Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
For Your Journal: Writing Prompt

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Do you keep a journal – or wish you could get one started? Literary Mama wants to help.

Three times a month, I’ll post a writing prompt. Open a notebook and write for 10 minutes. Don’t worry about grammar or punctuation – just write. Then let the writing simmer and your mind wander for awhile.

And who knows? Maybe you’ll discover a character for your next short story or a theme for a narrative essay. Or maybe you’ll use the idea to create a special holiday card or photo album for someone in your family. However you decide to use your journal entry, I know you’ll enjoy re-reading it months--and years--down the road.


School Readiness

Last August, LM Marketing and Publicity Manager Lisa Chiu’s youngest son started kindergarten. The first week was pretty tough and Lisa began questioning her decision to enroll him, but just as she was starting to devise an exit strategy, he decided he was no longer sad or scared. In November, Lisa had another kindergarten redshirting attack, this time about a classroom reading program and a take-home journal project. Here’s an excerpt:

Nolan started this year at age four and has found himself in a classroom with some kids who are seven years old. I was unsure about him starting this year since he has a late September birthday, is small for his age, is quite shy and has significant asthma and allergy issues. (Will he be too shy to speak up for himself around foods he cannot eat?)

On top of that, academic redshirting seems to be the norm in the area we live in, I've now learned, especially for boys. We live in Silicon Valley, in an area where the majority of parents are Asian immigrants who prize academic achievement. Many parents work at Google, Apple, Yahoo, etc.

My husband has a late September birthday too, though, and assured me that being small and young isn't a big deal. Besides being the last kid in his class to graduate from the fat pencil to the skinny pencil and requiring extra scissors practice at home, my husband did fine academically and caught up with his classmates in size in a few years.

Popular culture may use the term “redshirting” to describe the practice of holding kindergarten-age children back a year, but the American Academy of Pediatrics would prefer parents talk about “school readiness,” signs exhibited by the child, school, and family that the kindergarten-age child is ready to enter the classroom (child’s physical, social, and language development; the family’s ability to provide care and support; and the school’s demonstrated commitment to success for every child). And the Gesell Institute of Human Development writes: “We often find ourselves searching for another word for readiness – what our work is actually about is helping to match a child’s level of development with the most appropriate school experience.”


Journal Entry: How did you know your preschooler was—or was not--ready for kindergarten? Write about a specific event that showed you “Yes, he/she is ready for school.” or “No, not yet. He/she isn’t quite ready for the formal classroom setting.”
Interested in how Lisa and Nolan are doing now?

Here’s a mid-February update from Lisa:

Overall, I'd say Nolan's doing pretty well at kindergarten. He is still the littlest in his class and one of the youngest. Yesterday was class photo day and as expected, he was in the front row sitting on the floor. Academically, he has blossomed from a little guy who wrote faint, wobbly letters to one who can write clever sentences. Seemingly overnight, he has become a confident emerging reader. I was surprised the other night that he could read an entire book to me. When did this happen?

I still do have thoughts about him repeating kindergarten, but they are less frequent. He still can't dress himself completely. He can't get the hang of skipping yet. He's not interested in making friends with his classmates. But I know that a lot can change - and will - at this age.

Karna Converse is a freelance writer who’s written everything from technical documentation and price proposals to newsletter articles, devotionals, personal profiles and essays. Her essays have been published in a variety of regional and national publications, including The Christian Science Monitor, Notre Dame Magazine, the Cup of Comfort and Chicken Soup anthologies, Our Iowa, and on Iowa Public Radio. She and her husband are parents to three young adults. Karna is a former blog editor, senior editor, managing editor, and editor-in-chief of Literary Mama.

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