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Questions: 4 yr old not writing and repeating grades...

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 

Hi all,


I have two girls I am homeschooling. My 4 year old is really struggling with writing and she turns 5 in July, so I am thinking

I will just do prek with her and not start actual kindergarten. I also have a 6 year old (turned 6 in January) and though we were supposed to do kindergarten this 2011-2012 year, we got little done as we had so much happen in our family this past year it was insane. I believe in my state you don't actually have to start reporting anything until 7 years of age, but I am afraid to stray from the traditional age/grade pairing.How would it affect my kids in the long run? If I do kindergarten over with my 6 year old and wait until my 4 year old is 6 to start her with kindergarten ( I think she is really not ready, she can barely sit still or focus and just wants to play) will it make a terrible difference? Should I just go on to first grade with my 6 year old and start kindergarten "on time" for my soon to be 5 year old in September? Also, any tips for getting my 4 yr old to write without a crying fit??

post #2 of 20

That's the great thing about homeschooling!! You don't have to rush!! Or force or otherwise torture your young children w/school like craziness. Let them lead. They will let you know when they're ready to write and read and all that other wonderful stuff. And they'll focus on things much better if they're interested in what they're learning so take cues from them about what direction your curriculum takes if indeed you are following a curriculum. You and the state are likely the only ones that care if their grade and age match up to the classroom norm. I can assure you that if you don't make a big deal out it around your girls they will not care. They have no context for it, so it really won't matter if they're a year or even 2 "behind" their age peers.

Their most important job is PLAYING! Don't force them to stop so you can impose state standards on them, please!

Ok, I'm gonna shut up now before I get myself in trouble. winky.gif

Have fun with them, read with them, do fun educational stuff, and keep up on what they're interested in. They really will learn love.gif

post #3 of 20

Why does a 4-year-old have to write? I don't believe many 4-year-olds are developmentally up to the task, and most lack meaningful motivation to work on the skill. She doesn't need to take standardized tests to be evaluated. She can't sign credit card chits or legal contracts. She doesn't have to submit essays, make grocery lists or pass notes to friends in class. There's no need for her to write, and there are a lot of good reasons to wait until she's older, more motivated and more capable. I would give her enjoyable tasks that will help her hone her fine motor skills (lego, lacing, finger-knitting, playdough, etc.), provide her with some nice ergonomic crayons for drawing/coloring/scribbling, and leave it at that. If you're wanting her to work on learning letter-shapes, there are plenty of ways to do that without writing them ... make them out of playdough, or construct them from popsicle sticks and pipe cleaners, stamp them in the beach, use a skipping rope to create them on the ground. 


As to your older dd's grade level, in declaring my kids' grade level for administrative purposes I've always gone with age-grade regardless of what level they're working at. Any schools, school districts or reporting agencies we've worked with have just wanted to know that there is progress happening. They don't care whether my 9-year-old is learning to subtract or learning square roots: they only care that she is learning. "Progress commensurate with ability" is the catch phrase that is often used. Even in a classroom it is expected that there will be a two-to-three-year grade-range in ability in a typical levelled classroom. While some children will be right smack on grade level, a few will be either up to a year ahead or a year behind in some skills. I figure there's no way to predict where a child's physical maturity, emotional maturity, social skills and academic prowess will lie in a few years, so it's easiest not to second-guess things. My eldest dd had a close friend, also homeschooled, who wasn't reading at all, and had next to no interest in math and other academic subjects, right up to age 9. That girl is now 17 and graduating from high school next week on the Honour Roll with a wide range of advanced academic credits. She grew into an incredible amount of social grace, hit puberty at age 10.5, and developed a strong academic drive in adolescence. She turned out to be an academic late bloomer, but not a slow learner at all! Because her parents continued to declare her "in" the grade level her age suggested, there was no grade-retention complication to undo, and justify undoing, when she started school in 9th grade. 


Having said that, the level of instruction your dd gets should have nothing to do with her age-grade and everything to do with her needs and abilities. The fact that you didn't "do" much during this past Kindergarten year doesn't necessarily mean she needs KG-level instruction. Many kids absorb early academic skills early or on time with almost no school-like instruction. But if her knowledge and skills are suited to KG-level instruction then that's absolutely what she should get, whether she's 5 or 6 or 8 for that matter. 


