Sunday, January 18, 2015

School Daze II

First Grade or a repeat year of Kindergarten?  Raphaela sometimes lets her imagination get ahead of hard reality; will another year of Kindergarten improve on her social skills, or is that simply a beautiful part of her personality?

Until now I have understood that either way will work, going ahead will stimulate and challenge Raphaela and open many new doors, and keeping her behind one more year will grant her an extra year of free play without real academic expectations, it will give her a chance to feel more secure in her social environment, because she will be the oldest and the tallest by far, she will be the boss.  I spoke today to her teacher and requested an objective independent psychological evaluation of Raphaela's emotional readiness to start First Grade, because the "helpful opinions" are running circles in my head and I cannot listen to my Inner Voice, that energy inside me that knows me and knows my child, and can somehow intuit what is best for her, without all this pesky thinking and analyzing.

Yes, this decision is all about Raphaela and what will suit her best now and as she continues growing and learning and achieving.  And yet, I must acknowledge that this debate starts with me, with me wanting some basic recognition for my parenting skills.  When I do make the final choice, after consulting with the professionals, I want other mothers and fathers to tell me that I am a great Mom, and that thus far I have not screwed her up too badly.

Walking this morning after dropping Raphaela off from school, I bumped into an old friend whom I haven't seen in years, a man who has put two children more or less successfully through the Israeli school system.  He gave me his two second answer, mainly, "Give her another year of play, make it the easiest year she will ever know.  Why do things have to be challenging and hard?  It's our job to smooth the way for our children."

Coming full circle back to me, and a pattern I have tried to break for many years:  I had for most of my teenage life and much of my pre-Israel adult life, believed that if you don't struggle over something, if you don't have to work hard and earn an accomplishment, if there isn't crying involved somewhere, then you are being lazy and not pushing yourself outside your comfort zone.  I have always said and continue to affirm that the moment you slide through your life and stop generating motivation to change and grow and learn new things, you might as well be dead.

Will a year of cruising in Kindergarten be best for Raphaela, or will I feel like we are cheating the system, and that I as a mother am not giving her what she needs to truly fulfill her potential?


Midlife Singlemum said...

Why would you want her to be so much older than the rest of the class (and so much taller as she's tall already) unless there is a clear reason to hold her back (which there doesn't seem to be). A child who is so much older and taller than everyone else had better be so much cleverer or she will feel it. This is one reason I let my December girl go up - I didn't want her to feel stupid if the work didn't come easily. As the youngest in the year she has a good excuse if she doesn't find it easy. And btw - she does find it easy because it is easy.

Batya Medad said...

When my kids were little, I heard a wonderful lecture about that very question. The answer is to observe your child, because the child knows best. See who her friends are and how old they are. Does she prefer playing with children a bit younger or those who will be in First Grade next year?

Doc said...

Excellent advice, both of you. Thank you.