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gifted with disabilities and kindergarten redshirting: pros/cons

post #1 of 39
Thread Starter 

Hello, all.

 

I've got a former micro-preemie, born precariously at 25 weeks, hospitalized for many months before coming home, now age 4.5. Obviously gifted, just as obviously very cognitively quirky. I suspect ADHD or some variant. He's not hyper but has a terrible time managing his attention, which makes tasks feel hard to him. He taught himself to read effortlessly by 3. He has been tested and has mastered the academic content of kindergarten and beyond before even starting.  He is a serious science and history buff.

We can send him to K in the fall at 4y 11mo, as by far the youngest and smallest in the class (using his real birthday, not his due date, he makes cutoff by some 10 days). Someone we trust very much has recommended that he's not ready. We're looking at options.

Here are the the elements that most obviously form the basis for that recommendation:
--toileting (still has accidents and needs prompting)
--following instructions (often can't/won't)
--not paying attention during group instruction
--poor gross/fine motor skills
--low frustration tolerance

--social skills for dealing with more than 1-2 peers at a time are still emerging

Of course, if I hold him out (the proverbial "gift of time"), he'll be academically even more out of sync with his peers when he enters K at almost 6 the following year.  I have no idea how to teach someone to attend and stay checked in when the material is deeply boring.

If he were held out, he'd probably have to go back for a 3rd year of special needs preschool (mix of typical/disabled peers). It's a very good preschool, but he's had two years, and has outgrown much of the content except the heavy emphasis on motor skills, which they do a nice job with, and gardening.

Do you have thoughts or info that would help me make this decision?

 

DariaD

post #2 of 39

You may want to cross post on the Learning at School Board. Sometimes it is possible to skip K and put a child who is academically able, but not mature enough in other areas straight into 1st grade after keeping them back a year. Is he getting any OT/ST?

 

You could also have him evaluated for ADHD by a developmental-behavioral pediatrician.

post #3 of 39
Thread Starter 

Thanks, Emmeline--

 

He has received loads of services throughout his life (PT, OT, adapted PE, special ed support) and he will continue to do that next year regardless of setting.

 

The reputable people around here will not make an ADHD diagnosis before age 5; they say the testing instruments available don't allow it.

 

Thanks,
DariaD

post #4 of 39

Oy, really tough one. Can you homeschool? I really can't see either KG scenario serving him well.

 

For what it's worth I think I would lean towards holding him back. Sending a kid who is having social and attentional difficulties in groups, has low frustration tolerance, has gross and fine motor delays and needs reminders about toileting into an academic program that holds no relevance for him sounds like a really poor idea. I think I'd be inclined to give him the extra year to mature in his ability to cope with all the other really important aspects of attending school. In other words, I'd be willing to bet that his gains in maturity over the year are likely to outweigh the extent to which the curriculum will become even more meaningless to him academically. The curriculum is already way below where his academic needs are at. He doesn't need to work on learning letter sounds in the fall of 2011 any more than he'd need to work on them in fall 2012.

 

Miranda

post #5 of 39

From your post, I don't see a lot of advantages to sending him now. I agree that he's likely to be as bored now as later with the letter of the day stuff, and perhaps even more so with the math now as much as later, whereas a year of improved social competence would be very helpful.

 

It also seems to me that many teachers are steeped in a culture of rewards and motivation, and often presume that children really could focus if they tried, that the problem is insufficient effort or respect--essentially, that it is a discipline problem.

 

Is homeschooling a possibility? Or a year of Montessori?

 

The one thing I would worry less about, in my (admittedly pretty limited) experience is the toileting. I don't know that kids in general are kinder now, but there seems to be more acceptance of accidents. At DS's kindergarten last year, his teacher told me there are a few kids every year who have accidents, and there's no stigma attached. DS had two, once right at the end of the day and once when I was in the classroom, and it was no big deal. The one thing I would mention is that some teachers are pretty strict about not letting children use the bathroom during class. Having been is DS's class last year, I can see how a teacher would worry about students taking advantage of bathroom breaks; but for the parent of a child who needs to go NOW, and needs prompting, that needs to be problem-solved with the teacher well ahead of time, and the teacher also needs to leave a note for any sub who comes in, and any specialty teachers or teacher swaps or lunchroom aides, that this student has (whatever necessary) special bathroom privileges. Maybe this is obvious, but I mention it because it was something that I would never have thought to ask.

