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Failing kindergarten?

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
My just-turned-5-in-september son is failing kindergarten. How is this possible? He has been in school a whole 4.5 months, and has made leaps and bounds in his developement. He knows his days of the week, months, he counts and can count by 10's. He can write any letter, and can spell small words. He knows what ryhming <sp?> is, and knows some science, such as the difference between trees and rocks. (One's living, the other isn't). He can tell me who the president is, and even told me what a Tsunami is.
He's making friends at school, and except for the mooning incident, he is getting along great with his classmates.

I got his report card yesterday. Apparently he is unsatisfactory in his 'citizenship', meaning he disrupts the class often and needs individual attention. And he needs improvement in social studies and science. She wants to schedule a meeting "pertaining to his placement for next year." Which means she wants to hold him back. That's cool, because I was thinking of doing it anyways. I just don't see how he can be so behind when he has learned so many new things. He has learned to count money, which I remember learning in the 3rd grade. I just don't get it. How can he be 'failing' kindergarten when he has made an incredible amount of progress?
post #2 of 16
I would seriously think about not holding him back. I think it is important to stay with his age group and learn on those skills that 'need improvement'. It may be a stigma later on that he 'flunked' kg. The school has a requirement to help him in these areas, not just hold him back. It could also be his synergy with the teacher, and another teaching style will really help. Maybe just maturity will help, and by the time he is reading to move to the next grade, he will be more settled. It sounds from your description, he is doing really well! No child is equal in all areas of school.

post #3 of 16
Thread Starter 
He is not meeting their standards with reading,although he is improving. If he stays back, he will still be in his age group, as he will just be turning 6.
post #4 of 16
Our new standards are making more children be held back in the K and 1st grade levels. Boys tend to be slower at these things.

It is not your child being behind but standards not meeting the reality of many 5-6 year olds.

I would put the blame on the adults. DC we decided to start you in school last Aug/Sept. We made a bad decision. We are sorry. You were two young and WE ADULTS made a poor choice. It is our fault that you have to repeat.
post #5 of 16

I would go to the meeting with an open mind. Ask to see the requirements for kinder and 1st and then wait to make your decision until much closer to next september--- at that age you never know when it will "click."

That said, a good friend of DDs was in a kinder class of 22 students and told she was "flunking." Her mother chose to get her tutoring through Silvan Learning Center and then go to summer school. She entered 1st the next year and her mother came to find that EIGHT people in her class (of 22, so over 1/3rd) had been told the same and she was the only one who did summer school and yet they had all "passed." There is sometimes a very large disconnect between what teachers push/feel pushed to push as "normal", what is normal, and even what the district accepts as normal.

When is your cutoff? Here, your son wouldn't have started this year anyway (we have an August 31 cutoff, so Sept b-days go next). I am very hesitant to hold back because though teachers report anecdotally that it is "for the best" actual reasearch has shown it can have some very negative consequences (and does, more often than not). For girls this includes being among the first to develop and the ostracism that goes with it. For boys, they are often pushed into a bullying role that is hard to escape from.

As for failing after great progress. MIL has had students in 4th grade who are working at a 1st grade level. No matter how much she helps them catch up, even if they skip two grades (so are at 3rd) it is almost impossible to get them to catch up (I don't think this is the case with DS, just throwing that out there). Additionally, perhaps some of the progress that DS has made doesn't "count." Maybe he doesn't *need* to be able to count money (but can) but is not doing something else they "expect", kwim?

Good luck!

post #6 of 16
Just wanted to give you a

It's so frustrating to come up against indifference to what they can do, with the only focus being on what they can't.

I agree with TiredX2 to wait until the late summer or fall to decide where to put him.

I know every kid is different, but hopefully this will offer you some encouragement. My ds showed absolutely no interest in writing or reading, and suddenly, this month, it's all 'clicking'. He'll be 6 in about a month. The summer might bring a whole bunch of 'aha!' moments for your son, as he'll be right around 6, right towards the end of it.

Good luck.
post #7 of 16
Hi Marie,

I have a couple of questions - when is the cutoff where you live? Like tiredx2, my cutoff is also August 31st so your ds wouldn't have started kindergarten yet in my state. All three of my girls have summer birthdays (dd2 is very end of August so she JUST makes the cutoff - will surely be the youngest in her kindergarten class in the fall). I was originally happy that she'd "make the cutoff" but now I kind of wish she hadn't. I wanted it to be my choice to send her or wait. And it is. But I kind of go with 'send them if they make the cut; wait if they don't' philosophy. It is no great gift to be the youngest in the class - as I learned when dd1 went to kindergarten. The kids with September birthdays (so oldest in the class in my state) were no better off academically than my dd but they were so much more able to control their emotions!

