Now I'm totally confused--what do I do for Kindergarten? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 15 Old 06-17-2010, 07:20 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I apologize for posting another kindergarten thread. Can you all forgive me and offer support and advice?

I have a 4.5 yo dd who will be 5 at the end of July. We have always figured she was gifted. She is very verbal and picks up things very quickly. Right now she reads at a solid second grade level and is above level in math but not as high. She is quirky and spirited. Socially she has struggled, but is doing better as I give her more opportunities to socialize with other kids. (Today I dropped her off at camp and an older kid met her at the door to talk to her and show her something--I felt very happy and relieved.)

She is a super athlete--a gymnast and swimmer, can rollerblade, ride a 2-wheeler no training wheels, etc.--and a lot of her self confidence comes from this, I think. She is a very sweet and loving kid who still occasionally throws tantrums. Although I notice since she has been in camp (summer school) this summer her behavior has improved tremendously. She is doing the summer school at the school she will attend this fall. A small, private religious school (we are not very religious, and this is not a necessity for us) with several levels of preschool classes and kindergarten. This fall they will be adding first grade. The kindy class will have 18 kids with one teacher and a full-time aide.

We recently took dd to a developmental pediatrician to have her assessed. We have been concerned about the tantrums and some anxieties she displays. The pediatrician found (taking into consideration a lengthy questionaire that we filled out) that dd is hyperacetive (she did not "officially diagnose her as ADHD), but she seemed genuinely surprised at how focused and calm dd was for the screening. The screening lasted about half and hour with dd looking at pictures and answering the pediatrician's questions. DD maxed out the scoring (6 yrs. 11 months) on the cognitive and verbal sections of the tests and scored 5yrs, 5mo. on the logical reasoning section of the test. The pediatrician suggested that we try to pursue a self-contained gifted program for dd. The only such program around here is discontinuing the self-contained program for kindergarten and moving to a cluster model this fall. Our neighborhood school also has a cluster program but 1. I'd have to pay to have her tested, and 2. the kindergarten classes are huge--almost 30 kids to 1 teacher.

So we are trying to figure out what to do, and I am totally at a loss. My husband thinks we should consider advocating for her to skip kindergarten all together, especially since the first grade at her new school only has 4 kids enrolled. Part of me thinks she's too immature for that. Another part of me thinks the exposure to older kids socializes her in a positive way (in general she plays well with younger kids or kids a few years older). She's never been to preschool, and I think she would enjoy the artsy/craftsy parts of kindergarten. At the same time, I look at the curriculum and I think, "academically, there is nothing here to challenge her." Honestly, the first grade curriculum looks as though it would be easy for her too, except some fine motor things like cutting and handwriting.

This morning when I dropped her off at summer school the teacher met me at the door and mentioned dd's reading (I put a note in her lunch box the other day, and the teacher had offered to read it). She said she was so surprised and put a couple of tricky (dd said she wrote "thought through") sentences on the board and asked dd to read them. The teacher said DD read them very fluently and asked me whether she is actually decoding, whether I taught her to read. I explained to her that at 3 dd asked to learn to read, so I went through a primer with her, but she's taken that knowledge and continued to learn a lot on her own. BTW, I understand that there is more to kinder than reading and that being able to read doesn't mean that there is nothing for her to gain from kindergarten. But when I talked to the kindy teacher about differentiating for my daughter and not letting her just sit through painstakingly slow phonetic instruction, her response was "Well, that's a lot of what kindergarten is." She did, though, say that she would place dd in the highest reading group and "meet her where she is."

Anyway, I'm trying to figure out what to do so that she enjoys school but is challenged too. Should I let her just have kindergarten as a play, get used to school, and make friends year? Should I advocate for a full-grade or subject skip? Should I go ahead and test her for admission to the gifted cluster classes? I've looked through some of the old threads here about others' kindergarten decisions. They are helpful, but I would really appreciate some wisdom specific to our situation. Thanks in advance.

--naismama
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#2 of 15 Old 06-17-2010, 10:00 PM
 
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especially since the first grade at her new school only has 4 kids enrolled.
Wow. I'd be pushing for a grade skip, I imagine with only 5 children in a class it should be fairly easy to address any problems related to age/maturity that come up.

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#3 of 15 Old 06-17-2010, 10:03 PM
 
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We home school in a large metropolitan area and were are plenty of things for my gymmies / swimmies to do for K-1 this past year. Are you in a metro area? For example, it is nearly impossible for a girl to hit dance, swim and gym all hard but DD was able to do swim team during home school hours and then split her afternoons between gymnastics team and dance. Also there were a remarkable number of her home school swim team girls who were also on gymnastics teams or preteams. We went skating most Fridays during the school year, also.

