What would you do with my kindergartener? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 26 Old 02-25-2011, 04:09 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My son is in Kindergarten.  

 

He started school pretty far ahead, academically.  When he was evaluated at the beginning of the year, he was reading at a 2nd grade level.  He doesn't have particularly a lot of math knowledge, but he was able to count beyond 100, and do simple addition.  He picks things up quickly.  He was beginning to experiment with "inventive spelling," which was exciting because he's a bit of a perfectionist who previously didn't want to "sound things out" for fear of spelling them incorrectly.  His handwriting needed work, but seemed age-appropriate.  

 

Shortly after he started school, it became clear that he probably wasn't going to be "challenged" a ton at school.  But he was excited about going, was making lots of friends, and we figured that was enough.  He was a part of a little "accelerated readers" program with 3 other students, but it was a pretty minor part of his experience (something he did for ~30 minutes/week).  

 

A few months in, though--maybe around the beginning of the year--his attitude about school started to change.  He started asking for "days off," and didn't talk about kids from school that often.  He started asking to be "homeschooled" (I'm not sure exactly what that means to him).  He said school is boring, and that he "never gets called on."  (He's in a class of 26 kindergarteners, so I can understand how it could feel like he's not getting "called on" or whatever, even if he is getting his 1/26 of time/attention.)

 

We had a parent-teacher conference yesterday, where his teacher told us, basically: He's very intelligent and knowledgable.  She wishes he would be more of a "leader" and less of a "follower."  His behavior has gone from exemplary to very apathetic (she said he's not doing anything "wrong" at school, but his attitude is sort of like, "Eh, I don't want to do that so I'm not going to.")  She said he seems to think that "school is a place for fun, and not for learning."

 

So we talked about it a bit--I told her I had observed this shift in his attitude toward school from home as well, but wasn't sure exactly what accounted for it.  She said, "It definitely hasn't gotten any harder for him, so it's not that."

 

The most unsettling part, though, was when she said something like, "And, yeah, sometimes I just 'let him go,' because I'm working with some kid who doesn't even know the alphabet and it's like, 'He's all set.'  I could probably challenge him *more,* but I don't think I'd be doing him any favors--then he'd just be going to 1st Grade that much *more* ahead, and he'd have the same problem all over again."

 

Needless to say, this attitude bothers me.  It's not surprising that he thinks of school as a place to "play and not learn," since he...doesn't learn there.  I don't think I have unreasonable expectations for his teacher/school.  I understand that he is 1 of 26 students in this class, and I don't think he deserves more than any of the other students.  But I also don't think he deserves less.  

 

Perhaps equally upsetting to me is that his handwriting--the one thing that really needed work--has not improved at all over the course of the year.  In fact, she pulled out a writing sample from October and one from February, and I think it could be said that his writing was better in October.  It seems that, throughout the year, he has reinforced some bad habits (such as writing in all caps, inconsistent letter size, not spacing between words), and no one has stepped in to help him break them.  Occasionally he brings home  a paper that says "Remember lower case letters" or "spacing" at the top, but he's not particularly interested in the feedback he's receiving on these papers--he rushes through them to get free time to play.

 

We've just bought a house and will be moving before next school year.  We could move as early as next month.  (We haven't sold our house yet, so until it sells, we have some flexibility about moving--the new house is about 45 minutes away).  I originally wanted to try to stick around long enough for him to finish the school year, but I'm having second thoughts about that, thinking that perhaps he'd be better off learning at home for the remainder of the year, and then just starting at his new school in the fall.

 

Any thoughts?  Would you bother trying to work on things in his current kindergarten situation, or just supplement at home and "get through it"?  If the former, how would you go about bringing this up with his teacher?  I work in the classroom one morning each week and have a good rapport with his teacher--and really *like* her--and I want to be reasonable about what I ask (because I think the class size is way too big to begin with, and I want to be fair to both her and his classmates).  Suggestions?


 

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#2 of 26 Old 02-25-2011, 04:32 PM
 
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My son started K at the same academic level your son did and his teacher wanted to recommend him for the gifted program by week 2 (ds had behavior issues which soon pushed that idea aside). I wouldn't stick around just to finish out the year.


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#3 of 26 Old 02-25-2011, 04:48 PM
 
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Oh, wow.  You are describing my daughter's K experience to a T. 

 

It took us until the end of second grade to first pick up that the attitude problem was boredom, then to address it.  The process of addressing the problem with the pace of instruction, together with the lack of instruction (DD had no reading group from mid-way through kindergarten until this year - in third) and with the lack of engagement of her peers has required gifted placement, subject acceleration in math, and a hand picked teacher. 

