When my son was born nearly five years ago, I was so happy to have a summer baby.
Everyone in my family was born in the fall/winter. Everybody. Just a whole slew of birthdays from September to March and then…a drought. No birthday cake from April to August? Whew! What a sad existence.
One reason I was really happy for a summer baby was to avoid the whole “when can he start school” dilemma. Since he was born during early August, there’d be no problem getting him to start “on time. ”
Sadly, this was not the case. Our local school district set August 1 as the cut-off date, meaning my baby missed the deadline by 72 hours. They did, of course, offer an early entrance testing option for parents who feel like their darling baby is smart enough to go to kindergarten at 4.
So we signed up for the testing, figuring they’d see that my son was very close to the deadline and we could go ahead and enroll him. We went to the testing and let our son get evaluated by a psychologist for two hours. The tester said he did well and that in a few days, we’d have a meeting with the school’s principal, kindergarten teacher and herself to discuss his scores.
I was nervous. I’ve been working with my kids to help them get ready for school for a long time, but I know there’s a difference between knowing your shapes/colors/letters/letter sounds and being able to dazzle a psychologist.
As it turns out, I shouldn’t have worried. Our son scored a 117, outside of the “average” range of 85-115 and into the “high achiever” category. But before I could pat myself on the back for raising a “high achiever,” the committee told us that they did not recommend he start kindergarten this fall because he did not hit the criteria for “gifted” (a score of 130 or higher).
“But…his scores show he is a high achiever?” I said.
“Yes, but….” and the psychologist starts rambling about policy and how his birthday is after the cut-off so he will have to wait an additional year.
My husband interrupted. “So if you did admit him, how do you think he would do?”
The principal jumped in. “Well, his scores say he’d be a strong kindergartener. He certainly is bright.”
“But policy states that he has to be 5 years old or score 130,” the psychologist said.
“So he has to wait an additional year because of 72 hours?” I asked.
“Well…yes,” the committee said, nodding their heads. It was like they knew it was a stupid policy, but had to go along with it.
“I think we’re done here then,” I said, pushing away from the table.
My husband and I talked the whole way home. “We’ll call the superintendent,” I said. “I need to let them know how I feel about this.”
So I called. Left messages. Called back. Left more messages. Finally got in touch with the superintendent and set up an appointment to chat.
When I tell you I prepared for this meeting, I prepared. I looked at other districts’ policies, I found reports on how our state board of education views early entrance testings—I even did my homework on the superintendent.
We went in there and stated our case. The superintendent looked at our son’s scores and then back up at us. “Yes, he certainly is bright,” he said. “And he has passionate parents. We’ll enroll him for the fall.”
Say it with me: Yessssssssssssssssssssss.
I learned a very valuable lesson that day. While we don’t know yet how he’ll do in kindergarten, I do know that he’s got me. He’s got his father. He’s ready.
Don’t ever be afraid to advocate for your kids. YOU know what’s in their best interest. You birthed them, interact with them every day. You’ve got the upper hand when it comes to knowing what’s best. Don’t ever be afraid to use that knowledge to get the outcome you want.