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#1 of 15 Old 03-14-2013, 07:52 AM - Thread Starter
 
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My ds1 is in a preschool program. His birthday is September 22 and our state's cut off date is September 30. We decided to have him attend preschool this year to see if he would be ready for kindergarten next year. (We are leaning towards no.) 

 

The problem is I'm not sure if the preschool program he is in is right for him. They work on handwriting by sitting down and practicing writing the letters on a worksheet. My son is an energetic kid, one of the youngest in the class and seems to be a lefty to boot! I don't think the worksheet approach is working for him. His worksheets often comes home with "very teacher directed" written on them. That is the main communication I get from his teacher. I probably should have addressed it with her right alway but didn't. In January, we emailed a bit as I wanted to hear her recommendation for preschool or kindergarten. (I chose to use email rather than meet in person because I had a lot going on emotionally.) She recommended another year of preschool since he is socially immature, doesn't recognize letters or know many colors and shapes. The colors and shapes surprise me since he seems to know basic shapes with me and knows basic colors although he mixes up pink and purple sometimes. He was supposed to tell the teacher his address and although he knew it cold, it took him a week to tell it to her. It seems they do not connect.

 

I am struggling because I want him to feel successful in preschool. I think about pulling him out since he seems to get so little from it. I also wonder if the teacher could possibly try something else with him but I know that the class is 11 kids with 2 adults and could easily be chaotic. The school has another class at the same time although I don't know if that class has space. I also don't know how he would feel about being moved.

 

Thoughts? With this being my first in school, I feel a bit lost.


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#2 of 15 Old 03-14-2013, 08:17 AM
 
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I don't think 2 adults with 11 kids should be chaotic. That sounds OK to me.


It sounds like you're concerned that your son is uncomfortable with the teacher or for whatever other reason isn't communicating well with her? Also maybe that the style of preschool isn't right for him - too much sitting?

 

I think you could meet with the teacher and tell her that he seems to be pretty good with colors at home and ask if she thinks that she and he don't communicate well? Though if the structure of the preschool isn't working for him, it might not matter. A play-based preschool might be better. My dd's preschool is a Montessori class and there are no worksheets.

 

Are there other preschools available to you? What kind of preschool is this? I think it sounds like he does need another year of preschool but that this particular preschool might not be the best choice for him. It isn't necessarily that teacher but the style of preschool. It's perfectly fine to be socially immature and not know a lot at his age, but kindergarten would be difficult for him so another year to mature is probably a good idea. This might be an awkward time to switch preschools. Unless he's unhappy, I'd personally probably keep him where he is and choose a more play-based or Montessori style preschool next year.

 

I hope some parents will respond as well. Good luck!

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#3 of 15 Old 03-14-2013, 08:28 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Regarding the chaotic comment, I meant it would be difficult for them to potentially do something different with him than the worksheets. We already have him signed up for a different preschool next year.

 

At his current school, they do about an hour of "home room" time, then an hour of "open" time where they can move between 3 or 4 rooms, playing, working on arts and crafts and sometimes other activities. The remaining time they go outside if it is nice or else return to their home room. It is offered through a church although the program is not religious based. 

 

There are Montessori schools near us but we cannot afford them. They are 3-4x more expensive than his current school. 

 

The preschool we chose for next year uses a program Handwriting without Tears which uses a manga doodle and some other approaches to writing other than sit here and practice writing. I don't know if that will be the prefect fit either but finances limit our options.


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#4 of 15 Old 03-14-2013, 08:34 AM
 
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Ack, no. It's not developmentally appropriate for preschoolers to be practicing letters on worksheets! I say this as a mom and a former preschool teacher. Writing should still be an option... a station they can go to "if they want." At that station, it should still be free form. My kids used to write letters or make cards for loved ones. Some kids would ask how to spell something or try to make correct letters. Others would scribble and we'd "translate" it underneath for them. We did a ton of dictation when I taught and more often than not, the child would want to write something on the page themselves... even if it was just their name. Worksheets are the weakest way to encourage a child's writing skills.... and boring to boot. I worked for a public state preschool (that has more academic kindergartens) and we weren't even ALLOWED to use worksheets at the preschool level... not even coloring pages.

 

The fact that he knows a lot he won't share with his teacher would make me question his placement too. Yes, some kids are naturally more reserved and won't share as much but in the environment you described, it's not going to get any better.

 

As to kindergarten, register him then wait and see. You can always withdraw if the start day approaches and he still seems too young. There is a ton of growth between 4 and 5. A good deal of it will happen in the spring and summer. Look around for some different preschool options. The one he's in now is not a good fit for him and is not teaching in a developmentally appropriate way.


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#5 of 15 Old 03-14-2013, 08:45 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Whatsnextmom - I should be more clear in that we are intending for him to go to a different preschool program next year and wait on kindergarten. If he weren't such an energetic kid, I think it would make the decision more difficult. I am also taking into account that our school district has full day kindergarten. 