If not home school have you looked at virtual school? Montessori school?
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#4 of 15 Old 06-17-2010, 11:20 PM - Thread Starter
 
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We home school in a large metropolitan area and were are plenty of things for my gymmies / swimmies to do for K-1 this past year. Are you in a metro area? For example, it is nearly impossible for a girl to hit dance, swim and gym all hard but DD was able to do swim team during home school hours and then split her afternoons between gymnastics team and dance. Also there were a remarkable number of her home school swim team girls who were also on gymnastics teams or preteams. We went skating most Fridays during the school year, also.

If not home school have you looked at virtual school? Montessori school?
Up until a few months ago I had planned to homeschool dd. We decided to send her to school because I am not sure I can be a good teacher to her. Sometimes I'd try to do a brief lesson with her and she'd resist, roll around, procrastinate, negotiate, justify, etc. Also, I think she needs the social environment that a school setting provides. We haven't done too well around here with the homeschool scene. I felt that I was having to work way too hard to find friends and friendship opportunities for her and it is tiring. I think homeschool is great for those who can do it--just not sure I am one of those. We considered Montessori....just not sure.

OT: Pig Pokey--Long ago I asked you for advice on a riding toy for my very athletic 3 year old. You suggested a two-wheeled scooter. We got her one, and she was riding like a champ after a week. I never thanked you....so thank you!
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#5 of 15 Old 06-17-2010, 11:21 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by greenmamapagan View Post
Wow. I'd be pushing for a grade skip, I imagine with only 5 children in a class it should be fairly easy to address any problems related to age/maturity that come up.
This is my dh's feeling as well.

ETA: I feel as though private schools around here are so defensive about a suggestion that they might need to differentiate for my child. The first thing they do is tell me how so many of their kindergarteners are reading and show me their journals. I imagine that they wouldn't want to consider a skip. But I don't know for sure, of course, because I haven't tried.
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#6 of 15 Old 06-18-2010, 01:05 AM
 
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I'm going to be the devil's advocate on skipping a grade. My husband skipped 1st grade and regretted it for the rest of his life. He tested into 3rd grade but his older brother was going into 3rd so they put him in 2nd. He was still way above and beyond everyone else in reading & math, all the way through high school- the kid who taught himself calculus when he was 12 and had to take classes at the local college because he maxed out on his school's offerings. His regret is that he was always smaller than the other kids and unable to compete in sports- he played JV basketball in high school and rode the bench while his brother was a star athlete. He always assumed he was unathletic, though in college he made the crew team (at Dartmouth) and now he's one of the strongest, fittest 48 year olds I know... though he really is bitter about his high school years. Being in a higher grade didn't really help him athletically and he felt it stunted him both socially (he absolutely couldn't fit in) and athletically (he felt left behind).

And DH went to a very good private school (on full academic scholarship), so it wasn't that he was at a bad school. His parents chose that school because it was the best in the city where they lived.

Your daughter may be different, she may really fit in with the older kids as the years go by. But it's hard to tell at this young age- she may seem fine now, but when she's older it could have an unintended effect on her self esteem & development.
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#7 of 15 Old 06-18-2010, 07:08 AM
 
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Originally Posted by greenmamapagan View Post
Wow. I'd be pushing for a grade skip, I imagine with only 5 children in a class it should be fairly easy to address any problems related to age/maturity that come up.
This sounds like it could be a good option. With only 5 in a class, the teacher could really challenge your dd at her level - as long as the teacher is willing to do so. It sounds like it could be a really good situation. Have you met with the 1st grade teacher to discuss what the plan would be for your dd?
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#8 of 15 Old 06-18-2010, 07:44 AM
 
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Your daughter may be different, she may really fit in with the older kids as the years go by. But it's hard to tell at this young age- she may seem fine now, but when she's older it could have an unintended effect on her self esteem & development.
I really think parents and kids (when they are older) need to own these decisions. A lot of parents in the past ... like mine, for example ... thought they were legally required to send their children to school and there were no options except full time lockstep K-12 education. With my home schooling of my kids people ask me, "Are you going to home school all the way through?" (My kids are 5 and 6.) I would not make that decision based on the very little information I have now.