 

It has taken us most of third grade to get DD to relearn that learning can happen during the school day.  She does enjoy school now.

 

So, I'd start practicing advocating for him now in his current school.  Advocacy takes practice and it's not something that comes easily to me.  I would have really benefited from a practice case when I might not be so worried about burning bridges. 

 

Head on over to the gifted board to read up on how people advocate with the school.  Start with the teacher.  Go in with the approach of teamwork and tackling the issue together.  Bored is a bad word.  Wipe it from your vocabulary.  Instead, things like "At home we see...."  "DS really becomes engaged when..." and remember that your DS deserves and education, and he deserves to be taught by a teacher.  "DS bubbles at home about <insert educational activities he gets from the teacher> ... "  "I'd love to figure out how to work together to motivate DS to work on his handwriting...."  His reading instruction cannot be relegated to AR, and he cannot be sat on the side of the room left to his own devices.  At the same time, he is not a teacher for slower kids.  They certainly should be taught by someone trained, not a 5 year old! 

 

Good luck.

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#4 of 26 Old 02-25-2011, 04:54 PM
 
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That's a very different kindergarten than in our area. Not only is the teacher to student ratio high but kids in January still struggling with letters? By January, my kids classes were writing in their journal daily, well into math facts and most were reading, several at 2nd/3rd grade level. My point with sharing this is that I'd probably not do anything too drastic until you have an idea of what the school you are moving into is like.

 

My eldest had a rough time in kindergarten and was moved up mid-year to 1st. I'm not reccomending that for your son, I'm just sharing that I understand how it feels to watch your child disintergrate in kindergarten. If I were in your exact situation, I'd probably take him out and let him "reset" in preparation for the move in a month. Once moved, transfer him into the new school. See how it goes and if it's no better, start working for some subject acceleration in his high subjects. The sooner they get to know him, the better accomodations you can have in place for him in 1st grade. If that isn't an option I'd homeschool until next fall and try then. It's kindergarten. He got a taste of the routine and being away from mom during the day. Starting 1st won't be a shock.

 

I'm all for working with the school and we've had great success at all levels. However, the idea that any teacher would worry that he'll "learn too much and not have anything for the next grade" is stupid. Kids are just programmed to learn. Whether he's worked with or not, he's going to progress. She sounds overwhelmed and since you aren't even guarunteed to be there the rest of the year, I wouldn't stress yourselves our fixing the issue for 1 or 2 months.

 

As to handwriting, remember, he's little. His handwriting might not improve until he grows a little more. Personally, handwriting was a major struggle all through school. Thank goodness for word processing! I didn't develop good penmanship until college. My youngest seems to have inherited that from me. He tries and tries. Only in the last year has his writing truely gotten better and he's 10! Practice alone isn't enough. Your body has to be ready too.


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#5 of 26 Old 02-25-2011, 06:43 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by whatsnextmom View Post

That's a very different kindergarten than in our area. Not only is the teacher to student ratio high but kids in January still struggling with letters? By January, my kids classes were writing in their journal daily, well into math facts and most were reading, several at 2nd/3rd grade level. My point with sharing this is that I'd probably not do anything too drastic until you have an idea of what the school you are moving into is like.

 

My eldest had a rough time in kindergarten and was moved up mid-year to 1st. I'm not reccomending that for your son, I'm just sharing that I understand how it feels to watch your child disintergrate in kindergarten. If I were in your exact situation, I'd probably take him out and let him "reset" in preparation for the move in a month. Once moved, transfer him into the new school. See how it goes and if it's no better, start working for some subject acceleration in his high subjects. The sooner they get to know him, the better accomodations you can have in place for him in 1st grade. If that isn't an option I'd homeschool until next fall and try then. It's kindergarten. He got a taste of the routine and being away from mom during the day. Starting 1st won't be a shock.

 

I'm all for working with the school and we've had great success at all levels. However, the idea that any teacher would worry that he'll "learn too much and not have anything for the next grade" is stupid. Kids are just programmed to learn. Whether he's worked with or not, he's going to progress. She sounds overwhelmed and since you aren't even guarunteed to be there the rest of the year, I wouldn't stress yourselves our fixing the issue for 1 or 2 months.

 

As to handwriting, remember, he's little. His handwriting might not improve until he grows a little more. Personally, handwriting was a major struggle all through school. Thank goodness for word processing! I didn't develop good penmanship until college. My youngest seems to have inherited that from me. He tries and tries. Only in the last year has his writing truely gotten better and he's 10! Practice alone isn't enough. Your body has to be ready too.


