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social issues and special stuff at school

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
My DD is 5 and in Kindergarten (a split grade class), but is doing 1st grade math and reading. She's often pulled out of the K group to do work with the 1st graders or stays after school for enrichment, but that has been causing some problems socially.

She's very excited about it and loves doing the more challenging work, but this can make her K friends feel left out when she mentions it. She's finally learned that the best thing is to just not talk to them about it. I try to discuss it with her but I can see she's feeling conflicted about it and isn't quite able to express what's going on for her yet. I spoke to her teacher today about the plan for next year, and she's considering having DD spend a lot of time in the 2nd grade (different classroom) to keep challenging her. If that happens, I'm foreseeing this awkwardness only getting worse. I've tried to explain that this is just something special she gets to do, and sometimes other kids will get special times at school that she won't, which she understands. I just don't want her to feel negatively about the "special stuff" that she gets to do.

How do you help your child navigate through social situations like this? If your child gets special enrichment time or is pulled out for a GATE-type cluster, how do they handle that with their friends who aren't involved in that?
post #2 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Spring Lily View Post

My DD is 5 and in Kindergarten (a split grade class), but is doing 1st grade math and reading. She's often pulled out of the K group to do work with the 1st graders or stays after school for enrichment, but that has been causing some problems socially.
She's very excited about it and loves doing the more challenging work, but this can make her K friends feel left out when she mentions it. She's finally learned that the best thing is to just not talk to them about it. I try to discuss it with her but I can see she's feeling conflicted about it and isn't quite able to express what's going on for her yet. I spoke to her teacher today about the plan for next year, and she's considering having DD spend a lot of time in the 2nd grade (different classroom) to keep challenging her. If that happens, I'm foreseeing this awkwardness only getting worse. I've tried to explain that this is just something special she gets to do, and sometimes other kids will get special times at school that she won't, which she understands. I just don't want her to feel negatively about the "special stuff" that she gets to do.
How do you help your child navigate through social situations like this? If your child gets special enrichment time or is pulled out for a GATE-type cluster, how do they handle that with their friends who aren't involved in that?


My kiddos are not in GATE, but I am curious to why no other K student is working with 1st grade work?

 

My DDs are in 1st--- the skills set in their class varies from K level to 3rd in reading and likely the same in math.

 

For reading, they are grouped by ability. I guess we are lucky that there are 5 other kiddos at the 3rd grade level out of the three classrooms. They form a small reading group.  Our state doesnt do GT, but it is nice that this accommodation is there.

 

 

I would see if in a K/1 class there is not anyone else that stays after for certain topics. Especially another K student- a split class should be able to differentiate well and is likely made up of the most independent students (ideally of course).

 

 

For your particular situation--- act out social stories. Pretend you are a fellow student and give your DD some 'scripted responses' to help her have a ready made answer. Some of that will help as well. Also encourage friendships with 1st grade kiddos (the likely peers if she in working in a 2nd grade class next year)- in a split class, I can imagine the two grades of kids merge a lot more than they would otherwise.

 

See if any other K kiddo is doing anything else like that. It is likely that in the building there in another K student that is reading/math above a 1st grade level. Try to set up playdates and activities to help your DD see that other kiddos may be at or around the same level.

 

Also keep stressing that everyone is different with different skills and schedules. That is OK.

 

 

Hope your DD has a great rest of the year and next year goes smoothly (maybe a 1/2 split?)

post #3 of 15

I too am surprised that she's the only one doing 1st grade level work in the class. However, I'm assuming that your DD is actually at a much higher level and so the move to 1st is less about the level of work and more about it giving her a little more room to stretch. That or it could be that she chanced upon a lower performing population in that particular class. I know with both my kids, there were several K students easily at the first grade level in there classes.

 

I recommend not using the word "special." Instead, in our home, we talk very frankly with the kids about "needs" and finding the right "fit." For DD, she didn't skip a grade because she was special. She skipped a grade because her needs were different and the higher grade was just a better fit. Both the kids have done a lot of subject acceleration over the years and again, it's not about being special or smarter. When approached about it, they just answered frankly... "it's just different work that another teacher is helping me with."

