Thursday, May 29, 2008

Money Talks: A Test for School Readiness

In Ancient Greece, scholars would test young boy's readiness for school by asking them if they would prefer a bag of sugar or a bag of coins. If the young boy reached for the bag of coins he would be ready for school.

This I learned while researching material for my Master's thesis in education.

Standardized testing for school readiness in Ancient Greece seemed so simple. And so incredibly accurate. Is your kid smart enough to realize money is more valuable than sugar? Great. He is ready to be schooled!

Kindergarten screening in modern day United States is so incredibly complicated.

Rhymes. Letter recognition. Numbers. Eye exams. Motor development. Pronunciation. Sentence formatting. Coloring in between the lines. Mothers drilling their children. Upper case letters. Lower case letters. Mothers sweating bullets while waiting. More rhymes. Fill in the blank. Days of the week. Algebra. Calculus. Latin.

Wha?

The state of Ohio determined that Jay was ready for kindergarten, by the date of his birth, for the 2007-2008 school year. One year ago, to date, after his first kindergarten screening he failed MY Ancient Greece test by reaching for the skittles, so I held him back. The school counselors confirmed that I would not regret my decision.

That is all. He was not ready. He was extremely sensitive. I wanted one more year with him to encourage his confidence and embrace his love of learning. I wanted him to LOVE learning. Is there a better gift in life than buying an extra year of confidence? I think not.

Holding back boys, who were born close to the cut-off, from kindergarten in our neck of the woods is very common. I have heard that most mothers do not regret the extra year with their sons. I would agree. Jay is a gazillion more times confident today than he was a year ago.

This weekend he passed MY Ancient Greece test.

My husband took Jay and Lola to the fair. Two hours went by without a phone call. I cleaned house preparing for our BBQ and enjoyed the silent house while Fifi slept. I cranked up the volume to my favorite CD and scrubbed the kitchen floors on my hands and knees.

The phone rang.

"Dude. Will you talk to YOUR son?" The husband asked, emphasizing the YOUR. Which in turn meant he was emotional and crying.

"What is up handsome?" I asked MY son.

"Daddy... daddy... sniffle... sniffle... he won't let me play the games.... sniffle, sniffle.... he won't let me.... sniffle... sniffle.... play the games at the fair." I can barely understand MY son through his emotional sniffles.

"I can not understand your tears. I can understand words." I confidently tell him.

"Daddy. DADDY will not let ME play the games!!!" I can see him straightening up and confidently yelling in the phone.

Without even thinking I reply, "Oh... Handsome. Tell Daddy he owes you ten dollars from two weeks worth of chores. Okay?" I remind him that he has been unpaid for two weeks and his charts have been checked off and Daddy has forgotten to pay him.

"Okay." Sniffle... sniffle... "Okay, Mama... I will tell him. But...." I interrupted my son and told him to put the daddy on the phone.

"Dude.... we have not paid Jay for his chores in two weeks. Give him his $10." I told the husband.

"Okay. But what if...." My husband started to say and I interrupted him...

"He won't. Show him the price of one game. He know how to add. He will figure it out." I get off my hands and knees and wonder if my mom-rader was correct. Will Jay realize that playing a game at the fair is a waste of money?

Still on my knees when they came home, I see Jay approach me empty handed. "Did you play a game at the fair?" I asked.

"No, Mama. That is so silly. It is a WASTE of money!!!!" He confidently exclaimed. "I am saving my money for some new Legos."

My boy. He is sooooooo ready for kindergarten next year. Stay tuned as I cry a river in August 2008, a full year later after he was "supposed" to start school.

71classy comments:

Jo said...

Being the fabulous kinder teacher that I am, I say, on behalf of all teachers, THANK YOU, ohmommy for having the guts to do what is best for your son. Both he and his teacher will enjoy the new school year far more than had he been enrolled before he was truly ready. YAY fot the ohmommy radar!

=)
oooh, and i'm first today!

Laski said...

