Kindergarten conundrum*

I am going to preface this post by saying I actually want your opinions. ?This means you need to leave comments. ?Please. ?See, I asked nicely.

As you may know the boy will be entering the big bad scary world of kindergarten next school year. ?It is also that time of year when schools have enrollment for said Kindergarten. ?Although, I can’t find the specific dates for our schools.

For the past few years I’ve been confused as to what school the boy is supposed to go to. ?We live in a suburb with its own school district. ?We selected this suburb because of the school district. ?Then I was talking with our former babysitter and she said that her brothers go to the major town school district and not the suburb school district even though they live in the suburb. ?I thought that was odd. ?For all I knew our “home” school was the suburb school and they lived further away from it than we did. ?Then I found out that yes, the suburb school is our “home” school and the one the boy is supposed to attend.

Here are how schools work around here. ?The suburb school district is a 4 school system (K-4, 5-7, 8-9, 10-12). ?The major school district is a 3 school system (K-5, 6-8, 9-12). ?In the major school district families are allowed to select any school they choose, but if they are not attending their “home” school they must provide their own transportation. ?I believe the same is for the suburb school district. ?The suburb school district has 1/2 day kindergarten. ?The major school district is full day kindergarten. ?We can send the boy to the major school district, but we have to have a release from the suburb school district and I’m not sure if we are guaranteed to get the elementary school we would like.

The facts at hand are: major school district – full day kindergarten, good kindergarten teacher, home elementary school of the district gifted program, not our “home” school meaning the neighborhood kids won’t necessarily go there. ?Suburb school district – half day kindergarten, I don’t know about the teacher’s experience with gifted children, not the home school for the district gifted program, children in the neighborhood might go to the school, some of the best schools in the state.

Given all of that I had planned to send the boy to the suburb school district. ?Then the aforementioned babysitters mom came to help me with Valentine’s candy and she asked where the boy was going to kindergarten. ?I told her. ?She said that at the major school district elementary school right by our house there is a fantastic kindergarten teacher. ?She has lots of experience with gifted children and is simply wonderful. ?I started to question my decision.

I talked it over with a few people and decided to stick with my original choice. ?I wasn’t sold on totally switching districts just for one teacher.

Then a few weeks ago I was at my goddaughter’s birthday party and started talking to a friend who is a kindergarten teacher. ?I asked her opinion on the matter. ?She voted for the school with full day kindergarten. ?She said to put him there for kindergarten and then move him to the suburb school district.

The trouble with this is change. ?The boy is already sweating the move to a new school. ?However, he’s been in preschool for 3 years now. ?In all honesty he’s ready for full day school. ?Our suburb school district has full day kindergarten, but we would have to pay for it. ?I’m not sure we could afford it and it’s not a guarantee.

I was reluctant to make a final decision, but was still leaning towards the suburb school.

Then last week I was talking with the husband of a preschool friend. ?We had the same “what school” conversation and I mentioned my conundrum. ?He said he’d had lots of discussions with his father-in-law (who happens to be the superintendent of schools for the major school district) about the matter. ?He asked what is the best for the kids. ?Superintendent’s answer was start them early and with full day. ?When he took on the job as superintendent that was his first order of business, full day kindergarten.

Now I’m totally at a loss. ?What do I do? ?My plan was to go with the 1/2 day and supplement academically with in-home instruction. ?I would like him to go full day (not only for selfish reasons), but I don’t want to switch him around from school to school. ?The trusty husband says whatever district we start him in he will stay there. ?So the major school district kindergarten and then suburb school district for the rest isn’t an option. ?That is too many changes for him (remember suburb schools are a 4 school system so that is enough on it’s own). ?I also want him to have friends that live close by. ?Yes, the major school district school is very close to our house, but the kids come from all over. ?Our suburb is much smaller.

So I’m asking, if it was your child (who is showing signs of giftedness, yet has trust and change issues) what would you do? ?I have to make up my mind soon because registrations start very soon.


