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Our Family Read-Aloud
  • The Hoboken Chicken Emergency
    The Hoboken Chicken Emergency
    by Daniel Pinkwater
I'm Reading...
  • Your Five Year Old: Sunny and Serene
    Your Five Year Old: Sunny and Serene
    by Louise Bates Ames
  • Book of Days: Personal Essays
    Book of Days: Personal Essays
    by Emily Fox Gordon
  • The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding (La Leche League International Book)
    The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding (La Leche League International Book)
    by La Leche League International
  • Gilead: A Novel
    Gilead: A Novel
    by Marilynne Robinson

What to say

As an educator, I have found myself sitting across the table from worried parents asking for advice about how to explain difficult decisions to their children. What should we tell him? How much should we say? What if she asks…? What if he wants to know…? I know that these conversations worry adults. I have helped other parents work through a plan for communicating with children about a wide range of difficult topics.

I felt, therefore, relatively prepared to have a nonchalant and factual conversation with our son about our decision for him to wait to go to kindergarten. I knew, of course, and my instinct here is being confirmed over and over again, that this initial conversation would not be the moment of realization for our child. Children tend not to be ready for processing the information we have decided to present to them as we put down our forks and clear our throats at the dinner table or as we smooth the sheets across them and sit nervously on the edge of their beds. Their minds are already busy doing other things. When we finish giving our talks and ask if the children have any questions, they do. They want to know if there is dance class tomorrow. Or why bats stay up all night. The real questions will come later. The initial conversation is really just the planting of the seed.

Nevertheless, if a family is making a decision about a child’s education that seems to go against the grain, one needs to begin the conversation somewhere and sometime.  My next several posts will include a series of tips for talking with your child about a growing year.


And so I begin

I had not intended to begin writing here until the first day of school.  But the child in this story had other ideas.  Today a process began for him and it feels like I should document it a bit as his perception of this decision of ours, to wait for kindergarten, is important to me.  With thirty-four days of summer remaining, the process began in earnest today with a question:

"But WHY do some children go to kindergarten and some children wait?"

Looking down at the child, I can imagine the moments preceding this question, moments spent constructing some wonderful plan for playing with his Two Best Friends, some amazing new game, some fantastic new use of a costume and a Playmobil set.  But afternoon play dates with these Two Best Friends are about to become a thing of the past.  The Two Best Friends are both going on to kindergarten.  

The child leans his head against my shoulder as he asks this question, "Why?"  I feel his body melt into mine and I realize that our discussions about the fall, about how "some five year-olds go to kindergarten and some five year-olds go to preschool" have really meant little.  We are beginning here, now, and with sadness.  

My resolve about this decision melts.  Why indeed?

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