His K class has a *very* wide range of abilities.  He's one of 4 strong readers in the class, but not the strongest.  There are a lot of kids (most) who started the year with decent letter recognition but little-to-no reading, who have begun reading (these are the kids toward whom the curriculum appears to be geared).  Then there are 4 kids who leave the classroom for special help--I recently helped with assessments, and two of them still don't recognize all the letters/sounds associated with them and cannot spell their own names.

 

The school our kids will be attending next year is a charter, and I'm not sure we could put them in right now, mid-year.  They have been accepted for the fall, though.  I feel pretty good about the school--the class sizes are half what they are at his current school, and multi-age (K-1, 2-3, et cetera), and they are *extremely* flexible about kids going to another classroom for a particular subject, or whatever.  For that matter, I don't suspect that will even be necessary there--when we visited, they explained that the reading groups were formed from all 5 K-1 classes (so, 75 kids), with the content ranging from "picture reading" to chapter books.  So I suspect that there will be a place for him within that context and, if not, they're really open to him joining a reading group, for example, in the 2-3 class.

 

As for the handwriting thing, I absolutely agree.  But his problem seems to be largely that (a) he's formed bad habits like writing in all caps and not leaving spaces, and (b) he rushes through it because he doesn't enjoy it.  I recently sat with him and reminded him every time he wrote a capital letter to replace it with a lowercase one (we did this for just one sentence) and it looked pretty good when he was finished (I still don't envision a career in calligraphy or anything winky.gif).  So if he were just making the correct letters (as in, lowercase ones) poorly, I'd see that as a huge improvement.  (By the way, I was *also* horrible with handwriting as a child, and was always frustrated by it because I, too, always performed well above grade level in every other subject.  I particularly remember feeling like I was the only *girl* who didn't have "pretty" handwriting.rolleyes.gif)

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#6 of 26 Old 02-25-2011, 06:52 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for your response.  I described the new school a bit in my previous post, but I don't anticipate needing to "advocate" for him there, because they seem so focused on individualized learning (largely why we chose this school).  I do appreciate your tip about being mindful of my language as I discuss this with his teacher, though.  I don't want to ask her (or the school) to bend over backwards to accommodate a student who may not even finish out the year there, but I would like to talk with her about working together to make the rest of his time there a bit more...enhancing...for him.  Like I said, I have good rapport with her and work in the classroom weekly, so hopefully I'll have an opportunity to talk with her in a way that can bring about some positive change.  She's a young teacher, too, and I would love to help her rethink her mentality about "not doing him any favors by sending him to 1st grade even more ahead than he already is."  He's obviously not the last bright kid who will come into her classroom, and I don't think she's being lazy or (trying to be) dismissive of him--I think she has her hands FULL and is overwhelmed, and I think she's going to be "judged" at the end of the year by how many students have arrived at "point B," regardless of where they started.  So, in that regard, my son and students like him are cases she can sort of check off her (very long) list, because he arrived in kindergarten already doing everything she's supposed to demonstrate that he has learned during the year.  Like I said, I think the system is at fault here, and the teacher is largely coping.  Nonetheless, it was this attitude about potentially teaching him "too much" that bothered me so much during the conference, and that's what I'd like to see change.  
 

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Originally Posted by Geofizz View Post

Oh, wow.  You are describing my daughter's K experience to a T. 

 

It took us until the end of second grade to first pick up that the attitude problem was boredom, then to address it.  The process of addressing the problem with the pace of instruction, together with the lack of instruction (DD had no reading group from mid-way through kindergarten until this year - in third) and with the lack of engagement of her peers has required gifted placement, subject acceleration in math, and a hand picked teacher. 

 

It has taken us most of third grade to get DD to relearn that learning can happen during the school day.  She does enjoy school now.

 

So, I'd start practicing advocating for him now in his current school.  Advocacy takes practice and it's not something that comes easily to me.  I would have really benefited from a practice case when I might not be so worried about burning bridges. 

 

Head on over to the gifted board to read up on how people advocate with the school.  Start with the teacher.  Go in with the approach of teamwork and tackling the issue together.  Bored is a bad word.  Wipe it from your vocabulary.  Instead, things like "At home we see...."  "DS really becomes engaged when..." and remember that your DS deserves and education, and he deserves to be taught by a teacher.  "DS bubbles at home about <insert educational activities he gets from the teacher> ... "  "I'd love to figure out how to work together to motivate DS to work on his handwriting...."  His reading instruction cannot be relegated to AR, and he cannot be sat on the side of the room left to his own devices.  At the same time, he is not a teacher for slower kids.  They certainly should be taught by someone trained, not a 5 year old! 

