is best for Kayla. What I find interesting is that little nagging "What if?" you're dealing with...Address it, IMHO. Maybe giving Grade One a try is worthwhile?

Lovin Mama said...

My oldest has a March birthday and was actually one of the younger kids in her 4th grade class. There were a lot of kids a full year older than her.

Also, our school district has allowed families in your situation to put their child in kind. 1/2 a day and 1st grade for the other 1/2. Of course we don't have all day kind. either.

Anonymous said...

I don't know if you remember but we did choose to give Kayli another year in K and no regrets! !st grade is so much more academic than K and I wanted to give her that edge when she didn't really notice or care. She should also be eligible for at least a puddle para (more than one kid) in her 1st grade class- INSIST. You will figure it out and I don't think it's a make or break thing- her happiness and comfort in school is how she will thrive in learning. I trust you will make the best choice!

Cammie Heflin said...

I would do kindergarten again. We recommend a lot of kiddos who have summer birthdays to wait to start K until they are six, some parents wait some don't. It's only going to help her in the long run!

Nancy M. said...

I'm sorry you area having to make this difficult decision! I think since she is on the younger side, it might not be so bad for her to do kindergarten again. But, whatever you think is best. I am sure it will work out, either way. Good luck!

Single PAP said...

I know it's a difficult decision, but as a kindergarten teacher (and a former 1st and 2nd grade teacher) I know how different K is from 1st. The expectations are really, really high and another year to shore up skills can be really helpful for some children. I think what you need to decide is will she really be gaining a more concrete foundation of her letters, sounds, numbers etc. or not. If you think she will then I say it's something to do, especially since she'll be one of the youngest. Parents of children without DS, like my sister, have their children repeat a grade just to be sure they have more confidence--so I imagine that you would feel even more strongly about that for Kayla.

My nephew had an extra year of PreK I believe, even though he was very tall for his age. My sister didn't think he was ready. He never seemed to have any issues with being one of the oldest in his class; he was confident and able to excel. He's now 6'6", 220lb and a sophomore at Stanford.

Good luck with your decision.

Lacey said...

I think its ok to repeat kindergarten, expecially if she is a young one. Its better for them to be a little older, expecially if they are a little delayed anyway. Who cares what the principal thinks, this is a special needs child who has special needs.

Scarehaircare said...

I've chosen to have The Love Magnet repeat 1st grade. She turns 7 this summer. I was surpised at the arguments from the principal against her repeating. Still, I managed to convince her that kindergarten and 1st grade are where you learn school rules and all the soft skills needed to function within the education system: sitting still, asking to be excused, waiting for your turn, etc. I didn't think it was a hard decision. The Love Magnet needs this time to mature socially and physically.

You choose what is best for your child - no one knows better than you. :)

April said...

Hi, April here from HAFB. Knowing Kayla, I don't think repeating Kinder will hurt her. I know children and adults who did kinder twice and by all accounts it was beneficial.

She's such a sunny happy person, as long as she has someone there to be friends with she'll think it's a great idea.

That's what I remember best. Her amazing ear to ear smile. What a day brightener.

Don't worry about second guessing yourself. Whichever you choose, it will be right, because you're her mom, you're there for her, and you love her.

The Girls' Mommy said...

Our favorite teacher so far, who we ADORE, put it this way: Our children can go to school until they're 21, that's an average of three years that they can repeat. You just have to decide WHEN you want those extra years. In the beginning so that they'll have more time to work on readiness, or in the end to work on life skills. We're planning to use our years early. But everyone is different.

Double check about the aid. Its expensive and never offered out right. But they have to provide if its needed. I know its hard to be squeaky, but the squeaky wheel gets the aid. Good luck!

Mom24 said...

Good luck. That does sound really hard, but don't bet that without downs it wouldn't be what you would do. Jacob's birthday is in July, he's extremely bright--in gifted classes, and we had him wait to start until he was 6. I did not want him to be the youngest in his grade. I did not want unfair expectations about behavior based on peers who were older. I did not want him trying to figure out the rest of his life when he was 17. Decisions are always hard for me too, I second guess and agonize and all of that as well, but most of the time I'm confident this was the right choice for him.