 

Heather

post #6 of 39

deleted


Edited by quaz - 5/25/11 at 10:29am
post #7 of 39

Our school system has something called "transition room" specifically for children with special needs who they haven't quite figured out how best to serve. the kids are too old for the special ed preschool class, but they aren't sure if they will be mainstreamed, or self-contained, or if they are quite ready for kindergarten, so they allow the kids (often the young 5 year olds who they are on the fence about) to do a year or two in the transition class while they figure out the best placement for first or second grade.

 

i would ask at your next IEP meeting about the full spectrum of placement options for him. What do his current teachers and therapists think would be best for him?

post #8 of 39
Thread Starter 


Thanks, all.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by quaz View Post

Let's start with the question of gifted services....

Why would he need a third year of special needs pre-school? Were you looking at special needs for K or just a typical K classroom? Is there a reason you couldn't go with a different preschool? If you did stick with the same preschool, would they be willing to differentiate for him?

 


There are no formal gifted services until grade 2. However, the elementary school principal has told me that no matter what we choose (start K now, start K next year, do an extra year of preschool then try to skip K) he sees that differentiation will be necessary and granted.  I think he'll try to make that happen, although differentiation is one of those things that only goes well with the right teacher placements and so on.

 

The third year of preschool would not provide academic differentiation-- or real academics of any kind. It's preschool-- they cut and color, they sing and paint and draw, they do lots and lots of gym, they learn about worms and seeds and stuff. This is all good for him as far as it goes. This school would be the only preschool in the area that could provide meaningful intervention services of the kind the kid needs; if we're holding him back because of attention, circle time, etc. he had surely better learn those things in his gap year, and it may require significant intervention to get him there. A regular preschool is not equipped for this-- nor for PT, OT, adapted (=remedial) gym.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by domesticidyll View Post
It also seems to me that many teachers are steeped in a culture of rewards and motivation, and often presume that children really could focus if they tried, that the problem is insufficient effort or respect--essentially, that it is a discipline problem.

 

Is homeschooling a possibility? Or a year of Montessori?

 

The one thing I would worry less about, in my (admittedly pretty limited) experience is the toileting.


Thanks for the encouragement about toileting.  From what I see, lots of kids do have accidents; I'm just looking to keep our frequency of that in the ballpark of what's acceptable, and it's improving (slooowly) over time.

 

The perception that it's a discipline problem is perhaps my most fundamental concern-- this kid is trying very hard to do it right, understands what he's supposed to do, and can't always make his brain and body do it, and I want that recognized and respected.  I have seen teachers do a lot of damage to this precise kind of a kid.  Of course, there's no guarantee that a year off is going to fix his issues; I rather think we're in it for the long haul no matter what we choose next year, which inclines me to say, well, if the issues are there anyway, let's have them in K-- but of course I don't know how bad the attention issues will still be in 2nd grade when the timed tests for math start, and overall demands increase. I don't want to set him up for a crash by rushing him.

 

Homeschooling and Montessori aren't possible; we absolutely need peers to work on these particular deficits, and Montessori (from what I see in our local programs) lets a kid like mine weasel out of working on his deficits and provides no special ed services.  They just don't fit the need.  (Actually, nothing appears to; but we have to place him somewhere.)
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by moominmamma View PostHe doesn't need to work on learning letter sounds in the fall of 2011 any more than he'd need to work on them in fall 2012.


If we send him to K, we will try to negotiate something where his special ed pullouts (PT, OT, adapted PE) take place during some of the phonics, though admittedly that would reduce circle time practice occasions.  If the principal is serious about differentiation, as I think he is, boredom may not be the biggest factor.  And the existence of appropriate peers is a draw for K-- unless the kids see him as not a peer because he's tiny and peculiar, in which case it's a big loss.

 

I appreciate your thinking this through with me, everyone.  Still thinking...

