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#1 of 5 Old 08-28-2012, 07:45 AM - Thread Starter
 
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My son is scheduled to start kindergarten next week. My husband contacted the school in June over our concerns that he is well past the academic goals of kindergarten. This wouldn't concern us if kindergarten was about playing, but the school is very up front about how academically focused it is. After a few weeks of being put off, my husband finally made contact with the principal. She suggested a possible grade skip since budget cuts have removed other possibilities. I should note now we were simply looking for differentiated instruction, but we were happy to see the principal take things seriously.

The school psychologist set up a meeting for IQ and achievement testing. Our son scored in the top range of IQ testing and at an end of first grade level (across the board) on acheievement testing. Notably, they did not test any higher than end of first grade. He was also given a reading sample and comprehension test and scored at an end of third grade level on this measure, though the psychologist indicated he hit the ceiling on that test, as well. After testing, we received a call from the psychologist. He said we have an incredible boy and suggested remaining in K for social parts of the day (recess, lunch, gym, music, etc) and joining first for math, reading, and other academic subjects. The principal told us she scheduled a meeting with K and 1st teachers, us, the psychologist, and the nurse. The meeting was set for yesterday, a week before school is scheduled to begin. We got to the meeting and our son (who was supposed to participate) was made to wait outside. They had held the other meeting without us and decided we would just wait six weeks and "see if he needs anything." While the principal told us she has seen "1 or 2a kids like him,"and she also claimed "maybe there will be 3 or 4 kids like him in his K class!" We met his K teacher who said she could "probably" offer some differentiation, like more work. She also questioned his reading comprehension, despite his scores that were sitting in front of her (as a formerly gifted student, this is a huge pet peeve of mine). The principal told us the psychologist "may" be available to us the first two weeks of school despite his report indicating he is available for us without restriction.

I feel like the principal waited until the last minute to offer us nothing. I am sure we didn't handle things as well as we could have since we were not prepared for this situation. My husband sent an email last night indicating he was very disappointed in how things were handled. He also asked what criteria will be used to determine if he "needs something,"and as his test scores seem like sufficient criteria. He also asked for specific examples of what differentiation can be used.

Any suggestions on how we can move forward from here? I am so emotional about sending him to school already and I feel like this was sprung on us. I feel like sending him ino this environment is a recipe for failure greensad.gif
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#2 of 5 Old 08-28-2012, 07:49 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Wow, sorry about the mistakes...she said she has seen 1 or 2 kids like him in 8 years but also placated us by saying there may be 3 or 4 kids like him in his class.
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#3 of 5 Old 08-28-2012, 08:35 AM
 
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As a family whose child did a mid-year skip to 1st grade, I'm quite happy for the initial weeks in in Kindergarten. DD had only a tiny bit of preschool experience when she entered K. It was a good introduction to life in a big school. In the beginning, it was all excitement and while the work was easy, she also felt successful. We let the school try all their methods of differentiation... she did the K and 1st grade math curriculum on her own the first month, she worked with the school librarian, she could bring in any reading material she wanted, another K teacher came to work with her a few times a week, she was "teacher's helper," eventually, it was clear these things weren't working. DD was withdrawing, frustrated and depressed. They sent her to 1st grade in the morning at her K teacher's insistence and rejoined the K class for lunch. Within 2 weeks of that, they decided to move her to 1st completely. It wasn't the happiest time for DD, I admit. It was very hard to watch as a parent. However, she proved herself to be not only capable but mature. The school never questioned any accommodation we asked for after that and offered others we hadn't thought of. They are still her biggest supporters. Through 8th grade, DD had an extremely positive and engaging schooling environment. On top of that, she met a little girl in K whose whole family became our dearest friends the last 10 years! 

 

Acceleration is a tough thing for schools to sign off on. It's a move that few have actual experience in and is difficult to take back. The fact that they did all this testing on him before he even entered the school is a sign that they are willing to work with you. I know you are disappointed in how the meeting was handled but I would take those 6 weeks, be positive, encourage your DS to do his best. Address problems as they come. See what the school has to offer and how your child reacts. Could be everyone will agree a skip is in order. Could be you find a combination of other accommodations a good fit for this particular point in his life.

 

Good luck next week! Just keep in mind that the first month of K is review for everyone. It's meant to be easy as they build up kids confidence and take the time to get them familiar with new expectation. 


