Monday, August 27, 2012

Am I A Helicopter?

Helicopter Parent - a colloquial term for a parent who pays extremely close attention to their child's or children's experiences and problems, particularly at educational institutions.

Ever since I found out that Bug has a chance of moving up directly into first grade next year, I've been conflicted.  Part of me really wants to work with him on his letters, his numbers, his sight words so he'll be chosen to move up.  The other part of me thinks I should just sit back and let him be.  He only gets to be 4 and 3/4 once after all, and there's no reason to push him.

So I've done what every self-respecting control freak would do, I made a pros and cons list.

Pros of going directly to 1st grade:

  • Less chance of getting bored / in trouble in kinder
  • He'll be only 2 years behind Bunny which was the original plan before the district started shuffling around cut off dates.
  • He'll be back with his friends from Pre-K
Cons of going directly to 1st grade:
  • He'll be one of the youngest in his grade instead of one of the oldest which, as a boy, might hurt him as he gets older - he'll be smaller than the other boys etc.
  • Studies show that boys particularly do better if they start school when they're older so he might struggle keeping up later.
  • He'll miss out on Bunny's Kinder teacher who he's been looking forward to - have I mentioned how much we adore her??
Which is great as far as pro and con lists go, but I don't have any direct control over this decision.  The teacher will decide at the end of the year.  What I can effect is the extra help I give him outside of school.  And that's the hard part.  Is using the flash cards for his letters, numbers, letter sounds, counting etc. is too much?  Is it too much for TK?  If I stop, would it be not enough? Where is the line here?  Add to that my frustration that my boy, who knows most of his letters and numbers, today at school with his classmates learned the letter A.  They got to color a big letter A and the homework for today is to bring in something that starts with the letter A to share with the class.  This feels too slow.   I know all teachers do a bit of review at the beginning of the year, and they say they'll evaluate/test all of the TK kids to figure out where they are in the learning process so they don't get bored, but man, I hope the rest of the year isn't like this.

And just when I'm okay with exactly the amount I'm doing,  he does something awesome like announce to me that "2+2=4, Mama." or he'll say "C-A-R spells car, Mama." and I get all turned around and feel like I should be providing him with even more challenges.  That what I'm already doing isn't enough.  I need to be helping him with addition and spelling and introducing sight words already since he's already doing it.  

I don't want to be one of those crazy, weirdo helicopter parents, I just want to do what's right for my boy.  I want to give him every opportunity to succeed and be his very best.  I don't think having high expectations is a bad thing, but I don't want to have unrealistic expectations either.  Can I just say again, this parenting thing is hard.

Seriously.. Thoughts?


  1. I don't know if I could ever live up to living in your shoes. I wish I had this kind of worry in my life. My friend you do what is best for you boy! Do everything and anything that will put him ahead!

  2. I wouldn't worry about him being the youngest in his class. Both my brother and my son had birthdays later than Bug's and they did fine. My brother, like Bug, had 3 older sisters so he was ahead of the game. My son was an only child when he went to 1st grade but he was used to being around adults. Even being the youngest in K, he was bored until the second half when they caught up to where he was. If they hadn't messed with the dates, Bug would be in K this year so feed that little mind all he will cheerfully accept.