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First Day of School AND a Past Due Story..

Posted Aug 09 2012 11:00pm

With so much going on last year, and my lack of desire/energy/motivation/time blogging, I never wrote about our decision to move the kiddos from Kindergarten to Transitional Kindergarten (TK). I wish I had. At the time, it was a really big deal for us and something we spent hours/days/months stressing over.

The short version goes a little something like this...

The summer before Kindergarten we enrolled the kiddos in a neighborhood school "readiness" program. All four excelled and flew through with flying colors and praise. The teachers even tried to talk us into skipping Kindergarten and moving all four on to 1st grade. They had just turned 5.

One month later they began Kindergarten at a private, Catholic institution, my Alma mater! They even had my 1st grade teacher, who I adore(d)! How sweet, right?! We were so excited and I knew, leaving my babies, they were in amazing hands.

Well, turns out, our "readiness" teachers didn't quiet have it right. Within the first couple of months, all four kiddos began to struggle socially, emotionally, and academically. I won't bore you with all the details and stories, but I will try and summarize. First, they were REALLY young for their class (in most cases nearly a year younger). Next, having all 4 in the class became a detriment to their development. Libby, who is incredibly shy, would hang on Molly and Ally all day long. They were treating her like a baby, and this mama was NOT HAVING THAT! Then, Mr. Russell started to have some behavioral issues. The little dude was just NOT ready to sit still and focus... the kid, just like his mommy, is like the dog in UP , "Squirrel!"  The new schedules, drop-off routine, pre-class time, post-class time - it all added up and was hard for him to handle and maintain his attention span and focus.

At this point, we sat down and talked about moving Russ and Libby down to TK and keeping Molly and Ally in Kindergarten. The thought of separating them a grade level broke my heart, but I knew we needed to decide what was best for each child. First and foremost, they are individuals. Mrs. Williams (their teacher) was kind and patient with us and we weighed the pros and cons over the next few weeks. Lord knows she has had practice in this matter... SHE is the one who HELD ME BACK in 1st grade and I was so much because off because of it. Anyway, just when we were ready to move Libs and Russ... Molly and Ally started to struggle as well.

The rest of the class was starting to read and they could not keep up. We worked on site words tirelessly at home, but it just wasn't translating in the classroom. Before we knew it, they were having behavioral and social issues too - a result of frustration. They just weren't ready for the seriousness and structure of the Kindergarten classroom. When did Kindergarten become 1st grade?

In many ways, our BIG KIDS just needed a bit more time as little kids. They didn't attend a formal Pre-K program, and much of my efforts to work on curriculum at home went well.  But sometimes you can't replicate experiences, socialization, and time to acclimate to new environments and experiences outside the house.  Translation? All four needed to move down to TK. In a way, it was a positive that we waited so long to move Russ and Libby, because moving all 4 did make the transition a bit less traumatic. Within a week our kiddos began to thrive again and we knew, without a doubt, that we had made the right decision for each of them.

Throughout the rest of the year each child made his/her mark on the class and were free to share their talents and accomplishments in a more laid back environment. They gravitated towards different kids, made other friends and prided themselves on what made each of them special, distinct.  However, we knew, in private school (one class per grade level), they were not going to get the separation they truly needed. The faculty, though sad to lose us, agreed that we needed to do what was best for our kids.  Fast forward to...

This Spring we moved up to an area with truly WONDERFUL public schools. Schools were not the only reason for our move, but that is another story for a different time! Today we watched with giant grins as the fruits of that labor and difficult decisions paid off. Today, we sent them off, smiling ear to ear, to their new school. It feels so different from last year. Today they were confident and ready to CONQUER Kindergarten.

In their new school, they will be separated 2/2 and not looked at as a group (at least not all the time =), but as the darling individual people that they are. Eventually, if they want, they can even be in 4 classrooms. How cool is that?! So, how did we decided on who goes where? Easy! Russ and Molly share a room. Ally and Libby share a room. At school Russ and Libby are classmates as are Molly and Ally.

So far, this dynamic works great for each child. Molly and Ally are fiercely independent and social YET different as night and day. They will do well together. Russ, goofy and super outgoing ("Hi, I'm Russell.  Want to be my friend?"), marches to the beat of his own drum, but I know he will keep an eye on his sweet sister. Libby, shy as the night is long, won't have her sisters to cling to and I hope that this will give her a chance to blossom and make friends on her own (something she had a hard time doing last year).

Happy First Day! 
(L to R)Ally, Molly, Russ, Libby
 ClassmatesRuss and Libby
ClassmatesMolly (bed head) & Ally 

I am thrilled to report that upon pick up this afternoon they were all in great spirits and could not wait to share the days activities. It's going to be a GREAT year for the McNulty kiddos. :)

Perfectly  disheveled!  (L to R)Molly (mile long legs like daddy), Libby, Russ & Ally
This parenting gig sure is a roller coaster. All we can do is work hard, love deeply, pray with our whole hearts, and hope that once in a while we get it right. Happy back to school EVERYONE, have a great year! 
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