by Tara, Contributing Writer
As spring finally (hopefully) takes hold for us here in the Midwest, questions have already started popping up to make decisions for next fall. Good grief, can I just enjoy the beautiful flowers beginning to bloom outside?
Not so much.
Our little boy just turned five years old … something I’m still having a hard time comprehending.
The school district where he goes to preschool three days a week (and receives free speech and OT services that he qualifies for) has been asking us if we are sending him to kindergarten. They need an answer.
I immediately said NO! Besides the services through the district, he’s also continuing private speech and OT three times a week. Although he’s made incredible progress the past year, we still have a long journey ahead. The words “he’s ready to graduate from speech” haven’t even remotely been uttered by his speech therapist.
Once I said no to kindergarten, the district really pushed hard for us to change our minds. Their official stance is that research shows waiting a year to send a child doesn’t make any long term difference.
Now, in the interest of full disclosure I have not done any official research myself on the topic. I don’t need to or want to. I’m listening to my “Mommy Gut.”
My “Mommy Gut” says he’s not ready. Period. He has a horrendous neurological speech disorder that he won’t just outgrow. One more year of concentrated speech and occupational therapy will do wonders for him. I want his confidence to be strong. I want him to be able to stand up and say a full sentence with pride and be able to be understood by his classmates and teachers.
Everything I’ve witnessed firsthand about apraxia is that it takes time, patience, hard work, practice, more practice and more hard work. I don’t want to set up my little boy for failure right out of the gate. He needs more time.
I’ve talked to many other moms (some with special needs kids, others without) who said the best decision they ever made was waiting a year before sending their children to kindergarten. I talked with a teacher friend who said, “I’ve never ever heard a parent say they wish they would have sent their child early to kindergarten. I always hear parents say they are so grateful they waited.”
For about a week, the district was really making us feel guilty.
He’ll have support at school.
He’ll be fine.
The research. The research. The research.
Even my husband started to waffle a little bit …. “Maybe we should send him. He’s already taller than his other classmates. He’ll turn seven years old towards the end of kindergarten when other kids will only be turning six.”
But, I’m sticking firm on this one. In my world, there’s no rush to start him in kindergarten. I was the oldest in my class. I actually used to think that was cool.
Plus, he’s a boy. That is one fact I think most everyone can agree on: Boys are usually slower to mature than girls.
Another day. Another decision. It seems like there’s always something isn’t there? How many times a week for speech? Do I increase his number of sessions this summer when he doesn’t have preschool? What about the speech therapist? Is he or she still ‘clicking’ with our son? Is he getting exactly the help he needs? Any new apraxia treatments out there? Should we be trying anything else?
The wheels keep spinning in my head, but at least I know this specific decision is right for our son. Just one more year before I send my “baby” off to kindergarten. So now, can we please go outside and enjoy the spring flowers at least for a few minutes?!?
Bio: Tara is the extremely proud mom of two kids who could both put the Energizer Bunny to shame. She spends her days chasing, running, chauffeuring, refereeing, counseling, scheduling, coaching, doting, teaching, cooking, playing and loving. Her little boy and girl are diagnosed with apraxia. She lives in Minneapolis and is “temporarily retired” from her days as a TV/Radio journalist until her kids are a bit older.