Thursday, July 26, 2007

Why is Kindergarten such a difficult word to spell?

I know what a "garden" is but what's a "garten"? What does "kinder" mean anyway?

So my oldest turns five on December 1st, just one day before the public school deadline for starting school. This means my wife and I recently reopened the fall birthday when do you start school controversy. Let me tell you, everyone has an opinion about this (If for some reason you don't I highly recommend forming one right away). Everyone thinks it's a very important question. And there is nothing close to popular consensus as far as what's best. My wife and I had separate experiences and we both ended up ok. She was out of high school for five months before she became a legal adult. I turned legal three months into my senior year. Like I said, we both ended up okay, but this is not valid because boys and girls are different and you can't just think about today, or even graduation day, the critical time is middle school. Let me say that even during middle school I was smarter, bigger, and more socially competent than all my friends. However, I still failed the presidential fitness test, those tall girls with breast still freaked me out, and I still did not understand why telemarketers kept asking if I was the lady of the house. Middle School sucks doesn't it? So for the sake of being like me (shouldn't everyone?) we were going to let the boy start school later, we had decided this a long time ago and began making life plans around this decision.

All that being said, I think everyone would understand why I became emotionally unstable when my wife reopened the discussion by saying... "I think we should put him in kindergarten." She said this with a real seriousness like God Himself had spoken to her... so I began with the internet research and phone calls. I learned way more than I wanted. Did you know the grade known as K is changing all over our nation? Ever since W's "No Child Left Behind" It's pretty much mandatory that you grasp algebra, dissect pigs, and read Hamlet before you even think about moving to first grade. I discovered that some states have made K all day (that's right no AM or PM options ALL DAY!) and there's a conspiracy to do the same thing in California. (If you are a resident please write Feinstein and Boxer and express your outrage). On top of all these paradoxes I'm finding, there's "promotion Sunday" coming at church and it seems all the boy's buddies are going to the big kid class. I don't want my son to feel left behind (no credit should be given to Tim LaHaye, Mr Jenkins or Kirk Cameron. I'm not talking about the books or the movies). What do I do?!

"There is no good reason to start kid's early", says one person I trust. "You're pretty much be robbing him of his childhood" is the impression I got from someone else. "He will be the youngest in his class... forever" is the truth ringing in my ears. I have to tell you, I extremely appreciated the response of Mr. G. He prefaced his opinion like this "either way, I don't think you are going to screw him up".

What about mom? Surely she would like a break? Making two trips a day to a different place with two kids in the car and one coming to or from class...yeah, that sounds like a break. I know three is hard, let me remove the one who is actually helpful, is that better? No easy answers here either.

So here's the verdict... The boy is starting school... home school... part of a public charter school. This means he starts learning with out the classroom adjustment stuff. We can play the K or pre-K card however we like. It seems not all his church buddies are promoting so maybe we'll avoid stealing his childhood for the time being. This also delays the real decision to next year. You know, a lot can happen in a year. He'll probably just start Kindergarten a year from now. He won't have any classmates going to the first grade. So how will he know if he's being "held back"? I really don't want him to carry the shame of being "held back". However, if the kid is doing Shakespeare and Trig a year from now (I hear the curriculum is very advanced), we'll probably just let him start middle school next fall... I'll just have to talk to him about the ladies.

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