The preparation for Brytin’s first day of elementary school began months ago.
One day last spring, I stopped at the school he would be assigned to based on our address. Of course, it is not the closest school to our house – there are two others within walking distance, but whatever. Our address is assigned to Loma Elementary – a K-5 school atop a hill in the La Mesa Spring Valley District.
So, I stopped in the office to double-check the birthday cut-off is really December 2(Brytin’s birthday) and that having your birthday on the cut-off doesn’t make you ineligible to start kindergarten. I was also looking for some insight as to whether or not it was a good idea to start him in kindergarten. I realize someone has to be the youngest kid in class, but should it be Brytin?
Lo and behold, there was a kindergarten walk-through scheduled for the very next day! What are the chances?! Kathie, the very very helpful lady who works in office suggested I bring Brytin the following morning for the walk-through and then have him interview with the principal afterward to get her assessment.
That evening, I explained to Brytin that the very next day, he was going to get to see his new school! (We had previously had discussions about kindergarten.) I requested that he be on his best behavior when we walked around and I encouraged him to show his principal, Ms. Beason, how very smart he is.
He was AMAZING during the kinder walk-through! He was well-behaved, attentive and especially excited about the kids’ computers in the library. When we met with Ms. Beason, he passed her tests with flying colors! He could recognize numbers and letters out of sequence (kids often memorize the ABC song, but don’t actually know their letters); he wrote his name and could also name the shapes she drew.
Ms. Beason was very complimentary towards where Brytin is academically. I made sure to heap praise on his preschool when I dropped him off that day. Thankfully, Ms. Beason was also frank and explained that typically four-year-old boys are not socially mature enough for the rigors of five-day a week, full day kinder. She said that even though his academics are stellar, we may notice after a week or a month that Brytin just isn’t adjusting to life as a kindergartener. He may not be emotionally developed enough to be in elementary school.
If we do find that kindergarten seems to be all too stressful for him, we have some options. We can take him out of elementary school and put him back in preschool. Or we could try leaving him in class, but consider having him repeat kindergarten next year.
I asked her if there was anything in particular I should focus on with him throughout the summer and these were her suggestions:
• Parts of a book (cover, title page, reading left to right, etc)
I left the kinder walk-through extremely excited for his first day of school and bursting with pride at how truly awesome my stepson is.
Over the summer, I enrolled Brytin in a community art class and some karate lessons to provide some interaction with other children and a teacher/student environment. We also had to take him to the doctor (where he got four shots) and the dentist (where he got six cavities filled). I also worked with him on how to sound out words and eventually write them.
A couple weeks before school started, we had another interview at the school; this time with the kindergarten teachers. They use the interview to assess the children and try to sort them into classes that would work well together.
I checked with the teacher that interviewed him regarding his age and if she thought starting him was a good idea. She told me the exact same thing as Ms. Beason – academically he is totally prepared for kinder. We cannot really know where he is socially until he gets into a routine during the school year (at least a month in). She said we should be prepared for some struggles the first few weeks. Four-year-olds do not quickly adapt to newness and change, and so he will be tired and possibly irritable.
So, here it is, the night before my amazing stepson will begin his lengthy school career. His backpack is set, his outfit chosen. The camera is ready and we have a plan in place to get Adrienne over here to share in the festivities. We are as prepared as we’ll ever be for our son to start school. I am excited for him. I am nervous for him. But mostly, I am sad that our summer of adventures is over.