 

Regarding being reserved, I don't think of him as being reserved. He's always been rather independent. As he has gotten older, I do notice him being a bit more shy with adults he doesn't know. So I am unsure if it is how he would be in school regardless or if it's because he's not comfortable.


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#6 of 15 Old 03-14-2013, 08:49 AM
 
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The preschool we chose for next year uses a program Handwriting without Tears which uses a manga doodle and some other approaches to writing other than sit here and practice writing. I don't know if that will be the prefect fit either but finances limit our options.

 

Handwriting Without Tears is a great program at all levels. At the preschool level, they play games, make shapes out of curved and straight line sticks, have fun with "mat man," use the magna-doodle along with magnetic pieces to form letters. They actually do little physical writing. I'd not have been happy if it were a requirement but from what I experienced with the program the last year I taught, most of the kids enjoyed it and voluntarily came to HWT activities.

 

My own kids used HWT at home... one because she wanted to learn cursive earlier than school was teaching, the other in the summer to keep his handwriting skills up (he's dysgraphic and so struggles to write legibly even at 12.... great typist though lol.)


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#7 of 15 Old 03-14-2013, 09:01 AM
 
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Whatsnextmom - I should be more clear in that we are intending for him to go to a different preschool program next year and wait on kindergarten. If he weren't such an energetic kid, I think it would make the decision more difficult. I am also taking into account that our school district has full day kindergarten. 

 

Regarding being reserved, I don't think of him as being reserved. He's always been rather independent. As he has gotten older, I do notice him being a bit more shy with adults he doesn't know. So I am unsure if it is how he would be in school regardless or if it's because he's not comfortable.

 

That's your choice but I will say I sent my energetic 4-year-old to full-day kindergarten and grateful we did. He was just as energetic at 5... still so at 12. He just learned how to focus it. Full Day kindergarten can actually be better for the younger child. Instead of 3 hours hyper-focused on academic work, they have more play time. DS had 3 recesses and a rest period. They had play stations (like legos) sprinkled among the academic stations. 

 

I do hope the new program is a better fit for him. Some kids are more people-pleasing than others. My eldest was always happy to share everything she knew with teachers and she is actually more naturally reserved in general. My youngest, didn't let his kindergarten teacher know he was a solid reader until end of the school year. She was so proud of what she "taught him" that I didn't have the heart to tell her he had been reading all along. He loved his teacher, he just didn't see the benefit of her knowing. He played kindergarten away. Had a blast. Come 1st grade, he really buckled down and has been a stellar student ever since (he's in 7th grade now.)


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#8 of 15 Old 03-14-2013, 12:52 PM
 
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Regarding the chaotic comment, I meant it would be difficult for them to potentially do something different with him than the worksheets. We already have him signed up for a different preschool next year.

 

 

 

With a ratio of 2 teachers to 11 students, it should not be at all chaotic or difficult to provide him with other activities for pre-writing and writing. You mention open play, so perhaps such activities are available. There is so much work that can be done without relying on pencil and paper. The teachers should be encouraging him to participate in this kind of work rather than worksheets. A short list of appropriate pre-writing exercises for pre-schoolers includes things like:  

 

- lacing

- beading

- using tongs to pick up small objects (can be part of a game) 

- keys and locks

- rolling and shaping playdough

- tracing with his finger on large cardboard cutout letters 

- writing shapes and letters in sand or cornmeal 

- fingerpainting 

 

I'm not familiar with Handwriting Without Tears. I don't know if it starts with or incorporates these kinds of activities. I'd much rather a preschool focus on them rather than pencil and paper work, particularly if my child was struggling with handwriting. 

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#9 of 15 Old 03-14-2013, 01:28 PM
 
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With a ratio of 2 teachers to 11 students, it should not be at all chaotic or difficult to provide him with other activities for pre-writing and writing. You mention open play, so perhaps such activities are available. There is so much work that can be done without relying on pencil and paper. The teachers should be encouraging him to participate in this kind of work rather than worksheets. A short list of appropriate pre-writing exercises for pre-schoolers includes things like:  

 

- lacing

- beading

- using tongs to pick up small objects (can be part of a game) 

- keys and locks

- rolling and shaping playdough

- tracing with his finger on large cardboard cutout letters 

- writing shapes and letters in sand or cornmeal 

- fingerpainting 

 

I'm not familiar with Handwriting Without Tears. I don't know if it starts with or incorporates these kinds of activities. I'd much rather a preschool focus on them rather than pencil and paper work, particularly if my child was struggling with handwriting. 

