Ah, Jacob. Is it possible to see your child's future in his three month old face? I swear, I knew I would be right where I am today while pacing ruts in my floor with my screaming infant. I always joked that I felt sorry for his teachers......my words come back to haunt me.
Jacob is and always has been a hard child. I never realized how much until I was blessed with an easy child. This doesn't make me love him any less, in fact, I probably err on the side of caution and lavish more love on the harder child because it makes him and me feel better in the midst of the many issues we go through.
As an infant he was a colicky preemie. My visions of motherhood bliss quickly flew right out the window and I cried right along with him each day as I was frustrated and frazzled and sure he was going to drop dead at any moment, because holy hell, something had to be wrong with him to cry that much. As he got older, he got better, but he was always so busy and loud and just totally into things....normal for a boy, in my opinion. When he was two I enrolled him in a mother's day out program where he spent two mornings a week for three months. He was a fantastic talker at that point and started telling me each afternoon how he spent the entire time in "the office". After inquiring about this, I found out the teachers refused to work with him and the director deemed him "high functioning autistic". A woman with a GED and no college credit was telling me this. Apparently there was a clause in their enrollment papers that stated they did not have to teach autistic kids. I hit the roof when I showed up on his last day and found a woman from the local college there to observe him, but vindicated when she sided with me and found him to be nothing more than highly energetic. After that fiasco, Jacob developed a fear of women, then eventually a fear of men and then even other children. When it got to the point where we could not stroll through the Walmart without him attempting to throw punches at everyone who passed, we sought help. The woman spent fifteen minutes with him and said he had aggressive anxiety and gave us a list of ways we could help him with that and we did. Over time, we saw a big improvement in his behavior and he can now, most of the time, control his anxious tendencies and his aggression.
Fast forward three years and we have a big strapping kindergartener, smart as a whip, a long way from that wailing banshee of baby days. I am wandering through with my head in the clouds thinking things are a-ok and happy that my kid is doing so well when I get a note from the teacher requesting a meeting with me......in red ink. Uh oh, this can't be good. So two, maybe three weeks ago I meet with her and am told that Jacob is really too immature for school at this point. Although, I wasn't really surprised to hear her say that, it was still a slap in the face. You never want to hear negative things about your child, no matter how true they may be.
Now.........last spring when kindergarten was looming, I brought this up to my loving, yet dense in these matters, husband. I, myself, after witnessing the emotional beatings he took from the more mature kids at preschool and just observing his actions, for oh, five years, felt that where Jacob was five and academically capable of entering school, he was still more like a four year old in his social and behavioral interactions. Husband scoffed and said I was an overprotective mother not ready for my son to leave the nest. I have a degree in early childhood education with an emphasis in kindergarten and a masters degree in special education with emphasis in behavior disorders yet, I am labeled nervous mother by those closest to me unwilling to hear my case. So, against my better judgement I sent him off to school with my head stuck in the sand hoping that all would go well. Now, things aren't going badly, per se, but the teacher is getting increasingly frustrated with his inability to just sit down, organize himself, and work like a five year old. I have been there, man, I was the teacher for many years, I know where she is coming from so I hold her no ill will. She is working hard with Jacob and he is making some progress, albeit small.
Now.......here is my dilemma. Jacob attends private school so he can go only half a day. Our public schools are full day kindergarten and I was able to negotiate with the husband that hell would freeze over before Jacob would be able to sit in a classroom for eight and a half hours a day. So far, I like it, he likes it and academically the kid is doing first grade work and soaring through it. But being a private school, they do not have to promote kids to the next grade if they don't want to. Jacob's teacher has informed me that if Jacob does not mature immensely in the next few months that she would not recommend he go on to first grade. Okay, have dealt with this before on the other end, I get her point, BUT, she agrees Jacob is probably the smartest kid in the class and repeating kindergarten would just be a huge waste of time for him academically as by then he will probably be able to move on to second grade work. SOOOO.....these are my options:
1. I can keep him at the private school, he repeats half day kindergarten and just learns absolutely nothing new but will supposedly learn and mature behaviorally.
2. I can enroll him in an all day transitional first grade class at the private school where he would still be behind the regular first grade class and probably learning nothing new, but may be able to catch up emotionally with his peers since the kids in that class will be the same age.
3. I can take him out of the private school and enroll him in all day kindergarten at our public school where again he won't learn anything new but maybe he will be on track with his year younger peers there.
4. I may be able to get him into first grade at the public school where in the teacher's words, "they will eat him alive" and she still doesn't feel he will be ready to be in school all day.
5. I can homeschool for the next two years until he has matured enough to enter third grade with kids his own age
I, personally, want to try the homeschool approach but my husband and mother and school teacher friends are adamently against it. They believe since he has maturity issues he needs to learn how to interact in school and around others. I think I can cruise him through the next two grades academically easily in two, maybe one year, and we can assess his maturity level at the next year and go from there. No one agrees with me. I don't want him going to school for a whole extra year when he has the skills to even skip a grade. If everyone had listened to me to begin with I would have held him back a year, as the teacher said would have been best for him, we wouldn't even be worrying about this right now. What good are all those fancy degrees if no one believes you have the sense to use them anyway? It's always something......
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