Reading between the lines, it sounds like you're using (or trying to use) a fairly school-style model of learning for your homeschooling. You mentioned an inability to sit still, and maybe not starting preK because your younger dd is not wanting to write. I would gently suggest that you give some thought to whether that sit-down-and-write approach to learning is really the best model for your particular children at their young ages. There are plenty of homeschooling approaches that stimulate learning without requiring that kids to sit down and do bookwork. Perhaps it might be worth considering something more developmental, experiential, hands-on and holistic? That might be a better fit for your kids' learning styles right now. You could be capitalizing on their current needs to move, to play, to create and experiment... rather than waiting for them to develop a desire to sit down, receive instruction and fill in worksheets.



post #4 of 20

I don't know about Idaho, but in Washington (when we declare) we list the children and their ages. . . not their grades.  If that is the case in ID, don't worry about it and just do what you had planned regarding levels.


If you must declare grade levels, then I would declare at least the January kid with the "correct" grade level.  I would still teach him at his actual level.  However, if he ever enrolls in school it is easy to hold them back a year but more difficult to bump them back up.  I think declaring the age related grade would leave you with more options later. 



post #5 of 20
Thread Starter 

Ladies, thank you all so much for your honest opinions! None of what was said was too harsh :)


I really struggle because I was a public schooler and much of my family sends their children to public school now

and some have asked why my 4 yr old is not writing. I am pretty positive I wasn't writing at 4 now that I think about it, and

I am going to focus on serving my children's needs/learning styles regardless of what others think or say. We do a lot of reading

together and playing and my 4 yr old loves to make letters out of play doh and my 6 yr old just seems to be more interested in academic things, she pretty much taught herself to write when she was 4 and I suppose that's proof they all learn when they are ready :)

post #6 of 20

Here is my thinking.  If you already have a kindergarten curriculum you might start that now rather than wait and go at your DD's pace- which may be K level or might very well be faster.  My DD was so bored with K material that by Feb we went into first grade and are taking it year round at a slower pace.  That seems to challenge my DD a lot and not be overwhelming.  My DS would normally go into K this fall.  We are not going to go there.  He has finally started to show an interest in writing his name- and I don't want to push him and he is an active little boy who keeps busy playing :)  I do offer plenty of crayons/coloring/little learning workbooks with numbers and letters and whatnot for when he wants to join in school.  He is a wiz at math though- so I might get him singapore 1a/1b to keep up with his sister.  When DS was 4 he hated to write- it was torture- and after his birthday he just sat down and wrote his name.  It was weird- like a switch flipped.  

post #7 of 20

My youngest turned five in February.  While he has been writing some since he was three, he still struggles with holding the pencil in the typical way and is exhausted after writing a few words.  We're unschoolers, so we just let him proceed at his own pace and provide him with lots of fun activities for strengthening small fingers.


This same child has really impressive logic skills, and often beats his older brother (and sometimes adults!) in games like SET and Dizios.  He can also bake bread from scratch with minimal assistance, which has come as a surprise to some adults who don't think of this as a five-year-old skill.


As previous posters have said, some variation among skill levels is pretty typical.  I wouldn't sweat it at all!  Oh, and when announcing our intent to homeschool (the only requirement in our state), we are asked to list ages and not grade levels.

post #8 of 20
My 6 year-old really didn't start picking up the reading and writing successfully until this year, and I'm absolutely not worried. Of course, he's pretty good with math, but I just couldn't make him get interested in reading until recently. I tried forcing him to sit through reading lessons at the beginning of the year (he was 5), but it got to a point where he ended each session in tears. Not because he didn't understand, but because he just didn't want to do it. I finally snapped out of it and started letting it go. I'd ask him to read a story he already knew to his brother each night, and then ask him to point out a particular word every few pages. We did some flash cards, some letters to grandparents, and a lot of just me reading to him. I also pointed out to him how nice it would be if he were able to read the words on his video games, etc. I stopped pushing, though. Now he's reading by choice. I don't think we should stress so much about the age/grade thing. I think it's like everything else our kids learn. Some walk at 8months, some don't start until 15. By the time they're 3, you can't tell them apart. Don't stress.
post #9 of 20
Originally Posted by moominmamma View Post


As to your older dd's grade level, in declaring my kids' grade level for administrative purposes I've always gone with age-grade regardless of what level they're working at. Any schools, school districts or reporting agencies we've worked with have just wanted to know that there is progress happening. They don't care whether my 9-year-old is learning to subtract or learning square roots: they only care that she is learning. 