 

You might find that it's actually much easier next year. The difference between a 5-year-old reading fluently and a 5-year-old learning their letter sounds is extreme and everyone can see it. A child who can do things with numbers seems in a different realm from a child still learning to count past 50. Come first grade, things start clicking into place for most of the kids. Sure, your child may be more advanced but it won't be quite so obvious. For example, by 3rd grade, DD was reading at adult levels but she was still only 7 and so attracted to many of the same books her classmates were. She was fundamentally different... but she didn't look so different on the surface. Next year, your DD's classmates will be more capable, more mature and more confident. Other children will start pulling forward and needing more advanced work.

 

post #4 of 15
Thread Starter 
I didn't go into all the details in my 1st post, but there are a handful of kids who are doing the same things as DD. It's just a small group. And to clarify, she is not in GATE, that doesn't start until 4th grade I think. We just have a great teacher who wants to keep DD more challenged. She is close friends with two girls in this little group, so that part is fine.

The main problem, I guess, is that DD's best friend is in her K class but not in this handful of students. We are very close with her best friend's family and see them often, so their differences right now do come up. For example, they keep wanting to do their homework together after school, and the differences are very apparent and can cause a little awkwardness. Or, they have an extracurricular activity they used to do, but don't anymore because DD is staying at school for the enrichment thing.

As far as the "special" thing, that's because she's been invited to stay after the kindergarteners go home and spend the afternoon with the 1st graders. You can probably imagine how that would go--she's really excited about such a new experience, but her BFF isn't part of it and feels excluded. Then DD feels guilty and bad about it. Last week her BFF's feelings were hurt and I think DD was a little ashamed about it (she's very sensitive). That's why I used the word special, because this opportunity is special, and is just a temporary plan. We haven't talked about the idea of "needs" yet, but I'll keep that in mind as our discussions continue.

I wouldn't be surprised if the BFF caught up more to DD next year, but I also don't see DD slowing down at all.
post #5 of 15

I was going to suggest a full grade skip, since the teacher wants her to spend so much time with the 1st graders and, next year, the 2nd graders anyway - that would reduce the awkwardness of having to straddle the two grades as it were. Reading your second post, that may not help with your DD's BFF at all. On the one hand, your DD being in a different grade might take the pressure of competition off her. On the other, since she seems to have the kind of personality who feels left out because her best friend is doing something different, she may not want to be friends with her at all if she moves into first grade. Honestly, it sounds like the problem aren't your DD's feelings but her BFF's, and the pressure she appears to put on your DD. It doesn't sound very healthy to me and I'd watch this carefully -  the friendship may be doomed whatever you do.

However, if you and your DD care about this girl's (and the rest of the family's!) friendship and want to keep it across grade lines, or ability group lines or whatever it's going to be, I think the only chance is to remove school out of the context of this friendship at all - might work if the other girl's parents are on board. You haven't mentioned how they appear to feel about the situation, but they are playing a part in the other's girl's feelings, even if unwittingly. You may agree to say things like "BFF can only come over once your homework's done", to not even talk about school among the parents (this may in fact be easier if they end up in different grades) and to find some extracurricular activity they can be in together again - so they can be ballet friends, or scouting friends, or something else that's not about academics and the girls can be on the same page again. Depending on how strongly your DD feels about her, she may want to cancel the enrichment that gets in the way of the extracurricular they used to do together - she may not need it as much if she moves into first grade. If your families are so close it might be worth a small sacrifice to make sure they can continue to be friends.

post #6 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Spring Lily View Post

The main problem, I guess, is that DD's best friend is in her K class but not in this handful of students. We are very close with her best friend's family and see them often, so their differences right now do come up. 