 

Good luck.



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#7 of 26 Old 02-26-2011, 03:49 AM
 
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I would, however, still sharpen your advocacy skills.  You certainly don't want your DS to develop a (more) negative association with school.  Also, color me skeptical - a result of my own experience - but NCLB makes schools very conservative about advancing kids.  Have you visited?  Did you see wee ones working in math and reading groups with older ones?  I would have concerns about a school like that:  My kid would need to advance from one group to a next with time.  As a group sticks together, the general assumption is that they learn at a similar rates.  Second, particularly with reading, is reading material.  An immature 5-6 year old reading at a level of a 4th grader, probably shouldn't be reading the same stuff a 4th grader reading at a level of a 4th grader is.  We have really struggled with content for DD because the themes were either inappropriate (cute cuddly creature in mortal peril) or made no sense (sleep overs and babysitting).

 

So, your advocacy:  Yes, I thought I had a great relationship with DD's teacher (same one for 1st and 2nd).  She would adjust pace for DD for one day, then drop it.  It finally took getting the school administration involved once we had some test scores to point out that the child simply needed something different than intermittent differentiation in the classroom.

 

Sorry if I'm so negative.  Our experience with the school was pretty jarring for us.  And we've got a rising kindergartner here whose greatest entertainment right now is making up songs about fractions.

 

ETA:  We used to live in A2.  I miss it so much.  :(

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#8 of 26 Old 02-26-2011, 07:55 AM
 
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A little OT, you might try "Handwriting Without Tears" at home if you want to correct his writing. The workbooks are inexpensive and even my DS who hates writing felt they were painless. My DS is a very fast learner but "relearning" things can be very difficult for him. It's like his brain hardwires in skills instantly and it takes FAR more repetition to correct a faulty skill than it does to learn something correctly the first time. Does that make sense? By the end of the book, DS did NOT have lovely handwriting but he was at least forming the letters correctly.


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#9 of 26 Old 02-26-2011, 09:02 AM
 
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I also have an advanced boy, now in first grade. A few thoughts:

-- I'd be worried about the handwriting. That was also my DS's weakest area (and one he doesn't like), and so that was the area that his teacher really challenged him on. While he still doesn't love it, he CAN write beautifully if he wants to, and the teacher was right to push him to get it right. By mid-year, a bright K student should NOT be using all caps and no spaces. The teacher should not be letting this slide.

-- So much depends on how she runs her classroom. I'd probably pick a couple things to start. So, for my DS, we worked out that, while he would stay with the most advanced reading group in class (because he felt strongly about staying with the class), he would also have an appropriate level chapter book (that I sent from home) in his desk to read whenever he finished something quickly. He is allowed to take tests independently in the back of the room and then read quietly (as opposed to waiting the 30 minutes it takes for the teacher to read each question and wait for kids to answer). I worked with the teacher to find a "gifted first grader" math workbook for DS. He still does math with the whole class when she's teaching a lesson, but then when it's time to work on packets, he pulls out his workbook instead.

 

I also agree with a PP that I'd be wary of sending DS to read a couple grades up b/c of content. We have a wonderful children's librarian at our local library who's really helped me find appropriate things for him to read. It's tougher than you'd think!

 

Also, it's probably good practice to advocate. You're in a good place b/c you volunteer -- it may be easier if you have one or two concrete suggestions for her. I totally get where you coming from about large class size, teacher you like. (I think it helps that DS's teacher has more than 20 years of experience, so she's skilled at recognizing and meeting lots of different needs.) In the end, though, you don't want your DS to develop a negative attitude about school.

 

Hope you find some solutions that work for everyone!

-e


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#10 of 26 Old 02-26-2011, 10:37 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for this--and funny you mentioned it; I have it (just got it a few weeks ago) and told the teacher at his conference that I was going to start it with him.  When I work in his classroom this week, I'm going to bring it with me.  I'm hoping I can get some collaboration with her on this, as he actually seems really excited about it.
 

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A little OT, you might try "Handwriting Without Tears" at home if you want to correct his writing. The workbooks are inexpensive and even my DS who hates writing felt they were painless. My DS is a very fast learner but "relearning" things can be very difficult for him. It's like his brain hardwires in skills instantly and it takes FAR more repetition to correct a faulty skill than it does to learn something correctly the first time. Does that make sense? By the end of the book, DS did NOT have lovely handwriting but he was at least forming the letters correctly.



