The Kindergarten Conundrum

Ethan MArch 2014aEthan will be six at the end of the month and I can’t get over how time has flown.  This year, he’s in Kindergarten and it may well be the thing that does me in… it’s the Kindergarten Conundrum.

My Gram used to use that word a lot – I’m not sure why it sticks out in my head, but it does.  She was an amazing lady – smart, beautiful, and kind.  Conundrum is exactly the word she would use to describe the ongoing challenge we’ve had with Ethan and Kindergarten.

Before school started way back in August, Ethan was super excited to learn to read.  He’s always been a book lover and couldn’t wait to be able to read on his own.  But within a few weeks of school, we found he was frustrated and discouraged.  As time has gone on, he’s become even more frustrated and disinterested.

Que the big warning bells for Mr. Juggling Act and me!

During parent/teacher conferences, his wonderful teacher told us what we already knew – he’s a smart kid who doesn’t seem to want to put in the effort. And he’s afraid of being wrong to boot.

There’s nothing that seems to motivate him – no amount of begging, pleading, coaxing, rewarding or even bribing seems to work.  He is the most stubborn child I’ve ever met. 

First grade registration is Friday and with that new reality starting us in the face, I’m more anxious now than ever for Ethan.  He’ll be going from his small daycare school with a kindergarten program, to a much larger elementary school.  Many of his friends of the last three years will be dispersed to other schools around the city or surrounding area, making the change all that much more scarier in my mind. 

While Ethan continues to be his lively happy self during times of play and rest, he’s completely “checked out” when it comes to curriculum in the classroom and homework.

The questions swirl in my head and I’m terrified of the answers.  Why does my smart, funny, inquisitive almost 6-year old shut down when it comes to learning? Have I raised a child that is afraid to fail? Have we somehow taught him it’s not ok to make mistakes?  Is there something wrong with him – some minor learning disability that we’re not seeing? How do we motivate him?

And the worst question of all -the one that keeps me up at night – Am I not a good parent?


The following two tabs change content below.
Ang Paris is a crafting and cooking mama who is addicted to Pinterest and chocolate! Ang lives with her husband and 2 children in New Hampshire. After more than a decade multi-tasking in the workplace, she's now a full time mom, writer, and blogger who tweets up a storm!

Latest posts by Ang Paris (see all)


  1. Crystal says

    My little monster is also in kindergarten. I say monster lovingly (mostly) of course. Before she started school she was the sweetest most cooperative child ever! She loved to do anything that would make life easy. She played well on her own but loved meeting new people. Ever since starting kindergarten she does nothing but lie and sneak and not listen and throw tantrums. When I speak to her teacher she says “but she’s so cute and sweet”. I’m in the exact opposite boat. And I’m hopeful it is just a phase. Finish out the year and see what happens when he goes to “real school”. That’s my plan. It may work itself out. Hang in there. You are not a bad parent. These little boogers are just really hard to figure out.

  2. karen says

    Parenting, it’s the toughest job out there! So take a deep breath, and try again,
    What works for one child, has absolutely no effect on another.
    There are lots of “experts” out there, with lots of thoughts on the best ways to help your school age kids with home work and learning, but from a grandmothers perspective, the best way to help those little ones, is “catch them doing something right”!
    Don’t focus on what’s not going well, find something they have done “right” and make a big deal over it! You should carry on and “fuss” about it, at least as long as you “fuss” over something they’ve done that’s less desirable!! Every one of us loves to hear someone we care about sing our praises, especially our kids! It almost always results in them trying to do more of the same good behavior! Don’t believe me…just try it!!
    Don’t let them see your frustration with them, or the situation. Let them know you are on their “helping team” and always will be! And keep asking how you can better help them. When they stare at you and say, “I don’t know”, offer a few suggestions, and then ask them, “which one of those ideas do YOU think might work best?”
    Try to remember how much these kids love you, and how important it is for them to feel you’re pleased with them! Don’t be hard on yourself Mom, these kids didn’t come with instructions, but then again, neither did you, and I’m pretty sure your parents are very pleased with how you turned out! 😉

  3. Sam says

    You’re one of the best parents I know, and certainly someone I trust my children with, without limits. Asking these questions and doing some reflection about it means you are a great parent!

  4. AlYssa says

    Ethan is a precious little boy who is curious, funny & very intelligent! You have to give yourself credit for raising a child with such curiousity & love in his heart! Take the things he loves most & try to turn some of those moments into learning activities…say an afternoon tinkering with Grampy on his trackers allows for learning new words in instruction manuals, a morning baking with Grammy or Mummy in the kitchen becomes a counting activity. Find moments of education amongst daily routines….and encourage him to teach his baby sister! Being a younger sibling looking up to my older sisters always encouraged me to grow & learn so I could fit in.

    At the end of each day, we all have our own path & style for learning. As a fellow stubborn Taurus baby it takes while or us to realize what motivates us…that isn’t a bad thing at age 5…! Have faith that your positive encouragement as parents & your unconditional love will keep him heading down the right path & when he is ready things will click easily & effortlessly into place!!

  5. sharon says

    It is hard to be objective and level-headed about the unknown. A different learning environment and new friend may be just what he needs. He has probably got comfortable and they all learn on different ways…..Ethan and you will discover his learning style in time. Hang in there Ang……..elementary school is a lot easier once you get there.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge