Just Precious

Pre-Kindergarten? Kindergarten? What’s the right decision?

Posted in education by Julie Meyers Pron on November 4, 2009


True, its only November, but the scurry to find the perfect placement for next year is a hot topic, as usual, at our preschool this fall.  This year, I’m a voice of experience. Not only am I the former teacher, but I’m a parent who’s made the decision and experienced the result.

We opted to hold our son back and enroll him in a year of pre-K, affectionately called “The Fives” at our preschool. Not for academics, but to allow him to “grow up”, to mature and to be socially fit for a school child’s real world. Big has an end-of-August birthday and our school district has an August 31 cut-off.

It was, definitely, the right decision. In fact, I have yet to meet parents who would disagree. Many parents who push their children to Kindergarten express that they wish they had held their child back.  2 or 6 years later, I know parents who are struggling to help their child to keep up with their peers or that they would love to have their child repeat, but short of a transfer to a private education, its barely possible.  But I have never found a parent who regrets an extra year of preschool, or a year of Pre-Kindergarten.

In our case, we’d rather Big, and next, Middle, and, likely, Little, be the oldest than the youngest. Our decision didn’t consider academics (lucky thing, because during Big’s year in the Fives he didn’t learn much academically. His pre-Kindergarten curriculum didn’t focus on academics that matched his needs –nor, in my opinion, should they have — but far more on the maturational needs of him and his classmates). We wanted an opportunity for our son to grow. Most important, to take an extra year to still be a child before the pressures of Kindergarten and elementary school began.

After a year in Pre-Kindergarten, we opted to keep Big in the same private school and enroll him in the full day Kindergarten program. Just as I did the November before, I visited Kindergarten programs in our area, trying to find the right fit. There are two things I learned in my search:

  1. whatever decision we made will be fine. It will be the right one for many reasons, and the wrong one for many reasons. No placement is perfect. But with the joint support of the family and school, a child will be happy and excited and learn something in Kindergarten.
  2. Kindergarten, just like Pre-Kindergarten, is only for one school year. And after (or, if need be, during) the school year a change can be made for the following year. Its only one year. And there’s no way that 13, or 14, years of education will all be stellar.

Recognizing these two parts of educational choice have made me  more relaxed and confident in our educational decisions for our children. And while we have a lot to decide before next year (where will Big go to first grade?!), I know this is not a decision worth losing sleep over. I’ll do my research, visit any schools I have yet to visit, and talk to his teacher often, because I value her opinion and trust that she sees a different Big in the classroom than I do at our home.

Just as we did in the past, we’ll follow our gut, which I presume is based on the knowledge we are learning about our kids and their opportunities. And I’ll always remember that, whatever the decision we make, we’re doing it with the best of intentions.

To read more about our decision, click here.