So if a grade placement above age grade stops being in a child's best interest, I think the parents need to take care of that. Hold him back or give him a year off as an unschooler or in an internship, or send him to a foreign exchange program for a year and re-start the series with his age cohort. Or change schools to a group where his academic grade will be a good fit, or home school.

I know in some smaller communities than mine, it would be difficult for a child out of grade step or who was home schooled to enjoy high school varsity sports. Here as a home schooler I could just register my child as a home school student and he could compete on one of several varsity football, baseball, basketball programs that welcome players from home schools and private schools too small to field a program on their own. So if that becomes my child's priority in his teens, we need to adjust his school goals and if he has entered a school several grades ahead, we might need to reconsider home schooling so he could be properly recruited for college ball. When I hear "regret" I think, the child and parents did not talk about priorities or didn't believe they had options.

I'm guessing that my children's sports choices will involve clubs that perform at a higher level than the high schools, but I don't know and we will figure that out when they are older.
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#9 of 15 Old 06-18-2010, 08:18 AM
 
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can you predict what your dd would enjoy more.

it all so depends on the personality of the child.

my dd - no grade skip in K. she would have enjoyed a more artsy program with a lot of hands on stuff. not so much focus on academics. by the 3rd day in public K she wanted to go back to ps because she missed the activities.

on the other hand her nerdy bf did really well even though he was far ahead in the class. in second grade he got into GATE and dd went into a split class.

their teachers and programs worked out very well for them. dd finally got her kind of teacher even though he gave much more work and challenging too. she still misses project hands on work but she enjoys the jokes and go with teh flow way of operating the classroom instead of spending 45 mins on math, 45 mins on english.

also remember no matter how you try - you may not indeed find the 'right fit' for your child and like mine you may have to put up with 'tolerating' school life. i do a lot of afterschool work with her. not so much bookish but hands on projects, experiments and explorations. at nearing 8 dd still plays with her box and magetix and spends hours building her own stuff.

the key is what your child likes. K i think for them that i hear from all kids lips - is not about academics but the fun things they get to do.

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#10 of 15 Old 06-18-2010, 11:46 AM
 
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The pediatrician suggested that we try to pursue a self-contained gifted program for dd. The only such program around here is discontinuing the self-contained program for kindergarten and moving to a cluster model this fall.
You mention that they have discontinued the self-contained program for kindergarten. Do they still have a full time gifted program option in higher elementary school grades? Is the 1st grade class expected to grow over the coming years to a bigger class size?

If there was a full time gifted program option in 1st grade and I felt it would be a good fit for my child I'd be tempted to just keep my dd in K at her current school then move to the other school and into the full time gifted program once it's an option.

Now all gifted programs are not created equal so I'd have to pretty confident that it would be a good fit for my child once we were there. But I know that many gifted kids do fine in kindergarten focusing on the fun and social aspects of it. My son was fine in K even though he didn't learn much, but once K was over he was ready to move on to some real learning and that's when we had to start making accommodations for his learning needs. Of course your daughters enjoyment of K may very well be depended on how academic the K in your school is or not.

The problem with just a skip is that the child often continues to learn faster and is soon ahead again. This of course wouldn't be an issue is such as small class size. But if the class size grew to the 20-25 range in the next couple of years it could be an issue.

Good luck as you tackle this issue. It certainly doesn't hurt to ask questions and meet with the teachers and principle to at least find out if a skip is even an option at this school.

Mom to DS 4/24/03 and DD 4/17/06
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#11 of 15 Old 06-18-2010, 08:04 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I really think parents and kids (when they are older) need to own these decisions. A lot of parents in the past ... like mine, for example ... thought they were legally required to send their children to school and there were no options except full time lockstep K-12 education. With my home schooling of my kids people ask me, "Are you going to home school all the way through?" (My kids are 5 and 6.) I would not make that decision based on the very little information I have now.

So if a grade placement above age grade stops being in a child's best interest, I think the parents need to take care of that. Hold him back or give him a year off as an unschooler or in an internship, or send him to a foreign exchange program for a year and re-start the series with his age cohort. Or change schools to a group where his academic grade will be a good fit, or home school.
Thanks for this. My mom had the opportunity to skip me K-2nd, and she did not because the Montessori school I attended convinced her that they could accomodate me. I did a 2x a week pull-out program, but my entire time in elementary was miserable. There are negative stories on both sides of the skipping decision.