Also, you said you were thinking of holding him back anyway. Why? Maybe you and the teacher have similar concerns? I think if we as adults make the choice to send them before they are really able to succeed, the quickest and easiest way to remedy that is to redo kindergarten. If we don't, it will just be that much harder to repeat in 1st or 2nd. But I do feel for how hard it would be to hold him back. I didn't want to pull my dd1 out when she had a hard time the first quarter of kindergarten because I didn't want her to feel she failed. But she is a July birthday and was doing well academically so we hung in there and she is fine in 3rd grade now.

Do you have any options to do a K/1 multi-age class next year? So he could work at his level (whether K or 1st) in each area? My dd1 is in a multi-age program of the public school district here and we just love it.

I'm sure it wasn't fun to get the message from his teacher that implied he was failing kindergarten. I hope you feel better after meeting with her. Let us know how it goes.
post #8 of 16
You, as the parent, have the final call. If they want to hold him back and you don't agree, they can "place" him in first grade without promoting him. ETA: You *should* have the final call. It really depends on the school system.

Kindergarten has seriously changed in the last few years. Those little kids are expected to do work that was formerly at a first, even second grade level. And some are ready for it. The majority, however, how being forced to wrap their little brains around material that they're simply not developmentally prepared for. It's not a natural progression, but the standards of learning are created by people who don't understand child development. Teachers are then told to implement the curriculum; there is no time or flexibility for the individual. If a teacher does not keep up with the curriculum and its time-line, it's her job, regardless of tenure. The only way the trend is going to slow down is if teachers finally get a collective backbone and push back. Frequently children are held back because, if they are not progressing at the speed the school system expects of all students, their future test scores impact the school.

All that said, if YOU have concerns about your son going on to first grade, there is NOTHING wrong with holding him back.

I would seriously think about not holding him back. I think it is important to stay with his age group and learn on those skills that 'need improvement'. It may be a stigma later on that he 'flunked' kg.
It is only a stigma if you allow it to be. There is no shame in flunking any grade, including--or maybe especially--kindergarten. It's a lot harder for the child who gets a "social promotion", but still can't keep up. It's a lot more embarrassing when the child reaches fourth grade, fifth grade, sixth grade and is still not reading (and it happens too often). Those skills that "need improvement" grow. The child needs to build on those skills to learn other skills and, if never quite grasps those orginal skills and the teacher moves on (and they do; they can't wait), it has a snowball effect. He's completely lost. If a child is held back early, he'll start the year ahead of the game; he'll stay with the same group of kids and view them as his peers, not the group he was in kindergarten with so many years ago.

At your conference, ask the teacher for specifics. Explain how much growth you've seen and ask what their expectations were. And follow your heart.

post #9 of 16
I went through K two times and I'm just fine. My parents felt that it really prepared me for my school career. I also failed "social skills", but really I never was "popular" anyway..even after 2 years of K.

Talk to your child. Ask him/her how they feel. Ask them about reading and the other skills the teacher thinks he/she is lacking in. Think about homeschooling him/her for a summer session and reevaluating again in the fall. I have a 6.5 year old kindergartner and she is just fine with it. She still has areas where she needs help, but isn't that normal? I homeschooled her for pre-K when she was almost 5 (Sept. 12th 98) and that worked well for us too.

Good Luck..mama.
post #10 of 16
I've never posted over here, but I wanted to offer some advice since I am a kindergarten teacher.

Maybe she doesn't want to hold him back next year, but wants your input on a specific teacher for him that meshes with his learning style. Or if your school has a multi-age class, like a K-1, he could be in there with kids closer to his age.

I agree that the expectations for kindergarteners seem to grow and grow every year. My students are expected to write sentences using describing words! I don't even think I knew how to write a sentence when I was in kindergarten! When I started teaching (not that long ago) things were a lot more developmental. Now I am expected to test my student's reading fluency once a week using a stopwatch! That goes against my personal teaching philosophy, but I love teaching kindergarten. So for me it's about jumping thru the hoops, and putting the focus on what I really love, and meeting the students at their level, and making all this timed-test crap less of a focus so the kids come to me wanting to learn.

If you don't feel like the school your son is in is meeting his needs, are there any other schools nearby that he could attend? Or maybe it's just not a good match with this teacher this year and next year could be better. Perhaps that is what the meeting is about. Give some thought to how you think your child learns best. Does he respond well to lots of structure, or can he self-manage?

Also, you say he was unsatisfactory in conduct. This very well may be why he was having trouble in Science and S.S. On our report card, there are no objectives in those areas, children are only expected to participate, so their grade is determined by their level of participation. (we do have Science and S.S. objectives, they're just not assessed). If he's playing instead of paying attention during this time, that might be what is affecting his grade.

Write down some questions or comments you'd like to make and take them with you to the conference. Good luck!
post #11 of 16
The poor little guy is JUST 5 years old and they want him to know all that!?

I cant believe they want a 5 year old to know ALL of that. That kindergarden sound more like first grade.