*yes, it is cost prohibitive for us to pay for full-day kindergarten. ?It is double what we pay currently for preschool. ?If we pay for full day kindergarten we would not be able to pay for other extra curricular activities such as sports. ?Also, there are too many families who want full day kindergarten so we would be entered into a lottery and not guaranteed a spot.

18 Comment

  1. ani says: Reply

    We went through the “which is the right school for MY kid” dance last year… Given the facts and his issues with change and trust, I would stick to the suburb school, if that’s where you would like him to do 1-4 grades. Just my 2 cents.

  2. Nat says: Reply

    Before I give my opinion, how expensive is the full day option at the suburb kindergarten? Is it truly cost prohibitive? Also, in what sense is it not a sure thing (is it based on having enough kids sign up for it?)?

  3. I also think that the suburb school sounds more like a match for y’all. Especially given your gut feeling about it. You also never know, you could enroll him in the major school district, and the teacher you are hoping for could up & move or who knows what. If Oleg is already sweating a change, I think that a change closer to home might be more reasonable for him…he wouldn’t feel so far away (think of the drive time – I’m not sure how much farther it is to the major school than the suburb school, but it’s something to consider). For me, the trust and change issues outweigh the giftedness. There is plenty of time for gifted programs…but without trust (or with too much nervousness), he might not be comfortable enough to learn. Just my 2-cents, and I hope it all makes sense!

  4. Jackie says: Reply

    I would go with the suburb school too! I think there is a lot to be said about being with neighborhood kids, and it sounds like the schools there are very good.

  5. Eileen says: Reply

    I vote for full day kinergarten, either district – it is a huge help with socialization and getting prepared for elementary school (I don’t mean academically, I mean socially and emotionally).

  6. Trish says: Reply

    I feel like I am going against everyone else here, but I think you should consider the major school district. Before you make your decision I think you should visit both schools, sometimes that helps.

    If you feel like Oleg is showing signs of being gifted then you don’t want him in a class where he will be bored. Also, they get so much more instruction from a full day Kindergarten.

    When we moved to Md a few years ago my boys just started Kindergarten and it was the first year for full day Kindergarten. The teachers loved having the additional time to work with the kids to get them ready for 1st grade.

    We don’t have the ability of deciding where our children go to school but are fortunate that we live in a good school district.

    My kids are friends with kids in the neighborhood but they also make friends in the sports they play.

    Good luck with your decision. I know it is not an easy one.

  7. kim hartman says: Reply

    I feel the smaller more local school is the best bet. Half day kindergarten is a drawback, but if he is showing signs of being gifted, I would want him in the smaller classes with more chance for one on one attention.

    We made the choice to send our son to the smaller more rural school, and he’s now in 3rd grade, I have never regretted it. He may not be gifted, but he certainly is advanced and it has really helped to have a smaller class size with more personal knowledge and contact with the teachers.

    Good Luck. the most important thing about their education, in my opinion, is a quote from a very good friend who is a PHD school psychologist

    “Your child will get out of school what YOU and He are willing to put in”

  8. lauri says: Reply

    The local school… just for consistency sake. We all know how hard change is for any child, let alone a child with possible PI issues. I agree with the other commenter… there is plenty of time to explore gifted programs and you & his teacher at any school can nurture that. I would go with comfort and long term ease. Is he opening up and showing his true abilities to his preschool teachers? are they seeing that side of him too? My nephew who is gifted spent a while in a learning delay class due to his shyness. He was bright but would not speak up or exert himself.

    Our kindergarten has 1/2 day or full day…. we are going with a full day and I hope that all works out. I would choose 1/2 if I were still a sahm… they will not provide mid-day transportation