How awesome for Jay that you were able to tune in to just what he needed. He now has even a greater chance at success. His first chance . . . his momma, of course!

And I'm with Jo. As another teacher (albeit, now former), parents like you make it all worth it!

zoeyjane said...

woah, nelly. i've never heard of that. mind you, up here, the cut off is firmly 5. if you're not five when it starts, you're SOL. if you're 5 and not in it, you'd best be in home schooling (like the plan with Isobel). i think.

it changed a coupla years after i started elementary school - I was always the youngest kid in the class.

it's so great that jay knew the waste of carnival games. i know 25 year old guys who wouldn't recognize it!

Someone Being Me said...

Wow that is clever. Although I would have a hard time deciding between skittles and a bag of money too. Although my little brain would be processing how I could get a good deal on Skittles at CVS therefore I could make the money go farther and maybe get more skittles.

The Mom said...

Former K/1 teacher and you did the RIGHT thing Ohmommy! Kudos. There needs to be more mommies out there just like you. Young, young boys need a little more time.

Now on the other hand. My oldest daughter is a November baby and I started her at 4. She will always be younger, but it would have been a disservice to have kept her back, she was ready. Straight A's, emotionally adept, and socially mature for an almost 5th grader as any could be.

DysFUNctional Mom said...

My stepson missed the cutoff by a few weeks, and it was a blessing for him. He was in no way ready for Kindergarten. My in-laws wanted to try to push him through. NO.WAY! He needed the extra year.

This Southern Belle said...

Love the ancient Greek screening--would have saved me alot of grief when trying to figure out if my little one was ready for Kinder!

And, we'll be crying in our wheaties together come August!

Krystyn said...

Sounds like your "Momdar" was spot on. As a teacher, I'm all for waiting for kiddos to be ready for school.

Laura said...

WHat a big boy! A smart boy! A smart Mommy!

Both my boys are December babies - so, I have the option to hold them back...but I did not, I hope I made the right decision.

Thanks for sharing!

Feener said...

smarty pants !!!

Stella said...

I 100% agree with holding back kids if they aren't ready. It just so happens it's more often boys than girls but I don't think it matters. If my son is not ready he's not going, I don't care what the system says!

GReat story! Jay is definitely ready...mommy will never be ready.

Karen said...

We held our oldest son and I would have again if I could have without scarring him. It was the best thing for him ever.

I'm glad to hear that I'm not the only one going to cry this August. We've decided to send Micah and let me tell you that I nearly have melt-down every day knowing that I'll be childless this fall.

Stephanie said...

What a very wise decision! For both you and Jay :)

THopgood said...

My oldest has a November birthday so we gave him an extra year also. It was the best darn thing we could've ever done for him.

Lisa said...

What a sweet, sweet post about sweet, sweet Jay. And, as an ex-kindergarten teacher, I thank you, as do all other teachers, for giving him and you that extra year! You WILL NOT regret it!

Rhea said...

I love the ancient Greece test! It makes a lot of sense. And, it sounds like you made the right decision regarding holding Jay out an extra year. It's done a lot around here in Texas also, and I think it's a good idea for some kids. You know your child, so you did the right thing.

Immoral Matriarch said...

Did you say 'What is up Handsome?' or 'What's up Handsome?' because I'm going to hug you for being so damned cute @ blogher if it was the first.

Wendi said...

Ohhh...I never heard of the ancient Greek screening. That would have made my decision much easier a few years ago. I had this same decision to make with my Chase.
His birthday was in March, so that was not an issue.
He passed the kindergarten screening, so that was not an issue.
He just was not ready.
He did not pass *my* screening. Many encouraged me to send him at five. I had reservations. I am so glad I listened to my mommy instincts and read, and prayed over this decison.
It was probably the single best decision I have made concerning him. He will be graduating next week from fifth grade.
He is at the top of his class.
He is more mature.
He is taller than most.
He is more athletic.
He is more confident.
He would not have been those things if I had sent him at five. He was not ready.
He wanted to play and be silly.
I let him for one more year.
Now he is a serious, confident student ready to embark on middle school. I promise you will never regret the decision to keep him home that extra year. One day he will thank you for it!