The unfortunate truth is, the child and family will accept it or they will not. All you can do is be cautious with your wording and show humility. There were friendships that did not withstand DD's grade skip. There were friendships that were strained and resulted in some sad behavior from the other child like making up wild and untrue accomplishments. In one particular adult friendship, it became taboo for me to even mention my child's name in conversation. It's a time when parents are the most sensitive to where their child stands and there was often resentment to having a kid so far ahead in their child's class. However, once everyone was reading, once kids were starting to find their own interests and talents, once the FEAR subsided and the realization that their kid was special in their own right, things got more comfortable. All you can do is be gracious with this other family but it may not be a friendship that continues for long. It's sad but in reality, few kids really are friends all through elementary and into middle and high school. Kids shift around based on interests and personality. You may find that next year your DD really wants to jump rope at recess but her friend likes to swing... this can be enough to break-up their friendship as they develop bonds with other kids who like to jump rope or swing. If their reaction to your child is uncomfortable, this may not be a relationship worth fighting for. Be polite. Watch your words but ultimately, it's up to them to accept and decide whether they can handle being around a child who is a little further ahead at this point.

 

I do get that these opportunities your DD has are "special," I just recommend not using such a loaded word that lends itself so easily to resentment from other families. All children are special and deserving of their own spot in the sun. Not all kids are academically accelerated and have the same needs.

post #7 of 15

I would sit the girls down and have a little talk about how they both have things they are extra good at and they both have things that they have trouble with - focusing a bit more on your daughters troubles and a bit more on the other girls strengths.  THen I would come up with a way they could feel attached beyond that - maybe using friendship pins or bracelets or a special handshake or something to symbolize their bond.  Imitation is how kids show attachment at this age, so having a different thing to imitate might help. 

post #8 of 15
Thread Starter 
The BFF and her family are wonderful and that is definitely not an unhealthy friendship, I think you're reading a little too much into that. I didn't share every single detail because I don't think that is really important at this point. This is a great girl with smart parents, and maybe when they're in grade 3 or 4 they will be working at the same level. It's just too soon to tell. I'm more just looking for strategies that can help DD maintain friendships with kids who are not doing the more advanced work. It's a small wedge that I know only gets bigger over time as abilities grow and I want to help her learn how to bridge that gap without feeling bad about being different than many kids her age. I was always ahead in school and I know that by 3rd or 4th grade there was already a real social split based on academics, with people already teasing about "nerds" and "unpopular" and things like that. I hope things have changed a bit, but I am hoping to help her through this now when she's young and it's minor, so she has some skills when it happens when she's older.

We're not going to skip her, and that hasn't been offered, anyway. She's one of the youngest in her K class already. If we put her in with the next grade, she'd be in there with kids a full 2 yrs older than her. That's a big difference, especially when she's in middle school at age 10 and there are 12 yr olds in her class and 14 yr olds in the school. Or starting high school at 13, when there are kids in her class with driver's permits and the seniors are 18 and 19. If you take the age difference caused by the prevalence of red-shirting, it's just too much for me to want to put on my child. Those years are hard enough as it is.
post #9 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Spring Lily View Post

 I want to help her learn how to bridge that gap without feeling bad about being different than many kids her age. 
If this is the case, the best lesson for your DD is to be in activities where they aren't the best or there simply isn't a "best."  It can be hard to find but music, art, theatre, sports... all good things for kids who are naturally good at everything to try. Having experience being "average" or "not as strong" or even actively "bad" in an area gives them compassion and a better understanding as to handle the times when they ARE the best. 

We're not going to skip her, and that hasn't been offered, anyway. She's one of the youngest in her K class already. If we put her in with the next grade, she'd be in there with kids a full 2 yrs older than her. That's a big difference, especially when she's in middle school at age 10 and there are 12 yr olds in her class and 14 yr olds in the school. Or starting high school at 13, when there are kids in her class with driver's permits and the seniors are 18 and 19. If you take the age difference caused by the prevalence of red-shirting, it's just too much for me to want to put on my child. Those years are hard enough as it is.
I'm not advocating full grade acceleration for your particular child but just wanted to address that those years aren't always harder accelerated kids. My DD started middle school at 10 and high school at 13 in a heavy red-shirting area. My DS started middle school last fall at 10. No regrets and as unbelievably as it sounds, middle school was the golden age for DD and DS is very happy there too. My high schooler has frustrations but it all centers around being ready for a college experience but being stuck in high school. None of the issues that are commonly associated (often by those with no experience) with grade acceleration have been a problem for us. Again, I'm not saying your child is a good candidate only that acceleration can be an excellent tool for those that are.... all depends on the individual and their particular schooling environment.


