Pre-kindergarden - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 17 Old 03-07-2017, 08:20 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Pre-kindergarden

My SS is starting school in September.

I'm going to preface this by saying I'm trying not to get involved, because SS has 2 parents, and I'm not it. Not because I don't want to get involved, but because I respect that the parents are being parents, and I'm just dad's fiancee.

For the record, he doesn't mind the idea that I act as "2nd mother", but I'd really rather not give any reason for conflict between dad and bio-mom unless I really feel necessary that I jump in, since the kid does live part time in my home and we all share space, after all.

I have a lot of concerns... and they're generally due to my comparison of my own kids and SS. I know I shouldn't compare the kids, but I worry because of it. I'd be equally worried if SS was mine.

SS will be 4 in June.

SS is freshly potty trained. Underwear as of last week, and a few accidents - still has a pull up at night.

Mine were day trained by 2, and overnight trained by 3. Ok - comparing... I get that kids train at different times. No biggie.

But, I stepped in - I suggested to SO that we make a sticker chart for SS, because SO kept pleading with SS to use the potty and SS wasn't having it.... I gave SO my parenting experience - told him what worked for me... up to him if he wanted to try, he did, and now SS is "trained" come one week later.

Frankly I was just tired of the constant smell of diapers in my garbage.

I'm concerned that SS doesn't really know his letters, numbers, etc... and again, I realize all kids do things differently... but my kids could identify them all by the time they were 3 years old. They started sounding out letter combinations for small words like cat or dog. They could also control a pencil enough to follow on dotted lines... SS can't even draw a circle. Forget writing his name.

SO doesn't really spend time with SS doing that kind of thing, whereas I spent a lot of time with my kids playing around with letters and numbers etc...

SS needs to know all his letters/numbers by the time school starts. He also needs to know how to write his own name.

that's less than 6 months away... and I'm not convinced he will get it... Not because I don't think he can, but because I know that SO doesn't really do it with SS... and his mom, well... I'm pretty convinced she doesn't do much with SS other than plop him down in front of cartoons.

So - I bought him some little work books. SO looked interested, SS looked excited.. it's been a few days and they haven't been touched.

Is it crossing the line if I get involved and spend some time with SS with these little booklets? Am I worrying about stuff that doesn't concern me?

If SS were my kid, I'd have done this type of thing a long time ago... and I don't want to come across like I'm criticizing SO's parenting... I get that we all do things differently.
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#2 of 17 Old 03-07-2017, 09:17 AM
 
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This can be much more an issue of educational philosophy than parenting style and effectiveness. Who says a child "needs to" know all their letters and numbers and how to write their name before starting pre-kindergarten? Is there an admission exam?

I am the mom to some kids who were constitutionally driven to be academic early achievers. I was a little taken aback by how driven they were to learn this stuff and how little interest they had for typical kid stuff like pretend-play and mess-making, but I felt that it was my job to support them in their natural inclinations so I happily supported them with resources and opportunities. We had some family friends whose kids were every bit as bright but who were far more focused on social and imaginative learning; in many ways they were the polar opposite of my kids. Again, their parents wanted to support their natural learning interests and not push them to do certain things just because other kids tended to do those things. The kids were academic late-bloomers by any definition; one of the girls didn't really start reading until she was 10.

All the kids, theirs and mine, grew up happy, well-adjusted, bright and capable. They're all in high school and college now, all super high achievers and scholarship award-winners. The common factor wasn't early milestones; it was parental willingness to celebrate and enrich their natural learning inclinations at every stage without regard for what was supposedly 'desirable' based on age-normed achievement-oriented targets.

There is nothing wrong with comparing kids and noticing differences. The problem comes when you begin judging certain learning trajectories as better and more valid just because some shallow early benchmarks are met sooner. When you do that you risk devaluing the child (and by extension his parents) for who he is and how he learns. I would encourage you to stop seeing the early years as a race through milestones. Broaden your philosophy of education to put value on breadth, depth, integration, solidity and individual learning style and interests rather than forward speed. The early years should be about growing and learning in an unhurried and holistic fashion, free of external agendas. Enjoy your stepson for who he is and where he's at.

Miranda

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#3 of 17 Old 03-07-2017, 09:28 AM - Thread Starter
 
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This can be much more an issue of educational philosophy than parenting style and effectiveness. Who says a child "needs to" know all their letters and numbers and how to write their name before starting pre-kindergarten? Is there an admission exam?
Yes - he needs to know these things before school. The school says so... haha sorry I wasn't clear.

I don't want to do anything that will risk having SO think he's not doing a good enough job. At the same time, I want to do these things with SS because I want to... and I think it would be good for him... but, it's not really my place...right?
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#4 of 17 Old 03-07-2017, 09:36 AM
 
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I would suggest that this is not a developmentally appropriate pre-K program, then. I would find a different program. Just my opinion. The only pre-K programs we ever considered were focused on play, social development and creativity.