 

Yes, HWT does incorporate most everything you mentioned. The playdough shapes, the writing in shaving cream or cornmeal, finger painting, tracing shapes and letters, ect. With an program though, it's all in the interpretation. If a teacher chooses to focus on the act of writing as opposed to all the pre-writing activities the program expects a child to spend most of preschool on, then it could be inappropriate I suppose.


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#10 of 15 Old 03-14-2013, 01:41 PM
 
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Yes, HWT does incorporate most everything you mentioned. The playdough shapes, the writing in shaving cream or cornmeal, finger painting, tracing shapes and letters, ect. With an program though, it's all in the interpretation. If a teacher chooses to focus on the act of writing as opposed to all the pre-writing activities the program expects a child to spend most of preschool on, then it could be inappropriate I suppose.

 

So true. 

 

Thought of another good pre-writing exercise. The infamous Montessori silver polishing. Just what it sounds like - give your kid some silverware, polish (a paste of baking soda and water) and a Q-tip and a small cloth and let him at it. Some beeswax and a wooden object works too. 

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#11 of 15 Old 03-14-2013, 03:51 PM - Thread Starter
 
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With a ratio of 2 teachers to 11 students, it should not be at all chaotic or difficult to provide him with other activities for pre-writing and writing.

 

Do you mean have him work on something else while the other students are dong worksheets? Or at other times during the day?


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#12 of 15 Old 03-14-2013, 06:15 PM
 
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I'm a former pre-k to third grade teacher and education specialist. I'm also the mom of a boy who went to kindergarten for two years and a daughter who is currently in kindergarten.

If it was MY child, I would just withdraw him from the school. The way they are "teaching" handwriting is not developmentally appropriate. And most preschoolers aren't able to tell their addresses and it's not the end of the world if your DS really DIDN'T know all his shapes and colors. Most kids do ay that age, but those who don't pick it up quickly in kindergarten.

I love HWT. The preschool program is really hands-on and fun. There are songs and rhymes that go along with the program that the kids really love.
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#13 of 15 Old 03-14-2013, 06:44 PM
 
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With that ratio they should definitely have no problem having him work on another table activity during their writing time if they are willing to let him not do the writing. That is an amazingly low ratio for that age group. Most toddler rooms have higher ratios.

The low number of children might actually be part of the socializing problem. My DD struggled a lot when she was in a small school at a slightly older age when friendship options were limited and she had little in common with other kids. She blossomed again when she moved to a much larger school and there were many more options.

Can you have him.start the year in kindergarten then pull him after a month if it doesn't work for him?
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#14 of 15 Old 03-15-2013, 10:04 AM
 
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Do you mean have him work on something else while the other students are dong worksheets? Or at other times during the day?

 

I didn't realize that all students were doing deskwork at the same time. But yes, if that's the case, I think it's easy to allow some students to work on printables while others work on hand strength and fine motor control with quiet activities like lacing cards, polishing, tracing cardboard letters and placing them together to spell out words and so on. There's no reason that they can't have some differentiation. Particularly in a preschool where the students likely fall on a very wide spectrum of ability.

 

It also occurred to me that worksheets aren't entirely objectionable for preschoolers. Lots of preschoolers like to scribble on paper, trying their hand at printing, drawing, mazes, dot-to-dot pictures and colouring and other pencil/crayon and paper activities. There's no problem with simply offering this work and allowing children to participate if they enjoy it and choose to do so. The problem is with unrealistic, developmentally inappropriate expectations and discouraging assessments of writing skills. 

 

If the preschool has other reasons for insisting that all students do worksheets at the same time, then a lot of the problems would be eliminated if the teachers just didn't assess and criticize the output. I'm totally guessing, but maybe they want the students doing deskwork at the same time to "rehearse" for primary school. That's complete nonsense too, but that's a slightly different issue.  

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#15 of 15 Old 03-23-2013, 07:26 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My apologies for not seeing the responses sooner. I thought I had a subscription on this thread to notify me when someone responded.

 

One_girl - I can see you point about limited options. His class is more girls than boys: 7 girls to 4 boys. His class does mingle with the other afternoon class during open time. The other class is 12 students and I believe it is also more girls than boys. 

 

Polliwog - That is something my hubby and I discussed. But we are leaning towards not. We decided that me having a break is a benefit although with the fact that DS is getting a chance to socialize. Plus they have just two months left and we would have to give a month notice that we are pulling him out. 

 

Ollyoxenfree - I'm pretty sure that is how they do the worksheets: sit everyone down and have them practice writing. I am thinking about emailing his teacher and stating since she keeps writing "very teacher directed" on his sheets that it seems the worksheets aren't working for his learning style and what has she done in the past with students that didn't click with the worksheets. That way I put the ball in her court.

 

In regards to ability, my son is the youngest student in the class: he turned 4 at the beginning of the year but many of his classmates are turning 5 this year. We went to a birthday party last weekend and have another one next weekend.


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