This morning I signed the papers accepting the recommendation that Pumpkin repeat Kindergarten. It wasn't easy to hear, but it wasn't a big surprise, either.
I wish that I could come up with some way to describe how I feel other than "disappointment." Not in Pumpkin, or in his teacher or school; I think everyone involved did the very best they could in the situation. It's more that I'm disappointed things didn't work out on the standard path.
I, of all people, should know better.
I know that Pumpkin's sensory issues and language difficulties are quite common for an internationally adopted kid, but what I know is not just about him or about adoption.
I know enough to understand that the "standard path" is kind of a myth, and that every kid develops and progresses differently. I know that this "grade by age" system is the way it's always been done, but it doesn't really work for a lot of kids. I look around at the kids in our church, and our town and school, and the blogs I read, and I see a lot of kids with "issues." Those issues often mean that they need a little extra help or accommodation or understanding from the school systems which are trying not to be one-size-fits-all in spite of our nation's current standardized testing mania. I know that last year our school asked that an extraordinary number of Kindergartners repeat this year and I think I know why.
The work that Tigger is doing in first grade is astonishing. He's had a small amount of homework four nights a week for the better part of this year. He's had a couple of larger projects including a multi-step autobiographical project that culminated in a grade-wide play, and his first (small-scale) research paper. Tigger's in a multi-age class that combines first and second grades, but a research paper? Wow!
Smart as he is, there's no way that Pumpkin could handle that kind of pressure. This is the school system's way of ensuring that Pumpkin can handle the work and the social interactions without expensive special education services. This is their way of keeping him from getting lost in the system. I think I'm okay with that.
In my life, I have encountered an extraordinary number of youngest brothers who have lost their way in life - my brother, my uncle, my husband's uncle, the youngest brothers of several friends. Some found their way back, others did not. I have no idea what sends these guys to the edge, when their older siblings did not have the same struggles, but I've seen it enough to worry about it. I'll never know if this is the thing that helps keep Pumpkin from getting lost, but it's worth a try to me.