HRH said...

This helps so much. I am holding my middle boy out of Kindergarten next year because even though he turns 5 in two weeks he just doesn't "seem" ready to me. The sugar vs. money test puts a tangible value on my "feeling". It helps me point to something concrete. He would TOTALLY fail this test at this point...as exhibited by the tons of tokens purchased and spent at Chuck E. Cheese. I know next year he will have a much better chance of a more mature response. But for now...let's go to Chuck E. Cheese!

amanda said...

as a 3rd grade teacher i thank you and high five you. there is nothing worse than telling parents of a 3rd grader that their little man just isn't ready to keep moving on.

wise, smart choice mama :)

MamaWise said...

What a smart boy! You know, according to BusyDad, Legos are the new currency. He's headed in the right direction LOL! :)

Melissa said...

And just wait until you se how he blossoms in Kindy! Your Jay is one smart cookie!

Lisa said...

Glad he figured out the carnie games are a rip off--my husband is still trying to figure that out ;)

We will be deciding if Dino will be held back later next year--at this point I just don't know. Stay tuned....

Natalie said...

sounds like a big boy! good for him. i think i would have spent the money on cotton candy...sugar. what does that say about me?

Katie said...

That's awesome, way to go Jay!! :)

McMommy said...

Matty starts pre-school in August...so I will cry a river WITH you!

LceeL said...

Good Job, OHmommy. And mcmommy just pushed me to 27th.

Ashlee said...

Both of my kids just barely miss the cut off date. Though I was ready for my son to go to school, the extra year has really paid off. He is doing so well. I love your "standardized" testing. :0)

Kathryn said...

Wow! What a smart boy! I think there are many boys in high school that still haven't figured that out. Way to go, OhMommy!

Simple Answer said...

Nothing makes me prouder than when my kids choose to save their money for something worthwhile.

As kindergarten approaches, think about having a "Boo Hoo Brunch" with all the other moms after dropping him off. We did one, and it was so special to get to bond with the other moms over such an important moment.

MommyTime said...

This is a fabulously awesome story, so great that I have to thank you publicly for making me feel better about my own son. Weird, I know. But I've been agonizing over the fact that he just *misses* the birthday cutoff and therefore will have to be in preschool for *another* year, even though he can already write all of his letters and based on his current progress will already be reading by the time he starts Kindergarten. But today, yes, just an hour ago, when I dropped him off at preschool, I had this smiling happy thought that, in fact, emotionally he is NOT ready for five days a week and the pressures that are kindergarten. (Yes, crazy that kindergarten is all about the pressure.) Anyway, this is a long way of saying, thank you so very much for making me feel like this delaying IS the right thing for our boys, and that they will be happier and stronger as a result. You have done wonders for my happiness with your own. Thank you.

April said...

Brilliant!

And so timely...I came up with a brainstorm for a Blog Blast for Education, June 20, 2008. I hope you'll participate!

lattemommy said...

That is the greatest kindergarten test I have ever heard of! Sometimes the simplest things are the best, aren't they?

I think you were totally right to hold Jay back an extra year. I've heard so many times that boys do better when they're held back, particularly if their birthdays fall close to the cut-off. My Jr., although only 18 mos now, has a November birthday, and I've already been thinking that's what we might do when the time for kindergarten comes along.

Irene said...

I am already planning on holding back my youngest, and she isn't 3 yet. Her birthday is late June so she will have just turned 5 when she starts. My oldest, who is in K now, has a birthday in early October. She was almost 6 when she started. I think it was definitely helpful and she did wonderfully all year.

I personally do not agree with mandatory full time Kindergarten. Kindergarten is becoming what 1st grade was when we were young. If we had at least optional half day, then I wouldn't be so concerned and I would consider sending my youngest at 5.

I think you did the absolute best thing. Yes, it is SO hard to let them go to Kindergarten. I had a really hard time letting my "baby" go. But he will do so well and you will be so proud that soon you will be just fine.

anglophilefootballfanatic said...