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#5 of 17 Old 03-07-2017, 10:04 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I would suggest that this is not a developmentally appropriate pre-K program, then. I would find a different program. Just my opinion. The only pre-K programs we ever considered were focused on play, social development and creativity.

Miranda
I don't disagree with you... but it is the way it is, nothing I can do about that. The schooling choices are what they are.
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#6 of 17 Old 03-08-2017, 03:33 AM
 
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I agree with mooninmama. If a child has to know all these things before arriving at school, what is the point of school at that age?

Social/emotional development is a much higher priority for children to do well in school than are letters and numbers. Children naturally learn these things when they have adequate support and are emotionally nourished. Unless they just genetically are wired differently, have a learning disability or are struggling not to because of issues with defiance.

I would urge you for a little while to learn as much as you can about child development and the many many individual variations there are, rather than just comparing him to your children. Become more curious about why he is developing the way he is rather than being sure you know the answers.

This is pre-K after all. He is a 3 yr old. There is no make or break here, no possibility of missed chances, unless he has autism but you haven't suggested that at all.

I would agree that the primary focus of a developmentally appropriate preK program should be play: learning to develop imaginations, sharing, turn taking, complex social interactions. "Academics" should not be part of it. If you want to have some influence over the child, talk to SO about the option of a more appropriate preschool. I promise you that a larger focus on social emotional development and play WILL pay the child back in later years and those dividends will be academic in nature.

I think you should let up on this situation, to be frank. It is so easy to think we know how to fix things, when a little curiosity and wondering would be bettter.

 











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#7 of 17 Old 03-08-2017, 07:01 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I agree with mooninmama. If a child has to know all these things before arriving at school, what is the point of school at that age?

Social/emotional development is a much higher priority for children to do well in school than are letters and numbers. Children naturally learn these things when they have adequate support and are emotionally nourished. Unless they just genetically are wired differently, have a learning disability or are struggling not to because of issues with defiance.

I would urge you for a little while to learn as much as you can about child development and the many many individual variations there are, rather than just comparing him to your children. Become more curious about why he is developing the way he is rather than being sure you know the answers.

This is pre-K after all. He is a 3 yr old. There is no make or break here, no possibility of missed chances, unless he has autism but you haven't suggested that at all.

I would agree that the primary focus of a developmentally appropriate preK program should be play: learning to develop imaginations, sharing, turn taking, complex social interactions. "Academics" should not be part of it. If you want to have some influence over the child, talk to SO about the option of a more appropriate preschool. I promise you that a larger focus on social emotional development and play WILL pay the child back in later years and those dividends will be academic in nature.

I think you should let up on this situation, to be frank. It is so easy to think we know how to fix things, when a little curiosity and wondering would be bettter.
I often wondered the same thing - if the parents have to "teach" the child things that "should" be learned in pre-k, why bother with pre-k?

That is just the way it is where I live. They must be able to recognize all the letters and numbers to 10, be able to write their name, and be potty trained, in order to be able to enter pre-k.

I don't think he's autistic. He doesn't show any signs that there may be an issue.

I have "some" experience with child development, limited to approximately 4 years of running an in-home daycare, about 10 years ago, but no real formal education on it.

I just want good things for the kid, and I feel like I can help.

SO does think the kid might be bi-polar... he says BM is, although she doesn't take anything... I'm not convinced she's bi-polar, she just seems like a bit of a...moody witch.

I bought the booklets, SO has seen them, he said he'd give it a go, and I'll leave it at that.
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#8 of 17 Old 03-08-2017, 08:42 AM
 
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That is just the way it is where I live. They must be able to recognize all the letters and numbers to 10, be able to write their name, and be potty trained, in order to be able to enter pre-k.
I would venture to guess that there's a lot more variability in approaches and expectations where you live than you think. I'd bet that of the parents in your social sphere, the more vocal ones are spouting this hurried-child approach to early academic learning. But there are probably people you don't know, or who aren't so vocal and achievement-oriented who are quietly doing the early years very differently. There are always parents taking a more child-led, developmental, Waldorf/Reggio/Steiner/Forest-School type approach, choosing small co-op or alternative preschools, opting to homeschool, or simply giving pre-K a miss.

I would focus on supporting his happiness and his social and emotional growth. That is all. Keep the big picture in view, and gently encourage his dad to do the same.

