Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Young Fives vs Kindergarten

Hud's Young Fives teacher (Mrs. Frederick) is asking parents for a note about why they decided Young Fives over Kindergarten.  As some of you know, it was a VERY hard decision for me.  Below is what I wrote.

I was heading into the Kindergarten assessment (kindergarten roundup?) with no thoughts of Young Fives.  I was under the impression that it was for children who turned 5 after September 1st.  We even completely skipped the Young Fives table while we went to all of the stations.  When I got the letter weeks later saying that the school recommended Young Fives for my son, I was completely unprepared!  I was reading the letter out loud to my son and stumbled over myself.  I contacted the school and talked with Mrs. Shelton, the school counselor, about why Young Fives was being recommended for him.  He was on the border line between Young Fives and kindergarten she told me.  His birthday is mid-June, and a lot of boys starting with June birthdays go to Young Fives.  Academically he was ready, but he still liked to move around when he was supposed to be sitting.  I just kept thinking "He's a boy! He's 5!  He's supposed to be moving around!" The final decision was with what my husband and I decided, and we had a week to figure it out.  
During that week, I talked with 14 different people.  These included Mrs. Shelton, Mrs. McAlpine (the school principle), kindergarten teachers, middle school teachers, friends from work, etc.  Not a single one talked bad about having their child in Young Fives.  Not one regretted it.  Some even wished their children would have been young enough to go to Young Fives!  I was told over and over what a great Young Fives program Northwest had.  By this point, we had been telling my son that he was going to kindergarten in the fall.  He was DEVASTATED when we were considering Young Fives.  His buddies from preschool were moving to kindergarten and he couldn't understand why he might not be able to.  It broke my heart. Å friend told me that her school had recommended Young Fives, but she decided not to listen to them.  She ended up deciding to hold her daughter back in first grade because she was struggling a little bit.  A middle school teacher told me that she can usually tell which kids went to kindergarten without that extra year to 'grow up' because they are usually needing more help to understand the academics she is teaching. 
In the end, we decided on Young Fives.  What a fantastic decision that was!  Mrs. Frederick has been WONDERFUL!  My son is usually slow on feeling comfortable, and after the 2nd or 3rd day, he was telling me how much he loved school.  He has learned so much, mostly about letters, numbers, kindergarten curriculum, but also he has become a better listener, a better rule follower, and just a better kid over all.  We have one last son that will go through school in a couple of years (August birthday), and we are telling him Young Fives first, then Kindergarten.

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