Married mom of two, DD 17 and DS 13.
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#4 of 5 Old 08-28-2012, 10:47 AM
 
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My kid went into kindergarten last year reading at a 3rd to 4th grade level, and doing math at the level of an 8-10 year old. We knew this before he started school, but the school wanted to see his test results on their tests with their own eyes before doing anything.

 

he ended up doing two hours of language arts with the highest first grade group, and stayed with the kindergarten for math, science, social studies, lunch, recess and "specials." the gifted specialist gave the teacher stuff to do with him for math (and worked with him once a week herself in math, and twice a week in science/social studies).

 

at the end of the year, they recommended that we move him to second grade with the first graders who he had done language arts with. he is still way ahead of all of them, but we aren't ready to move him to third grade. We want to save a second grade skip for later on when the mismatch increases again.
 

ETA: we are very happy he had a year of kindergarten first. I would not have wanted to move him up without the transition to public school well established. (He had been in daycare since infancy, and was in preschool for two years prior to kindergarten, but the transition was still a little rough). writing was his biggest weakness, and still is.

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#5 of 5 Old 08-28-2012, 11:40 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BusyMommyOfTwo View Post

My son is scheduled to start kindergarten next week. My husband contacted the school in June over our concerns that he is well past the academic goals of kindergarten. This wouldn't concern us if kindergarten was about playing, but the school is very up front about how academically focused it is. After a few weeks of being put off, my husband finally made contact with the principal. She suggested a possible grade skip since budget cuts have removed other possibilities. I should note now we were simply looking for differentiated instruction, but we were happy to see the principal take things seriously.
It is good that the school brought up a grade skip.
 
 

The school psychologist set up a meeting for IQ and achievement testing. Our son scored in the top range of IQ testing and at an end of first grade level (across the board) on acheievement testing. Notably, they did not test any higher than end of first grade. He was also given a reading sample and comprehension test and scored at an end of third grade level on this measure, though the psychologist indicated he hit the ceiling on that test, as well. After testing, we received a call from the psychologist. He said we have an incredible boy and suggested remaining in K for social parts of the day (recess, lunch, gym, music, etc) and joining first for math, reading, and other academic subjects.
Did you get this in writing? A written report will carry a lot more weight than a verbal one.  The rotation between grades is s solid suggestion, but some of that depends on the 'higher grade teacher', the personality of the child, and the students that the child is placed with. A welcoming teacher with a friendly group of kids and an extroverted child is a great combination. A higher grade teacher that is resistant or against the idea, a clique of older kids, or a introverted, shy child would not work well in that combination. A lot is the individual circumstances. 
 
The principal told us she scheduled a meeting with K and 1st teachers, us, the psychologist, and the nurse.
The nurse?? That seems odd, but OK. Does your DS have health problems that would need a school nurse involved?
 
The meeting was set for yesterday, a week before school is scheduled to begin. We got to the meeting and our son (who was supposed to participate) was made to wait outside. They had held the other meeting without us and decided we would just wait six weeks and "see if he needs anything." While the principal told us she has seen "1 or 2a kids like him,"and she also claimed "maybe there will be 3 or 4 kids like him in his K class!" We met his K teacher who said she could "probably" offer some differentiation, like more work. She also questioned his reading comprehension, despite his scores that were sitting in front of her (as a formerly gifted student, this is a huge pet peeve of mine).
 
Although awkward, I agree with excluding your son  AT THAT AGE. A 5 or 6 yr old, no matter how cognitively advanced, does not need to hear the pros/cons of a situation. Yes, his opinion and reflection on experiences should be considered- but the initial conversation on options should be between adults to discuss his strengths/weaknesses, etc.
 
It seems the school is backpedaling. I would ask for a firm meeting date in a few weeks time.  Give the class time to settle and see what the teacher offers after a few weeks (at least 4 since the first two are mostly rules/assessment). See if there are kiddos that match him in class- maybe, maybe not.
 
I dislike teachers that question scores....but I will say having given reading assessments (I am a teacher), depending on which ones. Some are short and yes, the kiddos comprehend/read/are fluent and understand at a high level- handing them a 5-6th grade chapter book may not work. Even with the skills in place, the  reading endurance and/or interest or topic may not be there at that level. Even print size can impact reading desire (higher level material tends to be smaller print).
A good teacher will find short books, non-fiction/fiction, magazine articles, etc at the students level and work with it. For younger kiddos with high reading levels, often (though not always! some kiddos like the longer stories) small chunks of high-level material works better than a 300 page novel. Classic storybooks with full color pictures often are popular-- since even though the skills are there, kiddos of that age  often enjoy pictures. Some teachers mistakenly think== 5th grade reading level means books suggested for 5th grade required reading. Well, no - some books are great for younger kids that are written at a high level without the topics more  suitable for older kids.
 
