Bored kindergartner. - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 19 Old 01-06-2011, 09:20 AM - Thread Starter
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We're having some trouble right now with my son's school. He is in kindergarten, just turned 5 (early entrance). When we had a conference in October, we expressed concern that he wasn't being challenged, and his teacher said, "We'll know when we need to do more." She also said she had only tested his reading level up to 2nd grade but it was obviously higher than that, and she "hadn't put anything in front of him that he couldn't read." She said she would test him more between then and December. My guess is that his reading level is about 4th grade; he's currently reading the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books.

Well, we think it's time to do more. He's been telling me, every day, that school is "so easy" and he wants harder books, "real math" and so on. I assume his complaints mean that it is, indeed, time to do more. He seemed pretty content for the first few months of school, but doesn't anymore. However, his teacher *doesn't* think it's time to do more and is stubbornly resisting any changes. She suggested pull-out reading at our October conference; that happened twice and then stopped. There are a few advanced readers in his class but they are all at a 1st or 2nd grade level from what I can tell. 

They just started bringing home leveled readers for homework and the ones he is bringing home are way too easy; 2nd grade level; she has not tested him any higher. He does enjoy music, art, and science at school but I don't think that he is being challenged in any area. At home he bugs us to give him math and spelling problems. He's really into spelling but when I asked if he could participate in the school spelling bee (for 1st grade and up) his teacher said he wouldn't like being in front of people or the competition. He would have loved it. I feel like she's either seeing a totally different kid at school than we are at home, or she just doesn't know him at all. He begged to do the spelling bee as soon as he heard of it (they sent something home in the mail) and was so disappointed that he didn't get to do it. 

This is a really respected private school, and I want to love it. I thought they would encourage every child to do their personal best and feel really disappointed that it's not happening for my son. I remember being bored in school and I hate that he feels that way already. My oldest is in a public Montessori and I am considering switching him there next year, because I think a 1-3 grade classroom would be good for him, but I worry about what he would do in 2nd and 3rd grade in the same class. 

What should I do? We requested a conference with his teacher but she suggested we meet with the head instead "to discuss early childhood development" which sounds, frankly, really patronizing. We're college-educated (my husband's a PhD candidate), but much younger and poorer than all the other parents at this school which makes me feel, perhaps unfairly, that the teacher and others look down on us. I'm pretty sure she thinks we're hothousers which couldn't be further from the truth; we had planned to unschool until he begged to go to preschool (my oldest had no formal schooling until 1st grade and didn't read a word until 6). At times like this I wish we *were* unschooling because I really hate conflict. 

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#2 of 19 Old 01-06-2011, 09:37 AM
 
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I don't have any suggestions, but had to put in my opinion: please do something!!  My niece is now in first grade, but kindergarten for her was exactly the way you described it for your son.  First grade hasn't gotten any better.  I just have a bad feeling about where this situation is going to lead her later in life.  I haven't been able to convince my brother and his wife that my niece needs something different; hopefully I can help to convince you!  You don't want your child to be bored in school, you don't want your child to feel like he's different (smarter, more advanced) than his classmates. 

Hope you get some practical advice from others. 

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#3 of 19 Old 01-06-2011, 09:48 AM
 
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Sounds like your ds is going to need either a grade skip or a teacher with a clue who can do massive differentiation.

 

Do they have IEP's for private schools?

 

Your first step for whatever happens is going to need to be to get the principal involved. You've tried working with the teacher and the teacher has made it clear that she isn't going to be helpful.

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#4 of 19 Old 01-06-2011, 10:18 AM
 
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we were in the exact same place, K 1st and half way through 2nd and in 2nd it really hit the fan!

 

the teacher (it was her first year) made it out to be all us (as you said hothousing) well, she refused the second request in Jan. to meet with her and insisted that we meet with the head (we were at a private school) and so we did, during this time my DD's behavior went wild and there was an incident where a test was taken from her and she was accused of cheating (the test came home with a O marked and no explanation!!) - fast forward I made myself crystal clear and demanded the test be redone (on the teachers lunch break) needless to say this did not go over- my DD got 100 on the test, we left the school the next day and did testings, she was at an 8th grade level in all areas- we homeschooled and never looked back

 

we paid for three years of good private school (ranked the best in the area and waited to even get in) and it was not worth it- bottom line at this school, they had NO desire to advance (spots were so scarce) and the thought was another parent will complain and want the same!!!

