We decided to send Lainie to kindergarten. I’m not sure who is happier about that: Lainie or us.
Then, after we made that decision, a dear friend pointed out to me that I read the kindergarten assessment letter incorrectly. What I thought was the minimum level is actually the median score. She scored above the recommended level to go to kindergarten! We aren't bucking the system sending her; we are doing what the assessment said was right. Quite a jump from the assessment we heard back in February, when she was behind in so many areas. She still has a need for improvement, but she has improved so much already. That girl of ours works her tail off, and I couldn’t be more proud!
It’s a big week around here, the Last. Week. Of. School. That’s exciting for any family with kids in school, but it’s even more so when your spouse is a teacher. My honey-do list is nice and long and detailed. :) But even better, we are going to get reacquainted as a family. More family time, more sleeping in (in theory!), less running around and more time at home; that’s the goal.
Not that we won’t be running some. Katie and Maggie are in softball; Katie has Pioneer Camp; Katie, Maggie and Lainie have vacation bible school and Totus Tuus; K, M, & L have swimming lessons; 4-H projects are underway; the great reading program at our local library; all of us girls want some pool time; doctor visits and tests; and of course we have four or more Farmers Markets each week.
I also plan on a home-schooled summer school for at least my two Middles. They both still need to work on hand-writing and math, and I think we can do it in a fun way. I’m picturing the five of us sitting down at the table, Natalie with her colors, Lainie and Maggie with pencil/paper, and Katie with her educational Web sites. I know the picture in my head isn’t likely to match reality, but it’s a nice dream.
But right now, I’m just dreaming of the weekend, our first weekend of summer!
The debate continues in our house, whether or not Lainie is ready for kindergarten. Some days I think yes and Jay thinks no. Other days Jay thinks yes and I think no. One educator says yes, another says no, a doctor says yes, a therapist says no. Back and forth, yes or no, snippets of so many conversations and evaluations running through my head. “I’ve never heard of anyone regretting holding them back.” “She doesn’t learn at a gradual pace; she makes big jumps at a time.” “Twenty-five kids in a class is a lot; she could get lost in that group.” “She’s age appropriate in this level and this level and this level…”
Tonight, I decided to ask her if she wanted to go to kindergarten or preschool. She thought for a minute, then asked, “Will Kindergarten be hard?” “Yes,” I answered her. “It will be very hard for you. Preschool would be fun, and kindergarten will be hard. What do you want to do?” “I want to go to Kindergarten, Mommy.”
And after that conversation, she was the happiest girl all night long. She was talking in full sentences, she was doing chores and following directions, and she was taking turns with her sisters and helping her baby sis.She was, is, happy.
How much weight do I put on what she wants? She is “only” five. But, when Katie was a month past her third birthday, she cried and cried to go to preschool, so we signed her up and she started in October. If we let a three-year-old Katie dictate her schooling at that age, shouldn’t we listen to a five-year-old Lainie?
One of the most compelling arguments for me is how hard it could be on her, emotionally, if she needs to retake kindergarten. From what I’m seeing and hearing, redoing preschool would be just as hard on her heart as two years of kindergarten. So, why not let her press on and push her? She’s worked hard and diligently to get this far. Why should next year be any different?
But if Kindergarten is hard, will she decide she doesn't like school and carry that attitude throughout? Will she dread when the bus shows up? Will her classmates alienate her for talking differently? Would another year make a difference in any of those categories?
Oh, this is one of those times I wish someone else would make the parenting decisions.
I had to ignore the blog, put it on the back burner, to get through those last crazy weeks of school. So, no post about Lainie's 5th birthday. No post about the Katie's and Maggie's music programs and activities. No post about Natalie's move to the big girl bed. And no post about graduation... except to say all those things happened and were good. Very good.
Now, it's transition time. We have to transition back to a two-person parenting style, where we both parent at the same time instead of tag-teaming it. We have to transition to me taking over the household duties that we had been sharing. I will transition into my summer job, working on the garden, knowing Jay is still the decision-maker in that avenue. But probably the toughest transition will be getting used to all six of us home, every day, together, for two wonderful months.
That's a lot of family time for us, and it's sad to say that's not the norm. Obviously that isn't our norm, since we all head our separate ways, to school and work and daycare. Already the girls have had more sister-time than usual, and there have been plenty of arguments because of it. So far, I've been letting them just work it out on their own, no matter how loud it gets, as long as it doesn't turn physical. I'm not sure that's the best approach, but it's my approach. Natalie can definitely hold her own, so the baby doesn't need babying. It's good practice for Lainie and Maggie, making them work on their speech. If anyone needs defending, it's Katie, because she'll concede defeat, give up what was rightfully hers, just to keep the peace. So, even she can use the practice of standing up for herself.
Jay jokes that he has six high tunnels because there are six people in our family: everyone gets a high tunnel. I will bet that by the end of the summer, we will have used that our advantage. "Katie, go to building A. Maggie, go to building B. Weed it and pick it and don't come out until you lose your attitude."
Speaking of attitude, we have a new favorite break-the-mood saying: "Lose your atti-toot-ee. It's stinks."
It amazes me how different our girls are, even when you compare them at the same age. Just for fun, I scanned in their two-year-old portraits today. What a difference!
And what I remember from each of these pictures is as different as the pictures themselves.
Katie loved to cheese for the camera and taking her in for pictures was (and is) a breeze. Maggie didn't want to smile but would stand there and wait as long a book was in sight. Lainie didn't want to stand still, hence the bribes of flower petals and the "about-to-take-off" pose. And Natalie? She threw up about 5 minutes before this picture was taken. So, like any good fourth-timer who had just driven 45 minutes to get pictures taken, I assumed it was just car-sickness, changed her clothes and put her in front of the camera. (And, no, she didn't throw up any more that day.)