 

post #10 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Spring Lily View Post

 This is a great girl with smart parents, and maybe when they're in grade 3 or 4 they will be working at the same level. It's just too soon to tell. I'm more just looking for strategies that can help DD maintain friendships with kids who are not doing the more advanced work.
They may and they may not. GT kiddos dont 'even out' by 3rd, some start to hide their skills though and/or it is easier to mix them up with other kids since they almost all read chapter books of some kind ( so a kids reading  5/6th grade level book will not look too much different upon 1st glance than kids reading at 3rd grade level, a K  kid reading a chapter book- even a 1/2nd grade level chapter book will stick out quickly).
 
As PP said, playdates, outside activities, etc will help build friendships. At this age, you have most of the control of playdates---as your DD gets older she may express a preference for certain groups of friends, in fact we are seeing this a lot now at age 6 from my own DDs. For now-- simply make sure she know that everyone is good at different things (give examples: friends X is good at y, friend b is good at c, DD is good at F) and that you can be friends with anyone you want, especially people that may be different than you.
 
Keep activities with the BFF (Sat? Sun?) and make them fun---not focused on academics at all. Really at 5, most kids are fairly open to playing/going/doing different things without preconceived notions of 'right/wrong/nerdy/athletic/etc' That is coming soon enough, but at 5- usually kids are supportive and friendly to most other kids.
 
 
 
It's a small wedge that I know only gets bigger over time as abilities grow and I want to help her learn how to bridge that gap without feeling bad about being different than many kids her age. I was always ahead in school and I know that by 3rd or 4th grade there was already a real social split based on academics, with people already teasing about "nerds" and "unpopular" and things like that. I hope things have changed a bit, but I am hoping to help her through this now when she's young and it's minor, so she has some skills when it happens when she's older.
It may or may not get bigger. Also, she does have different skills than other kids her age. That is OK- you do not want to make your DD feel bad. Make sure she DOES have exposure to kids like her (other advanced kiddos) as well so she does not feel isolated.
 
As parents, we do take our own experiences and reflect them when making choices for our kids- but also our own personalities will differ from our kids and it is important to keep an open mind about it. If you are anxious about the situation and/or fretting your DD will pick up on that and either feel upset that she is getting 'enrichment' activities or may feel upset that somehow she is upsetting you by not playing with BFF and depending on her personality she may make choices to please you rather than what she may want or vice versa (she may make choices she wants but feel upset that somehow you arent happy about it).
 
There will always be 'splits' in schools no matter what- you can try to teach your DD to support and enjoy a wide variety of friendships, that friends can have different skills and talents than hers. But as your DD gets older she may gravitate toward friends--- some of them may or may not be the ones she had before (preschool, elementary school, family friends, etc) and that is part of developing social skills and independence.
 
You can hope the schools she attends has a low tolerance for bullying and also has a high level of acceptance of differences. The school and its atmosphere also plays into, talk to your DDs teacher. You may find that your DD is connecting with new friends (not always the 'advanced ones' but just different kids than she may have playing with before. 
 
 

We're not going to skip her, and that hasn't been offered, anyway. She's one of the youngest in her K class already. If we put her in with the next grade, she'd be in there with kids a full 2 yrs older than her. That's a big difference, especially when she's in middle school at age 10 and there are 12 yr olds in her class and 14 yr olds in the school. Or starting high school at 13, when there are kids in her class with driver's permits and the seniors are 18 and 19. If you take the age difference caused by the prevalence of red-shirting, it's just too much for me to want to put on my child. Those years are hard enough as it is.
 