 

I feel it was a waste and we should have pushed in 1st grade and left sooner

 


 

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#5 of 19 Old 01-06-2011, 10:33 AM
 
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Wow, this sounds so much the same as what we have been going through with our son!  Our DS is in 1st grade and just turned 7.  We live in a very small school district and last year they told us they would not even test him until 3rd grade.  Well, we decided to pay the money and get his IQ tested.  With the results in hand we took him to a different district and put him in a full day GT class.  It was a disaster.  They did nothing they had promised us and most of the children had extreme discipline problems.  I called our school district at Christmas break told them the situation, showed them test scored, and now they are acting completely different than before.  In our state it is mandatory to help our son, even though most school districts find ways to not help.  We asked the GT teacher if ds could be in the spelling bee, geography bee, math competitions, etc.  The answer we got was:  Why would you do that to your son, he is only 7.  They did not even understand that it is not me wanting it, it is our son.  I never dreamed how much a battle it is going to be to get our son what he deserves.  Good Luck!!!

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#6 of 19 Old 01-06-2011, 10:50 AM
 
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In our state it is mandatory to help our son, even though most school districts find ways to not help. 

 this is very common- you need to know and say you know your righta and suddenly things change, it is super rare for a district to want to tell you what the laws really are!!!

 

and with my state, they would not move my dd until she was in 6th grade (public in my district) and while we have state laws, districts can still do a lot of what they want and private make more of their own rules

 

but as a homeschool student, the district got her test scores and did nothing to get them---so unfair! they LOVE homeschooler, they generally test higher and not a cent or effort goes into them

 

I can't see the long term (and since there is also another thread about almost the same subject right now) having a child that need more challenge being good if they are not??


 

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#7 of 19 Old 01-06-2011, 02:40 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sapphire_chan View Post

Sounds like your ds is going to need either a grade skip or a teacher with a clue who can do massive differentiation.

 

Do they have IEP's for private schools?

 

Your first step for whatever happens is going to need to be to get the principal involved. You've tried working with the teacher and the teacher has made it clear that she isn't going to be helpful.


They don't have IEPs. We are going to have to meet with the head of the lower school. 

I have wondered if a grade skip would help. He doesn't seem like the most mature kindergartner, though. He's probably more mature than most, but several kids seem a lot more mature (and since they're a year, year and a half older that's not surprising). I've been thinking a grade skip, if necessary, would be easier a couple years from now (specifically, I was thinking he could just progress to intermediate after 2 years if we switch him to Montessori). 

I don't really think we have any "rights" since it's a private school. They make their own rules, and if a kid doesn't fit there, too bad. I'm worried that's the case for my guy, which is sad since he likes so much about the school and has made friends. 

He seems like he had a good day today. He's still pretty upset about the spelling bee.

 

The one thing I am thankful for is that we're doing this now and not a year from now. I can't imagine how bad it would have been for him if we'd waited to start kindergarten "on time."

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#8 of 19 Old 01-06-2011, 04:07 PM
 
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one resource i'm really leaning on in my area, to find out how to get DD's school to meet her needs, are the parents who've been down this road before. most of them have kids that are my age now, but they have been so helpful. it's easy for me to find them though, because i grew up in this town. still, there's probably someone who's gone down this road with your school before you, and they might be helpful.

 

i feel for you though, it's hard to know  how to push, and how hard to push, when i'm not even sure what DD really needs.

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#9 of 19 Old 01-06-2011, 05:27 PM
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Grade skip!!! 

 

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#10 of 19 Old 01-06-2011, 05:44 PM
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Oooh, boy, does this sound familiar!!!  DD2 was in K last year, reading around a 4th grade level, doing at least 2nd-3rd grade level math, and bored to tears.  But, she was compliant and smiling in school (trying hard to fit in), and not making a fuss at school.  We fought and fought and fought to have her grade skipped.  We finally succeeded (after not so veiled threats) towards the end of the year in skipping 1st grade.  She started the year in 2nd and is thriving.  She's in a 2nd/3rd grade mixed class, and is able to do all the 3rd grade work.  It's a different school, the teacher is wonderful, and she is, if not exactly challenged (she's now reading at around a 6th-7th grade level), is at least getting exposed to new material.  Her teacher is doing an excellent job of working at her pace, so she's not getting bored, and mixing topics up so she is getting small doses of everything, thus allowing for greater retention, review, and exposure. 

