Wednesday, March 7, 2012

A Plan for Cade

I went to parent-teacher conferences this afternoon for Cade.  I have known virtually all along that Cade has been having some problems with Kindergarten, so I came prepared to really talk with his (awesome) teacher about it and come up with a plan of action.

I hesitate to post this because no one wants to post about their kid's shortcomings or problems.  Everybody wants to talk about how amazing and talented and perfect their kid is.  So, to admit to everybody that my kid struggles (a lot) is hard for me.  It breaks my heart a little.  But at the same time, I want to do this because I'm NOT ashamed of Cade.  He may have some difficulties with school, but he's still incredibly smart and sensitive and sweet.  So I'm just going to tell it like it is.

I have been worried, because I know that Cade is behind other kids his age.  Most kids by this stage of Kindergarten are reading basic words (cat, top, mat) and Cade is only just now recognizing all the letters of the alphabet (upper and lower case) and learning word sounds.  He's about average with the other kids in math, it's more his reading skills that are not up to par.  And, his teacher confirmed today what I already know about Cade: that he's incredibly smart, that he can do the work, but that quite simply, he doesn't want to.  When he gets to school, he asks the teacher repeatedly when he can go home or when recess is.  When she is trying to work with him on his letters, he'll usually turn his head away and say he doesn't want to try anymore.  He lacks the motivation and the maturity that most kids his age already have.  He has NO passion or desire to learn.  And I've known this.  Getting him to do his homework every night is a major struggle.  Getting him excited for school every morning is a monumental task, and it usually results in many tears and him begging me to let him stay home, that he can't go to school because he is "sick."

So, basically, Cade's only problem with school is that he doesn't want to try. 

So, the good thing is this: we are moving this summer to a new city, so he will have a new opportunity to start school fresh in a new place where no one knows him or assumes anything about him.  Cade's birthday is in August, so he just barely made the deadline, and is the absolute youngest in his class this year, which I suspect is why some kids have more maturity than mine does - he's just not quite there yet.  So, I talked with his teacher today, and unless Cade makes some dramatic improvements between now and the end of the school year, then I am going to take him to his new elementary school in the fall and have him repeat Kindergarten.  It's going to be good because Cade is finally (hopefully) going to feel like the big fish in a little pond.  Hopefully he'll have more confidence going through Kindergarten the second time around, and by then I'm hoping and praying that his maturity level will have caught up with his age a little more.   He won't have to feel bad about repeating Kindergarten because he won't see all of his friends and classmates go to first grade while he hangs back, because he'll be in a new school environment.  The worst thing I could do to Cade would be to force him into first grade before he's ready, when he doesn't know the material he needs to know.  It would make him hate school even more because he'd be behind and feel self-conscious that other kids were doing things he cannot yet do.  I won't put my kid knowingly in a situation that makes him feel scared and self-conscious and upset.  I just won't do it.

It's better to swallow my pride and do what's best for my child.  And Brandon and I and his teacher all agree that this could be a really great fresh start for him.

But this decision wasn't easy.  During the meeting with his teacher today, I was so embarrassed, but I couldn't stop tears from sliding down my cheeks as I talked to his teacher because I wouldn't choose this for Cade.  It's not easy hearing unpleasant and difficult things about your child.  I just wish I could  make things easier for him.

But we really feel this is the best thing we can do for him; the best thing we can do to help him at this point.  So we're just going to finish out this school year with Cade with lots of love and support and encouragements to try, and have high hopes in the coming school year that he can finally have more of a desire to learn and do what he needs to do.  I know he can do it, he just needs to figure that out too.

But, Cade?  I love you so much Buddy.  And I'm proud of you always.

15 comments:

Frustrated Unemployed Actress said...

You are absolutely doing the right thing. Too many kids get pushed through the school system when they're not ready and the problem just snowballs. I'm a big fan of holding kids back a grade if that's what they need to be successful later on. People are afraid to do it now, because somewhere along the line somebody decided it was "bad for their self-esteem", but pushing them forward is so much worse because they always feel like they're behind. (I went to school with kids who had been held back, and also with kids who should have been and weren't. Guess who did better in the long run?). Good for you for doing what's right for Cade, even if it's uncomfortable. His new classmates never even need to know, and he'll thank you for it later.

Arielle Lee Bair said...

It sounds like you have made some really well-thought-out decisions. Your love for your son and your analysis of the situation are important and it sounds like you know what's best for Cade. Go with your mommy instincts, don't second guess yourself, and remember that Cade has a great support system. :)

Erin said...

Just emailed you with my personal opinion and I'd rather keep all the details private.