Nothing useful to add just picking up my jaw after it dropped reading how much you little guy knows.
post #12 of 16
I, too, am stunned every day with what kindergarteners are expected to learn. It is the equivalent to 1st-2nd grade when I was in school. But from what you've described, it sounds like your ds is far from failing! I know in my dd's classroom, the boys, especially those who are the younger ones in the class, are also the ones who end up being labelled as having behavior problems, but darn, it's just because they are five!

I wonder with all of the extra pressure being put on schools with NCLB if teachers are passing on that extra pressure to students/ parents? Maybe as a kindergarten teacher, Jen would know the answer to that?

As far as the stigma of being held back, I think that's just something only you and your ds can really decide about. You know him best. And I agree with pp who said that it is awfully early in the process to be making any decision about next year. Kids can go through developmental leaps so quickly!

Good luck. And try not to stress.
post #13 of 16
I guess I should have added in my post that I taught for 12 years, mostly special ed but also kindergarten. Fianna--NCLB has had a definite impact, but many states were already implementing unreasonable standards and requiring a certain level of achievement to be measured with standardized tests.

My dd started was in public school for four years (k thru' 3). The curriculum jumped everywhere; they had to cover certain topics by testing time, yet there was no time to dwell on a subject or to dig a little below the very surface. My dd was freaked out by all the timed tests. I'm no longer teaching and we're hsing, currently keeping it *very* relaxed and interest driven.

I said in my last post that teachers need to act as a group, but, really, parents could do the same. Too many of the administrators, both at the local level and the state level, are so far removed from the classroom. They have a warped sense of reality. They forget it's about the *child*.

post #14 of 16
Too many of the administrators, both at the local level and the state level, are so far removed from the classroom. They have a warped sense of reality. They forget it's about the *child*.

YES! You nailed it! And when our bonuses depend on the academic achievement of our school, we don't have much of a choice. We already get paid so little, so a $2000 bonus really helps out. NCLB really ties into all of this, but it's the curriculum that is at the center of all this. They keep raising the bar.
But, at least in the past, it all goes in cycles. It will come back to being about the child.
post #15 of 16
We are thinking of putting our son in school next year. We did kindergarten at home this year. He will be assessed by the school and they will make a decision as to what grade he will be in (k or 1st.)

Personally, I'm leaning towards having him in kindergarten even if he would be a bit older. Just because academics are being pushed so hard doesn't mean that I need to go along with it. I remember reading a whole article about it last year. It seems that more and more parents are holding their boys back a year in kindergarten.

I think it really depend more on how your family perceives the situation. If you feel that it is unfair for him to be held back then that is something I'm sure they will take into consideration. There is still time left in the school year to work on whatever needs improving.

These type of worries start sooo early know. I used to teach Gymboree classes and parents would want their children to move to the next class level even if they weren't ready. Gymboree starts at 6 months!!! We used to have to encourage them to give their little babies a chance to be at the top of the class,
post #16 of 16
My son is in kindergarten this year, and it really is amazing all of the things they are learning. It's changed so much just since my older daughter was in kindergarten!

My little guy is the oldest in his class. He is six now and will be turning seven in April. After one year of preschool, we knew he wasn't ready for kindergarten, and we enrolled him into a preshool "transition" class - a class for those kids that were old enough for K, but not quite ready. He'd had numerous speech/language problems (then being blamed on recurrent ear infections) and some lack of basic social skills. In April of last year he was *finally* diagnosed as high-functioning PDD-NOS, something I had suspected for years, but couldn't get anyone to take me seriously on.

Fast-forward to now: He is half-way through kindergarten, and doing great. He got V's on his report card in everything but one "subject" (V stands for Very Well - yes, they get report cards in kindergarten!). All of his academic subjects he received a V - Math (shapes, recognizing and writing numbers, matching numbers to sets), Reading/Language Arts (colors, printing skills, itentifying and writing all letters, identifiying initial sounds of letters, identifying sight words). He received V's in most of his Social Skills/Work Habits subjects - contributes voluntarily in class, listens attentively, works independently. He received S for Satisfactory in sits quietly when necessary and follows oral directions. And he received a P for Progressing in dresses without help - he just can't get the hang of tying those shoes!

His preschool teacher from last year is just amazed at his progress and so proud of him, and his K teacher this year can't believe he even has PDD-NOS. I really have to attribute a lot of his success to the extra year we waited. I honestly don't think he would have done this well if we had sent him to K last year.

I worry that there will be problems later on because we held him back - he will turn 16 in his freshman year of high school and will be 19 when he graduates. I worry about him being the first of his friends to drive, always the oldest in his class, and I worry about some moron father asking his daughter why the guy she is dating is still in whatever grade at his age. But I truly believe the good from waiting that extra year will always outweigh the bad.

I can't say that my decision would be right for you - but I wanted you to see the experience from someone who has been there.
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