SPRINGDALE, AR--With kindergarten underway, many of Springdale's mothers will be receiving that terrifying call from school asking for a conference to discuss "educational strategies" for their young children. Mother's of boys with summer birthdays will receive most of those calls. Fortunately, a local agency provides support to help these mothers cope with the reality that their kids just aren't quite ready for school.
The Ozark Education Services Coop offers a wealth of resources designed to reassure mothers that their children are basically healthy and free of disabling learning disorders. "All children develop differently," says OESC Director Margie McDonald, "The fact that your child is barely five isn't an indicator of a learning disability any more than being almost six is an indicator of superior motor control." Still, many mothers panic or become severely depressed when they realize their five-year-old simply isn't ready to cope with the rigor and intensity of today's kindergarten. These are the mothers OESC was designed to help.
According to the center, parenting website addiction counselling is their most commonly requested service. "Only a medical professional can diagnose autism and other learning disabilities," reminded McDonald. "We tell moms that putting their kids on a diet of clownfish, beet juice, and pulverized gunamalaca root just because autism_mom431 from DesMoines said in some chat room that it did wonders for her autistic child is not a great strategy for giving their own perfectly normal child a fun and productive kindergarten experience. Instead, we urge mothers to simply allow their kids to become a year older, which happens quite naturally."
Another popular service offered at the center is objectivity training. Nearly all mothers can spot the aspects of their child's development which seem to be lagging. Unfortunately, many moms find it much more difficult to see the areas in which their child is developing faster that average. "Usually they just need a reminder. Being able to ride the crap out of a bicycle on steep trails is not an indicator of kindergarten preparedness, but it's a skill that most kindergartners have not developed yet," explains McDonald. The objectivity training classes meet twice a week and focus on teaching moms to see the bigger picture of their child's development.
For so long, mothers of children with summer birthdays were forced to deal with the stress of a July kindergarten cutoff date by themselves. Many felt great guilt at having conceived in October. But thanks to the Ozark Education Services Coop, those mothers can now get the reassurance they need that their children are developing just fine. Many mothers report that holding their children back a year before starting kindergarten actually set them on a trajectory to learn more and have more fun throughout their educational careers. All the center's services are offered free of charge.