As of 1 p.m. today, Ike is finally, for-real, officially registered for kindergarten.
When I called to make the appointment and admitted that yes, he's another Storch boy, little brother to the other Storch boys, I was asked why on earth I waited so long to register. A fair question.
"We had some...readiness concerns," I explained.
Ike's June birthday has always worried me. He'll enter kindergarten a full nine months younger than his brothers were, and he's never been particularly mature for his age. To be honest, he's probably the opposite of that. Especially at home where he's most comfortable with his role as "the baby."
His behavior reports from preschool weren't 100% glowing either, as he would get shy and then stubborn and refuse to participate. He'd claim he didn't know the lyrics or hand motions to the songs they sang every dang morning and sit in stony, arms-folded silence. If he didn't get his preferred seat or spot in line, he'd run off and pout in the corner. He refused to follow classroom rules he thought were silly, like not being able to get up and go to the bathroom by himself. His class had a couple older five year olds who'd already been "redshirted" for kindergarten and they seemed soooooo far ahead of him. We made the decision to have him "graduate" at the end of the year and I've been mired in doubt and indecision ever since.
Academically, he's hard to evaluate because he simply won't let you know what he knows. He told me just the other day that he doesn't know how to count to 20, and yet right now he is literally running around counting well into the hundreds like it's no big deal. Yesterday I asked him to pick out a book and read it to me; he brought a level 2 "read with help" book, then got shy and acted like he didn't know any of the words. I started reading and asked him to just guess at the occasional word. By the last page it was obvious he knew how to read that book just fine.
There's a level of sneaky mischievousness to him that points to a kid who is quite smart, who knows exactly what he's doing...and who knows exactly how and when to play dumb and helpless to avoid getting blamed, or to get out of doing things he'd rather not do.
"Ike, fold your laundry and take it up to your room."
"Ughhhh it will take so longgggg there is too muccch I can't dooooo itttt."
"Yes you can. Do it."
Ten minutes later, I'll realize Ike has enlisted Ezra's help via some complicated reward negotiation. Five minutes after that, Ezra is the only one working on the laundry while Ike has crawled under a chair to hide.
"No, Ike. This is your job. Fold your laundry and take it up to your room."
Two days later, I'll find Ike's unfolded laundry under Ezra's bed.
"Ezra put it there, Mom. It wasn't me."
(Ike will then finally fold his laundry and put it all away, happy to be doing it on his own bizarro terms.)
Possible evil geniusness aside, there are spots where Ike is clearly a little behind. He still reverts to an immature grip when writing and coloring. He has a lisp and a tongue thrust that he's not outgrowing. He throws tantrums and forgets to use his words and hits his brothers when he's angry or frustrated. He still takes a NAP some days, for Christ's sake.
Jason is fully Pro-Kindergarten. He shares a lot of my maturity and behavior concerns (he actually thinks I downplay/deny some of Ike's sensory issues) but kept pointing out that there really was no better place for those concerns to be addressed than our local school. Kindergarten has a small army of paraeducators ready to intervene and identify. We already trust and communicate regularly with the school psychologist and occupational therapist. The school has two full-time speech pathologists who can assess him and make recommendations. There is also a gifted and talented program.
Not to mention that Ike really, really, REALLY wants to go to kindergarten.
"I'm ready!" he shrieked, when the prospect of another year of preschool came up. "I promise I'm ready for kindergarten! I'll be good! I can do it!"
While I continued to procrastinate, I signed him up for summer camps, including one he attended for two weeks with Ezra: a highly academic, full-day, mixed-age school readiness program that would work on handwriting, language arts, reading, math, social studies, you name it. It was intense and not special needs focused, although they would do an initial evaluation for areas of concern and focus on those areas as much as possible. (Ezra desperately needed some handwriting help, otherwise he was just there because he thought the place looked like fun.) I also asked for their brutally honest opinion whether sending Ike to kindergarten would be a mistake.
Ike loved it.
And Ike did great.
I don't know if it was the teachers, the facility, being there with his big brother and having older kids' behavior to model, or whether Ike just finally felt challenged and rose to the occasion, but on the last day of camp the director seemed to have zero reservations about his readiness. She said we would be very pleased when kindergarten starts.
Kindergarten starts in a week and a half.