Do You Also Hyper-Focus On Your Child’s Ability To Retain Rote Memorization?

The pressure of learning in early childhood is real and unnecessary. I’ve written articles on this exact topic and I’ve done my own research on it as well! But still… it’s real. It’s there. The ideology that children should be able to name colors, shapes, numbers, letters and more all before Kindergarten seems wild and academic-minded instead of development-minded. However, even I have fallen into the trap of this thought process!

We were wrestling with the decision of sending my daughter to Kindergarten the year she met the cut-off or holding her back one year. The idea of sending her the year-earlier came up and my first questions were,

Does she know all of her letters though?
I know for a fact that she doesn’t know all of their sounds yet.
She’s pretty good at the numbers 1-10, but what about 11+?
How is she supposed to be reading if she doesn’t know her letter sounds?

I quickly fell into the trap of “kindergarten readiness” and thought that my daughter wasn’t going to be ready in time because she didn’t know enough yet. Also, it’s important to keep in mind that it’s currently November 2021 and she won’t even start kinder until September 2022!!

Once I took a deep breath and realized what I was doing, I pulled up an old post that Mary write about kindergarten prep and a list of what you truly should be focused on when deciding if a child is ready for school or not:

  • Feel capable and confident, and tackle new demands with an “I can do it” attitude.
    Check.
  • Have an open, curious attitude toward new experiences
    Absolutley she does.
  • Enjoy being with other children.
    YES. It fuels her extroverted soul.
  • Can establish a trusting relationship with adults other than parents.
    Check. Again, I’ve got an extrovert on my hands.
  • Can engage in physical activity such as walk, run, climb (children with handicaps can have a fine time in kindergarten if school and parents work cooperatively on necessary special arrangements).
    All day every day.
  • Take care of their own basic needs, such as dressing, eating, and toileting.
    The most independent soul I know.
  • Have had experience with small toys, such as puzzles and crayons.
    Yes.
  • Express themselves clearly in conversation.
    Yes, well enough for a 4 year old.
  • Understand that symbols (such as a stop sign) are used to provide useful information.
    Check.
  • Love books, stories and songs and can sit still to listen.
    Oh, yes.

So when you also inevitably find yourself getting caught up with your child’s knowledge on rote memorization (yes, that’s all learning letters, shapes, etc is.), take a deep breath. Realize that it’s normal to have this thought process, but there is more to it. And then come back to this list and remember the important things that your child really needs to know when they go to school.

Making Kindergarten Decisions

kindergarten decisions

Late last winter I wrote a post about when I should send my late summer birthday daughter to Kindergarten and how hard the decision was for us. From what I’ve gathered, it’s a fairly common debate parents have when their children are late-summer birthdays. One of the hardest parts is that there are so many pros and cons that go into the two different options, and you never will be able to know what the better decision is because you can’t choose them both and compare and contrast the situations. You just have to dive right in with what you feel is best and go with it! 

It was one day after my daughter came home from preschool with a few extra letter activities from the days she missed school that my husband and I really started talking about it. We had participated in plenty of discussions up until that point, but watching her sit there and carry out what she was excited to call “homework” as she wrote her letters to the best of her ability, really made us dig deep to discuss it. 

I had always been leaning towards holding her back and instead of sending her to kindergarten, filling her days with other enriching activities like preschool and tumbling classes during that year instead. However, after seeing her excitement and love for learning, it helped me feel better about placing her in a classroom a little sooner. My husband had always leaned towards the same as I, but I think his perspective was changed as well at that moment. 

Another hard part of the decision-making process was that she is our first child, and we have other children with late summer birthdays in our family to consider as well. If we sent her next year to kindergarten but ended up holding our son back a year from school, it would make them 3 grades apart in school, but only 2 years apart in age! There are just way too many factors to take into consideration! It’s stressful! 

And my last biggest worry was…. Will she be ready for kindergarten next year? 

Both Mary and I have written multiple articles on kindergarten prep and why we need to stop buying into the idea that our kids aren’t ready because they aren’t ready academically. I’ll link a few. 

How Kindergarten Prep Frenzy Changed My Teaching Perspective

10 Signs That Your Child Is More Ready for Kindergarten Than You Might Think Spoiler alert: none of these have to do with letters, numbers, or writing their name! 

Reading Before Kindergarten- Is It Really Necessary?

However, even though I know this information is out there and the research behind it stands strong about how our children should be learning and growing at this age, I still have that parent guilt that I’ve bought into. The second the possibility of my child attending kindergarten near year came up, my first thoughts turned to letters. She can name the majority of the letters, but not all. And as far as what sounds they make… yeesh. Not sure about that! Also, she has a LONG name and she can only write the first half of her name unassisted! And what about numbers? I actually don’t even know if she can identify her numbers… Is she even going to be ready?! 

Okay, deep breaths. 

First, it is currently November, meaning the school year is not even halfway over yet. She still has so much time to continue learning and growing in preschool. And on top of that, she can still go into kindergarten with the knowledge she currently has academically, because her social/emotional skills are there. Her ability to play with others and independently is where it needs to be. She knows how to pick up a book and turn the pages the correct way, even if she can’t read it yet. She can get her shoes on and off by herself, use the bathroom on her own, take care of her own jacket and backpack, and more. She’s more ready than I will EVER give her credit for. 

I’ve said from the day she was born, “If there’s any child that’s going to walk early, it will be her.” and when she took her first steps at 9 months old, walking independently by 10 months old, she proved me right. 

“If there’s any child that is going to ride her bike early, it’s going to be her.” and just a few weeks shy of her 4th birthday, she was taking off on her two-wheeler! 

“If there’s any kid that is going to excel and do great at kindergarten, regardless of her age, it’s going to be her.” and I absolutely know that to be true. So at last, we have come to a decision. Our daughter will be starting her journey to school in the 2022-23 school year, and she’s going to do amazing. I can already tell. Even if she doesn’t know all of her letters and numbers yet. 

Late Summer Birthdays: Hold Back Or Send To Kindergarten?

Even though my daughter is only 3.5 years old, I’ve been having a debate in my mind lately about kindergarten. Her birthday is late in July, so I’ve come to the tough decision that most parents of late summer birthday kids face. Send them to school when you’re supposed to so they are younger for their grade? Or hold them back a year from school and they are the oldest for their grade? 

I’ve been wrestling with a decision for quite some time now, listing out pros and cons. Sending your kids to school earlier when they will be younger for the age means they are out of the house earlier and accustomed to school sooner. Sending them later so they are older means they have more time to be a kid and don’t have the pressures of going to school placed on them so fast. 

The pros and cons lists are endless, I’ve been making them for about a year now! And beyond that, it’s so situational depending on each child individually, and their external circumstances. It is nearly impossible to know what the best situation is without doing an entire scientific experiment and analyzing both situations. But that is impossible to do! 

Here is where I am finding comfort- Kids thrive in whatever situation they are placed in. 

Sure, each child will have their struggles in school. Some may fall behind because they are younger for their grade and cannot keep up academically. Others may stick out and get made fun of because they are taller or bigger for their grade. 

Regardless, they will have successes too. They will find happiness and thriving whether you place them in kindergarten this year, or the next. 

We have yet to choose if my daughter will be attending kindergarten in 2022 or 2023, but once we do, you bet you guys will hear about our decision and the entire thought process that will go into it! 

Is this a decision weighing on you right now too? Which way are you leaning?