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#1 of 11 Old 11-08-2010, 07:53 PM - Thread Starter
 
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So I see I am not alone in considering this option for my spirited and possibly gifted daughter! She will be 4 years and 8 months old at the beginning of next school year (January birthday). In Maryland the child must be 5 years old by August 31st with a an exception period extending to October 14th with an application, interview, possible testing, etc. I believe the cut off date was moved from December 31st to August 31st because kindergarten is full day here now and much more academically focused than it used to be. Anyway, obviously my daughter doesn't fall into these categories and therefore would not be able to go to kindergarten next year. At least not without a fight or some creative maneuvers.

Most parents I talk to think early admission is pushy and that kids should be allowed to be kids for as long as possible. I totally understand this idea, BUT here are my reasons for considering early admission:
*She is intellectually ready (can recognize her letters, numbers, write her name, has a vast vocabulary, etc.)
*She loves the preschool she is currently in and constantly asks why she doesn't go every day
*She is physically ready (her fine and gross motor skills have been professionally evaluated and were deemed "off the charts")
*She behaves better, is calmer in a structured environment. Too much free play equals behavioral breakdown, aggression
*She behaves better, is calmer around older kids, but around younger kids she becomes controlling and aggressive
*My dh and MIL both started school early and felt they benefited from it
*I was bored in my grade level and ended up taking classes one or two years ahead once in middle/high school

I do have some concerns:
*Would she be able to handle a full day at school?
*Would she resent being less physically mature than her peers?
*Would she resent being the last to drive, vote, drink, etc.?

Mostly I'm concerned about her behavior- being older and more advanced in her class could be a disadvantage for her. A structured school environment with older kids and intellectually challenging material will help focus her and keep her behavior in check. Around kids she can control (generally younger kids) in an unstructured and non challenging environment she focuses entirely on physical interaction, which becomes aggressive. She has some underlying "sensory subtleties" according to two OT evaluations. I fear the letters home from school. I want to create a successful environment for her. I know I need to be her advocate, but I'm just not sure of the best course.

I originally posted in the education forum and many there recommended Montessori. I agree this would be a good option, but our local Montessori will cost about $6,000. Money we don't really have. Another option would be a different, less expensive private kindergarten that is flexible with the age cut-off, but again that would cost money. A third option would be to homeschool. The public district said (as of right now) that if she completes an accredited kindergarten program she would be accepted into public first grade. If the teacher decides she is not appropriately placed, however, they can test her and if she does not pass they will move her back down to kinder. I've heard that schools usually want the child to test a full two grade levels ahead in order to accelerate them. So, we could go to all this trouble and spend all that money only to have her put back in kindergarten if she doesn't test at a 2nd grade level!

So, my questions are:
*should I get her privately tested now to determine if she should truly be accelerated to kindergarten next year? If so, how do I go about doing that?
*what are your experiences with early admission vs. skipping a grade later on intellectually and socially?
*what are you experiences with going the private kinder or homeschool route and getting into a public first grade?
*if anyone is also dealing with an mild SPD child, what are your experiences accelerating or skipping your child? Specifically socially/behaviorally?
*any other ideas/suggestions?

Thanks in advance!!!

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#2 of 11 Old 11-09-2010, 01:31 AM
 
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Edited to add: when I say grade skip, I mean early K admission

Well, we didn't grade skip but it was an option for us. We decided not to because my son wasn't socially ready.

I know a lot of moms that wanted to grade skip because their children knew all their letters, were reading basic books, had good fine motor etc. They tested their children and none of them(that I know of) made the cut. They just could not understand this. So, most of them did another year of preschool and were then shocked when their kids got to Kindergarten and their kids were middle of the pack there. Even though, a child might know everything there is to get in to Kindergarten, you'd be surprised how many kids go to K reading 3rd and 4th grade level books. Those are the kids your child will be competing against! Personally, I would not consider a grade skip unless/early admission unless my child was completely off the charts. Being "ready" just wouldn't be enough for me. A friend of mine recently was freaking out that her child has already met the end of K requirements 2 weeks into school. I had to explain to her that those are very minimum requirements that are set to make sure no one slips through the cracks(and that they are not teaching anyone at that level). As it turns out, she found out her daughter was middle of the road as far as the levels in the class go. This was a big wakeup call for her(and she tried to do early admission last year!).

