When I decided to start trying to get pregnant with Carter, there was one thing I did not want to do. That one thing: not to have a summer baby! But fortunately or unfortunately depending on how you look at it, I got pregnant right away and of course it was a July baby.
Why did I not want a summer baby, you ask? Well, let me tell you! I did not want to have to make the decision on whether to hold the child back when it came time to register for kindergarten. As a teacher, I know all the data! I have experienced it first hand. Watching many a children struggle because they just weren’t ready to start school – whether it be academically or socially. I saw many students struggle through 5th grade (what I taught) each year. And although you see both boys and girls who are the youngest amongst their peers struggle, most of them are boys.
So it was a double whammy. Not only did I get a summer birthday, I was blessed with a boy. From the very beginning, this idea of making a life changing decision when a child is 4 years old haunted me. But as the time crept up to register Carter, I really wasn’t worried. I just knew my child would be one of the few that could be young and still succeed in school. After all, he has two parents who are actively involved in his life and 2 sets of grandparents who are more involved then average. Carter is bright! He breezed through preschool and pre-k. Jeremy and I were very fortunate to have amazing preschool teachers that we trust! They knew our concerns from the very beginning and also erred on the side of holding him back because of his age. But we decided to take it week by week and monitor his progress very carefully. But by the end, his teachers sang his praises. He scored “above average” on their “end-of-the-year” pre-k assessment.
In April, I thought our decision was made. That was until he took the kindergarten readiness test given by the elementary school he would be attending. Evan aced the test, and since I already knew what types of questions were on it, I occasionally quizzed Carter and knew he would do well. He has always been delayed in his large motor skills and seems more interested in language more then math. So I mentally prepared myself that his scores would most likely be high in language, lower in math and lower in motor skills. But never did I even think that there was a possibility of getting the “phone call”.
The phone call that the guidance counselor makes to the parents whose children should get extra academic help because they were not ready for kindergarten. The phone call that informs a parent that their child scored in the bottom 25th percentile in several areas. The phone call that the counselor gently suggests that your child may need academic services in school (an IEP).
Needless to say, it took EVERY ounce of self control not to loose it while on the phone. Shock took over then anger, because obviously they did not test correctly. I mean I KNOW my own kid. After all I am an educator!!
I immediately called my mother in law, who is also an educator and told her what his results were. (He scored 90th percentile in letter recognition and number recognition and a couple other sections. But in most of the other areas he scored below 25th percentile. And in one area he actually scored a 0! A ZERO people!!) She was in just as much shock as I was! Many questions arose. Did he freeze up? Did he not understand what was being asked? Did he just not want to answer?
After settling down a bit and getting over my temper tantrum, I nonchalantly asked Carter one of the questions in the group that he scored zero in.
“Carter, what is a book?”
Carter immediately ran and picked up a book.
“Yes, Carter, that is a book, but can you use your words to tell me what a book is.”
*Blank Stare then studying my facial expressions*
*Trying not to make any facial expressions because he can read me like a book*
*Total panic in his face*
“I just don’t know mommy!” Cried my panicked, overly sensitive boy!
“It’s okay Carter, you know what a book is. It has a cover and pages…”
“…and WE READ IT!!!!”
Yes and we read it! You see Carter knew what one was, he just couldn’t express in words what one is. And there lies a huge problem. That is why he scored a ZERO percent on that part of the test. I then asked him a couple more of the sample questions the counselor gave me. And after about the third question, he was extremely frustrated with me and wanted to be done with the interrogation of his vocabulary skills. I know he knew what each and every item on that part of the assessment was, but he just couldn’t explain it in words. The shock was overwhelming because I never saw it coming! So began the mom guilt and the replaying of the last four and half years of his life.
Did I encourage speaking enough?
Did I let his older brother talk for him too much?
Did I ignore him sometimes when he spoke to me?
Did I baby him?
Did I overlook a learning disability?
After evaluating myself I can honestly say the answers to those questions, yes, yes, maybe, yes, maybe/maybe not! But I had to come to grips with the fact that he is possibly not ready for kindergarten. I also had to evaluate how the assessment results from both schools be so extreme! And the whole idea of what I “want” and what is best for Carter came into play. Jeremy and I had to make some major decisions that would potentially affect Carter 20 years down the line. These decisions weren’t taken lightly and that my friends was a journey that I will share tomorrow… (to be continued)