In January we were notified that Jeremiah would be moving up to Kindergarten in the next school year. We’ve been so happy with his progress in his current preschool (he’s now on his second year), that we were in trepidation of him moving forward. His birthday fell twelve days short of the cutoff for entrance to Kindergarten (meaning he would be one of the youngest kids in his class), AND he has Autism, which means he’s developmentally delayed. His teacher, who we greatly respect, had the same fears we did, in fact she said those fears kept her up at night. (Jeremiah has a way of pulling at people’s heartstrings.)
We are all for inlcusion, but Jeremiah isn’t ready for Kindergarten, and we know if he had another year in his preschool class, his success would be much better.
Reasons why Jeremiah isn’t ready for Kindergarten:
- He doesn’t interact or play with his peers. He’s come a long way this year and is noticing his friends, which is awesome, but play/social interaction is a foundation piece for his future that he hasn’t developed yet.
- He’s not able to sit still. I’ve been in the classroom he’ll be moving into and the teacher expects a lot, which is great for kids who are neurotypical, but difficult for children like Jeremiah. I’ve volunteered in my daughter’s Kindergarten class, they read quietly for twenty minutes, then they move to circle time where the teacher reads to them, then comes quiet writing workshop. Yikes! That’s at least an hour that I’m not sure what Jeremiah will do, and the class is only three hours long.
- He’s learning more of what a two-year-old might be, versus a Kindergartener.
So, we had some concerns, plus he’d be one of the youngest kids in his class. We asked the preschool director, Karla*, to keep him in preschool another year. When Justin first spoke with her to discuss the situation, Karla said in a very motherly tone, “Many parents are concerned when their children go into Kindergarten.” Justin assured her this isn’t about our “baby” moving into Kindergarten, it is expressly the concerns I listed above, PLUS the worries we have for the teacher.
Karla said that ultimately the decision would be made by the team who works with Jeremiah – the teacher and three therapists.
We had also met with the school principal, Ellen*, and the psychologist, Jackie* (both have observed Jeremiah in his classroom) and we thought they were in agreement with us. But when Karla called Justin earlier this month, she said the final decision was up to her and the principal, she was very abrasive and said the decision was…
What? Karla’s never observed Jeremiah, yet she was making this decision which would affect the rest of his life. We also thought it odd that the principal had sided with her, because we weren’t getting that vibe.
“Don’t allow educators who’ve never observed your child make monumental decisions for them.”
Karla said there were three criteria that determine retention, and Jeremiah has to meet two of the three. They are: 1) The child’s birthday falls within ten days of the cutoff. 2) The child is ONLY socially or emotionally delayed. 3) The child has only attended one year of preschool.
Jeremiah’s birthday falls so close to #1 that Karla was willing to let that one slide (all sarcasm included in that statement). He didn’t meet #3 because this is his second year of preschool.
And about #2. Jeremiah didn’t meet that one because he’s more than socially or emotionally delayed. Basically it was explained to us, in Karla’s opinion (yes, the woman who has NEVER met my son), if Jeremiah were to attend preschool one more year he wouldn’t be socially and emotionally caught up. This criteria is set up for those who they have the “hope” of developing in those areas.
So, in the mind of the preschool director, the decision was final. However, she didn’t know that in our minds it wasn’t. I began talking with therapists, and trying to get ahold of his doctor and the psychologist who diagnosed him. I was gathering letters and information on the importance of him repeating preschool one more year, to set him up for success in the future. My gathering wasn’t going well, because I couldn’t get a phone consult with his doctor, and the psychologist is unreachable in the time I have to make phone calls (without a little guy jumping through the house screaming).
But I had a big surprise (such wonderful news that I bawled when I read it) last Wednesday when I opened my emails. There was an email from Jeremiah’s case manager (yes, there are several people involved). She said the school board had changed the entrance birthday/age for Kindergarten enrollment. They moved it back two months, so this means Jeremiah won’t be five by the selected date,
so he can’t move on to Kindergarten!
In the end, the school board made the decision for us. Jeremiah will attend preschool another year. Wooohooo! Everyone who was in support of him staying in preschool, which is everyone minus two, is laughing at the situation. It’s funny how some were sticking their heels in, staunchly against Jeremiah staying another year, and behold the decision was made FOR them, and they were taken out of the equation. As one person involved said, “I call this sweet justice.”
We spoke with the principal, and she said she had no part in the decision to move Jeremiah into Kindergarten. I don’t know what Karla’s problem is, but it seems she can’t get her facts straight.
God is watching over these kids, He shows His protection over them continually; new programs popping up, and our kids are the first to go through, new services becoming available, beginning with these two, and BIG decisions made by school boards that affect Jeremiah. It’s been amazing to watch.
*Names have been changed to protect privacy.
Some other posts that may be of interest:
Out of My Mind – including special needs
what is inclusion?