Next Monday, Grayson starts kindergarten. As I sit and try to actually grasp this huge change, I am reminded of–and amazed by– all the kids who start school each year, and how their parents don’t sob uncontrollably all day every day leading up to this great event. (Okay, so I’ve been told that this happens. A lot.)
With G, I never thought that he wouldn’t go to kindergarten. But a few years back when his teachers noticed some developmental delays, I immediately started to worry about his path through school and how his delays would affect his success. When you’re told that your son isn’t learning as quickly as the other kids and has delays in several areas, all you can do is panic. Or rather, all I did was panic. I took to Google (naturally, because that’s what we’re naturally programmed to do when we hear that something is wrong with our babies) and self-diagnosed him with a slew of potential disorders.
Last spring, we took him for a Pre-K assessment to determine his readiness for the upcoming school year. When the tests came back, they indicated that he has a few delays that can be placed under a large umbrella known as “significant developmental delay.” Because of this, he was able to get state-funded assistance during his year in the Pre-K program, and he started attending a special education Pre-K program at a nearby elementary school. A bus came and picked him up from his Montessori school and took him to this elementary school, where he spent about half the day with a special education Pre-K teacher. At first, the transition was hard. Really hard. G struggles with transitions, and this one was a biggie.
But eventually, with lots of encouragement, G learned to love the bus, and his new school. He would walk with the other kids to the cafeteria, order and eat lunch, and played well and made fast friends. After just four short months in the program, his teacher contacted us and said that she had seen such an amazing improvement that she recommended he go back to his normal Pre-K classroom so that he could be around the students in his Montessori Pre-K class. So in January, he rejoined his Montessori Pre-K class full-time and finished out the year there.
Ever since, we have continued to be amazed by his progress. He is more confident in his writing and in his conversational skills, and is fascinated by space, geography and letters. Everywhere we go he recites strings of letters and wants to know “what that word spells.” And every day since then, I am 100% confident that he would not have been so successful if it weren’t for the incredible job by his Pre-K teachers and all the educators and facilitators who took the time to help us get him the very best education they could.
So next week starts a new chapter when he enters Kindergarten. I have his backpack and lunchbox. I have the crayons, markers, pencils, and erasers. When his teacher assignment was mailed out on Monday, I visited her classroom website and tried to learn as much about her as I could, and we’ll take G to meet her and tour his new school tomorrow. Every day, we’ve been asking him if he’s excited about riding the bus, meeting his new teacher, and making new friends. And each time, he responds with an emphatic “Yes, and new work, too!”
These past few weeks of summer, I find myself tearing up whenever I think about the next part of his educational journey. (Hell, I didn’t even make it through the school supplies aisle at Target without having to wipe my eyes.) But I’m not crying because I’m sad that my baby boy is growing up. Instead, it’s overflowing gratitude for the wonderful people who have helped him make it this far already.
Educators, y’all. They are so important.