I posted back in August about our decision to have our 4-year-old daughter start kindergarten “early” this school year (she turned 5 16 days after the deadline), and that post sparked some interesting conversation on my personal Facebook page, and in real life. I thought I’d give a brief update on how it’s going so far.
Overall, K is doing great in kindergarten! At winter conferences, her teacher told us “I think you made the right decision to start her – she’s certainly ready.”
She fits in perfectly with her class. Imagining her in the preschool class that was our alternative plan just seems weird. Of course, had we chosen that option, I could just as well be saying that imagining her in kindergarten seems weird. But truthfully, I think the kindergarten curriculum is perfect for her at this point. She’s not the best reader or writer, or the highest counter – but she’s also far from the bottom of the class.
K has always been a quiet kid (in public anyway), so we did have concerns about how she’d fit in socially, but that has been a non-issue as well. I really think that she learned a lot about making friends (and gained confidence) being around kids that are slightly older than her, versus kids up to a year younger (like she was in preschool). She’s still not a chatterbox at school (and probably never will be,) but an observer wouldn’t point her out as a shy kid either. When I was volunteering in her class I was struck with how much she’s changed in a year. Last winter, it was like pulling teeth to get her to say “hi” to other kids (her sisters’ classmates and their siblings) at the bus stop. Now – well, I watched as she (of her own accord) explained the picture she’d drawn at “art center” to her table mate (he was sooo interested in hearing about the crystal pony and the rainbow pony, let me tell you…ha). She’s made some real friends so far this year, and even went on her first unaccompanied, straight-from-school playdate a couple of weeks ago.
One rather surprising development is how much she’s grown to not let the little things bother her. For example, on the first day of school it was a bit of a madhouse getting on to the bus in the morning and she got separated from her sister. She ended up having to sit with two “older boys” who she didn’t know. Keep in mind this is a 4-year-old going to her first day of kindergarten on a packed bus full of kids in grades K-6. But she was totally nonplussed. In fact, I didn’t even know about it until her older sis told me she was sad she didn’t sit with K that morning. I asked K and she was like “Oh, it was OK, I just sat there and waited until we got to school.” Her matter-of-fact way of not worrying about things like this has come up again and again since. In a way, it’s so nice to experience, in contrast to her….rather high-maintenance sister.
Last, I have to add that I realize we are only a tiny fraction into K’s school career, and I know that there’s a chance that her young(ish) age compared to her classmates could cause issues or hardships down the road. I don’t mean to sound entirely conclusive here, but all I can go by is how things are right now. And be thankful that so far, our decision has good results.
As for P, she’s doing great in first-grade too. The long day continues to be rough on her (especially because she has a 45 minute bus ride home), but it’s gotten a bit easier as the year’s gone on. Although she was reading on grade level at the beginning of the year, about a month into it, it was like something “clicked” for her (as her teacher said) and her reading skills just took off. She jumped up several levels and is now reading chapter books at almost a 3rd grade level. (they have high expectations for reading now, too. Just deciphering the words doesn’t mean you’re reading at a particular level – you have to be able to comprehend and discuss what you’ve read, making predictions on what might happen next, theorizing why an author wrote what they did, etc.) To be fair, I think the K & 1st grade teachers do a wonderful job teaching reading, because there are several kids in her class reading at, or close to, her level (and a few above her level.) Still, we’re very proud of her!
The girls’ latest progress reports :)