    we will register for kindergarten today

  9. Nat says: Reply

    I don’t have an answer, but I will give you a few things to consider. (some background-my three older children all are “gifted”, and receive services at school. I also have a 5 yr old son about to enter K in the fall, with many of the same challenges that your son has (adopted 2006).)Consider a few things. 1. Don’t look too far ahead in considering how your son will deal with change. As he grows and matures he may handle change differently. A year ago I would never have believed my son would be able to separate from me without falling apart- now he walks into his classroom excited to be there, and actually initiates conversation with his peers and teacher. This is SO huge for our guy, who used to go into “stoic, silent, baby home mode” when faced with any new social situation. 2. Don’t worry too much about the number of schools he will go to within a district- he will be moving up with his friends I assume, and he will be older and probably way better with change by then. Don’t feel like forever locked into one plan that you made before he entered kindergarten. 3. Does he love pre-k? Is it good for him socially, behaviorally, etc? You say he’s ready for full day- trust you gut in that one.
    Now, academically. I did “sit-down”work in the form of about 15-20 minutes a day with all of my kiddos when they were pre-schoolers (in addition to all of the learning through play, etc, that we did just hanging out). My two oldest were in full day K, and #3 was in 1/2 day. We had just moved, and I was shocked that there was even 1/2 day anywhere anymore. In my biased opinion, I think full day is better. My two oldest took off reading very quickly, and some may disagree, but I think early advancement sets the stage for every next step- they began at the top in their classes and stayed there. The bar had been set, and every next teacher new what they were capable of and how to challenge them. My 1/2 day kiddo wanted to move forward, but unfortunately the teacher was held tightly to her 1/2 day curriculum. Half way through the year, my daughter was frustrated- her brother and sister could read and she couldn’t. The class was still working on letters and sounds that she had learned in pre-k. So, she and I sat down for 20 minutes a day, learned sight words, etc, and Voila!, she was reading. So, my preference is for full day, but in the absence of full day, it is very easy to make huge progress at home.
    My biggest concern for my son is social/behavioral at his point. I want him to be around “normal” kids, to learn how to have fun at school, to find pure joy in learning and interacting with his peers. He is so ready to take off, I would go private if I had to to get him in full day. Fortunately, we are back in a district that has full day, and by the end of K they expect the kiddos to be writing in paragraphs. Seriously. I’m all for it- like your son he is one bright kid, and he will rise to a challenge. My humble opinion- full day. There are lots of good reasons for the suburb school. Consider paying the extra jack for one year to get all of those benefits, but with the bonus of full day. I have no idea if this is helpful, but I hope maybe it has given you a few things to consider. BTW I think you are an amazing mom to be considering this from so many angles. I have no doubt that no matter what you choose your son will succeed many times over!

  10. kristin says: Reply

    I would go with the local school, close to home! And to tell you the truth, I believe the best teacher is you. I won’t rely on the school to do that. You know what is best for your son and if he goes half day you can have activities in the afternoon and teach him yourself. From a homeschool mother, this is what I think would be the best, but I’m bias. Especially, looking down the road k is not that big of deal. Plus I’m not sure you can request teachers since I know we couldn’t. Just a thought. I would go by my gut! Can you visit and see which one he would feel more comfortable in? That is what I would do.
    Hope that helps.

  11. Wendy says: Reply

    Levi is in kinder this year, an all day program. He was a little older than most of the kids and he still suffered from being extremely tired at the end of the day. He is also gifted and the full-day was so perfect, I thought. Honestly, i think half a day with supplemental learning is a perfect mix. They are still in the classroom, learning, and adjusting to the school and yet they can transition over the course of the year to full-time, lunch-room navigating, bus riding big kids.

  12. Lena says: Reply

    Aaah, kindergarten dilemmas. Call me. We can talk about this. A lot.

    I’d stick with the local school with that the 1/2 day kindergarten, because really, if he’s worried about “big scary school” half day may just what he needs to ease himself into all the changes of being in a bigger classroom with more kids, new teacher, new rules … and then come home to you to de-brief. My oldest already knew how to read and was probably bored out of his mind, but he loved the social life of kindergarten and learned how to navigate school expectations while not having to worry about learning how to read and stuff. When we made this decision, 1/2 day at our local school, there was still an optional full-day kindergarten program for tuition and lottery assignment but not at the local (home) school. We nixed that idea simply because we didn’t want him to start over making friends in first grade. Since then our SD has canceled fullday K due to budget concerns, so that’s not even a option to consider this time around for our girl. Most school district don’t start gifted programs until 2nd or 3rd grade anyways, so I wouldn’t waste time worrying about that now. But it does frustrate me that there’s no gifted program available for my first grader, he needs more challenge. So that’s where we parent come in to supplement and challenge our kids.