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#11 of 26 Old 02-26-2011, 10:53 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks.  I understand and agree about the concern with sending him up a grade or more for reading.  I guess I plan to cross that bridge when I come to it.  From the looks of things when I visited, I'm not sure that would be necessary.  Right now, he probably reads at a 2-3 grade level (?--he tested at 2nd grade level back in October, and he's definitely advanced since then, but I don't think he's any higher than a 3rd grade level, although I don't know a ton about these things).  I actually don't think he's *so* advanced that, in a group of 75 other students, there wouldn't be a few at his level to form a reading group (like I said, they had a reading group in their K-1 class that was reading chapter books).  If I'm wrong and he does get placed in a reading group outside his grade level, I'll have to address that then--but I don't imagine that 2nd grade material (or 3rd) is *so* different from 1st grade material (content-wise) that it would be inappropriate for a precocious 1st grader (and I might be totally wrong--like I said, I'm relatively new to this).  

 

And thanks for your input regarding the handwriting as well--I felt the same way.  And, like I said, it was the utter lack of improvement that concerns me even more than how he is writing.  I've recently gotten some Handwriting Without Tears workbooks, and I'm planning to start it with him at home.  I'm also going to take it in and talk with his teacher about how we might be able to collaborate on working through those.  Honestly, I think if she simply started asking him to correct his mistakes it would go a long way, because I have the impression he's rushing through the writing assignments to get to play with legos (or whatever), and then doesn't get any feedback on his work until it's sent home several days later with "remember spacing" or something written at the top, at which point he couldn't care less.  If she started giving him his work back and asking him to go back and re-write it with lowercase letters and proper spacing, he would no doubt quickly realize that it would actually save him time to slow down a little and do it right in the first place.thumb.gif

 

He actually seems pretty excited to work on his handwriting, at least with me.  We sat down and looked at the HWT workbook and there is a page that tells you how to "check a letter, check a word, check a sentence."  For the sentence check, it said "1. Capital letter only at the beginning of the sentence," and he interjected, "Oh, I'm glad it says that, because I definitely need to work on that!"  So I think he's actually pleased to have been sort of "called out" on the handwriting issue, finally.  Hopefully his teacher is helpful; I think she'll at least *try* to be (but I like to give people the benefit of the doubt).  
 

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I also have an advanced boy, now in first grade. A few thoughts:

-- I'd be worried about the handwriting. That was also my DS's weakest area (and one he doesn't like), and so that was the area that his teacher really challenged him on. While he still doesn't love it, he CAN write beautifully if he wants to, and the teacher was right to push him to get it right. By mid-year, a bright K student should NOT be using all caps and no spaces. The teacher should not be letting this slide.

-- So much depends on how she runs her classroom. I'd probably pick a couple things to start. So, for my DS, we worked out that, while he would stay with the most advanced reading group in class (because he felt strongly about staying with the class), he would also have an appropriate level chapter book (that I sent from home) in his desk to read whenever he finished something quickly. He is allowed to take tests independently in the back of the room and then read quietly (as opposed to waiting the 30 minutes it takes for the teacher to read each question and wait for kids to answer). I worked with the teacher to find a "gifted first grader" math workbook for DS. He still does math with the whole class when she's teaching a lesson, but then when it's time to work on packets, he pulls out his workbook instead.

 

I also agree with a PP that I'd be wary of sending DS to read a couple grades up b/c of content. We have a wonderful children's librarian at our local library who's really helped me find appropriate things for him to read. It's tougher than you'd think!

 

Also, it's probably good practice to advocate. You're in a good place b/c you volunteer -- it may be easier if you have one or two concrete suggestions for her. I totally get where you coming from about large class size, teacher you like. (I think it helps that DS's teacher has more than 20 years of experience, so she's skilled at recognizing and meeting lots of different needs.) In the end, though, you don't want your DS to develop a negative attitude about school.

 

Hope you find some solutions that work for everyone!

-e



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#12 of 26 Old 02-27-2011, 06:11 PM
 
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That's a very different kindergarten than in our area. Not only is the teacher to student ratio high but kids in January still struggling with letters?

I actually think it's not entirely uncommon. There definitely are kids in my son's class who don't know all of their letters. 

 

OP, I think what you're describing is one of the common reactions to being that far ahead of other students.


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#13 of 26 Old 02-27-2011, 06:58 PM
 
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Perhaps it's regional but I live in a middle/lower-middle class area with a high ESL population. We also have a Dec. 2nd cut-off though lots of red-shirting which means large amounts of 6-year-olds in kindergarten along with some 4-year-olds. I taught at the district preschool and very few were going on without knowing most of their letters.