 

post #9 of 39

Have you discussed the alternative for "least restrictive setting" with his child study team?  I know the district needs to offer this option for the kids with IEPs and often it is a community preschool.

 

My dd attended our PSD (preschool for disabled) for almost 3 years.  She missed the K cut off, seemingly, by minutes, lol.  I kept her in the classroom because I loved the cirriculum and DD is thriving with it.  We were offered- even encouraged- to choose the community placement.  Especially during this past year.

post #10 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by DariaD View Post

If he were held out, he'd probably have to go back for a 3rd year of special needs preschool (mix of typical/disabled peers). It's a very good preschool, but he's had two years, and has outgrown much of the content except the heavy emphasis on motor skills, which they do a nice job with, and gardening.


Have you checked into this? Is it even an option? Because there's no point in holding back special needs kids (another year just makes them bigger, not more like their peers) it's possible that you can't leave him in his current setting if it is state-funded preschool.

 

I can see why you might like that option for him, and he is truly a special case because he's a premie with a borderline birthday, but in depending on where you are and what kind of school he is in, it may not be an option.

 

post #11 of 39
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by spedteacher30 View Post

Our school system has something called "transition room"...

 

i would ask at your next IEP meeting about the full spectrum of placement options for him. What do his current teachers and therapists think would be best for him?


They are all torn and unsure.  We had essentially made the decision for K, and then someone we trust told us it might be a big mistake, so we're revisiting.  I don't think our district has a transition program, but I'm investigating all options.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by sunflowers View Post

Have you discussed the alternative for "least restrictive setting" with his child study team?  I know the district needs to offer this option for the kids with IEPs and often it is a community preschool.

 

The special needs preschool is actually a community preschool with mostly typically developing peers-- it's the least restrictive setting I can find that offers the services he needs. The teachers in a regular community preschool are not going to be equipped for the kind of redirection we're seeing that he needs.  Or for the giftedness, in all likelihood.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Linda on the move View Post

Because there's no point in holding back special needs kids (another year just makes them bigger, not more like their peers) it's possible that you can't leave him in his current setting if it is state-funded preschool.


According to the director there, we can do it if we want to.  As of now, they have space and would accommodate.

 

Thanks!

post #12 of 39

Our son is 2E, both gifted and with diagnosed challenges to learning and functioning in day-to-day life. He's also received services, which have helped immensely. He's currently thriving in a play-based preschool that makes transitions part of the lesson plan rather than something to be hurried through to get to the next activity, and which does a ton of hands-on experiential learning. It's a really good fit for him, and even though he's turning five this summer and is more than intellectually capable of handling the kindergarten learning goals, his preschool teachers and dh and I all feel that he isn't emotionally ready for elementary school and he would be set up to fail. All the aspects of his personality and learning styles that benefit him where he is now would be counted against him in a setting where he was expected to sit still for long periods of time and do a lot of writing. He's a great explorer, loves being outside, is very physically active, has a strong imagination, and does well in a less competitive verbal environment where he has a chance to get his words out without pressure. If we decide to go the elementary school route with him, we may ask to have him placed right into a first grade classroom rather than doing kindergarten, depending on how he handles academic boredom and the social interactions of his peers.

 

It's so individual, but if your instincts and observations are leading you to believe that your son would do better with another year of development before tackling the elementary school experience, I don't see any major negatives (or many minor negatives) to giving him that year.

post #13 of 39

Moved to cross-post.


Edited by joensally - 5/1/11 at 10:53am
post #14 of 39



 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Linda on the move View Post




Have you checked into this? Is it even an option? Because there's no point in holding back special needs kids (another year just makes them bigger, not more like their peers) it's possible that you can't leave him in his current setting if it is state-funded preschool.

 

I can see why you might like that option for him, and he is truly a special case because he's a premie with a borderline birthday, but in depending on where you are and what kind of school he is in, it may not be an option.