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#9 of 17 Old 03-09-2017, 03:07 AM
 
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Yes, I was going to suggest you do a search and see what independent school there are in your area. Even if you have to go a bit further afield than your suburb or state school catchment area. We drive past four other schools on the way to our DDs school, which is 45 minutes away, up a mountain

To give you some idea of the alternative viewpoint, at the Steiner school they go to they do no academic work at all for the first three years. The only requirement, of the ones you mentioned, is that they be mostly independent with toileting. The year they turn seven they enter class one and begin academic work starting with the alphabet. They don't learn to read until class three (the year they turn nine).


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#10 of 17 Old 03-09-2017, 07:43 AM - Thread Starter
 
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You all may be right.

When my kids went to school, this was the information I received directly from the school, so I went with it.

There are Montessori schools in my area - I can afford for SS to go there, but his dad and bio-mom can't afford it, so while I'd be happy to contribute a portion, there's no way I'm paying for it.

Not learning to read until age 9? Seriously? My youngest (she's 11) has been required to read since grade 1... at 6 years old... they learn to read in kindergarden/grade 1... but grade 3 (age 9) they're expected to read/answer text based comprehension questions...
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#11 of 17 Old 03-09-2017, 08:48 AM
 
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Not learning to read until age 9? Seriously? My youngest (she's 11) has been required to read since grade 1... at 6 years old... they learn to read in kindergarden/grade 1... but grade 3 (age 9) they're expected to read/answer text based comprehension questions...
What happens with the Steiner (or Scandinavian) approach is that a lot of children learn to read spontaneously prior to being taught, and those who just weren't wired to developmentally pick reading up prior to age 7 or 8 (the 10-30% who end up in 'reading recovery programs' in the US) don't end up feeling like failures. Dyslexia rates tend to be dramatically lower, and literacy rates and academic achievement tend to be higher, with the delayed-reading approach. Oh, and it is typical for delayed-reading-instruction kids to close the gap on those who started years earlier in as little as 6-12 weeks. Developmental readiness is an amazing thing!

Instead the first couple of years of schooling can really focus on building a strong foundation in memory, concepts and thinking skills instead of just trying to prod the literacy skills forward. School time is spent developing things like critical thinking, aural memory, patterning and movement, music, rhythm, art, theatre poetry and story-telling, pro-social behaviour, naturalistic learning... When schools focus on accelerated academics, a lot of other stuff gets missed.

No required.

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#12 of 17 Old 03-09-2017, 09:30 AM
 
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I feel sorry for any kid caught in the framework of this type of early education, but that doesn't seem to be your question. Can you ask SO if he'd mind if you did this with SS? I wouldn't suggest this if SS hadn't seemed excited by seeing the books, but you say he did.
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#13 of 17 Old 03-10-2017, 07:52 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I feel sorry for any kid caught in the framework of this type of early education, but that doesn't seem to be your question. Can you ask SO if he'd mind if you did this with SS? I wouldn't suggest this if SS hadn't seemed excited by seeing the books, but you say he did.
That type of education is the norm where I live... lol It was never really in question before, but it's sure something I'm thinking about now.

I've spoken with SO about it, he hasn't touched the books yet... but I was flipping through one when SS was there, and SS wanted to do stuff... so I started with it... but then had to finish cooking dinner, so SO took over for a little while...then dropped off when SS got interested in doing other things.

I'll do it, but not push it.
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#14 of 17 Old 03-29-2017, 12:20 PM
 
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So much weight on technical skills... just let kids be kids
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#15 of 17 Old 04-08-2017, 04:26 AM
 
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I would say work on different things with your kid and maybe the other child will find some interest in it and want to join in. Our school is more focused on theme based teaching and so a lot of times I tried to let students decide if they want to do anything extra or if they just want to meet the bare minimum (i.e. coloring one side vs two sides). I agree with jasmin1990, just let kids be kids, they really don't get to do that anymore with all the pressure we give them when they grow older.
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#16 of 17 Old 07-07-2017, 05:06 AM
 
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My DD started recognising a few letters and numbers from about 3.5 thanks to the Vaughan child care she attended. Now aged 5 and six months off school I'd say she's about average - she recognises a few words, basically knows the alphabet and sounds and numbers up to 20.
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#17 of 17 Old 07-07-2017, 09:10 AM
 
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I wanted to comment on the 'toilet training' issue. My kids were potty users from a young age because they were ec'd from birth (oldest from age 9mths)
(ec-elimmination communication-where you watch the baby's signals and put them over a potty)

If you're not doing ec, then avoiding pressure and shaming on a diaper trained child seems to be the most sensible approach to me. (ie, babies are trained to use diapers)


Also, children have different temperaments and become potty ready at different ages.

I sense from your post, that the potty training issue is more about your intolerance of diapers, than about the child's best interest.

Are you paying for the diapers? Are you personally having to deal with their disposal?

If either, then maybe let your partner know its his responsibility not yours.
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