First Day of School Jitters

california versus indiana

I have been anticipating Zadey’s first day back to school this year since the day she got out of school on May 31st. And I’m not talking about one of those scenarios where Mom is so crazy all summer long with crazy kids that I had to get rid of one. It’s not like that.

This is about Zadey starting in a new school. Sadly, she’s no stranger to this. But she is a stranger to starting school in a new state. With our recent move (holy crap! it’s been a month!) I worried how it would go for her. I worried about her being at the same level as the rest of the kids in her class.

Enrolling Zadey in School


On Friday we enrolled Zadey in her new school. Everything was seemingly going really well. I had my paper work together (that’s a shocker, seriously) and filled out everything they needed to know.

I was even far enough that I already had the list of school supplies I was going to pick up over the weekend.

Shortly after arriving at the school I learned that they were going to give her an assessment test. This is the moment nerves started for me.

Though Zadey passed Kindergarten and first grade in California, I was seriously worried about her ability to read. She has the concept down of sounding things out, she knows what sound each letter makes, but she lacks the confidence to actually put this knowledge in to practice.

Even worse, they were performing the test on a computer — I just knew she’d click right through and not give it her all. She does this on computers.

At the completion of the test we discovered some disappointing news:

Zadey reads at the Kindergarten level; and her math is equal to a first grader in the fourth month of school.

She’s behind, way behind.

They gave us the option to discuss their ability to go ahead and advance her to the second grade, like California had done. But when they gave us the run down of what their second graders are capable of doing, we worried about her confidence level when she discovered how far behind she is.

Instead, with tears in my eyes, literally crying at her school, we decided to hold back Zadey in the first grade again.

I feel like I failed her, somehow.
I feel like the California school system failed her.
I worried about her self confidence when she learned the news.
I worried if keeping her back would make her less interested in learning.
I worry about having my daughter graduate high school at 19 years old.

My head was spinning, but I knew that of all the things I could do for her, keeping her back was probably the best idea.

Breaking the News to Zadey

Joanne and I largely see this issue as California’s problem. Why did her teachers not pick up on this? Why were there no parent/teacher conferences telling us about what was going on?

I truly did not recognize that Zadey was this far behind her classmates.

Did I think she was at the top? No. But to read at a Kindergarten level when entering the second grade, why would California allow that to happen?

We explained to Zadey the difference between California and Indiana’s school system. We told her about the different requirements they have here. We broke it to her gently and encouraged her to realize that this was not all about her — but what she had and had not been taught.

She was so disappointed. She said it feels like she’s still a baby staying back in the first grade. My heart just broke for her.

Our solution was to remind her that she’s at a new school, no one knows her, and if she didn’t tell anyone, no one would know that she’s doing the first grade for a second time.

I have no idea if she’ll tell or not, but at least she knows she doesn’t have to say anything.

Her First Day


This morning, with serious nerves, I sent Zadey off to school. I tried to make the morning as fun as I could. I drove her there and told her all the ways she’s a sweet, kind, and amazing little girl. I reminded her to be friendly, because she makes friends so easily. I told her to be a good listener, helper, and friend.

The highlight to her morning was my agreement that she could ride the bus home from school; and every day here on out.

And now, here I sit, anxiously awaiting her arrive home from school. I hope she’s okay, I hope her day goes well, I hope she makes new friends, and most importantly, I hope this school year is a HUGE success with MAJOR self confidence. Time will tell.

1 Comment

  1. says

    Poor kiddo! This is not a reflection on her though, but as you said, California schools. I think that past the initial shock of it, she will be okay and she will have so much fun that she will quickly forget that she’s in 1st grade again ;)

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