You did right. My MIL stuck my hubby in 1st grade at age 4 & I know that has had a serious impact on him. Holding Jay back was certainly right. And, Legos are SOOO expensive. He's going to have to save for a while!

paul said...

Smart kid. I like that you let him make the decision on whether to play the games at the fair. That is so awesome.

Speaking as someone that started a year late, I really appreciated it... particularly in my senior year of high school. I was 18 for almost all of it, and could sign myself out of school at will. :D That was a great educational experience.

Oh. That's not what you meant...

Christine said...

SOOO mature! I have a girl that is going to Kindergarten next year- I am going to give her the "test"!

Nat said...

Good for you, Ohmommy! I really don't have the choice of holding Little Man back or not; unless I want to find a charter school or another district that is willing to test him in. And for what? The state says he isn't ready, and even if it is just by one day, I am confident in giving him that extra year. You would be surprised how many people think THIS is their business though (actually, you probably wouldn't be surprised). Gah!

momof3crazykids said...

Wow-this turned out long sorry!
I had never thought to hold my children back. Their birthdays are Feb, March and April. But apparently that puts them in the "younger" age of kindergarten but 5 when school would start in August. My oldest, now 16, seemed so ready. So I sent him off. He loved going, it was only 3 hours long and kindergarten used to be a social experience in the day. Apparently that year they wanted the kids to already be reading. So by the end of the year they wanted to hold him back because of it. With that being his only issue, he was so ready to move to 1st grade. I wouldn't allow it. He had a wonderful 1st grade teacher and was reading past his grade level at the end of the year. I am so glad I didnt hold him back. He was just fine, and has never had any trouble since then and he had a fun time in K. Now my youngest in heading into K and I am terrified. Not because he isn't ready, he so is. But because K isn't fun for them anymore. It's a full day, not 3 hours, same school as the older children, and they only have recess for 20 min a day. What the....
Oh well, I would try to homeschool but he has one of those personalities that does better being schooled by someone else and I can't afford private K.
Jay will definetly be ready. You did a good thing!

Jill said...

Let me just be a total follower here and add my 3 cents to your long list of "atta girls."

I'm another mom of a to-be KG'er this August... I look forward to crying with y'all and feeling confident that my munchkin is ready to tackle a long day at school.

I have another one who should be starting KG in the 2009 school year... I'll be testing her to see if she'll be ready then.... if I haven't punished her to a life-long time out by then. We're working on one right now...

Grey Street said...

That's such a cute story. That's awesome that you actually did the ancient Greek test and it worked! :0)
I'll have to keep that in mind!

Don Mills Diva said...

Skip kindergarten - he's ready for Harvard Business School!

Kelly said...

He is one smart kid!! I love that I have passed my thriftiness onto my kids. They are smart with money too. You are doing a great job teaching him!! He will go far!

Ali said...

ohmigosh! he's awesome.

Danielle said...

So many thoughts went through my head on this post, but do you know what stands out the most...?

I also CALL MY BOYS HANDSOME all the time!!!

"Good morning, handsome!"

"How was school handsome?"

And now my three year old will get dressed in the morning, look in the mirror real quick, and confidently walk away, saying very matter of factly, "I look so handsome in this."

I LOVE that you called your son 'handsome'!!!

(It's the little things...)

Crystal said...

What a SMART boy you have. Sounds like you totally made the right decision. I was very relieved that my girls both have 6 full months of being 5 before they go to Kindergarten. That is a huge difference. (Of course this new baby will be September so I know I will have to deal with it later too)
There was such a huge difference in the kids were were fully 4 and those who had just turned 4 in Madeline's preschool class. It really showed up all year long.
Jay is going to love kindergarten now and that may not have been true a year ago.

Rachel said...

I'm coming to you for mommy lessons!
Jay Rocks!!
You are raising one heck of a little man there darlin'.
I fully applaud holding kids back if their b-days are August/September'ish.
Especially with boys.
Monkey's b-day is in Sept and you can bet he'll be 6 in kinder.
I heart you doll.

