Help me think through talking to school about next year for ds? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 4 Old 05-12-2011, 07:18 AM - Thread Starter
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Okay, that title is as disjointed as my thinking on this is!  Basically, ds1 is in K now (he's a November birthday, old for his grade).  I'm thinking ahead to 1st grade next year and hoping he will be more challenged in school next year. 


His K teacher is very nice, has tried adding in extra challenges for him (and a couple other kids) this year, but in math especially, isn't adding much. Like when the rest of the class is rolling two dice and charting the sum of the dice, the advanced kids are rolling three dice.   It's a nice gesture, but at home he's adding and subracting three-digit numbers, doing multiplication, fractions, etc. 


She gave him and another high-level reader in the class a nice research project where they each did a cute poster-board report on an animal. So that's cool. He can write well and read 3rd+ level so it was probably a good project for him.  But he's also doing the daily worksheets with the rest of the class (find and circle the word "it" everywhere in this list, etc.). he goes along with it but I'm seeing some signs of the boredom creep in (his worksheets are increasingly filled with doodles in the margin and on the back).  He constantly seeks information and challenges at home, I don't know if it's even possible for a school to meet that in any way.


This is all probably typical I know.  I guess I'm wondering - what can I expect?  Did things get worse for you in 1st grade as there's less "fun" and more desk work?  Should I proactively find out what differentiation for him next year will look like?  Is this the right time of year to bring this up?  Do I talk with his K teacher, or the principal, or 1st grade teachers?  Should I consider pushing for a grade-skip (my gut says no - as long as they can keep him challenged...)?  What kinds of accommodation has your K or 1st grader gotten that was good in your opinion?    


I know this is all over the place.  I just hesitate to pick up the phone to call the school for some kind of meeting when I have no idea what I'm really asking them!

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#2 of 4 Old 05-12-2011, 08:11 AM
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My kids 1st grade experiences were unusual so hard to compare but it was better for both than 1st. Some accomodations that helped.... pre-testing in spelling and then only getting the words they missed along with new words that were less about "spelling" and more about "vocabulary building." Subject acceleration to the next grade for highest subjects. Free choice of reading material and individual book reports. Lots of individual research projects.  I'm sure others will have more ideas. Like I said our situation was different as DD moved into 1st grade in the middle of her kindergarten year and for DS, 1st was his first year in Spanish Immersion and so spent the year trying to figure out what his teacher was saying lol. Both are also young and so 5 in 1st grade.


What stands out to me in your post is that he's getting some accelerated work but he's still being required to do the grade level work too. I would see about changing that in 1st grade certainly. The individualized spelling lists, reports and creative writing opportunities in place fo some of those worksheets, perhaps a jump in curriculum in math.


Stay positive in your meeting. Make sure to show appreciation for what has already been done. Do NOT use the "bored" word unless you want to put the teachers on the defensive right off the bat. Take the emotional route... "Johnny is FEELING dissconnected and depressed." It's much harder to ignore a parent who is looking out for their child's emotional welfare than one who is claiming boredom. Besides, ALL kids are bored in school at some point. It's not an accurate description of what a gifted kid experiences in school.

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#3 of 4 Old 05-12-2011, 08:31 AM
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In your case, I would start with a meeting with the kindie teacher. It sounds like you have a good relationship with her and she already recognizes the need to accommodate. I'd get her feedback on what level he's working at, his work habits (ability to focus, organizational skills, ability to work independently and also with others, ability to relate to older children) and her opinion on how best to accommodate him - whether certain curriculum modifications were easy or difficult, if there are any specific classroom obstacles to overcome, etc. That will give you an idea of how much she will support any requests you make for on-going accommodations and she may have some good information on what accommodations are typical in the primary grades at this school.   


Some common approaches for primary grades are cluster grouping for gifted or bright students or pull out programs, subject acceleration, in-class curriculum adjustments, and grade skipping. 


At this stage, classroom assignments for next year are likely being sorted out. The best scenario, absent a gifted program, is probably to place him with a sympathetic 1st grade teacher and with a cluster of bright, high achieving students, so he has a good peer group in class to work with him. I might leave discussing specific in-class curriculum adjustments until you know who his teacher will be next year and you can speak with him/her directly.  


For us, there were better accommodations in first grade, with subject acceleration and in-class modification of work and assignments, than in the later primary grades. We didn't ask for accommodations - the teachers recognized their ability and suggested the adjusted the work. It actually seemed easier to elevate a first grader to doing third grade work than it was a couple of years later, when the issue was moving a third grader into middle school work. I suspect it was partly because the teachers became more concerned and consumed with the struggling students who were late readers and had poor numeracy ability as standardized testing encroached on the curriculum (which happened in 3rd grade for us). You may have a different experience. 



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#4 of 4 Old 05-14-2011, 02:55 AM
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My son is also in K this year, but hopefully I have some suggestions for you. 


We chose not to do grade skipping with our son for several reasons.   The teachers agreed to work with us on a plan.  My son goes to a second grade class in the mornings.  In this class they do reading and english.  He tested on a 4th grade reading level earlier in the year.  Being in this class gives him a chance to interact with kids more on his peer level, as well as do some work that is challenging.


His teacher also made him a special notebook to keep in his desk.  Whenever he is bored with what she is teaching, he can pull out the folder and do worksheets that are at a 3rd/4th grade level.   She also adjusts the difficulty level of his assignments by taking what the class is doing and having him go way more indepth.


Next year he will be attending a private school that will hopefully be more challenging.  He is already the youngest/smallest in his class, so we dont want to bump him up.  Hope this helps some..

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