Jessie said...

my brother went to kindergarten twice and there wasn't much of an issue about it in later years. I think if you're hesitant go ahead and play it safe and repeat kindergarten. whatever decision you make will work out though! you're a great, active mom that is involved in helping Kayla achieve her best no matter the circumstances... don't worry too much - it will always work out!

RK said...

This is still ahead a few years for us, but it's been on my mind since we're prepping for Braska's first IEP in 6 months and learning about how things work for her Pre-K school and her K school. Her birthday is in the fall so she'll already be an older one, but I'll assure you...if there's any doubt about whether or not she'll go on or if there will be benefit in her having an extra K year, I'm going with K again. For me, the only reason to hesitate repeating would have to do with my pride (I have issues there!) and I'm teaching myself now that it's about what's best for HER, not what looks good for me.

Please know Michelle...I'm NOT saying that's your issue! :) Just sharing where we're at. You've got alot of great input here from everyone, and regardless of what WE would all do, you'll make the right choice for Kayla. I have NO doubt about that!!

Dena said...

WOW - where has the time gone??
School is scary for our special needs babies....Praise God Annie has a special class for her vision but they still send her to mainstream and that scares me as she gets older!
I will be peeking in more so I will wait to hear what you decide!

Tara said...

I'll be praying for you as you make this decision. It's definitely a tough one - I know with Payton if I was to repeat any grade, it'd be kindergarten. Go with your gut - you can't go wrong :)

much more than a mom said...

I agree - if she's to repeat a grade, make it kindergarten. She'll hardly notice it, likely. As a parent, I hurt for you having to make those decisions. As a teacher, I say that if you're in doubt, do it. An extra year of kindergarten would benefit 50% of kids, actually.

Bailey's Leaf said...

Because of different illness', both my brother and his friend had to repeat 1st grade. He did okay, but ultimately having your child repeat any grade is difficult for any parent to make.

My advice? Wait to make a decision until after the IEP meeting.

Good luck!

Omaha Mama said...

Look at it this way, if she repeats kindergarten, she probably won't even notice too much - will she? And if you send her on to 1st, she'll have more time in whatever transition/18-21 program she goes into. So either way, she'll get what she needs either at the beginning or end of her school career. Just remind yourself that in 5 years this will all be a blurry memory.
Good luck with your meeting.

Omaha Mama said...

The only reason I say she wouldn't notice repeating kindergarten is that I don't think that Brenna really would? In fact, she'd probably be thrilled. She's still mad that kindergarten is over, she loved it!

Sunny said...

That's a tough decision. I don't have any advice for you, other than follow your gut - and stick to what it tells you, no matter what the principle and teachers say. Good luck!

Carol N. said...

Here's a thought - what about suggesting Kayla puts part of the day in with the Grade ones and the rest in K. So that she is getting the skills she's ready for, and that would help when she actually does transition to Gr. 1 fulltime.

She already knows the kids who will be in first grade, and then she'll get to know a whole batch of Kindergarteners. I think the more kids who get to know Kayla as a classmate, the better. (that's what I hope for Aidan, anyhow.)

Jodi said...

Our daughter ended up repeating kindergarten. I was shocked because she was in preschool for two years and never did her teachers let on that maybe she wasn't ready for kindergarten. I would have put her in junior kindergarten if I had realized she wasn't ready.

Our daughter has RAD and that affects her learning. Just as your daughter has DS. It is a part of who they are. You have to do what is best for them based on who they are.

Our daughter is now in 3rd grade (going on to 4th next year) and finished this year with a 4.0 gpa. I anguished over keeping her back but can see now that she really did need that extra year to mature and learn.

Beck said...

That's such a hard decision to make, isn't it? But kindergarten is fun and she's young enough that if she does repeat it, it won't feel the same way that repeating might later on.

Mary said...

What a tough decision to make. Having taught first grade, I found that a year makes a big difference! Good luck with your decision.

Anonymous said...