    Call me! Also call the local school – ask about registration dates and all those questions you have. Write them down hand them in to the school office and suggest they make the process more clear (that’s what I did and last night I happily attended an information night for future kindergarten parents).

  13. Carrie says: Reply

    We currently drive our girls 10 miles to the Charter School rather than have them in the “local” school just blocks from our house. We felt that the educational opportunities outweighed any of the inconveniences of this situation. (plus the school in our neighborhood is the worst in our district)

    The plus is that this school is alternative, fits my children’s needs, and is one of the highest ranking schools in the state. The down side is getting them to and from, all school activities are farther away from the house so more travel and time constraints, and no local friends. For us, we don’t mind putting up with the downsides because the pluses are so great. For our son, things will get more complicated I think due to lack of diversity issues with the Charter School.

    I think that for your kiddo the smaller school may be a big deal… Less scary, less going on, more personal interactions. Also, gifted programs aren’t really that important in K and get more important the older they get. I would also point out that while the 1/2 day K thing is a PITA, it’s only for one school year and you will be amazed at how quickly it will fly by! I still can’t believe I have a 4th grader AND a K… it seem like only yesterday that we were making the big K decision with our oldest.

  14. Auntie G says: Reply

    It is a hard decision. Here’s a question you have to ask: How is full day kindergarten funded in the bigger district? If it’s tied to state money…it could go away if there’s no money coming down from the state. Another issue: If you go to the bigger district on a boundary exemption and the schools numbers go up, the school can pull your exemption and O would have to go to your home school..even if it’s midyear. I’m sure some will say, “oh, that won’t happen” but being in the schools for the past 18 years, it does happen.
    I will agree, don’t worry about the four school settings as he goes on in years. He won’t know any different and all his friends will be doing the same thing…a plus for peer pressure. Anyway, who knows what the future has in store? You could potentially move at some point between now and when O graduates.
    Oh, and one question? Is this full day Kindergarten a full day, everyday program or the every other day plan with a schedule that is two days one week and three the next? Because That is a PITA right there. Half day every day works better for consistency…which we know the boy likes.
    Knowing my nephew and the school system, my vote is the home school. Love my boy!

  15. […] you all for your input on yesterday’s kindergarten question. ?Given all of the criteria we think we are going to go with our local school. ?The deciding […]

  16. mom says: Reply

    Oleg’s transitioning to new surroundings will get better with time. I vote for 1/2 day, just because this is what has worked well for him in the past. In keeping with that plan, he will also make (perhaps) lifetime friends of which will make going into first grade and all day school so much easier. Gifted or not, he needs consistency NOW to be a happy, healthy little boy! 🙂

  17. MIL says: Reply

    From the view point of teaching and working with kids ages 3-18 in those settings: Best suggestions – do go to the two schools and observe and schedule a time to visit with the teacher about O’s background and any concerns you may have. You’ll get an overview of class size, teacher/student interaction, see the facility for yourself(believe it or not, this does have a quite an impact on kids!) Having had a gifted child myself – O’s dad – I can say that no gifted program can truly compete with the impact parent involvement/encouragement has when it comes to helping achild reach his/her full potential. And while one would like to see well into the future in order to make the best parent decisions for all of life’s challenges for our kids, we probably do our best stuff when we simply get/stay involved in the every-day lives of our kids, whether it be educational, social, etc. O already has a “leg up” just because his parents , as usual, are giving incredible energy & tho’t on how to give him the best ever start to this new life challenge of “school”!! You’re doing a great job – keep it up!! Luv, MIL

  18. Wendy says: Reply

    I also forgot to say that although we are in a very highly rated school, they do not provide the GT program to kids below 2nd grade. They won’t even test them. We also can NOT request a specific teacher, no matter what. You might want to ask those questions of the bigger school, it may just settle the question. If he can’t have the advantages of the bigger school then do not consider it.

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