Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Rebel with A Cause

I've never been a rule breaker. Well not much of one anyway. I get that rules are there for a reason, really I do. I appreciate that, no matter how ill conceived or inconvenient a rule may be, it serves, or at some point in it's history served, some purpose. I am trying to raise my children to appreciate and abide by the rules and so, I am teaching by example.

Until now.

I have come up against a rule that I just can't sit idly by and obey. Ironically enough it is a rule about one of my children.

Our son is 6 and in Kindergarten. He is brilliant. Intellectually, he could be in first grade. In fact, he is already spending part of his day doing first grade work. He is reading and doing math and we are unbearably proud parents. Socially he is exactly where he needs to be.

Our daughter is 4 and just months away from finishing the pre-K4 program at her preschool. She will be 5 in September. She is bright and social and looking forward to starting kindergarten. Every other child in her preschool class will be enrolled in Kindergarten in the fall. She is at the top of her class, yet the rules state that she needs to wait a year longer than her peers before she can start because she misses the age cutoff by 11 days. Less than 2 weeks.

On the one hand, I understand that a line has to be drawn somewhere, and September 1 is that line. As I said before, I am a rule follower so in principle I *get* the black and white of it and on some level admire it's simplicity. I understand that if you start making exceptions it is a slippery slope before that line becomes so muddied that every parent is appealing it. I also don't want my children to ever have the notion in their heads that the rules don't apply to them.


On the other hand I know my children. I know that they are not cookie cutter and that blanket policies don't always work with real world situations.

My son missed the cut off by MONTHS, so we never bothered with it. Sure, when he started kindergarten he already knew and could write his letters and numbers, could read small words, could count to 100 forwards and backwards, could do single digit addition and subtraction and was working on multiplication. He already had the curriculum basically licked. (Did I mention that we are unbearably proud???) Socially though he was very tender, and we felt comfortable that the extra time would serve him well. So, when the time came for Kindergarten, we just sort of crossed our fingers and prayed that it would all work out, and that he wouldn't be bored.

Thankfully, it did. My son is the kind of kid that, if you give him a task to work on, he will dive into it and work independently quite happily. He self manages beautifully. This has been put to the test and proven in Kindergarten, as he is given special "extra work" to do while the rest of his class continues to work on items that he has already completed. No disruptions from him, and he isn't bored.

My little girl is a whole other story. She too knows her letters and numbers. She too can write them and she can do some very basic math. She is not nearly as academically advanced, though still more than capable of handling the work that we see coming home with our son. Socially she is beyond ready. Her attention span is unnerving and she is beyond precocious. The thing is, she loves people. She wants to be engaged. She wants to be involved with everyone. If she is not, she is very skilled at getting everyone involved with her. She *will* get your attention. Her school did Kindergarten readiness assessments and there were 3 skills that she had not mastered: skipping (hey, she comes by this natural...what she lacks in grace, she more than makes up for in clumsiness, just like her mama), buttoning buttons (seriously? Find me kids' clothes that have buttons on the front of them and I will have her practice) and zipping her coat. When I heard that last one, I had to laugh. She *can* zip up. She just refuses to. Think about it...when you have to zip up a child's coat they have 100% of your undivided attention. You stoop down to their eye level, and carefully make sure that you aren't catching any hair or skin. While she has you there, she will strike up a conversation with you to ensure that she keeps your attention. That is our little diva in training. So no, make no mistake, she will get your attention. ..Our great fear is that, if we make her wait another year she will be a disruption both in preschool next year because she will be bored and, if we try to use the same "special work" concept with her as is being used with our son in Kindergarten, the year after as well, because she wants to be working with the group.

I have reached out to the school district to see what can be done...I explained to them that I was aware of the policy and was curious if there was any provision for children that were so close. Their answer was to sent me a copy of the policy, which I clearly was already familiar with (otherwise how would I have known to question it) and to tell me that by making her wait another year she would have the opportunity to be at the head of her class. Because clearly that is what is important. Making sure that your kid is the valedictorian rather than the child that loves school.

I. could. just. scream.

So now what?


Ruben-Singh Family said...


I'd be tempted to look for a school outside the school district. For example, do you have charter schools in your area? Alternatively, what about the possibility of attending a school outside this district? Here in NC, you can attend a public school simply by paying a small fee. I know you're not working right now, but is there the possibility of attending private school - for a year? Then she can start school and move to the public school system at the grade she should be. Just a couple of thoughts.

Julie said...

Boy do I hear your frustration! We are a total no-go with Bethany next year too. She misses it by one month, but she is soooooooooooo ready. The principal and all her future teachers KNOW she is ready, yet they can not get cooperation with the school board to allow her to be tested for early enrollment. Same as you're getting, the cut off IS such and such date and that's all there is to it. Sadly, in VA, Sabrina would make the cut off as it is Sept 30th, and not the 1st. Sickening, eh??

You could take drastic measures and just move to Richmond, that'll ensure she gets into K next fall! hehe

Duchess said...

Hee hee Julie...wanna borrow my kid M-F next year? Seriously though I may have to homeschool her next year, just to prevent her organizing the kids at her preschool into a cult or something next year...because you know that is what will happen if I send her back to repeat a year...

Julie said...

Sure Loni, just pack her up and ship her FedEx overnight on Sundays and I'll ship her back on Fridays! :) Bound to be cheaper than flying, or gas to drive! hehe

Anonymous said...

I have two kids with "late" birthdays. I had my older son early tested and he was allowed to start school before 5. We moved and, although the new school district didn't "allow" early starts, they let him in since he had already started. We began homeschooling before the younger one started school, so, no problem. I don't know what we would have done, as he was definitely ready for school.