My son is currently in a blended classroom preschool program in the school district. I really love it, and they tell us he’s doing very well there. I love the special ed teacher who co-teaches with the regular classroom teacher. I feel like he is safe there.
In August, my son turns 5. So next year, he’s not eligible for preschool anymore; he would have to go to kindergarten to get services. And with his needs (the school lists his disability as autism, even though we still don’t have answers as to whether he actually does or not), along with the fact that he will be one of the very youngest in his class, my husband and I are thinking strongly about “red shirting” him for the year.
However, when we mentioned this to his preschool teachers, they gave us some of the reasons why they wouldn’t recommend it:
1. He needs services (We don’t know for sure yet, but they will probably recommend a regular classroom with some pop out resource support.), and if we enroll him in a private preschool classroom, they will not have the resources and support that the district can provide him.
2. If we red shirt him, then he’ll be a year older, and at age 14, his special ed services are no longer the elementary school district’s responsibility but the high school district’s responsibility. So in junior high, when he turns 14, they would have no choice but to transfer him to the high school because they wouldn’t have the funding to provide services anymore. So he’d skip from 7th to 9th grade, essentially. Not good.
3. They think he’s ready and can handle it and will actually thrive there.
One of my main concerns is that it’s all-day kindergarten. So 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. That’s 7 hours at school and away from home and mom and dad. And frankly, he’s kind of a homebody like me, so that could be rough on him. (Not to mention boring and lonely for me! Not that my feelings are a factor, but…still!) If it were half-day kindergarten I wouldn’t be nearly as concerned. His preschool is 2.5 hours a day, after all, and he handles that just fine.
So I’m kind of torn. I guess I really have four options here:
- Send him to all-day kindergarten. This would ensure that he has the supports he needs in school.
- Send him for a half day. Our district gives us this option, but it’s not really optimal, as the rest of the kids will get a full day of instruction and he would miss out on that.
- Move to a different school district that has half-day kindergarten. I don’t know where this would be and don’t know if it’s a real option at this point.
- Homeschool him. I’ve often thought about the homeschooling option, but I know he would miss the social interactions, and I’m not sure I could get through the day without crazy coming out if I didn’t get a break from my boy!
At this point, we’re not sure what we’re going to do. I would love to hear from other parents who have been in this situation or have any experiences, good or bad, with full-day kindergarten or sending their young 5-year-old to kindergarten. Leave me a comment if you wouldn’t mind weighing in!
Photo by woodleywonderworks