Our eldest son started Kindy this year, just like most kids turning 4 before 30th June.
From the start, Kindy was hard work.
The anxiety that going to Kindy created for our son was unimaginable. The issues that stemmed from this anxiety had a massive impact, not only on his life, but also on our family as a whole.
Even just getting him to walk through the gate could be a struggle. He would often be asleep when we went to collect him at the end of the day.
Some days he wouldn’t even make it to the end of the day and we would have to go and get him.
On the weeks where he should have gone three days, we would keep him home on the third day because he was just exhausted.
It became apparent before the end of the first term that he wasn’t coping.
He was the youngest in his class and was essentially 3 when he started Kindy. That meant that just 3 years before, he was a baby.
Yet he was expected to go to school.
While Kindy isn’t compulsory, there are many social expectations around kids attending.
There are social expectations around what we as parents must do, regardless of whether our kids are ready or not. And that’s the thing that seems to be forgotten. They’re our kids and we know them best.
In fact, some of my friends actually questioned our original decision to not send him to Kindy at all (yep, until the Principal persuaded me to start him this year, we had decided not to let him start Kindy at all). Most of them were so eager for their kids to be at school so they had some freedom.
And while I do understand this (I love daycare days just as much as the next mum) I couldn’t relax knowing that he was so unhappy at school.
After watching him struggle so much, with my heart breaking, my husband and I made the decision to withdraw our boy from Kindy before the end of Term 1.
Immediately (like the next day) the change in him was incredible.
We knew that we’d made the right decision.
Of course, then our attention turned to next year. And oh, didn’t people remind us. And by people, I mean friends. “Oh well, he’ll have to learn, full time next year”. “Bit of separation is good for him, he’ll get over it”.
Their faces when we told them that it would be unlikely we would enrol him in Pre School unless we absolutely knew he would cope, was nothing short of dumbfounded.
They couldn’t understand that for us, the decision to send our son to school is our decision. Not a decision that will be made by someone else, who doesn’t know our child as well as we do.
Most of my friends could not fathom why I would even consider letting him repeat Kindy, or better yet, homeschool him.
We recently had a meeting with the school Principal. A new Principal.
I walked in ready for a fight, ready to plead my case. Ready to look at alternative schools.
You can imagine my amazement when they suggested that our son repeat Kindy next year and not start full time Pre School.
We aren’t looking at it as “repeating” as he didn’t really get the start we wanted this year. So we are looking at as a fresh start.
I still don’t know how we will change the experience for him, or be able to convince him that school is an opportunity for him to make new friends and try new things. To learn and expand his beautiful mind.
He still has the memories of his first term very fresh in his mind.
I just wanted to share this so that I might help another family going through the same thing. To help them to know that they are not alone.
And that the standard ages for school simply does not suit all children and their developmental needs.
Our son is in fact a bright little spark. Emotionally, perhaps he has some maturing to do. He can’t write his name. But he can use words bigger than some 30 year olds.
And he can create the most amazing Lego constructions you ever did see. He is a creative little sausage with a vivid imagination.
He will go places. He might get there a few months later than other kids around his age. But better to get there happy we say.
We’ve got a discussion going on in our Facebook Group – I’d love to see you join us 🙂
Kate is the founder of South West Mums. She’s a FIFO wife and a mum to two boys, Haze (4) and Texen (1). Fuelled by coffee and the occasional wine, Kate loves to write, be creative and make the most out of every day. You can usually find her writing in the kitchen, close to the coffee, with her boys playing lego. You can contact Kate here.