When it comes to your child’s education and heart, you have to trust your gut.
Years ago, we lived in Richmond, VA. My children went to a wonderful neighborhood elementary school. My son James entered Kindergarten when he was five years and seven months old. We were overjoyed when he was assigned the same remarkable teacher his older brothers had in Kindergarten, Judy Nickels. She was an exceptional balance of creative, silly, fun and serious, stern and disciplined. Children loved her and so did their parents.
The new school year was barely underway when I realized my little man James was stressed. By mid-November I knew without a doubt something needed to change. He came home frustrated. He would take his little brown belt off from around his waist and smack the door with it. He would cry through dinner and he was cranky – I mean cranky pants.
Resolved to help him, I spoke with Mrs. Nickels. She remarked, “James is very bright, but he is timid and reserved. I am not seeing frustration with his academic work or classroom behavior, but I admit something doesn’t seem right.” We talked for over an hour, and I made my decision to pull him out of Kindergarten and put him back in preschool five half-days a week. She wasn’t positive I needed to be so drastic in pulling him out of school, but she was supportive and said, “Trust your Momma-gut. You know what is best.” David and I discussed the pros and cons, weighed the implications and finally went with my gut decision. Within three days, my James was back to his sweet self with his typical ear-to-ear grin on his face. The following school year, he entered Mrs. Nickels’ kindergarten class once again. He was not only happy and content when he came home, he was a leader in his class. He ended the year playing Thomas Jefferson in the class play.
As James moved on to first grade , Grace was assigned to Mrs. Nickels’ class. During new-parent orientation, Judy told James’ success story to the parents, keeping his name anonymous. Her final words of encouragement were “to trust your gut” as a parent. In hindsight, I honestly think he just needed another year at home with me, a year to mature and grow under my love and care. I was nervous about my decision, concerned he would be too old in high school. I questioned what would it do to his self-esteem. In the end, I knew I had to rely on instinct with this decision.
Our children went on to private school a few years later and then homeschool, which is where we still hang our books. Ultimately, through homeschooling, James ended up graduating “on time” with his original entry date to formal education.
So whether your children are in private, public or home education, trust your gut.