You may need to see what the future brings. Some areas are more open to skipping, acceleration, compacting, etc.
 
Some kids do well in multi-age settings. If your DD hit middle school and they had an 'advanced science course' of 6/7 th graders-- the age range would be that broad and for a students that is advanced, it may be a welcome challenge.
 
I do say this as a parent of young-for-grade 1st graders (they started 1st at 5y9m), mine will enter High School at age 13 and graduate at 17 if they do a traditional 1-12 grade pattern. Then they can choose a gap year of studying or start college at 17 turning 18. I will deal with when we get there! There is no way to tell at age 5 if  your DD may end up compacting, accelerating, taking dual courses (then starting college in HS and possibly start college with a year of more of credits) that may change things. You may also get a chance to do a split class that would also place her with older/younger kiddos.
Just do what works for now and be open to possibly changing gears in the future! 


 


Edited by KCMichigan - 3/9/12 at 2:33pm
post #11 of 15

Sorry, I didn't read the other responses yet but still wanted to respond. 

 

We went through this with my now 9 year old. In kinder her teacher always gave her more advanced work (1st or 2nd grade math and reading) but she stayed in the classroom. My daughter, at that age, wanted to do exactly what the other kids were doing. "it looked more fun" she would say. The teacher and I discussed it and we let her make the choice. She would do a bit of the advanced stuff but move quickly to kinder work.

 

Moving into first grade and onward, the teachers have moved her to an older class for advanced work. She has become good friends with the kids in these older grades (mostly just a year older) and looks forward to the time spent with them. Now she is always excited to be with older kids, doing more advanced stuff. It definitely took a bit of time for her to get used to it though.

post #12 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Spring Lily View Post

We're not going to skip her, and that hasn't been offered, anyway. She's one of the youngest in her K class already. If we put her in with the next grade, she'd be in there with kids a full 2 yrs older than her.


In that case, if she were my child, she wouldn't be staying after school to go to first grade. What's the point? Even more boredom next year?

 

I'd have her leave at the same time as her friend and play.

 

I'm not a fan of extra academic work for young children, even gifted ones. I'm a big fan of PLAY and FRIENDSHIP. Social development is as important as any other part of development.

 

Getting appropriate level work *while you are at school* and *spending more hours in school* just ain't the same thing. I'm a fan of the first, but not the second. And a big chunk of the reason she is having social issues is because you are choosing to do the second.

post #13 of 15

yeahthat.gif  My daughter was given some enriched work during class (replacing the kindergarten language arts rather than added to) and she didn't have to deal with extra work when she should have been playing, having time with friends and exercising.

 

  Now is also a great time to teach her how to enrich her own work.  By this, I mean getting in the habit of finding her interesting books or activities to supplement things she likes in school, encouraging her to read on her own at her own level, encouraging writing projects in a more in depth way as she is able, modeling how to research, etc.  My daughter is now 10 years old and in grade 4.  She is not formally in an enriched program, but she does book reports with books at her reading level and interest and knows how to write a book report in line with higher grade expectations.  When she has a research project, she knows how to research from several different sources, how to assess validity and limitations of the research, how to perform her own original research.  This didn't come with formal teaching on our part or from extra schooling.  We made sure to be mindful of modeling it in our daily life with her and included her in seeing how we performed adult tasks if appropriate.

 

If a child gets in the habit of intellectually exploring the world they can enrich their own experience.  You may need the school to tweak things a bit (my daughter would be very bored if not given access to higher level reading or the opportunity to engage in long term projects and assignments, for example), but what matters more is that they learn to enjoy the learning process.

post #14 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Linda on the move View Post


In that case, if she were my child, she wouldn't be staying after school to go to first grade. What's the point? Even more boredom next year?

 

I'd have her leave at the same time as her friend and play.

 

I'm not a fan of extra academic work for young children, even gifted ones. I'm a big fan of PLAY and FRIENDSHIP. Social development is as important as any other part of development.

 

Getting appropriate level work *while you are at school* and *spending more hours in school* just ain't the same thing. I'm a fan of the first, but not the second. And a big chunk of the reason she is having social issues is because you are choosing to do the second.


