Parenthood is a Neverending State of Questioning Yourself

Last night, I attended conferences at Pumpkin’s preschool.

Last night, I drove home from conferences discouraged, frustrated and angry.

Her teacher told me, “I think next fall you’ll want to put her in the Young Fives program versus Kindergarten. I don’t think she’ll be ready for kindergarten.”

She showed me how she asked Pumpkin which letters she recognized, upper and lower case. She showed me when she asked Pumpkin which numbers she knew. And in the case of both letters and numbers, what was reported was considerably less than what I know my daughter knows. You cannot tell me she doesn’t know the letters M and O when I have a post-it stuck to my desk where she wrote “M O M” for me.

It’s as though they sat her down and pointed to a letter and Pumpkin, with her mile wide stubborn streak decided, Y’know… I don’t feel like doing this today.

And clammed up. I’m not sure.

Her teacher advised getting an IEP for Pumpkin once we enter the public school system. REALLY?

Admittedly, I cried a bunch last night. I cried because she’s an amazing kid – and she’s a smart kid. I cried because I felt that her teachers were selling short her abilities because she wasn’t answering their cookie-cutter questions versus assessing her based on work that she’s already done in the classroom. I cried because when it comes to teaching our children, one size DOES NOT fit all, and what might work for little Timmy, Suzy, and Johnny may not work for my child. Instead of searching to find ways that work, they were willing to write her off as not being able to get it – saying “no kindergarten” as if in nine to ten months, she wouldn’t mature and grow to the extent that she might thrive in kindergarten.

To which (once I was done crying) I said, “FORGET THAT.”

I have spent a lot of time this morning exploring some options. I have called the Early Childhood center in our school district for an assessment – this will include an assessment to determine if she requires speech therapy. I’ve also contacted the local preschool to talk to them about what is the expectation for kindergarten readiness and to see if they possibly had openings in their preschool program (The Princess attended that preschool for a semester). A preschool teacher called me back and among many other things, assured me that it was far too early for ANYONE to determine if a kid is going to be kindergarten ready.

She also said that preschool teachers in daycare are often not degreed, and though they are doing the best they can – there is something to be said for having spent the time doing the course work. And that four year olds are notoriously stubborn, and that her own four year old had done the same thing with her preschool assessments – refused to answer questions! She said that kids between the ages of three and six are exploding with growth and change all the time – and ten months is a LONG TIME.

And she has an opening in her class.

It’s an option. And I love having options. I am not willing to allow someone to tell me what my daughter CANNOT do. Tell me what she IS doing, and then tell me what’s next – what will she learn next. If they are telling ME she won’t be ready, do their actions tell her the same?

I don’t know.

There was this period last night where I felt like the air had been sucked out of my body and that someone had been pointing out my daughter’s flaws versus telling me they had any idea of the ways in which she is amazing, the ways she is incredible, that she uses words like “extinct” and “omnivore” in conversation and she knows damn well what they mean. The way that she is creative and her imagination is awesome.

What will happen next? I’m not sure. If we can, it’s highly likely she’ll change preschool programs. A change of scenery might be a good thing. I hate not having the answers, but I do know that I won’t stop trying to figure it out until it’s right.

About sarah

Sarah is a book nerd, a music lover, an endorphin junkie, a coffee addict. Oh, and a goof ball. She writes, she tweets, and she sings off key.


  1. I thought readiness for kindergarten was strictly based on emotional maturity – I didn’t realize they had to pass the SATs! I’m sorry, but that is ridiculous!! Skye only knew a handful of letters and numbers as sight recognition upon entering Kindergarten and she’s flourishing. Oh, and remember she was officially diagnosed as autistic even though she has been mainstreamed into a regular class.

    Where exactly do you live that they have these kind of evaluative requirements? I do live in granola country – they actually considered throwing out the grading system at one point since it might hurt kids’ self-esteem (totally not kidding, btw!) We’re a little more “free-flowing” out here… but still!!