The principal told us the psychologist "may" be available to us the first two weeks of school despite his report indicating he is available for us without restriction.
I feel like the principal waited until the last minute to offer us nothing. I am sure we didn't handle things as well as we could have since we were not prepared for this situation. My husband sent an email last night indicating he was very disappointed in how things were handled. He also asked what criteria will be used to determine if he "needs something,"and as his test scores seem like sufficient criteria. He also asked for specific examples of what differentiation can be used.
Any suggestions on how we can move forward from here? I am so emotional about sending him to school already and I feel like this was sprung on us. I feel like sending him ino this environment is a recipe for failure greensad.gif
 
Contact the psychologist yourself. Ask him to visit your DS and to chat with you after the first few weeks.
 
I agree to ask for specific examples. But be careful to approach the school as positively as you can (even if you feel differently) since they are the gatekeepers so to say. But DO ask for a plan, a set timeframe, and contact people to reach out to get information. Be clear, concise, and firm but try not to put the school on the defensive- that rarely goes well. Try to get a team mentality- you and the school to work toward what is good for your DS (yes, this can be hard but it is much more likely to get results). The school already seems reluctant, try to outline a plan for them and then follow through with it.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by whatsnextmom View Post

 It was a good introduction to life in a big school. In the beginning, it was all excitement and while the work was easy, she also felt successful. We let the school try all their methods of differentiation... she did the K and 1st grade math curriculum on her own the first month, she worked with the school librarian, she could bring in any reading material she wanted, another K teacher came to work with her a few times a week, she was "teacher's helper," eventually, it was clear these things weren't working.

 

This is fabulous. I would try to get a similar outcome for your DS. Start of the year, adjust as needed, but really advocate for your DS when things stop working.

 

One of my DDs was the 'teachers helper' in Preschool- I axed that quickly when I saw it was a problem and the teacher did reading with her instead of small group phonics.

 

My DDs did not do K, but jumped from PreK to 1st (not a true skip, but a move with different age cut-offs that allowed us the option of K or 1st placement. School tested and heavily requested 1st.). It has been fabulous so far.

 

 

Acceleration is a tough thing for schools to sign off on. It's a move that few have actual experience in and is difficult to take back. I know you are disappointed in how the meeting was handled but I would take those 6 weeks, be positive, encourage your DS to do his best. Address problems as they come. See what the school has to offer and how your child reacts. Could be everyone will agree a skip is in order. Could be you find a combination of other accommodations a good fit for this particular point in his life.

 

I think this is great advice.  Each and every year may need different accommodations or adjustments- take them as they come. See how the teacher reacts (a good teacher can make a BIG difference in how advanced kiddos are work with in the classroom).

 

Good luck next week! Just keep in mind that the first month of K is review for everyone. It's meant to be easy as they build up kids confidence and take the time to get them familiar with new expectation. 

 

We had to remind DDs about this for the start of 1st as well. They complained they were reading 'easy' books, I assured them it would get better but the teacher was getting to know everyone. The 'easy' helps build a good start to the year and allow the teacher to slowly see where kiddos are at.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by spedteacher30 View Post
 I would not have wanted to move him up without the transition to public school well established. (He had been in daycare since infancy, and was in preschool for two years prior to kindergarten, but the transition was still a little rough). writing was his biggest weakness, and still is.
 
This is good observation too- the sheer adjustment factor is huge. Even with preschool experience.
 
For our DDs- like Spedteacher30, writing was a big weakness. The no writing format of PreK to the heavy writing of 1st took a lot of time to get used to. It was not the use of vocabulary or the understanding of concepts, just the volume of written work required! DD also got accommodated spelling lists at their level, but their teacher was very good at realizing that the actual writing of 2-3 pages of story would take some practice.
The fullday factor also was a big deal. DDs were tired- even though the work was easy, they were overwhelmed at the newness of it all. It did even out after a few weeks and the teacher adjusted and my DDs adjusted. 
Both had writing at or above grade level by the end of the year, but it is still an area of relative weakness- though given that they are up to 18 months younger than some peers, it is still age appropriate (one DD writes page after page of stories, but has reversals of letters. She is 6 so it is fine and totally normal). 
 
 
 
 
I hope you get a teacher that works well with your DS. K and 1st teachers are often used to kids coming in at a wide wide range of abilities so they tend (though not always!) are fairly good at differentiating.
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