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Redshirt vs. Greenlight


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. 


Okay then. 


Kindergarten starts in a week and a half. 




This is my son. He was born in June of 2011 as well and his teacher recommended another year of PreK bc of social emotional issues, no academic concerns just maturity. He has a fine motor delay and sensory issues as well so when placed with a demand like writing he would cry and throw himself on the floor. We've debated back and forth and decided to put him in our public school (he was in a Catholic private PreK) for kindergarten. I'm praying he has an amazing teacher that understands my baby. Anyway, it was awesome to to read what you wrote bc it's exactly what I'm feeling

Sue W

I hope Ike does well. Maybe it IS what he needs. But how did he get old enough for kindergarten already?!


I love your blog. That is all.


And once again, I feel like there's a lot we have in common. My little guy (3rd child) starts kindergarten exactly a week after he turns 5. He is thrilled to go, but I have Concerns. He's bright, I think, but he's a perfectionist that will profess to be totally unable to do something until he feels he can do it right. I'm just crossing my fingers for a good teacher fit and telling myself that repeating kindergarten isn't the end of the world. :-)


Hold up! Your kids fold their own laundry???


What a perfect selection of pictures to illustrate your post. I was laughing by the end there.


Wait, they don't take naps in kindergarten any more? When did that happen?


I'm an OT. My babies are twins, they just turned 7 and are about to start second grade. I do not find them mature. Surprises from school are not always pleasant, but I keep hoping maturity is on our side.


He appears to be sporting the Big Boy Kindergarten haircut....


Similar situation here, except my youngest is a September birthday. She made the cutoff by one freaking day. She's turning four this year, so as far as Kindergarten goes, well...We'll watch and wait.


You know what? If at some point in the year you decide that he needs a do-over for kindergarten, you can send him for the second year. Our August birthday child was the youngest in his class and had struggled some in the first half of pre-k but seemed to catch up. By the middle of kindergarten, it became apparent that he could use some extra time to grow emotionally and socially. So we are doing the kindergarten victory lap and so far, he's doing just fine.
Just listen to your boy and his teachers. You'll figure out what the right route is.


Trust yourself. Listen to your gut. You are his mother and know him best.


OMG, that last picture made me LOL for real


@caroline Yep, they do! I used to wash and fold their laundry and then ask them to put it away...but we realized they can handle so much more. Ike knows how to sort shirts/pants/whatever into piles and fold clothes in half (Montessori!) and Noah and Ezra know how to load the washer and move stuff to the dryer. I still have to remind them to check hamper levels though, because otherwise someone "suddenly" has no pantsssss whyyyy


It's good. If he only does things on his own bizarro terms, best he be challenged and stimulated.

We will also have a young kindergartner this year. He just turned five a week and a half ago (and we did an outdoor Star Wars screening complete with cheap light sabers as favors, OMG).

Our guy can be a bit introverted and shy at first, but he's thrilled at the idea of going to kindergarten, and was upset the Monday after he turned five that it wasn't time to go, "because you said I get to go to kindergarten when I'm five!"


Your blog nailed it: the things kids can't do, to get attention. I didn't regret not red shirting until he was in high school, where his maturity finally caught up. All the things he wanted to do, including drive, which he had to wait for, well past when his friends got their permits. He did learn from their mistakes. He went to college this week and all in all doing great.


This is a bit out of left field, but I wonder if you ever listen to the Happiness podcast by writer Gretchen Rubin and her sister, who is also a writer. Gretchen's next book will be about something she's discovered called the four tendencies. Your little guy sounds like he has "Rebel" tendencies -- someone who isn't motivated to action by the expectations of others. I only mention this because some of the podcast episodes talked about strategies to understand rebels. (http://gretchenrubin.com/happiness_project/2015/11/podcast-38-do-you-hate-being-told-what-to-do-maybe-youre-a-rebel/)


On the nap issue, my daughter pretty much napped every day until the first day of kindergarten. I was so worried this was going to be a problem. Nope, she just came home and crashed on the couch every afternoon. She eventually grew out of them. Some kids are nappers, not a bad thing.

I have a late July birthday, and have many friends that were in the same class (95) with me that had fall and late fall birthdays. They used to let you go to kindergarten when you were 4. I think worrying about summer birthdays is a fairly new thing, and might be a good thing, IDK. As Jocelyn said it does kind of stink to have to wait for things like driving, but you just learn to make friends with the kids that turn 16 early.


It's such a hard call, isn't it? We've spent the last several months waffling about our middle son (he's 5 today, actually, so a little younger than Ike), but in NY, our cutoff is Dec. 1, so most August babies go to K when they're 5. But, we decided to hold him back. He's wiggly and has a 6-second attention span and barely knows his letters because he couldn't possibly care less. Maybe it will help? Who knows? The best you can do with this is trust your gut.


My daughter is a week younger than Ike and kindergarten started here already (August 1, wtf). We were worried but she's doing great, except for coming down with two bad colds, because of course, so she's already missed three days!


I had a July baby, and had pretty much the same reservations as you. Unfortunately for me, it took until 2nd grade to realize that sending him so young was wrong for us. Lots of tears, a country school where there was only one class per grade, and a tutor/IEP was the next 6 years of our life. Fortunately, we had wonderful helpers who really WANTED to see him succeed, and nudged him into success. Knowing what I know now, I would have waited (my sister saw our situation and waited on her on-the-fence kindergartener), but I feel our story is a success. My son is now 22 and doing just fine:)

Lucy Boyd

Jeez, right there with you. My son turned 5 on 6/22 (I remember following right along with you during your pregnancy with Ike!), and we made the decision to red shirt him. Like Ike, Lukie is a fooler - he professes to know nothing, but then suddenly shows off a previously-undisplayed skill, like writing his own name. KID. We have red shirted him, mostly because he regressed big time during his 4-year old level class last year at Montessori. Couldn't hack the full day. I figure it's not like he'll get a gold medal for finishing school any sooner, and hey, at least he'll be the cool 16-year old sophomore kid who can already drive. ;)

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