By Erin Barrette Goodman
Last spring, as kindergarten registration loomed and I watched as my daughter’s friends’ parents made plans for their children, I did nothing.
“She’s just not ready,” I told my mother one day, when she asked what we would be doing for school the following fall.
“You’re not ready,” she responded.
I don’t remember what I said in response (it was basically the 35-year-old equivalent of “Whatever Mom”) but in the weeks that followed her words stayed with me.
Was I really denying my daughter the age-appropriate kindergarten experience just because I’m not ready for her to go to school?
I spent most of the summer second-guessing our decision.
Our daughter is extremely bright. She’s an eager and motivated learner who frequently amazes my husband and me (as well as complete strangers at the grocery store) with her ability to remember tiny details she has picked up from books we’ve read to her, nature videos she has watched, or places we have visited.
By the fall, she was showing a clear interest in learning to read and write and was asking me to give her “homework” (reading and math workbooks) to do when she came home from preschool.
All academic signs pointed to her being ready for kindergarten. And yet, as a family (spearheaded by Mama) we had decided not to send her.
There are (at least) a dozen reasons why I wanted to have an “extra year” before we started school.
Many are personal and unique to the circumstances of our family in the months leading up to what would have / could have been our daughter’s first year of school. Others are more universal – like the growing concern that as a society we are putting too much academic pressure on our children at too young an age. But when all was said and done, what it really came down to was that sending her to kindergarten shortly after her fifth birthday did not feel right in my gut.
She was not ready. I was not ready. We were not ready.
And as we wrap up her “extra” year at her play-based preschool, and I look at how she has blossomed and matured in this year and how ready and excited she is to begin kindergarten this coming fall, I am sure, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that we made the right decision for our family.
How about you? What works for YOUR family?
Erin Barrette Goodman is a writer, yoga teacher, and mother of two. She is the founder of the RI Birth Network, which promotes empowered decision-making during the childbearing years, and the creator of Mamasté Mothers’ Circles, which are held monthly at All That Matters in Wakefield.