Parenting Choices at its Finest

Do you ever feel that being a parent is one of the hardest, most frustrating, challenging and best times in your life? Really it doesn’t make sense does it? One minute “AUGH you’re driving me crazy!” and the next minute “Get over here I want a hug from my bestest buddy in the whole wide world!” I was not prepared for the level of emotions that came with being a parent. As if that wasn’t enough, I wasn’t prepared for all of the advice I would receive from other people, which was well-meaning 9 times out of 10. There always seems to be pressure coming from all angles: use this toothpaste, only feed your child at this time of the day, lay your child to sleep with their toes pointed north, only wear clothes made from the most delicate lamb wool.  With all of the advice you read, it is very common to feel like you are never making the right choices for your child.

With Kindergarten registration right around the corner, I felt it would be great to touch on one of the most daunting choices for a parent to make: “How do we know if my child is ready for school?” I have two children. My daughter being born one day after the state guideline cut off (September 15th).   Of course we thought she was the smartest kid in the entire world and should have been given the go ahead to start Kindergarten even though she hadn’t turned five yet. But alas, it wasn’t really our call, so she attended preschool in the morning and day care in the afternoon, starting school as a 5 year old turning 6 in September.

My son was a different story, as he has one of those really goofy summer birthdays in the middle of summer. Do you send him? Hold him back? Gosh…what if I send him too soon and he loses out of a Nobel Prize because I psychologically scarred him for sending him to school before he was emotionally ready to go? Then, of course, I do what every well-meaning parent does in the age of technology: I resort to “the google.” I really wish that the internet would respond with “You decide. It’s your child!” The nice part is that we, as parents, have so many options when our children are young to help them along the way; in home day cares, day care centers, nannies, family members, stay-at-home mothers, Universal Pre-K in the districts, preschools within the community, churches, and the list goes on. To help my son with the transition to Kindergarten, he did preschool at a private preschool in the mornings and the afternoon Pre-K in the district. This allowed him to not take naps and attend all day. Let’s just say he was a little sleepy after the first couple of days, but he adjusted well to being occupied at school.  He attended the Summer Kids Klub program with the Altoona Campus Kids Klub the summer prior to joining Kindergarten. This allowed him to become familiar with the staff in the program, get acclimated to a school building (which he was exposed to when he was in Pre-k but this is a perk for students who haven’t attended in one of the SEP school buildings), get to know more students, continue learning and perfecting skills such as lining up, going through the lunch line, eating with our peers at a table, following directions, taking turns, playing games and following rules. Now my son is in Kindergarten with his goofy July birthday and he’s doing quite well. He still has his moments; he is 5 years old after all, and quite honestly as an adult, I probably have more moments than he does. But he’s growing and adapting well with his peers.

We as parents made the decision based on what we thought our 5-year-old could handle. We did it by asking all of the people who worked the closest with him; his preschool teachers! (Sorry google you’re great for recipe searching buuuuuuuuut….) We asked if he was academically ready and social/emotionally ready. Both preschools he attended gave us the same answers. As parents you do what you feel is best for your child, don’t let the well-wishers and google let you think any other way, you know your child and trust those that help you care for them. Happy Kindergarten Registration!

-Ashley Hejlik, Altoona Campus Kids Klub Director