 

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I actually think it's not entirely uncommon. There definitely are kids in my son's class who don't know all of their letters. 

 

OP, I think what you're describing is one of the common reactions to being that far ahead of other students.




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#14 of 26 Old 03-01-2011, 03:23 PM
 
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He sounds like a classic example of  a kid who needs a grade skip. The handwriting thing is tough though because schools can be idiotic about accommodations and acceleration in the same child.

 

Meanwhile, maybe the handwriting book could go to school? So he has something to do instead of sitting there bored and ignored?

 

 

By the way not teaching a kid because they'll get "too advanced" is NOT okay. She doesn't get to hold back your son just to make her life easier.

 

 

Ohh, he's going to a new school next year? Excellent. That'd make a jump to 2nd grade easier. Meanwhile, this year you can tell his teacher he's going into 2nd grade next not first (even if the it doesn't actually work with the charter school to do that) and work out a plan with her to get your ds the education he needs for that transition.

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#15 of 26 Old 03-01-2011, 04:13 PM
 
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Seeing that K is not legally required, I'd probably pull him for the rest of the year and do some hands on fun learning  at home (including handwriting).  Then send him to first grade at the new school.  If he'd be staying there, I would say finish the year.  But since you're moving I don't really see any point in keeping him in school unless you  need the time for yourself. 


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#16 of 26 Old 03-03-2011, 10:49 AM
 
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Being ahead will be less of an issue when your child is in higher grades. For the time being though he is so bored and starting to dislike school.He might never recover that love of learning. Shame the teachers just *let him go* since he is ahead. If my child were that ahead I would pull and homeschool or put into a charter or private school that allowed him to learn.

 

Sounds like he is just passing time at the local public while the district collects the cash for his attendance.Would be unacceptable to me. Hope you can get him into a gifted program.Anything sounds better than where he is right now.Let him regain that love of learning.There is no need for him to stay in the class he is in now.Sounds like even the social interaction with the other kids can not make up for his complete academic boredom. Best wishes.

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#17 of 26 Old 03-03-2011, 05:55 PM
 
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The new school sounds very promising.  Can you pull him out and just homeschool the rest of the year?  You could do the Handwriting without Tears, read and explore tons of fun stuff.  

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#18 of 26 Old 03-10-2011, 05:28 PM - Thread Starter
 
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A tiny update:

 

--I haven't started the Handwriting Without Tears yet, but we looked through the first few pages (I think I mentioned this before) and I told him that I'd help hiim start working on this.  I also told him that I suspected he might be hurrying through his writing to get to "free time," and that I might ask his teacher to start having him correct his writing assignments if he wasn't using spacing or writing in mostly lowercase letters--not as a punishment, but because he needed to develop better habits rather than reinforcing bad ones.  That was last week.  This week, his teacher pulled me aside to tell me that the Handwriting Without Tears must be working wonders because of how much improvement he's made.  Sure enough, his writing assignments look like they're being done by a different child--he's writing in lowercase letters, with appropriate spacing and punctuation.  I'm still going to do the Handwriting Without Tears with him (and my 4-year-old), but his handwriting looks night-and-day different, and absolutely not inappropriate for his age.  I'm not exactly sure how to explain this change--it could be that he just needed to know that it mattered, or that he wasn't going to "get away with" handing in work into which he'd put so little effort.  He's very sensitive to anything that he perceives to "waste his time" (an expression I hear from him almost daily), so perhaps that was it.  I don't know.  But it's unbelieveably better, and we'll keep working on it.

 

--I think we're shooting for a late April move, so he'll have about 6 more weeks of school and then be out for May and June (which, with the overage on snow days this year, will be a pretty full month of school, I think).  It seemed like a good compromise and will give me a little time to get some of the projects done at the new house so that I have more time and attention for the kids when we do pull them out.  Nothing is set in stone, but this is how we're leaning right now.

 

--In the meantime, we're just working to challenge him in other areas.  He takes piano lessons, and his teacher has recently assigned him some more difficult pieces, which he seemed intimidated by at first, but he's obviously loving the challenge (practicing much more, and without being reminded by us), so that's good.  He seems happy to be putting forth a bit more effort on his writing, and I told him today that I would start working with him on spelling if he'd like (his school emphasizes "inventive spelling," but doesn't appear to teach much actual spelling in kindergarten), and he seemed excited by that prospect as well.  And soon (hopefully), the weather will get nice and he can spend a lot more time just being outside and playing--which is far-and-away more valuable than the sum of the bajillion worksheets he's brought home from school this year.

