Charlotte will be attending Kindergarten next year. Ok, so that probably doesn’t surprise anyone. After all, I’ve been stressing and talking about it for, like, 2 years. The difference today is that it's official. She was accepted by a very nice private Catholic grade school that we like a lot.
What a pain in the rear end this has been. If there’s one educational reform I’d like to propose to the new administration (local, state, federal, every last one of them) it's that ya’ll need to actually standardize requirements for children attending school. Or allow some wiggle room in existing requirements. Or both (yes, I know I'm contradicting myself). I wouldn’t have been so darned annoyed by the process if we lived in the Metro East (Illinois). Or if we lived in Indy where I grew up. Or many, many other states in the US. But in Missouri, Charlotte is 24 days too young to start public Kindergarten the year she’s 5 years old. And several private schools that I talked to hold to the same date, and so many people expressed surprise that I would even question it. Many folks tried to lecture me on the negatives to pushing a child too fast.
Frustration aside, I think sometimes things work out for the best. I had walked into this school prepared to 1) get a lecture on the proper age of a kindergartener and 2) be annoyed by elitism (they were the most expensive school we talked to, by a good %). I got neither. I attended a tour led by 2 eighth graders who were polite, respectful, helpful, and knowledgeable. Good kids. We were allowed to walk through classes at all grade levels that were in session, and the kids were well behaved, attentive, polite, and calm. Every kid who passed us in the hallway said "excuse me" or "hello" and looked us, the strange parents, in the eyes and smiled. There was a pleasant happy hum to the place. The staff were well prepared for their informational meetings, well organized, thoughtful. Basically, the whole place felt right. And no elitism.
I was still apprehensive about Charlotte’s admission. The school screened her along with all of the other prospective students, and we were confident that she would test well compared to her peers. We then had a chance to talk to the head of the school about family, religion, and educational goals, and got a chance to share our experiences with advanced placement. I skipped the 4th grade and feel that it was a good decision for me. Academically I might have gone even faster. Socially, I found a group of friends to belong to and was mostly happy (as happy as a teenager can be...). My husband was not advanced, but always given advanced and extra work, and frequently got bored and then into trouble when his active young mind would wander away from the less-than-challenging task at hand. We'd rather have Charlotte challenged to be an average student, then find everything too easy and too boring to bother with. And I would fully have understood if they had decided that they'd prefer her to wait a year. I would have been disappointed, but I would have understood.
Yesterday, the admissions packet arrived. I was as happy as if someone had just accepted *me* into the school of my choice. After dinner, we celebrated by going out for ice cream as a family. And we began prepping Charlotte with the name of her new school (something we've been deliberately vague about lately, knowing that it might change on us).
Now I enjoy a quiet breather. A short breather, because pretty soon I will begin stressing about school schedules and uniforms and drop-off and packing lunches, and all the other things that come along with being the parent of a school-ager :)