Our oldest started kindergarten last fall. I was rather hesitant in sending him to a full day program* after having him home with me until then. I seriously considered holding him back a year (he’s an April boy) but at the end felt it was best for him to enter the public education at that age. We spent a month in Finland at the end of September and I was glad about the break it offered to him from school.
He’s a delightful and smart kid. Kinda introvert, takes after his Daddy, but has good social skills. I knew going to school every day would likely be a challenge but I did not anticipate the crying and begging that ensued most nights. He complained the ‘day was just too long, could he just stay home?’ He was counting days until the next weekend/holiday/vacation. It was puzzling because in the mornings he would be happily skipping to the bus stop and did not even look back to wave good buy.
Both my parents were teachers. I believe in good solid education. When I had mentioned the possibility of holding him back a year my mother did not believe I was serious**. Education is important. Teachers are important. I know this. But I also know my son. I know when he’s had enough and over the Christmas break I decided I needed to do something. Something to change the course so that in years to come he would still have that desire for learning.
I had a meeting with his teacher (what a treasure she is!) and the principal in January. I wanted to pick him up at half day once a week (making his week 3 full days, 2 half days). The principal very reluctantly agreed to a trial for 6 weeks. We’re half way through that trial. It has made a big difference. But now I want more (of course I do!). I want to go to the next meeting and request he get picked up at half day every day. I can already see the principal object to this .. because ‘his school attendance is my responsibility’, that’s what she told me at the first meeting. Honestly, I could care less about his attendance. I don’t care if he misses music, or gym, or library or the social experience or does not get to practice lining up one more time …. What I care about is his well being, his enthusiasim for learning, him getting enough time to play and rest. He is 5 years old!
I realize that I have a different mindset than most of my neighbors. But I come from Finland where kindergarten is for 6 year olds, where 1st grade is no longer than 4 hrs/day (yes you read that right) and where kids score on top of the world year after year. I am all for great education. I am not for chronic fatigue at the age of 5. Or 6. Or 7. I’m also not entirely sure how to proceed with the principal (or with my son). Would love to hear your thoughts. And if you happen to know the MA education law could you tell me what my legal rights are to pull him out at half day, please?
*As of past fall our town offers full day program at no cost and while not mandatory it is strictly enforced.
** This was before she realized that kindergarten was for 5 year olds and was a full day.
Hanna is a wife of a wonderful man, a mother of a kindergartener and 4 year old twins. They make a home in Lexington, MA. She is grateful her own parents made her get a degree in nursing before letting her move to America.