 

Thanks again for all the input--I really appreciate it.

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#19 of 26 Old 03-17-2011, 07:46 AM
 
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I'm so late to the party. Still trying to decide what to do with our kids and I've been in the midst of "what to do" worrying for about a month now.

Others have said this, but I'll say it again: boredom for us = bad attitude.

dd1 was a half day kindy student and she still had a bad attitude. In first grade she had 2 teachers who will great at getting her what she needed. She adored her teachers and loved first grade. In second grade her teacher is super chaotic (not a fabulous match, but manageable). We saw lots of boredom until Erin got a special task to do each day that she has to report back to the whole class each day.

 

We just had her spring conferences and I actually said, "We support you challenging Erin. I will be more than happy to report back if she's being challenged too much." It was well received, but she was very surprised to hear us say that.  Which as an aside I just don't get: you're having a conference with 2 phds about their kid. Why would you be surprised that they ask you to challenge their kid?

 

The teacher is a caring person, she is good with other students, but kind of crummy with the handful of gifted kids in her class.

I don't want to handpick my kids' teachers, but I find myself knowing that I would really like to do that with dd2.

 

The way I work around the problem with dd1 right now: I volunteer in her classroom (leading a reading "club" for the gifted readers) and I go in several times a year as an expert scientist: I'm a geologist by trade). When I go in I make sure that there are parts of the activity that will interest all kids, but I also make sure I ask a few reaching questions. Next week kaybee (MDC member) and I will volunteer in the classroom together and she's talking about computing travel times for the tsunami last week. This will be too hard for about 60 percent of the students in my dd1's classroom. Obviously not everyone can volunteer in their kids' room. But honestly, going into the classroom has meant I am a face and the teacher is more likely to stretch my kid.

 

We are talking about switching to a charter school that has a smaller class size, differentiated reading and math and is also farther from home. I would switch tomorrow if my dd1 wasn't so resistant to change and an introvert, meaning 1 friend is all she needs. It is socially beneficial for her to stay where she is and have limited disruptions. Sometimes it is really important to support our social selves and let the academics come along.

 

One final thing: this time of year is tough no matter what the grade/situation. It is a blah time of year.

 


Kristin -- mom of Erin (11/5/02) and Leah (9/29/05)
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#20 of 26 Old 03-20-2011, 08:02 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mattemma04 View Post

Sounds like he is just passing time at the local public while the district collects the cash for his attendance.Would be unacceptable to me. Hope you can get him into a gifted program.Anything sounds better than where he is right now.

 

That's pretty harsh. I just re-read the OP and what I got was a picture of a caring teacher who is overwhelmed with 26 kids and the need to provide differentiated learning for all. Please tell me she has a full-time assistant? We have a AIG (what they call gifted here) K kid who is also occasionally bored, but she is mostly having a grand time in school, so it's not so dire. She only gets pulled out for AIG enrichment once or twice a week, but that's all they do for K. I think it steps up a bit next year. Her teacher did tell us that by law the school has to meet the needs of AIG kids (also ESL and Exceptional Children). If it's the same in your district you can respectfully demand more enrichment activities & differentiated learning for your kid.

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#21 of 26 Old 04-18-2011, 08:46 PM
 
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Wow, 26 students is a LOT of kids for a kindergarten class.  I'm a teacher in BC, Canada and by law 22 is the max, and I think that 22 is a lot.  

 

I haven't read the other posts so I'm sorry if I'm repeating any advice someone else has said, but I would suggest that for the next few years at least, your son will probably be ahead of his peers academically.  This means that now is a great time to teach him how to extend his own learning and challenge himself.  In my experience, truly bright children are never bored...unless they are discouraged from exercising their natural curiosity and desire to learn through play.  I would ask the teacher about her program, and if there are any opportunities in the classroom program for extending his learning.  For example, if they are doing waterplay at centers, might she give him an opportunity to conduct his own experiments (eg sinking/floating, or which structures hold the most pennies and still float on top of the water...) and then perhaps he can write/draw a picture of his experience at the water table. 

 

I don't ever think it's too early to help kids learn their potential to be self-directed learners, and it sounds like your son is slowly slipping into an apathetic role and he needs to realize that he is in charge of his own attitude and therefore his own potential for enjoyment!  I mean, I could say, "I'm bored, this job is too easy," but instead I choose to challenge myself and take new opportunities to make my job interesting and fun, kwim?  We are not consumers of education, we play an active role as learners...therefore if I'm bored, it's my problem and I need to take action!  Yes, even at 6!  