Kimber said...

I gave my older son the extra year too and he is about to enter 5th grade and I have NEVEr looked back. It was the BEST decision...we Mommies know best.

Hope your hear atatack has gone away

just jamie said...

I'm SOOO happy to hear this story. With September babies, and boy/girl twins to boot I have been struggling with the kindergarten decision since ... my due date.

As a teacher I know how this goes, and as a Mom I want my kids successful. So here we are, they're both 3 1/2 and reading short-vowel-words. But what does that mean? Are they mature enough? Do I want all the boys older than my daughter? I'm on path for red shirting them. Your post today helped me feel better about that decision. Maybe I need to do the Ancient Greece test.

(This may have to be a future post for me, too).

Yay Jay!

April said...

What a smart little man. :-)

sara said...

What an amazing little boy you have!

kittyconcerto.com said...

I started a little late because of my birthday. I've always been the smallest kid, so my parents thought it was good to keep me back a year. Worked out fine. I'm sure Jay will do great!

kittyconcerto.com said...

I started a little late because of my birthday. I've always been the smallest kid, so my parents thought it was good to keep me back a year. Worked out fine. I'm sure Jay will do great!

Indy said...

Ry wondered just asked me a few days ago how Jay had so many legos. He saves his money! I can't believe he figured out not to spend his money on those games. Impressive!

Sandy C. said...

He is totally going to rock as a kindergartener :) Kudos to your ohmom-dar

Cecily R said...

Oh Mommy is all knowing!!!! He'll have a great year and you will feel more confident about sending him. You can't put a price on that. I'd say you reached for the coins in the mom test too!

VerWaynia said...

But, do you realize he'll be one of the "mature" boys all the girls are after :-)

Tari said...

My little Austin is a June Birthday and we put him in Developmental Kindergaten, which allowed him to go to school but also gave him an extra year to get ready for the big stuff. He is goning in fourth grade next year and is at the top of his class. I am so glad we gave him that extra year to mature.

Deb said...

Can you believe this is already on my mind, and my baby is only turning 2 in July? But I know those summer kids are right on the border, and it really comes down to their emotional readiness. Good for you for making the right decision for your guy! I hope I know the right one when my time comes.

Flea said...

Hoorah for Jay! My children, at 15, 14 and 10, will still blow their money on worthless games at the fair.

Tracey said...

Brilliant - Mommy AND Son.

Nap Warden said...

Way to make the big decisions Mama!

Jane the Sane said...

I went to kindergarten in Sept 1976at the ripe old age of 4.5 (bday in March). This was fine for academics but awful for social skills. I am a big believer in holding anyone back who isn't ready. Boys, as you mentioned, tend to be the ones that need more help. Good for you for doing what needed to be done!

suchsimplepleasures said...

he...is a fricking genius!! at such a young age! i'm so proud!!
xoxo

LunaNik said...

Nice. I'm totally trying the coins vs. candy trick on my kiddos.

CC said...

You rock OhMommy! I don't think my almost K son would make the same wise choice.....

Kim said...

Kudos OhMommy.. that was a perfect lesson and it turned out just how you expected.. :)

Karen MEG said...

What a bright Jay!!! Kudos to you for knowing what's right for your kids.
I've actually signed little G up for Junior Kindergarten in the fall (cutoff here is January); I could hold her back as she won't turn 4 until near the end of Dec., but she is more than ready. She's enjoying doing her "homework" books LOL!.

I think it makes a difference for her because her big brother is already in school, and she absolutely loves her preschool program.

Can I join the sniffle club?

Jenni said...

Mommy always knows best!

He is truly bright.

Shellie said...

I am so in awe. I can promise you that is one kid that does not suffer from ADD or society's ills. I'm not sure my husband could even pass that test!

mommynotes said...

Mama knows her children. When the kids have to pay for it, they learn the value of a dollar very quickly.

Way to go ohmommy!

 

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