The Safety Net

Today a letter was sent home with Moose letting us know that they’re beginning registration for next year’s kindergarten.

This is something I’ve been dreading all year.

The last three years in the Early Childhood program have been wonderful for him. He has improved so much, he’s hardly the same boy he was when he first walked into the classroom that day over two years ago. Things I never thought he’d be able to do he has mastered, and he’s begun working on new, more difficult, things. His teachers have nothing but good things to say about him. He loves going to school, and even tells us about the things he does each day.

And yet, it’s been a very low stress experience. He doesn’t have to go to school; there’s no early childhood requirement. That also means there’s no state testing–all of the testing they do with him is to meet goals specifically set up for him by his teachers (with input from us). If there’s something he hasn’t mastered easily, it hasn’t mattered–they just keep working on it. No pressure.

But I think we’re going to lose that safety net when he enters kindergarten. To be fair, we don’t even know what kind of classroom he’ll be in yet–it could be mainstream, it could be special ed, or it could be a blend of the two. But we’re looking at school that “counts,” particularly from the school’s perspective. He *has* to be in school now. The expectations will be higher, the goals harder, the mandatory testing likely required even for Moose.

That scares me a little. Not because I think he can’t do it–if I’ve learned anything since he started school, it’s that he can do much, much more than you might expect, if he puts his mind to it. But I worry that the teachers won’t be as kind or understanding, won’t be as supportive when he makes relatively small achievements, won’t communicate as much with me. I worry that he won’t make friends, that he won’t continue to enjoy going to school. In short, I worry about everything.

I know I’m borrowing trouble. I really have no idea what to expect out of next year, or the years that follow, just as I didn’t know what to expect when I first began the enrollment process for the early childhood program. But I know that as hard as it’s been for me to send him off to school at such a young age, his teachers have made it so much easier for me than it might have been, because they love and care about him, and truly want him to be successful.

I can only pray that he continues to encounter teachers with similar mindsets in the future.

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