Kindergarten Redshirting: What’s a Parent to Do?

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My oldest daughter, Emma, was born on June 11th. Back in my day, most kids with a June 11th birthday would enter Kindergarten at 5 years old, so in my head I had always assumed she would go to Kindergarten the Fall that she turned five.  Am I right?

But then during her second year of preschool, I started to listen to chattering amongst preschool moms on the subject of Kindergarten, and I learned that many of them were opting to delay starting their kids with summer birthdays in Kindergarten until they had turned 6, a choice known as “redshirting.”

I thought this was typically something only parents of fall birthday babies were doing, but it seemed like summer was the new fall as far as opting to delay.

And seeing that Emma would fall into the “summer birthday” category, it seemed as if I had a decision to make, one that I sort of thought would be a no brainer. In my gut I thought Emma was ready, actually knew she was ready, but I started to hear comments from other moms like:

“I want to give my child that extra year to gain more confidence.”
“I want my child to have the advantage of an extra year of maturity.”
“I want my child to have an easier time in school because Kindergarten is so much harder now.”
“I don’t want my child to be one of the youngest ones in the class.”

Hearing their comments, I started to doubt myself, and it made me feel like sending her to Kindergarten as a (younger) 5-year-old would automatically be putting her at a disadvantage.What mom would ever want to feel like they were intentionally putting their kids into a situation at a disadvantage? Was I making the right choice?

I mentioned my fears to my husband who was a little surprised to even be having the conversation. He knew our daughter, and knew she was ready.  He also had the advantage of not overhearing all the comments.  He knew what I always knew, without the self-doubt.

But I still did my due diligence.  After all, it was a decision that would affect her for many years, and was not something I took lightly. I talked to her preschool teacher and I did the Chancy and Bruce Kindergarten Readiness Test, both of which indicated that she was ready. But in the end, I trusted my gut and my five-year-old started Kindergarten last Fall.

Looking back it was the best decision we could have made for her.  She thrived in Kindergarten. She learned, grew, matured and most importantly, she loved it. Knowing what I know now, I believe that waiting a year for her would have been doing her a disservice.

So my advice to any parent looking at this same question with a summer or fall baby would be: do your due diligence, but in the end you have to trust your gut instinct because no one knows your child like you do. It’s easier said than done, but try not to get caught up in everyone else’s opinion about what they are doing with their children ~ their child is not yours.

And once you make a decision, whether it is to start your summer baby at five or six, just know you are making the decision that is the best one for your family. Then I highly suggest staying out of the conversations lest you start to second guess yourself again! I stopped asking moms what they were doing with their kids, because I realized it had nothing to do with us or our decision.

Lucky me, I will have to make the same decision for little sister, a July 2nd birthday. And by the time she goes to Kindergarten, the age deadline will be September 1st, so she really will be one of the youngest. But we will cross that bridge, and at that time, I will have to do the same and trust my gut.

Have you gone through this dilemma?  What did you do?  What is your advice for other moms?

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My Current Mommy Struggle

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That’s a loaded title, huh?  I mean, I have so many “mommy struggles” some days I almost don’t even know where to begin!  But I will start with my current one.

So I signed my 4 year old up for a little 6 week summer school program for a few hours 3 mornings a week to keep her entertained & allow me some time to work.   We originally signed up with a little boy she has known since birth so she would have a friend to go with.  Unfortunately 2 weeks into the program they decided to stop going due to unforeseen circumstances and subsequently my dear daughter has been miserable this week not wanting to go to this new school without a friend.

A little background on her personality.  At home she is rambunctious, extroverted, spirited, and never stops talking. But at preschool school, she is more quiet, shy and much more introverted.  Which is so weird to me!  It is almost like she is a different kid sometimes.

Last year at our first parent conference in the fall when my daughter’s preschool teacher described her as “quiet”  I almost had to laugh out loud as that would have been the last word to describe her. Luckily she made some best little friends from almost the beginning, which made her love preschool because she loved her friends so much. All good things.

Fast forward to her first experience at a new “school” this summer.  Monday getting her there was OK, but afterwards she said she never wanted to go back because she missed her friend, and yesterday there was so much drama in the morning about not wanting to go, it was almost unbearable.

I went on Monday morning and asked the teachers to help facilitate her playing with some of the other girls and tried to introduce her to some of the other kids.   I named one in particular, and said… how about you try playing with {I will call her Abby to protect the innocent} Abby today? After school on Monday I asked her who she played with and she said “no one.”  She told me Abby didn’t want to play with her.

Oh my God moms.   My heart just BROKE.

So I told my husband, in a total emotional “Mommy Bear” state, if she doesn’t like it after this week I am not going to send her!!!

