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I Redshirted My Son and I’m Okay With It (Now)

I’ve always been a planner. In my well organized and categorized mind, it only made sense that my son upon completion of pre-kindergarten this year would naturally transition into kindergarten in September. After all, he was a super smart four-year-old who could rattle off dinosaur names and facts like his ABCs, and who was reading multiple books every day.

So when my husband and I attended our annual parent/teacher meeting I expected to hear how wonderfully he was doing. That was in fact not the case. He was struggling with shyness, introverted, hesitant to try new things, and overly relying on his best friend to navigate through his school routine. The outgoing Superman we experienced at home was living life as his child alter ego of Clark Kent. Born in late July, he was one of the younger children in class and a bit intimidated by the world around him.

The reality is, my son is all of those things. He’s been a quiet and shy kid from the day he was born. We just had no idea how that had been playing out in his learning environment. We decided to have him tested and found that while he was at a five-year-old level academically, he was somewhere between a three and a four emotionally. Add to that the fact that boys are already six months behind their female counterparts, and you have the making of a kid who might end up struggling if he progressed before he was ready.

What happened next I can only equivocate to The Five Stages of Loss--denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. I thought the teacher was a loon and I progressed through these five stages for the better course of a month. The new euphemism for holding kids back these days is “giving the gift of time.” I guess this sounds lovely but I was still having a hard time accepting that my son would not be advancing with most of his other classmates.

Enter a video from 1987 and everything in my world was completely rocked. We were invited to attend a kindergarten preparedness class at school. There was literally an old VHS tape being entered into a relic of a VCR, and inside I was snickering at the thought that this would somehow change my mind about my kid’s academic progression. But then it happened--everything in this video made complete sense. Throughout our kids early formative years we are taught that children progress at different speeds. Things like crawling, walking, eating, and potty training would all happen when they were ready, yet somehow at the age of five all children were expected to miraculously be at the same level academically and emotionally. The reality is they just aren’t. And so we made what we feel is the best decision and registered him for another full year of pre-k to provide the opportunity to build his confidence and further strengthen his emotional foundation. The gift of time has officially been granted.

This situation made me reflect on another reality. For as much as I considered myself a planner, my own life didn’t follow my pre-programmed path. Married by 30 (nope), kids before 35 (36 and 10 days shy of 39 respectively). The reality is, life doesn’t always go as we planned. There are inevitable turns and curves and detours along the way. In the end, I do believe that we all end up exactly where we are meant to be. In the words of the wise Queen Elsa, sometimes you just need to Let it Go and let life unfurl before you as it should.

Have you had an experience similar to mine? Let me know in the comments below.

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Comment by Lori Sawyer on May 4, 2015 at 10:51am

My 3rd is also an August baby.  We will not be holding him.   We are not holding him because he will be ready to go.  Every child is different, and just because we held my first doesn't mean all close to cut off babies need to be held.   Love this.

Comment by Alix Hayes on May 3, 2015 at 10:16pm

My son is an Aug baby and while we have decided not to hold him back, I applaud your decision.  I have a few friends having their kids repeat pre-K and they're so happy they made the decision that best fit their kids' development. :)

Comment by Gabriella Heizler on April 30, 2015 at 1:33pm

Thanks Lori! My son also has social anxiety and I know that this was the best decision we could ever make.

Comment by Lori Sawyer on April 30, 2015 at 1:26pm

We repeated kindergarten with my oldest due to some social anxiety issues and was the best decision we have ever made.  You have to follow your gut as to what is the best for your child, KUDOS!!!

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