Kindergarten Ready or Not?

Ah, the question that all parents ask: do I send my four going on five year old to kindergarten this year or next year? I was faced with this predicament last year with my then four year old daughter.

kindergarten

I had recently attended a homeschool convention in our area and was making preparations for the next school year. I get a little eager when it comes to planning. But the trouble for me was deciding on curriculum. There is a pretty big difference between what I deem appropriate for preschool and for kindergarten.

In my opinion, preschool is more relaxed and the most important thing is reading to my little ones, exploring, playing and talking to them about what they see and experience. In fact, I probably don’t “do” preschool the way a lot of other moms might. And I’m okay with that. My philosophy aligns with the adage that “play is the work of a child” (Maria Montessori). But, I digress, my education philosophies can be saved for another post.

Kindergarten is still a very playful and exploratory stage. However, learning to read and beginning to see math formally becomes important. I researched which curriculum I wanted to use and found a few that I really liked. I thought that they would be great for us to work through. Then it dawned on me… do I really need all this now?

My daughter is super smart. I know she wants to start to learn how to read. I think she would enjoy doing school. But there was still something in me that was asking if she was really ready. I found out that in our state (you can find your state’s cutoff date here), children who turn five after January 1st may go to kindergarten the following September. My daughter’s birthday is at the end of January so that would make her one of the oldest if she were to go to public school. Coincidentally, the state where I went to kindergarten, the rule was that children must be five on or before September 1st the year they begin kindergarten. My birthday is at the end of September, so I was one of the oldest kids in my class. By the time I was in high school I didn’t like being the oldest. I felt that I was behind the other kids, and that I should be smarter because I was older. I really let the age thing bother me; I carried that through college as I bounced from major to major. I thought that I was “running out of time” and that I was “too old” to still be in school (crazy, I know, but I let society dictate what I was supposed to be doing and that I didn’t “measure up”).

My experience influenced my thoughts about why I wanted to put my daughter in kindergarten “early.” I didn’t want her to compare herself to other kids her age and think that she wasn’t smart enough because she was a grade behind. I talked to my mom about whether she had a choice to start me “early” or not. The conversation was enlightening: she did have a choice and she was considering sending me when I was four about to be five. She had talked to a few other moms and found out that those who sent their child to kindergarten “early” regretted it. Some kids even repeated kindergarten. The moms who waited were glad. The decision came down to maturity.

child-reading

One teeny tiny year makes a big difference in maturity between a four and five year old. Attention span, self control, and emotional and social development change much in these years. A child is usually considered a “big kid” at five years old. They are showing greater independence and they begin to gain better control of their emotions.

It makes sense. Why push your child when they are not emotionally ready? I continued this conversation with my mother in law. She was saying the exact same things. I talked with friends who have kids who are only a year ahead of my daughter. They agreed with the maturity issue.

Finally, my hubby and I decided that we would wait. We are going with the state’s cutoff date. We don’t see the need to push our daughter at this stage in the game. It doesn’t mean that we won’t teach her certain things because it’s at a different grade level. It just means that childhood is such a short period of time. This is the time where we want to foster a love of learning. We want to make learning as natural as possible. And for us, a kindergarten curriculum at age four is simply too much.

Feel free to weigh in, what was your deciding factor for starting your child in kindergarten and at what age?

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Love Languages Discovered

beach heartLast night I came to a realization. My daughter’s love language is “Receiving Gifts.” She had gone out on a Daddy/Daughter date earlier that afternoon and came back with a gift for her little brother. It was a mini toy monster truck. He finally awoke from his nap and Elle was eager to give it to him.

If you aren’t familiar, according to Gary Chapman, there are five love languages. I have only read his book meant for love relationships. It’s pretty cool to recognize what you and your spouse’s love language is so that you can show him your love in a way that he best understands. There is a love language book for parents to discover their children’s language too. I have not read that one but the languages are the same.

This is not the first time she came home with a little present for her little brother, but what struck me was how she explained why she was giving him this souvenir. She told Finn that she was giving him the truck because she loved him, and if she didn’t give him something then it meant she didn’t love him, and she continued to explain that she loved him and that was why he was receiving this gift.

It was surprising to hear her explain love in this way because my husband and I have not shown love to each other in that way. It is not important to us to receive gifts and in some ways we see it a being materialistic.

This little show of affection reminded me of a conversation I had with Elle a couple of weeks back. We were in the grocery store and she saw the floral department. She told me that “it would be really nice if Daddy would buy me some flowers like he did before.” At the time I didn’t think too much about it.

Another inkling that made me think of the love languages was when my hubby gave her a seed that was starting to sprout. He has been working on wheatgrass lately and was sprouting some seeds in a jar. After he inspected the progress he took one little seed out to show Elle, she is so fascinated with all of hubby’s growing projects. He then told her that she could have the seed. She is such a funny little girl. By her response you would think she just got a pony or whatever other prized possession for which a girl could ask. She gasped with awe and gratitude, and for the rest of the night she named the seed and babied the seed as if it were her favorite doll.

giving flower thank youI am super excited to have figured out another dimension to my daughter. It really helps to understand her more deeply. As I expressed this realization to my hubby he made the observation that Finn’s love language is “Acts of Service.” Every evening as we settle in the living room Finn brings Hubby a blanket (we keep it pretty cold in the house, it’s normal to need a blanket at the end of the day). He is also quick to help mommy empty the dishwasher. He always helps sister when we are leaving by bringing her shoes and coat to her. And he gives you this look of appreciation and gratitude if you help him with something as trite as bringing his plate to the table.

How do your children show love? It’s probably the way that they best receive your love too.

Have you discovered your child’s love language?

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The Bitty Book Club

wpid-20150216_101216.jpgLet me begin by saying that I love to read. My husband loves to read. Our kids love to pore over their books and all of our fabulous library finds. But, this habit has taken a backseat to well, other things.

I have always enjoyed reading: getting drawn into a great story, expanding my knowledge, and challenging my thinking. When my husband and I find something of interest we spend countless hours reading and researching online. For example, when I was first looking into homeschool as an option, you couldn’t find me reading or doing anything unless it was related to homeschool. My hubby has delved into the world of small motors (he wants to build a go kart type vehicle for the kids) and learned about batteries, gear boxes, drills, and most recently aquaponics. So, even though we do read, I would not by any means define us as avid readers.

In an attempt to change our casual reader status to well-read we have a few goals. 1. Read all of the books we have in our house. (Really, how could we have so many titles and have only read maybe half of them?) 2. Choose a book to read “together.” Not a read aloud type deal but a read as we make the time kind of a thing. It’ll be a great way to deepen our relationship as we share our ideas and thoughts on a book. 3. Keep a running list of books to read. I am more likely to pick up a new title if I know I already have an interest in the book. Oh the anticipation!

Our first choice is Magic Trees of the Mind How to Nurture Your Child’s Intelligence, Creativity, and Healthy Emotions from Birth Through Adolescence by Marian Diamond, Ph.D., and Janet Hopson. This copy was given to us by an aunt who read it for her early education courses. We began reading this a few years ago. Admittedly, I stopped because the beginning was full of information about the brain and neurological processes. It’s difficult for me to understand very technical language related to the medical field (and sometimes to be interested).  But, I have a wonderful hubby who always knows how to explain it in a different way for me. And I really do have the desire to get to the good stuff – “learning to develop and expand my child’s mind.”