This is just my opinion based on your post. I could meet your kid and be blown away, know what I mean?
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#3 of 11 Old 11-09-2010, 01:55 AM
 
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Given the details you've provided, I would be cautious about acceleration at this point without doing some testing. A psychologist can do it privately. Test results are not consistently reliable at that age, but I think you need more information before starting her early. The school would also likely want this information before bending policy. You could also look at the IOWA Acceleration Scale. Is her current preschool academic?

DS has SPD, is EG and was shy of 5 when he started kindie. He hated it. He did not want to learn the alphabet etc. However, acceleration does not present as a good option yet, although we may later. Younger kids are more accepting of quirky behaviour. Teachers are more patient with quirkiness in the younger grades. We ended up homeschooling gr 1 and found an alternate program subsequent to that. Acceleration of a quirky kid is a complicated gamble. Being better with older kids may be more about them accomodating her because they're older and more flexible than about maturity on her part. All day school may be really hard with SPD and she may find the reality of that harder than expected.

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#4 of 11 Old 11-09-2010, 07:13 AM
 
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I'm going to take a different point of view. I think the child's personality is going to be much more indicative of whether early start would be positive or negative. Yes, academically I suppose a younger child needs to be at least average-smart to be able to keep up with the curriculum. But I would say look at personality much more. Is your DC ready to sit and focus for X hours on topics A B and C? Whould she be fascinated, curious... by the instruction, or wanting to go do something else? Socially would she make good friends with the older kids? I think if you have a healthy social life then you have the freedom to learn; without it everything else becomes more stressful, so this would be my top priority if it were my child.

My DS, who is bright but I don't know about gifted, started school this august. Out of 25 kids he is second youngest and up to two years younger than several other kids. So he started when he was 5, most were 6 a few were 7. So he is also physically smaller. This hasn't been a big issue. If they are playing games or sports, he is picked for a team. Maybe it willl be more of an issue later if they get more competitive, but right now it isn't, and he isn't dying to be a football star anyway.

But it was personality, and teacher recommendations, that made us decide on early school. His pre-school teachers said he was ready, because of his natural curiosity in school-type subjects, and his mellow personality. He is calm and focued enough to enjoy the more quiet aspects of school, he has made god friends, and at parent-techer conference got only praise for his acedemics. But I kept asking about his social life, because I figure if that is in order, then everything else will fall into place, including the actual education.

My question to you is, if you get your DD tested, how flexible is the public school going to be to allow her to start? If they are not lexible, would a private school be more so? Here we base it on pre-school teacher recommendations, and the cut off is Dec 31, but there is also some flexibility, so mature kids from Jan-Mar come in, and immature kids from Aug-Dec that could benefit from an extra year in pre-school get that opportunity.

FWIW: I have an older DSD who was 2 years younger than her peers. She had an "issue" when she was 12 and all her school friends were 13 and 14 and she had to use the kiddie bus ticket. But that's the only thing I remember. She has always been very serious and mature - mature enough to not fret she couldn't get her drivers license because it was purely age related.... So I don't know how important the age difference will be - again my guess is it has more to do with personality.
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#5 of 11 Old 11-09-2010, 07:17 AM
 
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I think its great you are taking so many things into consideration. My sister was accelerated and she says now that she does not want to do that to her own child - she seemed to have few problems early on, but by the time she hit puberty the problems started - she was considered young by the teachers as she was 2 years younger than many of her class and so was often not allowed to be in leadership roles at the school. Sports were a problem since she wanted to compete with her class but by age she would have been put with the children 2 years behind her class. And finally she was smaller than her class and had a growth spurt much later and everything that accompanies that.

My own daughter has nearly completed every requirement for Grade 0 (our kindergarrten) already and she is only 3 years old - she still needs some work on the fine motor skills but is way ahead of where a 3 year old should be anyway. She also enjoys playing with children older than her and her friends at school where she goes most mornings are all in the class above her. I am hoping to homeschool her if possible. She is reading already and has known her letters etc since 18 months. Would I accelerate her - I don't know. I don't really know how it could work since even if I place her in grade 1 now she is ahead of where many of those children are in some skills and probably very far behind in others since that is a 4 year gap.

