pre-school questions - advice sought - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 4 Old 03-05-2002, 12:35 AM - Thread Starter
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Well, I've lurked long enough. I just read MotherWoman's post from November, and I have some similar questions. My son is 3.5 and has been attending a pre-school cooperative 3 mornings/wk since last year. His bday is in early September, which the first year made him the youngest in the class. He wasn't talking at the time he started (we did early intervention and did signing with him - he has always been quite communicative - but he was one of those kids who at 2.5 just started talking in sentences and hasn't taken a breath since).

He also happens to be a 'slow to warm up' child (much like his parents), and learns in a very observant, analytical way. This is unlike many of the boys in his class, who are much more physical in their play. He is extremely interested in how things are put together, and especially fascinated by all things electronic -- he has startled many an adult with his talk of tungsten filaments and flourescent lights.

Last year, we conferenced with the teachers in the classroom over keeping him in the 2/3 class another year. I have to say that much against my gut instinct, I (we) did as they suggested and kept him in that class. Their concerns were social ones - and the fact that he hadn't talked until late in the school year (which of course affected the social aspects of his play). This year, he is the oldest child in the class, and in his development, I think has missed out on not being with his former classmates.

We're at the decision-making point again, and I just observed both the 3/4 and the 4/5 (pre-K) classes. It wasn't any surprise to me when I saw what was going on in either group, but it made me perturbed to see his cohort from last year at the point they are at - I think he would have been challenged in a positive way from them - and some of them seem younger than him (I've also seen him in his present class, as we parent-help as part of the coop - so I've seen him with this present group).

The 2/3 lead teacher seems hell-bent on convincing us to put him in the 3/4 class next year and I am having the same gut feeling as last year. I feel like in many ways, it is a philisophical difference in how we approach things. I know that my son responds really well to challenges and doesn't frustrate easily. I also know that he is acutely aware of his age and has repeatedly expressed his desire to go to the 4/5 class. I haven't heard their complete rationale for things (we're meeting next week), but don't really 'get' why a kid who is at or above his developmental stages in all categories (and yes, he's been assessed) should not be moved to what would be his natural class. I'm also concerned about the kindergarten question for when he is 5. I really think it's going to be a setup if he is held back until he's 6 (he already knows his ABCs, is ready for pre-reading, counts to 30, etc.)

I also feel that there is a gender-bias going on - I was much the same as he was when I was young and it was actually to my benefit, because being a quiet, academically proficient girl was good - I wasn't expected to be rambunctous, and my social shyness, which I outgrew, didn't concern anyone. With him, I feel that because he's not a rowdy boy, he's getting pegged.

I've also rambled enough -- and would love to just get some general feedback and support -- I know it's 'just pre-school', but i don't think this issue, given his birth date, will be going away anytime soon.
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#2 of 4 Old 03-05-2002, 02:22 AM
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I would pay close attention to the fact that he is aware of being held back and the effect that this will have on his self esteem. If he is operating within the norms for his age, and there is a wide range of what is 'normal', I don't see why he should be kept back.

I've been reading the research about keeping children back a grade level, and it seems that there is no conclusive evidence that it is a positive thing. Children in the studies still progressed at their own rate. Challenge for children to learn needs to be at the right level - hard enough to make them think, but not too hard so that they experience constant failure. A good preschool should be based on play and experiences where the child's individual needs are met, so a very wide range of challenge within activities should be offered.

Personally, this year I'd go with my gut instinct and put him in his right class. Or have you considered the option of moving schools and starting again if you can't agree with this staff?

Hope this is of some help!
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#3 of 4 Old 03-05-2002, 10:24 AM
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I would move him where you believe he should be. If it doesn't work, you can always change it, though I strongly suspect he will be fine. You know your son best, dont forget that!
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#4 of 4 Old 03-05-2002, 10:29 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for your reply - yes, I am concerned about the hit to his self-esteem it would be holding him back, especially since he's so aware of his age range. I've read a lot of the research too and have both short and long-term concerns about holding 'normal' children back.

I have expressed concern to his dad that we may want to choose another pre-school - there are plenty of excellent choices where we're located.

We've never been pushy parents with him - he's still nursing, co-sleeping...and both his dad and I have tried to create a very child-centered environment for him - we have arranged our schedules so that either dad or mom is with him at any point in the day - so we feel we know him very well and the challenges he can (and can't) accept. Therefore, it makes me feel especially nutty when we're made to feel like we're being pushy from a teacher who spends 9 hours a week with him.

In any case, thanks for the support - I really appreciate it!
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