Great post by Linda, as usual!

 

It appears that the school is trying lots of different strategies to keep your DD engaged and learning, with the exception of a grade skip (which you say you would not want anyway). Which sounds all good, but there are a lot of social situations for your DD to navigate and groups to fit into. Work with the whole group of K kids, work with the little group of advanced K kids, work with the 1st graders in the split classrooom, work with all 1st graders in the afternoon, extra enrichment classes (or is it just the afternoon with the 1st graders that you referred to as enrichment? I could not quite tell). Next year, it is going to be even more transitions to manage, with the 2nd graders in a different classroom. Kudos to your DD for taking it all in stride and still managing to keep up her friendships so far across all these lines! I usually hate the social argument against acceleration and am a big proponent for kids being unable to be happy and social in school unless they are given appropriate work, but your DD is shouldering a large social burden in order to be kept busy and engaged, and it will probably be getting larger. Which is of course what you are worried about yourself and what you've come here to talk about.

 

Which is why I would suggest your looking at two options:

Scale back the enrichment stuff where it's "more" (time, work, need to fit into yet another group) as opposed to "different" (eg different work where she is able to stay put at her desk/on her rug/ in the reading corner in her classroom surrounded by her K friends (and have her do extracurriculars with BFF, whose friendship both of you really care about). I can't tell just how much that would compromise her academic needs so she'll be unhappy on that score. But Linda's right: what's the point of having her do 1st grade work with the 1st graders now to prepare her for 2nd grade work next year but still pretend she is a kindergartner and have her do all this work to manage these different groups she is being switched around amongst?

So the other option I'd suggest is for you to research a full grade skip, despite your misgivings. Just keeping an open mind so you're ready when the time comes and you feel "somethings gotta give". I know exactly how you feel: today, in the conference about granting Early Entrance for DS (born a few weeks after the cutoff), the principal already brought up the possibility of a grade skip down the road and all I could say was "but he'll be the youngest as it is!"

 

I have to work hard myself to separate my own experiences from my child's experiences and to not project, but I have to say this: while my own grade skip was badly handled by the elementary school and elementary was hell for me, middle school and high school was, in comparison, a BREEZE. And yes, I happened to be one of the first ones to get my period anyway (just throwing that out there because for some reason it tends to come up as a reason against grade skipping.

Like whatnextmom, I am not saying "your DD needs a grade skip" because obviously we all do not know enough about her to say so, and you have to feel comfortable with the option before considering it. Just don't dismiss it out of hand.

 

post #15 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Spring Lily View Post

If we put her in with the next grade, she'd be in there with kids a full 2 yrs older than her. That's a big difference, especially when she's in middle school at age 10 and there are 12 yr olds in her class and 14 yr olds in the school. Or starting high school at 13, when there are kids in her class with driver's permits and the seniors are 18 and 19. If you take the age difference caused by the prevalence of red-shirting, it's just too much for me to want to put on my child. Those years are hard enough as it is.


I realize a skip isn't on the table at this point, but don't discount the possibility in the future because of fear of these sorts of issues. My kids go to a school where grades are combined, so even if they were in their "correct" age-grade, they'd be in classes with students up to 3 years older. And it's not an issue. There's nothing inherent to being 18 years old that makes such people toxic social influences. There's nothing about a classmate having her driver's permit that makes her an interpersonal stress or inappropriate as a friend. My newly-13-year-old, who is grade-skipped, is in math and science courses with students who are 14-16. A couple of her electives, which have a larger grade-range, have students up to age 18. She's happy, socially confident, has nice friends who comprise a wide range of ages at school and elsewhere. She doesn't try to pretend she's older than she is, though she's mature and focused. And she's getting some academic challenge, which puts her on common ground with the students in her classes, rather than feeling like a fish out of water in a younger class. My older dd's experience with grade-advancement was similar. The adolescent years have, I think, been easier as a result of more appropriate schooling and having friends of a range of ages. 

 

Miranda

 

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