“Because…really…what’s the rush?”
It’s a canned response I’ve dished out lately when parents have asked about testing my four-year-old daughter for early admittance into kindergarten. Willa bakes cakes, packs her own lunch for preschool, and has been picking out ensembles and dressing herself since she was three. She’ll be five in October, which means she misses the cut-off by two months. Sure, it’s just two months. However, I am in no way interested in having her tested for early admittance. And this bewilders people.
So again I ask, “What’s the freaking rush?”
Academics aren’t the whole story. Willa’s language is impeccable. She correctly uses words like “hilarious” and “ridiculous.” She knows her letters, numbers and can articulate her emotions in the midst of a tantrum. But that’s just it; she can be incredibly open-mouth-throw-your-head-back-and-cry dramatic when things don’t go her way. This is something we are working on and I believe is improving as she matures. In the meantime, we interact with other kiddos her age through play dates, soccer and various activities outside of the classroom.
Girls are meany pants. Being the youngest girl in kindergarten isn’t a big deal. But that also means, she’d be the youngest in middle school, high school and graduate before she’s 18. Growing up I was not just the youngest, but also the smallest and last to develop. My classmates were brutally cruel and isolating. I’d like Willa to experience things like learning to drive and buying her first bra with her peers. Seems trivial now, but try being the only girl at Lindsay D’s 13th birthday party without a training bra. I can still hear them laughing at me.
Society injects the growth hormone. When I was confused or curious as a kid, I talked to my mom or best friend. Kids just google it. They have access to endless information—videos, apps, outspoken older siblings. The lines between what’s real and what’s absolutely untrue aren’t just blurred; they don’t exist anymore. My kindergartner has learned about Pokemon, how to kill a zombie (in full detail), and has two peers “marrying their girlfriends.” I have to restrain myself from calling his classmates’ parents and screaming, “DO YOU KNOW WHAT YOUR KID SAID,” when he shares what he learned at school that day.
Let them be little. It’s one of my favorite hashtags and parenting perspectives. “At the age of four you should be running around in a sandpit and the garden making cups of tea and doing whatever with muddy water,” said Labour Leader Andrew Little, in a recent msn.com article on early admittance. Are my hillbillies the only kids who still make mudpies? They are perpetually dirty exploring with all their senses, just as they should be at six, four and almost two years old.
I’ve said many times in previous posts how terrified I am to bring my kids up in today’s world. This is why as a parent I’m setting my own boundaries. Less technology, more free play. Slap on the sunscreen and get outside. Go for a walk, climb a tree, walk around with dirty toes wearing flip flops. Because it’s close-toed shoes and assigned seating from here on out kid. Most of what you learn will come from some punk on the school bus, but I hope (and pray) that the foundation we are building today is both strong and comforting when you are ready to leave the nest.
Each kid is different. My own three are from different planets. What do you think about early admittance: is your little ready for kindergarten?