I would also perhaps get your child tested - the trouble with acceleration is that you cannot take them back a grade without harming them if it doesn't work out - they seem to know and could resent it.
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#6 of 11 Old 11-11-2010, 10:42 AM
 
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This was (and is) such a complicated question for us.  My DS started K this year and turns 5 next week.  It has been a mixed bag, to be honest.  He is in an all-gifted school and, at 4, is still in the top two readers in his class (about 3rd grade level, judging from Lexile) and his math skills far surpass his peers.  On the one hand, then, I can't imagine having waited until next year to put him in K - it would be a boredom nightmare.  On the other hand, it's been a difficult transition.  He was very happy in PS with lots of friends, but going to K as the youngest has been hard.  He may be gifted, but he's still 4 and is in a class with many 6-year olds.  His social and emotional skills are just not where his peers' are.  He is frankly happiest playing football and basketball with 2d graders at recess because he loves sports and playing ball and chess in the after school program with sometimes much older kids (like 5th graders) then playing with a lot of kids from his K class.  The mixed-age after school classes our school has have been a godsend as well -- he loves Karate and art, and has started piano lessons.

 

In terms of how being younger will affect her in later grades (driving, etc.), many on this board will dismiss those concers.  I'm not so sure.  I graduated high school at 16 and it was not a good situation for me at all -- others have done it and think it's great.  Nonetheless, I felt I didn't have a lot of appropriate medium-term options for my son's education other than starting him in K early, so we took that option (with great reservations).  I hope that I can continue to find a good fit for my son - academically and socially - as he gets older.  Even though my own grade skipping was a long-term nightmare that I frankly wish my parents hadn't chosen, I felt like I couldn't bargain away an appropriate place for my son now based on fear of what could happen later.

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#7 of 11 Old 11-13-2010, 07:20 AM
 
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My daughter is exactly the same age as yours and we're facing the same conundrum.  (Jan birthday/October 1 cutoff.) She's in pre-K at a public school now, but she's ready for 1st.  I'm pretty sure we could get her bumped up to 1st next year and test into the HG class (her brother was there). But I'm going against the trend here on the boards and I'm really hesitant about pursuing skipping.  It would be perfect for elementary school, but I think things would start getting rough emotionally in middle and high school.  It's hard to judge, but now, at 4, she's not a particularly mature 4-year-old.  Well, she might be, but she's so independent it's difficult to gauge how she would handle peer pressure or friend issues.   This is anecdotal, but a friend's HS daughter is best friends with a girl who was grade skipped and the skipper has a hard time socially.  She couldn't date when her friends started dating.  She couldn't drive when they started to drive.  She looked less mature.  And even though she's brilliant, she's treated like a little sister. Since my dd is already youngest of 3, I don't see that dynamic as beneficial to my dd's emotional growth.  Of course there are many stories that go the other direction, but this one resonates with me.

 

On the other hand, my little girl is excited about learning and another year of drawing letters is going to be brutal!  Let us know what you decide, so I can add your story to our arsenal of anecdotes as we make a decision.

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#8 of 11 Old 11-13-2010, 08:25 AM
 
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In a nutshell, I wouldn't start my 4 years, 8 month-old in kindergarten. 

 

On reason is that your child will be in a classroom with lots of six year olds. My son has an October birthday and the cut off here is September 1.  He just turned six and is in "kindergarten" at Montessori (his third year of a three-year primary class).  He is thriving there.  He began reading at age three and can read and understand 4th-5th grade level books.  He writes stories in cursive, does addition in thousands, etc.  I'm not big on labels but his teacher and I both believe he would test as "gifted." 

 

I think that you will find that kindergarteners have a wide range of skills, from just knowing their letters and numbers to reading significantly above grade level and doing addition/subtraction.  I have several friends with children in public school with "above average" skills.  In our public school district, you cannot skip kindergarten and early admission is not allowed.  Testing for the "gifted" program is done in 2nd grade and entrance is in 3rd grade.  We will probably have DS stay at Montessori until 3rd grade and explore our public school options. 

 

To be honest, it sounds as if the preschool your DD is in is not meeting her needs.  I would highly suggest a Montessori program.  We pay similar tuition but have found that it is worth every penny.  If that is not doable, I would look into a more academic focused preschool since you say that your DD has behavior issues if not challenged. 

 

To answer your questions:

 

*should I get her privately tested now to determine if she should truly be accelerated to kindergarten next year? If so, how do I go about doing that?


