My daughter turned 5 and nobody could possibly turn her away from wanting to go to kindergarten. Ever since she started in the preschool class at her daycare, she told herself, “I am going to kindergarten next year!” I delighted in her excitement about school; riding the school bus, carrying her backpack in, and working with her teachers. As an adult, I realized my enthusiasm about those things quickly wore off once I got to school, but I couldn’t possibly crush this budding learner.
When it came time to actually pursue a kindergarten, some unexpected roadblocks came up.
When I was in kindergarten, I remember eating the 25-cent soft pretzels that they used to sell at Parkwood Elementary (why, I don’t know exactly; I guess because pretzels are awesome) and eating Elmer’s glue. Literally, we would put the glue on our hands and peel it off and eat it.
Now that she is in kindergarten, discussions of Kindergarten Readiness and the state standards that this entails came out in full force. I am on the Preschool Promise Parent Advocacy Committee and got an inside scoop into what actually was covered on the assessment. This was no joke. How could we measure these little babies against such a standard? What happened to fostering their creativity and allowing them to be kids?
My daughter knows so much more about the world, numbers, and letters than I ever knew at that age. Her articulate and intellectual nature astounds me. She possesses an intelligence and capacity that I will never have. How could she go wrong? I know she has the capability and she is ready.
When we went to the screening, the staff at Parkwood was so open and caring, extremely friendly. All the children attending the school looked so happy to be there. She immediately made a bunch of friends and said she didn’t want to look at any other school. I asked for a copy of the results of her screening so I could share them with the private schools we were looking at. I thought the results looked good based on her raw scores. Parkwood said they would give me a full analysis of the results within a few weeks.
I realized some children stay home or don’t have a background in book learning when they come to kindergarten. I used to work at a school where the kids came in, not speaking a word of English, and still took the screening.
My thought was that the purpose of the screening was to get baseline data for the school to build off of in kindergarten.
I assumed everyone got in. When I took the results to the first private school we looked at, they said she didn’t “qualify” for kindergarten. They discussed how she was younger than some of the kids in the group since she was born in the spring. The other children had much higher average scores than she did.
Was my kid dumb? What was going on here? This school had a waitlist and we were at the top of the list. It was difficult to hear that she didn’t even qualify for a spot on the list. They offered a transitional kindergarten spot, which I hadn’t thought about before because I didn’t believe it’d be an issue.
What if she didn’t qualify for kindergarten? What is Plan B? How would she feel if I had to tell her she couldn’t go to kindergarten?
The other private school immediately admitted her, figuring Parkwood would have told me if she didn’t qualify for their kindergarten, and if a public school admitted her, then that was good enough for them. I realized that in order for her to attend a school, it had to be a mutual understanding between all of us and a place where we felt valued as a family.
The wide world of Kindergarten opened up more questions than I ever thought possible. Is this the right time for her to go? What if she isn’t actually ready? Which of these schools will be the best?
As a mom, I try to take a deep breath and tell myself to take it one second at a time. This will get figured out. I’m not the first person with a child my age who has gone through this process. At this time next year, she will be just as happy and well-rounded in whatever place she finds herself in.