Friday, August 31, 2012

Back to School

I got half of my kids into school last week. I am still working on the adjustment. I feel a little scattered right now trying to figure out what to do with two little kids. I think I just sent my two most helpful children to school and am left with the two most needy ones. I'll figure this out. I think it'll be good for Marissa to be the oldest child for a while and seeing her and Connor play so much is really good for them. It really reminds me of Erin and Alex about four years ago. They were such good little buddies.

Here they are on the first day of school. 
 The bus is crazy this year. Last year there were 9 boys and Erin. This year there are probably 25-30 kids at this one stop, and luckily Erin isn't the only girl this time.
Erin is going into third grade and knows a few kids from our ward and from last year in her class, so I'm relieved about that. She seems to like her teacher and riding the bus and walking home with Alex. A new girl her age just moved in 2 doors down and they are becoming friends. It is such a relief to have a friend for her and not just for the little kids. Why do I worry about it so much anyway?
Alex's first day picture. You know how there's some clothes that when your kids wear them you think, "Next time that goes through the wash I'm going to make it magically disappear?" This was one of those outfits... and he was so set on wearing it on the first day! He really does have nice clothes, but I didn't want to hurt his feelings by making him change. Oh well.
Alex is going into first grade. It had been a long time in coming, but we finally knew that he would be able to skip kindergarten only 4 days before school started. Crazy! We wanted this for him for so many reasons. Here's the story. Our other three kids have June birthdays, but Alex's is in October. This meant that he should have been three years behind Erin and only one year ahead of Marissa, which never seemed right for him or our family. Even when he was little, I always wished his birthday was earlier and Jared always wanted him to be a grade higher. In every way (except his birthday) he has acted like he was two years younger than Erin and two years older than Marissa.

Believe me, I have thought long and hard about the ramifications of sending him early. He'll be younger, drive later, date later, have one more year in the work force, go on his mission later, etc. It will affect his life in so many ways. Not only that, but I've noticed more and more people holding their kids back, especially when they have summer birthdays and more especially when they are boys. There is a very interesting article about "red-shirting", as they call it, that talks about some of the reasons why this is happening as well as the growing discrepancy of low-income kids (who don't often have the choice to hold kids back) and higher-income kids. Based on this, we are definitely going against the trend. But it also says that kids will most likely turn out the same either way.

Another thing to consider were the neighborhood kids. There are about 20 kids, mostly boys, entering kindergarten this year in our little area alone--and only two first graders. So this was a big consideration as well. Would he not be able to be friends with these kids if we sent him to a grade higher than all of them? But then again, Alex was way further ahead of them in so many ways. He'd been reading for two years, he would ask to do Erin's second grade math sometimes and he has always been a very mellow, well-behaved child. It made absolutely no sense for him to be going into kindergarten to learn about letters and shapes.

In February I was talking to Jared's cousin, who is a teacher, about it and she recommended that we test him for first grade. I don't know that it would have crossed my mind before talking to her. I called the school, expecting them to say that they don't do that, but they said, "Okay, we'll put him on the list to be tested." I have been thinking and praying about this for 6 months hoping that it would work out. Oh, did I mention that this child never had a day of pre-school (mostly due to our moves)? I just had him do workbooks at home and he loved it. We put him in a private kindergarten over the summer because I wanted him to be able to say that he went to kindergarten. He loved that too.

So the week before school, the psychologist finally called us and had him come in for the (two hour) academic test. He had to be testing at least midway through first grade before they'd consider it. He did great. Then they did some sort of IQ test a couple days later and he passed that with no problem as well. We then met with the principal and got the go ahead. Phew! I know it's kind of a long story, but I honestly have felt so strongly about this for so long that I wanted to remember it. He loves school a lot and it seems to be easy for him. This is definitely the right place for him and I am so grateful it worked out (even though they put him in a class with 3 Alexanders!--I know, our fault for naming him such a popular name.)

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