Private testing will not be looked at by the public school district here.  You might want to check if your district will consider it.  Also, private testing here is about $1200-1600.  Personally, I would rather put the money towards Montessori than testing.  If you want the info for your purposes only, go for it but I don't think it is worth it at this age and this stage. 

 

*what are your experiences with early admission vs. skipping a grade later on intellectually and socially?
 

I started college at 17 when most of my classmates were 9-16 months older than I because the cut off was November 1.  I was the last to get my driver's license, drink, stay out late, etc.  It did have some impact on me socially.  Intellectually, I was able to take advanced/honors/AP classes in the upper grades.  I think it could work either way but as a parent, I would rather my child be home with me one more year than to send them out into the world a year earlier.  :)  Selfish, I know.  

 

*what are you experiences with going the private kinder or homeschool route and getting into a public first grade?

 

As I said above, we are dealing with this by foregoing public first grade.  I think my child would be bored in public school so Montessori it is!  On the other hand, I have a friend whose son is on similar levels as mine and he is doing great in public first grade after private kindy.  He was six in July and school started in August.  I think the adjustment to public school life was big for him so where he was advanced academically, he still had a lot to learn about the system (cafeteria lunch, recess with other classes, navigating a big school)...




 


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#9 of 11 Old 11-18-2010, 07:07 AM
 
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Originally Posted by AllisonR View Post

I'm going to take a different point of view. I think the child's personality is going to be much more indicative of whether early start would be positive or negative. Yes, academically I suppose a younger child needs to be at least average-smart to be able to keep up with the curriculum. But I would say look at personality much more. Is your DC ready to sit and focus for X hours on topics A B and C? Whould she be fascinated, curious... by the instruction, or wanting to go do something else? Socially would she make good friends with the older kids? I think if you have a healthy social life then you have the freedom to learn; without it everything else becomes more stressful, so this would be my top priority if it were my child.

My DS, who is bright but I don't know about gifted, started school this august. Out of 25 kids he is second youngest and up to two years younger than several other kids. So he started when he was 5, most were 6 a few were 7. So he is also physically smaller. This hasn't been a big issue. If they are playing games or sports, he is picked for a team. Maybe it willl be more of an issue later if they get more competitive, but right now it isn't, and he isn't dying to be a football star anyway.

But it was personality, and teacher recommendations, that made us decide on early school. His pre-school teachers said he was ready, because of his natural curiosity in school-type subjects, and his mellow personality. He is calm and focued enough to enjoy the more quiet aspects of school, he has made god friends, and at parent-techer conference got only praise for his acedemics. But I kept asking about his social life, because I figure if that is in order, then everything else will fall into place, including the actual education.

My question to you is, if you get your DD tested, how flexible is the public school going to be to allow her to start? If they are not lexible, would a private school be more so? Here we base it on pre-school teacher recommendations, and the cut off is Dec 31, but there is also some flexibility, so mature kids from Jan-Mar come in, and immature kids from Aug-Dec that could benefit from an extra year in pre-school get that opportunity.

FWIW: I have an older DSD who was 2 years younger than her peers. She had an "issue" when she was 12 and all her school friends were 13 and 14 and she had to use the kiddie bus ticket. But that's the only thing I remember. She has always been very serious and mature - mature enough to not fret she couldn't get her drivers license because it was purely age related.... So I don't know how important the age difference will be - again my guess is it has more to do with personality.


I agree with this. DD is 4 years 7 months (bday in April) and in Kindy this year. I really think her personality is what led the preschool teachers to recommend she start early and what has made it work thus far (she started in pre-k last year). We got her progress report last night and her teacher mentioned her maturity and social skills, as well as her academic ability, in the overall assessment. She is doing very well academically, but she's not reading fluently at this point, I have no idea how she would test, but it's her curiosity, her intrinsic interest in the work and her ability and desire to sit there and learn all day, apart from ability, that has made it a good fit. I think if we had not given her the opportunity to start early, she would have started acting out due to boredom and frustration with her peers, which had already started at the end of her last year in preschool and it was clear to the teachers. It also helps, I think, that she's big for her age, it's not evident that she's as young as she is. I just don't see how I could have held her back because I don't want her to be upset that she can't get her driver's license at the same time as her peers in 12 years. There will be lots of things her peers may do that we won't allow that she'll be frustrated about, that's life. As for starting her in a public Grade 1 next year (she's in private now), the cutoff is end of September I believe and her birthday isn't til April. I spoke to the school board and apparently it may involve testing and even then they may still say no...we're not sure what we'll do next year, but the early start has been completely positive for my DD. Anyone who perceives her early start as "pushy" just needs to spend some time with her and they realize she's not a typical 4 year old. I really don't see how else we could have had her needs met, apart from homeschooling which is not possible for us.
 


