On Monday when I got home from running a few errands while the boys were at summer school, the answering machine (yes, we still have one of those) indicated that we had a message. I pressed play.
“Hi, this is Mrs. Elementary School Principal, and I wanted to take a moment to talk to you about Cole’s Kindergarten screening. Please give me a call back at [principal’s office number] to discuss at your earliest convenience. Thank you!
I knew what it meant. In our district, if your child struggles with a certain percentage of the kindergarten screening questions, they qualify for extended day kindergarten. I had my suspicions about Cole. He is on target with math…but the alphabet and words, well, he really just doesn’t care. I have dug deep into my mommy bucket and tried numerous suggestions, but he just doesn’t care. He plays along for a bit, and then he tires of it and wrestles out of any learning activity. My heart sank, and a little pit formed in my stomach.
I called the principal and she was very pleasant. She said that his screening indicated that he was an “at risk” child in terms of reading and literacy. He also, apparently, had trouble following directions. Now, I know Cole…and he may have had a little trouble…but more likely, he just didn’t want to do the requested task, so, well, he didn’t. He is lagging with letter recognition, phonetic awareness, and ability to write letters. I know all of this, it was indicated on his preschool year end report. It doesn’t make it any easier.
I know that Cole is capable and intelligent. Cole’s interests currently lie in other areas. Letters, words, and reading on his own don’t carry much interest for him. He’d rather do a puzzle or put blocks together or create patterns. He would rather rough and tumble play with his brothers or play make-believe with his friends than sit and learn about the alphabet and which letter makes which sound.
Cole is the most intuitive person I have ever met. Seriously. The way he makes connections between concepts is almost frightening to me. He sees patterns that even I have trouble discerning. He is a puzzle master, a Lego genius. He can assemble sets that his brothers still struggle to build. He has a decent vocabulary, loves being read to, and can add and knows his numbers up to 30.
Cole is also incredibly social. He can read social situations very well, he knows how to label emotions and feelings, and often expresses himself without trouble. He can be kind and caring, and he is assertive when he needs to be.
This program will give him a boost to get him where he needs to be, even if it isn’t a straight, “typical” path. I am feeling torn, though. It’s a little demoralizing as a parent to hear for a third time that you kid isn’t quite up to snuff with his like-age peers. I know I should only worry about Cole and getting him what he needs, but I can’t help but let those familiar parenting insecurities creep in, and my inner-adolescent wonders what other parents must think of me.
But, I know Cole will be okay. He’s very young for his class. He has a late June birthday (should have even been August). He has some growing to do, yet. I’ll just spend this summer working on his alphabet and increasing his phonics abilities..and hopefully get him to recognize some sight words. He will benefit from the increased exposure to literacy preparation and writing. And next school year, he will make progress and gains when he is immersed in this extended day program.
My other dilemma, of course, is wondering what I should do to fill all of that free time, come August! With Tate’s therapy, I know that I won’t be able to work full time, or really even part-time, yet, but hmm….I may need to check out some freelance opportunities…or get our house organized for once….or put some of those Pinterest ideas to work. Suggestions are welcome!