 

There is a student in my class currently, a grade 2 girl, who is has so much potential but is convinced that everything is a "review" and her grandmother (who raises her) is convinced she's bored because she's not being challenged.  The thing is, I provide lots of opportunities for her to extend her learning, but she doesn't take them.  With writing activities she does the bare minimum required, she turns down books I suggest that I think would stimulate her, and she chooses the easiest strategies for math rather than challenging herself to come up with new strategies or find more than one way to a solution.  It is the saddest thing!  She could go so far but she's totally a "lazy learner" who would rather be smug and say she knows everything already!  I would hate to hear that your son becomes like that, because it's not a happy place to be.  

 

Anyway, definitely talk to the teacher and be proactive, and involve your son too!  

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#22 of 26 Old 04-20-2011, 12:21 PM
 
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It's great to hear you may be moving in 6 weeks -- what a perfect time to take him out of school and "reset" as another poster said. I agree that I wouldn't let his boredom go on too long, for fear of him starting to have negative associations with school instead of the positive ones he should be having (especially as a bright and capable learner).
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#23 of 26 Old 05-11-2011, 07:06 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Just wanted to update:

 

We decided to take him out of school a tad early, partially because the logistics of trying to deal with two homes was getting to be a bit much, and partially because of the school issues.

 

He's been out of school for a couple weeks now, and it's going really well.  We've worked a tiny bit on his handwriting (which actually improved pretty drastically before he left school, but could still definitely use work), but mostly he's just enjoying his "freedom."  I haven't felt the need to impose a lot of "order" on his day because I'm really pleased with the way he's spending it on his own.  Before we took him out of school, we explained that the rules regarding TV, computer, et cetera would not be changing (normally we don't let him use those things, at least not much, during the school week).  He and his sister (4) have been playing nicely in their room in the morning with things like legos, animal figures, or Playmobil stuff, then they'll decide to go out and ride bikes and be out there an hour or so, and then they'll get out colored pencils and draw pictures--they're just spending their days really productively, from my point of view, and I'm happy to just...let them.  My son is reading much more than he had time to when he was in school, too. He read a Magic Treehouse book cover-to-cover before 9:30 a.m. this morning, and now he's working on a book of really cool dot-to-dots that use numbers and letters and go up to 300 or so, which he really enjoys.  I even found him playing with dolls, which I haven't seen him do in a really long time.

 

Before he finished school I asked him if there were any particular things he'd like to learn about together in his time out of school, and he immediately answered, "space, maps, and how to identify trees by their leaves."  So we've checked some books on space out of the library and he's really enjoyed learning about the planets and has taken a particular interest in the dwarf planets, so we've been doing more reading about those together.  I was thinking of helping him learn to identify the U.S. states on a map, and we may still do that.  Exploring leaves/trees will come easily enough with the changing weather (the university also has a really fantastic conservatory that we can visit for free on Wednesdays, which we've done once and will likely do at least once or twice more).  

 

Anyway, I think we made the right decision and that this time will be really good for both kids (and the little one, almost 21 months, is enjoying all the activity with her brother and sister, too!).

 

Thanks, everyone, for your input! 

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#24 of 26 Old 05-13-2011, 06:29 AM
 
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Sounds like you are having a great time - so glad it is working out!

 

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#25 of 26 Old 05-22-2011, 11:02 PM
 
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I can't believe that teacher would say that to you! What a terrible attitude!

 

I've been a teacher for a number of years and an advanced kid is quite difficult to teach, especially when there are kids who are behind. There is that idea that they are already fine so they can just do the assignment and won't need help.

 

However, your child clearly needs to be challenged. This might need to start at home. If they have any free read time at school, have him bring a harder book home from school. Or tell him that, if he does his handwriting nicely, that he'll be rewarded at home. Unless there is explicit handwriting practice in class, this is going to be difficult for the teacher to address explicitly during class.

 

If there is a gifted program at the school, definitely look into it, otherwise you may to take matters into your own hands to start.

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#26 of 26 Old 05-24-2011, 01:00 PM
 
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What you're doing is pretty much the same approach we took with our dd12 when she was in 1st grade and we took her out to try homeschooling after spring break.  It wasn't anything formal, but she just took off academically and was reading Harry Potter and the Chronicals of Narnia within a few weeks.  The freedom itself and not being stuck all day doing rote work made a huge difference for her.  Being plenty far ahead academically, like your ds, also allowed me the freedom to not worry about whether I had to teach her anything specific to keep her on track for when she went back to school, which she eventually did.

 

I hope that your move goes well and that you find a better schooling situation once you are settled.

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