So, I skipped last week. Focusing effort on the launch of the larger beta test for the new app, which is exciting and a little intimidating but has mostly been pretty amazing. Just to have a bunch of people using it and getting crash reports and all that is really good. Feedback. Don't we all live for feedback? For a few days, I felt like I was barely keeping on top of it, but suddenly today I'm a little like, "Huh. What do I do now?" There's plenty to do, of course, but no longer are there a few particularly urgent things so it's a little harder to prioritize.
The weather here is amazing and spring is fully on, although there's still the occasional day of cold rain.
We've just applied to have Shmoogie considered for early Kindergarten entrance for next year, since she has a late birthday but seems ready for school. It's quite an interesting issue, since the trend seems to be for "redshirting" any kid that you possibly can (that means holding them back so that they are 6 or very nearly 6 before they start Kindergarten). I have really mixed feelings about this. First of all, it's no fun to have other parents look at you in horror (many of them without ever even having laid eyes on your child) at the idea that you might put your child in early. "Always wait," is definitely something I've heard.
One parent of a kid in Mr. P's Pre-K class two years ago, who was turning 6 at the same time everyone else was turning 5, volunteered to me once that they had kept both their children back and were so glad they had becuase it meant they were always the tallest and always acted like leaders in their class.
I was kind of horrified.
Another thing you hear from people all the time, always in a totally separate context, is "Kindergarten is what 1st grade used to be." Maybe that's because so many of the Kindergarteners ought to be in 1st grade?
I found two good reads today on opposite sides of the question. One, from a few years ago, by a mom who was holding back her son, even though he could "already read hundreds of words". Why hold him back? Because that's what everyone else was doing. And because she worried that starting early might be fine now, but could be difficult when the teenage years started to hit. And another, from last fall on The New Yorker website, which says the advantage assumed to accrue from being the oldest comes from the fact that kids who end up excelling in sports are generally born in the first few months of the year, which gave them a start in athletics playing against only younger kids, which made them more likely to look like precocious stars, which then meant they got extra attention and extra chances to play and train. Academics are different, though, says the author, and it's actually the younger kids who do better there. Maybe not initially, when the difference between an almost-5-year-old and an already-6-year-old is a very big developmental gap, but by the time they're in middle and high school and college, the kids who were always younger do better. Because they're used to being challenged.
Which fits nicely into the way I like to look at the world, I must say. It would be nice if schools had two classes, so that kids at least started school with a 6 month age spread in their classroom instead of a full year+, but that's not what we've got. Instead, it's a question of will she be nearly the oldest or nearly the youngest? I think for Shmoogie, even though she doesn't "already read hundreds of words", she will be much happier and better off in the long run if she's stretched at school instead of bored. She'll be happier and better off at school with other kids (she already loves playing with the first graders on the playground if we're there at recess) than at highly protective pre-k (I think she finds her preschool a little boring sometimes) for a few hours and then home with me (introverted, distracted me) and her brand new baby brother (shh! he's napping!). And I think she'll be better off from a social perspective, too, especially once adolescence hits. She's socially mature for her age right now, so I don't worry about that for now. She's also quite tall and likely to remain so and likely, based on family history, to hit puberty early.
I can't pretend that my feelings on this have nothing to do with me and that could be biasing me more than I realize. I was bored in school a lot. Until I was so bored and cranky in 8th grade that I skipped to 9th and suddenly felt like I was drowning for a few months until I got my feet under me again. But being challenged is infinitely better than being bored. And socially, I was nearly the tallest for a long time (if you know me now, that may shock you). That was fine with me. But I really don't think I can come up with anything positive to say about being the first to grow body hair and get my period. Maybe that would be cool as a boy (not the period part, obviously), but it is not as a girl.
Plus, as both those articles mention, we can't ignore finacial reality. Seattle schools actually charge a small tuition (!) for all day kindergarten, I think because the law only mandates half day? But that will come to quite a few thousands of dollars less than the pre-k program we also have her signed up for in case the district doesn't have space for her or doesn't think she's ready. Which in general puts a very interesting gloss on the whole thing, doesn't it? The parents who can afford it, whose kids already have tons of advantages and are probably already academically ahead from years of preschool and reading at home and all that, are almost always the ones who choose to hold their kids back in order to give them... an advantage.
But then, back to the New Yorker, maybe it's not actually an advantage in the long run but quite the opposite. Isn't the world strange?
Anyway, now we just wait. And then go for an evaluation. And then wait some more. And then find out if we even get to choose.