 

We had her tested before Kindergarten and used that as the beginning of our ammunition for our fight with the district.  Buzz words we used were "Appropriate Education", "Acceleration", "IEP", "Differentiation" (or lack therof).  We got the line about the social emotional consequences.  It started with saying she was immature, then that she was not quite mature enough for a skip, to she might be unhappy when she's a teenager rolleyes.gif.  Eventually, their arguments got so ludicrous that even they had to see it. 


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#11 of 19 Old 01-07-2011, 04:10 AM
 
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Quote:

I don't really think we have any "rights" since it's a private school. They make their own rules, and if a kid doesn't fit there, too bad. I'm worried that's the case for my guy, which is sad since he likes so much about the school and has made friends. 


Depending on their numbers, though, they may be willing to work w/ you to some extent to retain your tuition dollars.
 

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#12 of 19 Old 01-07-2011, 06:02 AM
 
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Originally Posted by MJB View Post

What should I do? We requested a conference with his teacher but she suggested we meet with the head instead "to discuss early childhood development" which sounds, frankly, really patronizing. 



Well, it does sound patronizing, but I would contact the head immediately and ask (demand) a meeting and let him/her know that the teacher suggested this route.  I don't like conflict either, but you really need to request this meeting soon and make the meeting an urgent priority.  It's Jan. and schools are notoriously slow at implementing any type of change.

 

What I'm reading is that the teacher is willing and/or capable of doing some things -- like giving him 2nd grade work -- but not much more, and not consistently.  

 

While you are waiting for the meeting with the head to be scheduled, I would tell the teacher that your ds will be bringing in reading material at his level. 

 

You probably also need to be considering a plan B option.  I recognize that this is a school that you've chosen, but depending on the reception you receive from the head will tell you how willing they are to do anything about this situation.  Any promises I would get in writing -- even if it means that you send an email follow up to rehash your conversation.  Start thinking about plan B.  If nothing else, it will turn your mind set from feeling helpless to one of strength.

 

GL!


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#13 of 19 Old 01-08-2011, 01:02 AM
 
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Is the public Montessori program you mentioned an option for your DS?  A good Montessori program should solve the boredom problems, as there is no age-based lid or ceiling on the content kids can move through.


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#14 of 19 Old 01-08-2011, 05:32 AM - Thread Starter
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We set up an appointment with the head for Monday. We'll see how that goes.

We're considering the Montessori, but since he's not old enough for 1st grade next year (they have to be 6, and he's 5) he'd have to start the year in kindergarten and then do a grade skip. Which they can't guarantee me. I do think a 1st-3rd classroom would be a good setting for him next year though. His friends are all 6-9 already. It's definitely an option we are looking into. I feel like the private school has the ability to be much more flexible, though, it's just a question of whether or not they want to. 

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#15 of 19 Old 01-08-2011, 02:17 PM
 
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Quote:
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sapphire_chan View Post

Sounds like your ds is going to need either a grade skip or a teacher with a clue who can do massive differentiation.

 

Do they have IEP's for private schools?

 

Your first step for whatever happens is going to need to be to get the principal involved. You've tried working with the teacher and the teacher has made it clear that she isn't going to be helpful.


They don't have IEPs. We are going to have to meet with the head of the lower school. 

I have wondered if a grade skip would help. He doesn't seem like the most mature kindergartner, though. He's probably more mature than most, but several kids seem a lot more mature (and since they're a year, year and a half older that's not surprising).


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Can you tell how mature he is if he's living every day in frustration?

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#16 of 19 Old 01-10-2011, 06:25 PM - Thread Starter
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So we met with the head of the school today. I think it went okay. She understood some of our concerns and he is going to start getting different reading. We agreed that moving to harder leveled readers is not the answer, and he is going to start reading books with more literary value (like Caldecott winners) and nonfiction that he is interested in. The assistant teacher is going to go over his reading with him. I think he'll be happier with this. She brought up a grade skip, but didn't think it was the best option right now. My husband would like to avoid it if at all possible. But at least we know it *is* an option if needed. The more I think about it, I really think it would be great for him; I really wish we could just try him out in 1st for a month and see how it went; I think he'd form deeper connections and come out of his shell. The problem is that while he's advanced in pretty much every subject, he's always "last to line up" and otherwise scatterbrained and disorganized. I think that's more personality than age/maturity (my husband is just as bad!) 