Just want to publicly say what a brave, important, and great decision this is and what a big favor you are doing for Cade now and for his future.

brie said...

thank you all so, so much for your commments and support and insight. it means a lot to know you support me and understand. and, erin, i'll reply to your email soon!

emo said...

He is so smart! The things he says when I've been around him proves it. Plus look at his parents. Brandon is a math whiz and you are the literature English whiz. He will be fine. But that is true. He is the youngest of his class. I worry about that with Blake being younger too. I think that's a great idea for Cade.

Cammy said...

I think this is probably the best gift you could give to Cade, and it sounds like the circumstances with the move will work out perfectly for it.

I'm not a parent, obviously, but I remember my parents weighing whether to start my youngest brother (with a September birthday) as a very young kindergartener or to hold him back so he'd be one of the oldest in his grade, and the difference that year made for his maturity was phenomenal. Another anecdote is that I had a friend in elementary school who was a full year younger than me, and seemed to have had a lot of the same problems as Cade is having--very smart but not very interested in a lot of the school work--and his parents ended up holding him back in the 3rd grade. He absolutely flourished after that, and went from being a "problem child" in the classroom to a star student and is now working on a graduate degree. I think sometimes boys are a little slower to mature anyway, and so the extra year can also help--and sometimes saves them from being the smallest boy in the class, which can get rough as they hit middle school.

Anyway, those are my anecdotes, and fyi you are an amazing parent and he is lucky to have you as a mom.

po said...

Sounds like the way best and most rational thing to do. My boyfriend's parents did the same with him. He had a lot of trouble with verbal and written stuff the first time round, and because it was a struggle he lost interest in trying. The sedond time round he went for a few extra speech and writing lessons and did just fine. And got 95% for Maths in his final year of high school!

Alie said...

There's so much wisdom and love in what you've written! It sounds like it was a difficult decision, but it seems like this will be great for Cade. Congrats to you guys for making a tough, but ultimately really great decision!

Lindsay said...

You're a good mom. :)

Krista said...

From a teacher's perspective I think it would be a very wise idea to hold him back based on what you have said. The kids will never know and it will give Cade a big advantage next year. At that age it's amazing how much difference a year can make.

Ash said...

I must be emotional today cause this made my eyes leak...

Good choice by the way! My little brother was held back for the same reasons and it worked out perfectly for him.

Crazy how much a mom can love her kids, huh? *wipes tears away*

Amanda said...

This is the best, most loving choice you can make for him. I was just like him in the 1st grade. I didn't have the right social skill or level of maturity to keep up with my peers. I have a July birthday and was the youngest and smallest in my class. So my parents had me repeat the first grade - it was an amazing gift. They tell me I was so young that I didn't really understand it and therefore wasn't upset about it. But it made a huge impact on the rest of my development - I went from being behind to ahead. I can only imagine how different middle and high school would have been if I hadn't repeated first grade. I think you are doing a wonderful, brave thing for him. I'm happy to talk more if it would be helpful. Thank you for sharing this.

Amanda said...
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IJustDontKnow said...

This is absolutely the right choice. And to have the move coincide with the start of the new school year is perfect. A fresh start and a year more of development with make all the difference for him. Boys are definitely behind girls at this age, especially socially, and our school requires summer birthdays to have a second screening. We have a pre-K program (half-days all week) and those spots are coveted. My second son (I have 3) was 3 days ahead of the cutoff date and waiting that extra year for K was essential. We are so lucky to have the pre-K program.

This is so common and certainly not a shortcoming nor problem. You have zero reason to feel bad or torn over this decision. Don't doubt yourself - you can trust your mommy instincts. And you will never regret this decision.

Right now I'm dealing with my K'er hurting other kids, sly punches and kicks, pinches. Talk about parental cringe! My guy is the youngest of three brothers and is sick of being dominated and harassed by his older brothers and their friends and began taking it out on classmates. Luckily, the guidance counselor pulled my boy #2 and his friend (3rd graders) and my boy #3 to do some conflict management with them. Though... I had my two boys crying in an hour when the three of them played together this afternoon. :/ Way too rough!

Hang tight, there's nothing easy about this parenting thing.... and we certainly weren't properly prepared! I just wanted the cute, cuddly little baby.... totally did not think it through to realize the buggers grow up! ;) This is only one of so many hard choices you'll face as a parent - always trust your gut. (((HUGS)))

Sarah Hope said...

Just wanted to echo other thoughts. Such a good call. It makes you such a great parent to be thinking about these things. Kids struggle for all kinds of reasons, and sometimes it's as simple as needing a little more time. :) Cade is so lucky to have you!