There is so much as a parent that you must learn as you go. There are so many things that aren't in bold print in the "Parenting 101 Guide." There are so many answers I'd love to have the "right" answer for, but I know that the truth is that the answer depends on the child, the situation, and not every answer is the right one for every child/parent.
This brings me to some difficult decisions we've had to make for A&A. They are 5, they are in Kindergarten, they have August birthdays, and they are the babies of the class. I remember early on having people ask me if we would hold the kids back in school. This was early in the day when I was just trying to figure out what formula worked best and just praying they'd sleep 3 hours consecutively. My mind was in no shape to think about their educational future. Well, that time is now and decisions have to be made. Last year Wes and I thought long and hard, consulted many educators at all levels, talked to counselors and observed kids in classes at different grade levels. In the end we decided it would be best for us to enroll A&A at St. Paul's for Kinder and repeat Kinder in public school. It was such a tough decision as A&A are right on track with their peers. They have good friends, Wes and I have great friends with parents who have kids their age and so far they are right on track academically. BUT, there are key points that helped make our decision to hold them back. Here are just a few of the statements we heard from many teachers and parents: "we've never seen holding a child back (giving them time) hurt a child"; "that extra year can do wonders for boys socially"; "do you want a leader or a follower?"; "do you want your child going off to college as a young or mature 18 yr old?"; and I admit this had some influence, "that extra year will give them an extra year of growth for sports."
We enrolled them for Kinder at St Pauls and the year has been FABULOUS!! They have learned so much, made great friends, and grown spiritually and socially. Avery is reading like crazy and Austin is able to draw out stories he reads and show off his artistic skills. St. Paul's is FANTASTIC/AWESOME/CHRISTIAN/ LOVING, but still we have to make a decision that we feel is right for the kids and our family and this is the time to do it, so to public school they will go and they will be entering as Kindergarteners.
This brings me to public school registration that took place last week. It was one of the most stressful, tear filled days of my life. Not only was I moving A&A from a private school environment, I was having to choose schools for them, one they will spend the next 5 years (K - 4th). It was a tough decision as I was trying to decide between 2 great elementary schools (Brenham has 3) and I just didn't know which way to go. As I have told many people, there was no wrong answer, but I didn't know the "right" answer. I sat at the table during registration will all the forms filled out (7 per child) except for the blank that stated the campus of choice. I sat there for 30 minutes. There were good reasons for both... location, administration, kid friendly environment, kids friends, our friends, academic ratings.... in the end I/we chose Brenham Elementary School. The thing that sold us was the kid friendly environment... it was built to be an elementary school, the cafeteria is small, the halls are seperated by grade by carpet coloring and they playground is kid friendly. Having a good friend as the vice principal helps also.
So, next year, I will have two drop offs (Caleb will still be at St. Pauls) and we will attempt to be at school by 8am every morning. I know that first day will be rougher for me than them. I had a pretty tough transition from private to public... one that I remember well to this day. I am comforted knowing they will put A&A with kids that they know from St. Paul's and I love that we know so many of the teachers and staff at BES (a definite perk of living in a small town!). They will be taken care of and restart their academic careers. There will be ups and downs but those tough decisions to get them there have been made and now there is no looking back.