The weird thing is she said my son brought the attendance to her office and she told him that he could go to the 1st grade to do spelling with them and he said, "Why?" and that he didn't want to. He swore up and down, when asked, that this did not happen, not only the conversation but that he didn't take the attendance to her last week, the leader for the day does that (and he wasn't the leader any day last week, because the leaders are listed on the class newsletter every Friday!) So I'm wondering if she had that conversation with some other kid entirely. It's very odd. 

I am glad we opened up a dialog with the school and I feel like we can go back if we have any other problems. 

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#17 of 19 Old 01-10-2011, 06:44 PM
 
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Is that all they are doing for you? 

 

The reason I ask is that you did not mention any sort of follow up? Did they plan a "follow-up" was it even brought up? If not I would think that they are only trying to make you happy for the time being and hope you stop.  A prudent meeting would have concluded with another or a least a time frame for you to know about.

 

I would also put the grade skip back on the table for next year and have some assurance by the end of this year about it instead of waiting until half way through the next year.

 

Hope you did get more.


 

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#18 of 19 Old 01-11-2011, 09:07 AM
 
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Personally, we've had very good luck with the school system and our children though we found we needed to take very different approaches with both kids since they are different people. I will add that while we always offered homeschooling as an option, our kids have been dead set against it. They want to be in school so it's up to us to give them the best environment we can find.

 

For my eldest, she started kindergarten 2 to 5 grade levels advanced all around. The teacher did try several ways to accomodate and we gave her some space to do that. By December though, she and the principal suggested a grade skip and we reluctantly agreed to try it. Moving to 1st didn't fix the academic problems but it helped the social situation and certianly, it was easier to accomodate from the higher grade than the lower one. In elementary, she was in the GATE cluster and had subject accelerations in math and science. English was her highest subject but her teachers made sure her work was open-ended and so while she had the same assignments as the other kids, she could bring them up to her level on her own steam. Now she's in an arts high school and on the highly gifted track for academics. Sometimes things are still too easy but it's not like she isn't getting experience with challenge on any front.

 

DS was not quite as advanced though also only 4 when he started kindie where she was a solid 5. He was about 2 to 3 grades ahead accept in penmanship where he was below average. He actually loved kindergarten because he uses his smarts to be done quick and play more. His kindie teacher didn't even know he could read until near the end of the school year. We could see that DS was never going to give more unless he was asked to give more no matter his ability. We moved him to a tri-lingual immersion school in 1st grade. He's in the gifted cluster where all the kids are working a year ahead in the curriculum plus he has a subject acceleration in math. He's in 5th now and doing great.

 

Every year has taken some tweaking but it's manageable. The best advice I can give is to first, always approach staff from the social/emotional side. Never say "bored." It instantly puts them on the defensive. Go in with ideas and at the younger ages, work that has been completed at home. Be willing to compromise and take steps. They may be against a full grade skip but will consider subject acceleration for example. Once your child has proved they can be in a class with the older kids, you can work towards more. Follow the chain of comand. You asked to talk to the teacher but she's sending you to a developmental counselor. Just go and smile. You never know, this guy/girl may become a major advocate for you once he gets a real picture of who your child is. Afterwards, try to set-up a conference again with teacher. If she rejects or doesn't want to work with you, go to the principal.

 

Also look at your other schooling options. Personally, the private schools we looked at (and we looked at many) were very resistant towards the idea that ANY child could need more than they have to offer. The more "respected" the less open they seemed to be. We actually found our local public schools FAR more willing to jump in and try to make things work.


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#19 of 19 Old 01-11-2011, 03:22 PM - Thread Starter
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Every year has taken some tweaking but it's manageable. The best advice I can give is to first, always approach staff from the social/emotional side. Never say "bored." It instantly puts them on the defensive. Go in with ideas and at the younger ages, work that has been completed at home. Be willing to compromise and take steps. They may be against a full grade skip but will consider subject acceleration for example. Once your child has proved they can be in a class with the older kids, you can work towards more. Follow the chain of comand. You asked to talk to the teacher but she's sending you to a developmental counselor. Just go and smile. You never know, this guy/girl may become a major advocate for you once he gets a real picture of who your child is. Afterwards, try to set-up a conference again with teacher. If she rejects or doesn't want to work with you, go to the principal.

 

She suggested meeting with the head of the school (the private school equivalent of a principal) which we did. I think she will be an advocate for our child even though the changes don't sound like much. She has gifted children (grown) and seemed flexible.

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