 



I really think that being bigger can be an advantage, especially for a boy who is as small as you describe.  Also, depending on the child, a year can also definitely make them more like their peers.  I know my son is much much much more similar to his peers this year compared to last.  We have friends who have held all of their kids (8) back a year, one of them with SN, and they have felt that it has made a huge difference.  They have specifically mentioned size being a factor with their boys as far as peer acceptance.  I don't have experience with a child who is 2E, but our son also has SN and I plan to hold him back a year to give him time to catch up with his gross motor skills as well as his speech and social skills.  In your case, I am guessing your son will be bored no matter what, so I would at least want to give him the opportunity to be successful with his peers.  Good luck to you both.  It definitely is tough. 

 

post #15 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by APToddlerMama View Post


I really think that being bigger can be an advantage, especially for a boy who is as small as you describe.  . 

 


I'm not debating that point, just saying that if a child is in publicly funded pre-school program, it may not be possible to stay in that program for an extra year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

post #16 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by Linda on the move View Post




I'm not debating that point, just saying that if a child is in publicly funded pre-school program, it may not be possible to stay in that program for an extra year.

 

 

 

 

 

 



Sorry--when you said that there is no point in holding him back as he would just be bigger but not more like his peers, I thought that was what you meant.   I am just saying that hasn't been my experience.  In addition to size, my DS has become more like his peers, so I do feel there is a point in holding some kids back. 

post #17 of 39

We were in a somewhat similar situation - my DS was well beyond the K curriculum academically, but socially and in terms of gross and fine motor skills, was at least a year behind. In many ways, another year in preschool would have been great and in many ways it would have no longer met his needs.  Going to K wasn't going to really meet any needs - academically, he would have been bored already and socially he would have been behind.  He also wouldn't have been able to do all of the writing, cutting ,etc that was expected of the Kinders because of fine motor struggles.  He started OT at the end of his last year in preschool to catch some of that stuff up, but were stumped as to what to do with him for school.  His birthday is at the end of august, so he would turn five just before the start  of the school year.  We put him in a Montessori school, and it worked out beautifully.  It is mixed ages form 3 to 6 years old, so we talked to the director and decided that we would put him in the class and asses at the end of that year if we were going to count it as one more year of preschool and then send him onto kindergarten elsewhere or just count it as kindergarten and send him on to first grade.  It was great because there were all ages of kids, so he could find a good fit socially, but was able to move at his own pace academically and went way ahead.  So, he was five, but hung out more with the 4 year olds and worked at about a level academically way beyond traditional kindergarten.  It was the best possible combination.  And, after a year of that and OT, he was really caught up and went into first grade (which is really boring to him now and we are struggling with - but that is another story!!).  So, is there a good Montessori school in your area that you could check out?  By sending DS to Montessori, his needs were met at very different levels.  

post #18 of 39

It's odd that the Montessori option you have in your area isn't good for special needs kids.  That was how the Montessori method came to be.  It is built into the philosophy to grow attention span and meet a child where they are at academically, while promoting fine and gross motor skills.  Perhaps you should look into if there are other Montessori schools around, or if you had a wrong impression of the one available. 

 

Not all Montessori schools are alike, and not all adhere to the principles and patterns of the original, but if any local ones do they might really be just what you are looking for.

 

Tjej

post #19 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by mamadebug View Post

It was great because there were all ages of kids, so he could find a good fit socially, but was able to move at his own pace academically and went way ahead. ....  By sending DS to Montessori, his needs were met at very different levels.  


 

I have a DD who is 2E, both gifted and on the autism spectrum who attends a private, mixed age, alternative school. It works really well for her in a variety of ways, too. Every city has different options, but I would thoroughly check out ALL your options. If a school seems like it *might* be a fit, ask to do a couple of trial days. Our school does 3 day visits for students who are thinking about attending there, so the child can really see what the school is like, the school can really see what the child is like, and they can have real meetings with the parents where they talk about issues and concerns. There are several 2E kids at the school, as well as some kids who are just gifted or have mild special needs.

 

What *grade* she's in doesn't matter much because the kids truly work on their level in core subjects, and are encouraged to socialize with kids of different ages.

post #20 of 39

How is he socially?

 

Honestly I put more weight on a childs social skills at this age then thier academics.

 

I find that kids often level out and become more meshed academically around grade 1 or grade 2 when they have come in advanced.

 

However if they come in with very poor social skills, then that is very influential in how he will adjust overall then just  his academics.

 

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