Oh Michelle, you bring back so many memories with our daughter who has Sotos Syndrome and Autism. We had war in our minds as well. We had her in a special needs pre-school and then in kingdergarten she was in a regular school. Her birthday is in January so that helped...but I remember her going to kindergarten and that was fine but grade one was hard because she had no TA and the first week of school, she "soiled" her clothes right in the classroom...talk about embarassing...the teacher had no idea what to do...she couldn't leave all the kids and go tend to dd, so they called me. Thankfully we moved shortly after and because of situations like these, the other school gave her a full-time aid.

I wish that we would have allowed dd to repeat kindergarten as it would have given her extra time to adjust to everything better (I think). She is now 23 and still like a 6 year old. I so identify with you when I read your posts. I will say a prayer that you can have peace about whatever decision you feel is right for your Kayla.


Izzy 'N Emmy said...

Wow, I have no advice what so ever. I haven't been faced with any of this yet but it sounds scary. lol! You are a fabulous mommy though and I know that you and Joe will do what you think is best. Don't worry too much, it will all be just fine. *hugs*

Ashley said...

I found your blog through Andreas blog. My husband is in the military also! I am in school working on my degree in early childhood/elem education and I want to get my master's in Special Education. Throughout my classes we have learned that adminstration does not like holding a student back a grade. They feel that it lowers their self-esteem. But we have learned as future teachers, is that it all depends on that one individual student! And you as a parent know your child more than anyone. She is in kindergarten and if you feel this strongly, then this is for sure the time to do it! My sister was held back in K and she never knew the difference. Do not let anyone influence your decision. That is why are you a part of her IEP meetings and goals. Good Luck with your decision and know that she will love you no matter what!!

datri said...

There school decisions are just so difficult. But remember, if a placement doesn't work out the way you thought it would, it can always be changed. Nothing is set in stone.

Nicki said...

Thats a hard decision to make! First grade MAY not be as hard as you're thinking it is, though, just because I think a lot of kids these days have short attention spans and they try to break up the day a lot more. I'm studying to be a special ed teacher but I had to observe in a regular first grade class last year, and they did A LOT of things in small groups, and a lot of hands on activities, and broke up the day quite a lot so that kids weren't really spending a lot of time just sitting at desks. Have you gotten a chance to observe the first grade class at all?

Anonymous said...

i think you know Kayla and you'll do what is best for her. Holding back for summer babies is not a bad thing.i knew a teacher that held her son back from kindergarten another yr. she said that all the kids will be older then him.she said with that decision her son is doing great in school. i also did it with katie. it was the best decision i made for her.i felt she had some emotional growing up to do.My mom though i had made a mistake until she spoke to that lady who was a teacher. she just felt since katie knew how to read,write and do math she should go.at first i did second guess myself. i do know now it was the right thing to do for katie. she had some growing up to do.she is with her age group.

Jeanette said...

I wish that I had some words of wisdom, but all I can say is pray! I know that you will make the right decision, whatever it is.

Amy said...

Hi Michelle, just wanted to share my opinion too! LOL

I teach 3rd and 4th grade girls at church and I would have to say that 1/3 of them have already repeated a grade. Most of them repeated 1st grade. I think school is so much harder nowadays then when I was in school. She will a young one in first grade. I was that way too. Always the youngest.

Of course this is easy for me to say because she is not my daughter. I just want to encourage you and Joe to decide what's best and then don't give it a second thought. She won't be the only one repeating a class if you choose to do that.

Also, none of the other girls ever made fun of those that repeated a class. This was all very normal for them.

Just pray and God will lead the way!

chelle said...

I have no advise other than to follow your heart. She is your daughter and YOU know what is best for her. Be willing to be open minded but ultimately do what you feel is best :)

Robin said...

What a hard place you are in! But if I can be honest with you - I think I hear you saying the best thing for Kayla would be to repeat Kindergarden. I think it will be harder on you than on her.
I wish so much that I had held my youngest daughter back a year - even though she was five she just wasn't ready for school - socially. I have beat myself up about forcing her to go on for years now. Being a mom is not always easy is it? I will pray that God will help you make the right decision and have peace with it.