My hubby and I agree on most everything philosophy-wise in parenting, but this has been one time we are not seeing eye-to-eye.  And it is frustrating the heck out of me – mostly because I can also see his points as well.

His point is we are NOT sending her to a torturous place.  It is a cute program with art, puppets, water play, etc.

He thinks if we say “OK, if you don’t want to go, you don’t have to” and pull her out of the program it will send a bad message that anytime there is a tough situation in life or when she doesn’t want to do something or when she is out of her comfort zone, there is an escape.  She’s a creature of habit and routine (definitely her Father’s daughter!) so it’s new and she doesn’t like change, but we have to give her a chance to get used to it.

Interestingly enough, he was the shy kid in school too, so he thinks it is good for her to be in a situation that facilitates her making new friends.  His point is that she made friends in her preschool last year, and she will make them at this program. The problem is that hasn’t happened yet.  Albeit it’s only been 2 days since she she has been there alone.

What I am also struggling with is the fact that this is only going to be the beginning.  My gut instinct is to want to protect her.  To keep her from anyone or any situation that is at all unpleasant or short of SO MUCH FUN.  But I realize I am not going to be able to protect her from everything in life. That’s just life! Mean girls included. Oh God, don’t even get me started on that one.

As a mom (but also the little girl in me) wants to scream YOU NEVER HAVE TO GO BACK!   But I do think it is unfair to not at least give her the chance to make a friend on her own.

So, I will send her tomorrow, it’s water day, and hope that she can bond with someone (God PLEASE!) over the sprinkler. And if not, well, we will just have to cross that bridge next week…

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Things that make you go “hmmm…” Part II!

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For those of you that missed my first post, this is the second part about the value of  trusting your mommy instinct when it comes to the health of your children!  You can click HERE to read part one!  It will make more sense.  Too much for one post, so this is the continuation…

Part II

…Later that same week, I had to take Emma in to the doctor’s office for a follow-up.  I am convinced this was where she picked up a stomach virus.  Another first, barfing & runs together.   Horrible virus.

She gets through it okay but I am freaking out the baby is going to get sick. Doing my best to sanitize like a mad woman. Borderline OCD. Mamas, isn’t that just SO stressful? Not only is there the stress of having one sick kid, but the stress the other is going to get it!

Morgan and the rest of us apparently escape it.  Thank God.  I do a little happy dance we are all healthy.  Then a whole week later Morgan starts vomiting and has the runs. Here we go. My 6 month old now has the same bug. We brace ourselves.  I thought a 3 1/2 year old with the virus was bad.

It all happened quickly from the time she started vomiting.  Maybe within an hour or so.  When changing her diaper, I notice her skin looks a weird color.   Her arms and legs are bluish/purplish and all mottled.   Patchy.  And her hands and feet were really bluish and freezing.   I am wondering if she could just be really cold, so we put her in a warm bath, which makes her coloring really stand out because I can see the difference between her chest and extremities.

I am on high alert now on with the “hmmm” factor, so I call right away.   It’s a Sunday, of course.   I say the words “skin and bluish” and they tell me to take her to the E.R. right away.

We get to the E.R.  and a blood test confirms she is dehydrated, which is what caused her skin to become that weird color. I had NO idea this was a sign of dehydration. They then attempt 3 times to unsuccessfully start her on an I.V.   Because she is so little they couldn’t get it in her tiny vein.   One of the worst moments I have had as a mommy was watching my poor baby go through this.

That day stands out as one of those I will unfortunately never forget.  We had to wait for 12 hours in an E.R. examining room shared with different patients cycling in and out with a vomiting baby with the runs.   One of which was a transient-looking  man slurring at me “How’s your baby? I hate to hear babies crying!”   Thanks for the input buddy.   I almost snapped. Thank God for my husband.   I don’t know how I would have made it through that day without him!

Since they couldn’t get an IV in and she couldn’t keep fluids down, at 10:30pm that night we have to ride in an ambulance to spend the night at CHOC hospital.  Again they tried to get an I.V. in and were unsuccessful.  At that point, all I could do was continue to nurse a little bit at a time and pray she would start to keep some fluids down.  It was a very long night.

The next day, we were hours away from having to do a feeding tube, when she started to keep some milk down and peed for the first time.   I have never been so happy to see pee before in my life.  I cried with relief.  Prayers were answered. From there she got better quickly.  However, my recovery from this event took longer!

We survived.  It sucked, but we survived.

When I was walking the halls at CHOC, I thought, my God if there is something to be in CHOC for, dehydration is probably the thing.  I couldn’t help but think about the parents of those kids.  Almost too much to handle.

That’s the end of my saga. Here’s to everyone’s HEALTH!!   Sure makes you appreciate your kid’s health in a new way.

And, anytime you get that “hmmm…” feeling – act on it!

xo Jen

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