    • Her stubborn streak could be seen as definitely an area where she needs to improve emotional maturity. And I don’t disagree with that…. but I talked to a preschool teacher from our school district yesterday (not where Pumpkin goes) and she said that often preschools within daycare centers have a difficult time because the teachers aren’t degreed in early childhood education because daycare centers can’t afford to keep them on staff.

      This was fine for when my eldest was in preschool (everything seems to come so easily to her), but I think Pumpkin needs the benefit of someone with a little more teaching tricks up his or her sleeve.

  2. Did they ever say anything that lead you to believe they were concerned about her progress or abilities before ? Or did this kind of hit you from out of the blue ?

    Maybe Pumpkin 1) didn’t want to do what the teacher was asking her to do the day of testing, or 2) Maybe she just didn’t respond well to that particular teacher ? 3) Maybe she was trying to hurry up and get it over with, because she wanted to play ?

    There could be lots of explanations that have nothing to do with her true abilities. Kids are funny that way.

    I think it’s great you’re being pro-active, and getting a second opinion.

    Hopefully this teacher is just an alarmist.


    • Nope, no indication ever that they were concerned about her progress. And that’s what has my husband so mad – why are they now saying, “Nope, she won’t be ready?”


  3. As a mom of many, many children I can honestly say a lot can happen developmentally in 10 months.

    And one teacher could feel she’s not ready to enter Kindergarten at 5, while another teacher feels she is. Do the teachers have the final say where you live, or do the parents get to decide ?

    It kind of sounds like the teacher is basing her opinion more on daughter’s emotional maturity, than her academic abilities. I’ve seen a lot of kids enter Kindergarten that didn’t recognize their ABCs, etc…and they caught on quickly. If they know it ahead of time that’s great, it gives them a little jumpstart, but the other kids generally caught on rather quickly.

    Here is a helpful site that I used to help teach my younger kids how to read.

    Using word flash cards is another great way to help her learn how to read. Letter & number BINGO games are fun, and helpful.

    Use tracing paper to help her learn how to write her name.

    Make vanilla pudding, add food coloring of her choice (give her lots of choices and control, so she’ll want to do the activity), and put it on wax paper or construction paper, and let daughter practice writing her letters & numbers in colored pudding.

    If she’s stubborn make learning fun, because that’s the best way to counter a stubborn personality.

    Also, have you observed for yourself how she is doing with her peers ? Have you observed how she acts in comparison to other kids her age in class (not that I like the comparison game, I don’t). If yes, does she act similiarly or does she march to the beat of her own drum ?

    Personally I don’t necessarily believe in holding kids back, due to their maturity level. If that was the case two of my stepkids should have been held back, and they’re doing fine academically. Maturity happens when it happens. It can’t be rushed.

    Hope something in there was helpful.

    Good luck Mama Bear !

  4. Oh gosh. I was wondering what had happened at the conference that made you sound so discouraged.

    You know, when my little sister was in kindergarten, her teacher gave her a poor grade because she couldn’t control her scissors well and she didn’t “understand” the correct colors to give objects. She’d color patchwork puppies or blue kittens or something. She’s 24 years old and is still embarrassed and ashamed of that (because she is very bright and yes, she could and did read her progress reports in kindergarten).

    Maybe it’s just that she knows her teacher doesn’t “get” or respect her, and she’s giving it back? I know I used to do that when I was younger. If I felt patronized, I’d give them a mental f-you and not cooperate. 🙂

    I don’t know what you’ll decide to do, but I think it’s important that YOU know what Pumpkin is capable of and that you’re the kind of mom who will go to bat for her. There are lots of different ways to learn and to be, and just because this teacher doesn’t understand that doesn’t mean your daughter is less than stellar.

  5. Just so you know, I do the kindergarten readiness screening at my school – IN JUNE before the kids start. They are NOT supposed to know all their numbers and letters. Good gawd girlie. Call me if you want me to send you the guidelines and get her out of that crazies class! Don’t let her judgment over shadow your true insight. (((hugs))))

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