As for my dd? I can't imagine her any more challenged getting along with older kids than she is her own agemates. She kind of walks to the beat of her own drum, ykwim? If she's with a group of kids, she kind of drifts in and out of their play, and she seems totally fine with that. It's getting myself to be fine with that and accept that she's okay that's the challenge.
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#12 of 15 Old 06-18-2010, 08:14 PM - Thread Starter
 
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You mention that they have discontinued the self-contained program for kindergarten. Do they still have a full time gifted program option in higher elementary school grades? Is the 1st grade class expected to grow over the coming years to a bigger class size?

If there was a full time gifted program option in 1st grade and I felt it would be a good fit for my child I'd be tempted to just keep my dd in K at her current school then move to the other school and into the full time gifted program once it's an option.
The self-contained gifted program starts in grade 1 at a neighboring district (the school is only 5 minutes away though.) We are definitely interested in that for next year.

I don't know what they are doing for first grade at the school where she is enrolled. They are advertising and trying to get enrollees through word of mouth. I have no idea who the teacher is.

We have a meeting with the director of the school on Tuesday morning to discuss our concerns. Any advice on how to approach that meeting, what to say or what NOT to say would be greatly appreciated as I am very new at this! Of course this whole discussion might be moot since dd finished her 3 weeks of camp today asking to homeschool "because [she] wants to spend more time with me."

Thanks for the posts so far...other thoughts?
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#13 of 15 Old 06-19-2010, 12:34 AM
 
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They may well be combining the K and 1st. That is what a tiny private school near us has done this last year.

I think that if you agree with the pedi that your DD would do best in a self-contained gifted program, grade skipping in general isn't really the issue. It isn't that your DD is "ahead", it is how she makes connections.

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#14 of 15 Old 06-23-2010, 08:44 PM - Thread Starter
 
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So I met with the director of the school where dd is enrolled, and I specifically asked about this:

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They may well be combining the K and 1st. That is what a tiny private school near us has done this last year.
The director says that the board talked about it, but as of now have no plans to do it because the 1st grade parents would feel as though it isn't a "real first grade."

I feel that academically dd could be alright there if she were sent ahead for reading and writing, but that doesn't seem to be an option. The director said that, no, they have not had a situation before where a child was reading fluently and independently going into kindergarten, and yes, dd would have to sit through the nuts and bolts of letter recognition and sounds. We also asked her directly what are the goals for kindergarten, and she said:
  • to recognize all letters and sounds and begin reading
  • to have 75-80 sight words
  • the be able to recognize coins and make change
  • to tell time to the hour and half hour
  • to be able to count by 2's, 5's, and 10's and do simple math with numbers up to 20

I'm sure I forgot something...but anyway, ok. DD can do just about all of that. But I do think there are many other things--arts and crafts, social interaction, etc.--that dd would get from kindergarten. But now I'm wondering if I need to just keep her home. She still has tantrums. She still wants me to go to the bathroom with her. She still believes that "[all schoolwork] should be easy" and gets frustrated and tantrumy if she has to work at something. She tells me that she liked the kids at the camp but the teachers were all mean and were always mad at her. She seemed to have anxiety with one of the teachers who told her no, she doesn't have to be perfect all the time, but at school she does (?). I realize she's 4.5 and who knows what "the teachers are all mean" means, but I do think she has some anxiety and negative feelings associated with the teachers at school, and now she is asking to homeschool. The director of the school commented that "Some of the teachers were saying they were glad [dd] did the three weeks of camp to give her some school experience since she's never been to school." The context and the way she said it (and what I know of my dd)suggests that there were maybe some behavior issues. (Also when I dropped her off one morning at camp, one of the teachers had said dd "had gotten physical with her" and was having trouble getting used to not being first, taking turns, waiting in line). And to add to all that, the director mentioned that there are 19 in dd's class. When I mentioned that I thought there were 17 and that the cap was 18, she replied that the board voted to increase the cap. That just doesn't sit well with me.

So I'm wondering whether I should just keep her home another year to let her mature emotionally. But then will I just have the same issue next year? Will she be even more challenged socially without the regular, constant exposure to other kids and... lines? Part of the reason I decided against homeschooling is because it felt so isolating.
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#15 of 15 Old 06-24-2010, 02:40 AM
 
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It doesn't sound like a very good fit for your DD. She did not connect with/had a bad connection with her future teacher, the objectives for the year are already met by her and the class is fairly large, so differentiation might be difficult (and they didn't sound accomodating about "sitting through it").

Sorry. I'm sure if you have to make it work you can, but maybe those gifted cluster classes you mentioned in your first post may be what may work?

Or if you do want to homeschool, can you set up stuff so you will not be as isolated as you fear?

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