Same here. My ds is all over the place. He was a really late reader and still isn't interested in writing much. But for school district purposes, and I'm in Pennsylvania which is a high regulation state, I go with his age. We technically don't declare a grade but standardized tests are required in certain grades so you end up having to decide when your dc is going to take those which amounts to the same thing. And the important thing for the school district isn't working at grade level. It's showing progress, simply that learning is happening and the child knows more at the end of the year than the beginning. 

post #10 of 20
Originally Posted by DelKroemer View Post
I believe in my state you don't actually have to start reporting anything until 7 years of age


My understanding of Idaho law is that you never report anything. Compulsory education begins at age 7, but homeschooling requires no notification or registration, and testing/reporting of test scores is not required.

post #11 of 20

When my son was 4 he was copying writing all the time. We hung it on the walls and on the fridge. I got a software program to make worksheets that he could copy (I wanted him to learn a pretty font.) We could put pictures on the worksheets and have it say whatever he wanted.


For his 5th birthday party thank you notes, we made worksheets that said, "Dear Friend, Thank you for..." and his name at the end. He chose pictures to incorporate and what the thank yous should say. I made him copy over the friends' names as well as his own. I didn't want to do to much so as to not overwhelm him.


That was 1.5 years ago. He still doesn't write any more. Just that one episode of trying to make him do something backfired tremendously.


I say let the kids lead.

post #12 of 20

You could try having them both do kindergarten this coming year and hold off on the writing for your four year old until the fall.

post #13 of 20

If you do not think your July child will be ready for kindergarten do not put her in. My son barely made the cut off for kindergarten and now I am having to hold him back and repeat 3rd grade. He hates me, but I know he needs another year to catch up. The school refuses to hold him back and wanted to pass him onto 4th grade (even though he failed all testing and is not passing at a beginning 2nd grade level.)

Follow your mommy instinct and hold  back /red shirt your kids while they are still young. They can always be bumped up a grade if it is too easy for them later in school. It is much more hurtful to a child to be held back later on in school.

Best of luck. 

post #14 of 20
Originally Posted by Elizabeth Tait View Post

If you do not think your July child will be ready for kindergarten do not put her in. 


The question was about the use of a homeschooling curriculum, not about enrolling a child in school. There's no difficulty "holding a child back later" in homeschooling. 



post #15 of 20

If it makes any difference, I'm not totally sure that my 4 1/2 year old is even entirely clear about what writing is. I think she thinks its an individual preference thing, kind of drawing for us older people. She certainly can't do it, apart from one or two letters she's given her own names to. She does have the most amazing ability to be off in her own world though. I'm just thankful she has a short name with easy letters in it. (I have two older kids so I've seen this before and I'm pretty sure she'll get there in time)

post #16 of 20
I agree with others. Some 4 year olds LOVE to write but really it's not age appropriate to force it.
What did you use for kindy with your older child?
You can introduce letters using letter stories and have her make letters using sticks, play dough, Bread... Etc. draw it in chalk have her walk a letter. Writing comes later.

(I think my waldorf is showing.... wink1.gif )
post #17 of 20

My friend went to a conference by a guy named David Albert


he said: don't let your need to teach interfere with your child's need to learn


I have to remind myself of this daily as I KNOW my child can do all the stuff I"d like to 'do' with him, reading/writing/ etc ... He just doesn't want to do it. We try and incorporate math and reading into every day life. What's this sign say? I need 3 apples, can you get me 3 apples? Hmmm... these apples are 99c/lb and these are 1.25 which ones are cheaper? that type of thing.

post #18 of 20

Why do you need to label her grade?  We just do learning activities at whatever level she is working at.  Last year she did some things from kindergarten, some from first grade, and some from second, depending on what the subject was.  She even decided that she wanted to learn cursive, so we did, and I think normally that is taught in third grade.  I don't worry too much about the grade level and just do what she wants to do.  

post #19 of 20

Learn it from someone who had to learn it THE REALLY HARD WAY: Your 4-year-old is not ready. Seriously. All  forcing her to work will do is really, really make life hard.


Even at 6, my daughter was not ready for most things. She refused to read, reversed most letters and just in general DID NOT want to do anything. Piano lessons? Hated it. Swim lessons? Nope. Reading a book to me? Forget about it.


Things started turning around at the end of 7. She reads Harry Potter. Loves swim team (we quit for 1.5 years) and doing much better with academics.


I know its hard to understand, as this is your first time and your oldest is only six...but I highly suggest backing off for awhile.

post #20 of 20

Grades are something the school systems have to use to group that mass amount of kids.  As homeschoolers, labeling your kids into "grades" is completely meaningless.  If I have to do it for a form or something, I'll write in the grade that is my best guess as to what they'd be in if they were in school.  If your kids are ever asked what grade they're in, it will probably be asked by a person who doesn't know how to relate to homeschoolers, so just asks grade level.  I think lots of homeschoolers don't know what official "grade" they're in, since it's an unnecessary label.  Also, you'll probably notice that the majority of homeschool classes are categorized by age, not grade.

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