When we were getting my daughter, Chloe, ready for school last year I was so hype. Nervous as hell, but big hype! See she had just had a kidney transplant 6 months prior to us starting to get familiarized with her new school. I had no idea what to expect post transplant along with not knowing what it looked like for Chloe to be in that type of setting for 7 whole hours. I was up in arms in emotions. Aside from just being that worrisome mom, I truly felt she wasn’t ready for kindergarten.
And just know, when I say she wasn’t ready, I don’t mean that from an emotional standpoint because sister girl is beyond her years. Her lack of motor skills, comprehension , and just overall, phonics made me feel that she just wasn’t ready. I legit asked if she could start her off in Pre K, but the school informed me the age cut off was 4.
I was reassured that there were many kids that had never been to school but still do really well in Kindergarten. Although I really didn’t agree I pushed her along anyway; honestly if I would have done a little more research on kindergarten readiness, I would’ve fought harder for her to start off in Pre-K. She was barely drawing a circle. Couldn’t write her numbers, letters, let alone her name. Her hand motor strength was weak, so essential the skill set was poor. For the first few months of school, I would assist with her site words by writing them out in highlighter and having her trace it. Her free-handed penmanship was beyond illegible. All of this we had tried mastering prior to starting school, but it just hadn’t clicked.
Before I go too much further …
Let me just give you some back history on my precious Chloe. She was born full term with a birth defect called CDH, Congestive Diaphragmatic Hernia. This is when the diaphragm is either very weak or has a hole in it, which was the case for Chlo. At the same time we found out about the CDH, I was informed that she also had kidney issues.
After a 4 month stay in the NICU, Chloe was discharged with nothing more but a feeding tube in her belly, a g tube, which is a major blessing due to the severity of it all. It wasn’t until she was almost 3 that we started to be faced with kidney issues. When she was 4, I swear we were in and out of the hospital. I affectionately refer to Johns Hopkins as our second home. I was pregnant with her twin brothers at the time to so that was a character building year.
Subsequently a few months into her being 5, she was placed on dialysis. This was the year she was going to be heading to pre K. I had done all the IEP, Individual Education Plan, meetings to ensure she had all the support she needed during the school day. This is with her being on dialysis. It would’ve been hectic but we would’ve gladly made it happen. Unfortunately, Chloe’s dialysis catheter came out during one of her treatments. This is where we were informed that she had limited places for the catheter to be placed, so I opted to not risk her being out of my care around so many rambunctious kids. God blessed us with an anonymous living donor a couple weeks before she turned 6. Although she was officially diagnosed with childhood epilepsy, she has been doing amazing in this past year, medically.
I say all that to say, our focus was different! I have always tried to exercise her brain. Incorporate learn and play, but her best friends were her iPad and Elmo. Life outside of them didn’t exist. And I mean, what y’all just read was the best type of summary that I could provide. I will go more into detail about Chloe’s story later, but just know, keeping her alive and well was my number one priority. I wasn’t fighting with her to do workbook activities during her 3 and a half hour dialysis treat or after she had been poked and prooded all day. Just being real.
So fast forward…
She’s in kindergarten. It’s April, after our week long Make A Wish trip to Disney, and it’s time for Chloe’s spring IEP meeting. I was already nervous about it because I just didn’t know what to expect. The work she was bringing home reflected that she knew what she was doing, however what I was seeing at school wasn’t showing me the same. Her teacher informed me that Chloe was a few units behind her classmates.
She had only mastered about 30 site words whereas she had peers who were way further along. They read these books that are in an A through E category, E being the goal; Chloe was in a B. She had JUST started writing her name independently at this time, too. Super major for her but still delayed in comparison to her peers! The overall consensus was that Chloe would be so behind her peers, not prepared for 1st grade in the least bit, and eventually would need to be held back. So they recommended her to repeat kindergarten.
When they first said it, I felt resentful. To them because I felt like they were telling me at the 11th hour when there was nothing I could do to catch her up. Granted, we had prior meetings, where we discussed the gap between Chloe and her peers, but I was surprised to hear the level of support she was receiving to complete tasks. Not my super independent “I don’t need no help” Chloe.
I didn’t give them an answer then and there. However almost a month later, Chloe got accepted into an extensive feeding clinic so we can get rid of her feeding tube, where she we will be there for 8 hours a day 5 days a week for at least 6 weeks. She won’t be starting until the fall sometime, the waiting list was 4-6 months long! So that means at some point this school year she will be missing 6-8 weeks of school.
Her school will provide her with a tutor for the amount of days she misses, plus her teacher will prepare weekly work packets for her to complete. But now being strapped with this new information I had a whole new perspective. I COULD NOT imagine allowing Chloe to be moved along to 1st grade knowing that 1) she’s already so behind her peers and 2) for her to already be struggling, she’ll be missing out on almost 2 months of BRAND NEW learning.
So boom! Decision was made, Chloe would be repeating kindergarten!
I would be lying if I said I always felt great about my decision. Initially, I was beating myself up for it. Like dag, I really faily my first love. That’s crazy! But through much prayer and meditation, I realize I am actually doing the VERY best thing for her! She is about to kill this year of kindergarten, I have never been so sure. And here’s why:
- She attended summer school so aside from me, she received daily refreshers for a good 6 weeks out the summer. I let her live but I wanted to make sure she didn’t lose what she did gain
- Her Kindergarten readiness is A1! She can write and identify all her ABC’s and numbers 1-20. She counts to 100 for fun. Reading is her favorite past time. And she can spell and write her name beautiful without any cues!
- She’s keeping her same teacher, so the basic preparatory stuff and independence building stuff, she won’t need to face. Yes, she has new classmates but she knows so many people already. It’s her third home.
- This should’ve been number 1, but she’s my kid! She’s got this! We’ve done everything in our power to be sure of that!
I know Chloe’s story is one of a kind, but that can be said for every child. No child is the same and truly can not be compared to another child. Kindergarten is not what it used to be when I was there. It’s a rigorous curriculum that truly makes Pre K so necessary. Your kid NEEDS preschool experiences prior to Kindergarten in this day and age. And even if they received that learning but still struggle in kindergarten, it is O K A Y!
Every kid succeeds at their own pace!Me, Jarilyn 🙂