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#10 of 11 Old 11-18-2010, 10:42 AM
 
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We found ourselves in a similar situation with DS.  Our son has a mid-October birthday (Aug. 31 cutoff with testing for Sept. & October early entrance kids).  He is extremely bright, socially outgoing, but small for his age.  He has been in a wonderful preschool since age 2 (Developmentally Appropriate curriculum) and, ideally, would have stayed another year.  DD1 turned 2 in January, though, and was more than ready to begin preschool a few mornings a week (she has been labeled "scary smart" and is even more outgoing than her brother).  We could not afford two kids in preschool at one time, and decided to look into early entrance testing.  Seattle schools have a two-stage testing process - it would be very difficult for a child who was not ready to get into early entrance.  We were reassured by the testing, and the six-week trial period imposed on all early entrance students.  We were thrilled that he was placed in a public school K/1 Montessori classroom.  

 

It has been, for the most part, wonderful.  DS was intimidated by the number of kids and had a tough time with drop off for a while.  I now watch him walk in with his class every day, which has tremendously helped his confidence.  He is definitely the youngest and smallest, especially with more and more parents opting to delay kindergarten until age 6 or even 7.  Also, I read Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, so I know what a disadvantage being the youngest child is.  

 

DH and an uncle were both early entrance kids and were against the plan.  They both had a rough time being the youngest, smallest and goofiest (immature) kid - but not until late elementary school / junior high.  Grandmother, a gifted ed teacher, and aunt, a Montessori teacher, also advised against early entrance for that reason.  

 

So we decided before beginning the school year that we would plan on doing Kindergarten twice.  We're taking advantage of the free public education offered to us now, but our son won't end up as the youngest seventh grader.  For us, the repeat will be easier as we are moving to another state next summer.  (He won't be in the same class twice.)  I do worry about boredom (Goodness knows I experienced a lot of that growing up), but expect to work with future teachers to supplement his in-class learning.  Hopefully, that will work.

 

That's our plan.  Have you thought about just doing two years of Kindergarten?  (It seems easier to repeat than one of the numbered grades.)


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#11 of 11 Old 11-20-2010, 03:59 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by Qbear'smama View Post
As for starting her in a public Grade 1 next year (she's in private now), the cutoff is end of September I believe and her birthday isn't til April. I spoke to the school board and apparently it may involve testing and even then they may still say no...we're not sure what we'll do next year, but the early start has been completely positive for my DD. Anyone who perceives her early start as "pushy" just needs to spend some time with her and they realize she's not a typical 4 year old. I really don't see how else we could have had her needs met, apart from homeschooling which is not possible for us.

 



This is what I have been told as well.  If she completes an accredited private kinder she will be allowed into public first the following year, but if the teacher thinks she has been placed inappropriately, they can request testing.  Then I've been told that she will be expected to test at a 2nd grade level in order to remain in 1st grade instead of demoted back to kindergarten.  It seems like too big a risk for us, especially with all the money involved.



Quote:
Originally Posted by ginnybee View Post

 

So we decided before beginning the school year that we would plan on doing Kindergarten twice.  We're taking advantage of the free public education offered to us now, but our son won't end up as the youngest seventh grader.  For us, the repeat will be easier as we are moving to another state next summer.  (He won't be in the same class twice.)  I do worry about boredom (Goodness knows I experienced a lot of that growing up), but expect to work with future teachers to supplement his in-class learning.  Hopefully, that will work.

 

That's our plan.  Have you thought about just doing two years of Kindergarten?  (It seems easier to repeat than one of the numbered grades.)


I wish we could take advantage of free kindergarten next year, we have been told unequivocally NO WAY.  They do not budge from the age cut off.  The money situation is definitely one of the reasons I was hoping for early admission.  If it weren't an issue, I would just pay to put her in the local Montessori mixed kindergarten where they accept older 4's.  Sigh...


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