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Discussion Starter #1
My daughter is five weeks into kindergarten, and I think she is getting frustrated. She's a people pleaser so she's not going to say anything at school. She is spending oodles of time coloring all the pictures that begin with M on a sheet. They are looking messier and messier. She brought home the first of the books that they made, designed to teach the sight word I. She shrugged and said, "Aren't you glad that I made this? It's just right for [brother who is three]!"

At open house, her teacher talked about how almost none of the students have a one to one correspondance between words and text, reading text that they know by heart. The next day, I asked my daughter to read an unfamiliar text and point to the words. She just flicked her finger under them. Uh oh. They aren't planning to test her reading level until January.

She's happily reading Roald Dahl, Beverly Cleary, Laura Ingalls Wilder, and similar. She writes sentences that I can read easily. I haven't done much of anything with her on math, but she can count to 100 by ones, twos, tens, and probably fives. She understands addition and subtraction and can do basic problems in her head. I have been telling myself that it's not that uncommon because her best friend is similar, a little less reading, a little more writing, a little more workbooky interest, a little less science interest, but roughly on par. Her friend is in a different school district and they just skipped her into first. I'm not saying that that's what I want, but I think something needs to change.

I hesitate to say something, but I think I really need to. I was thinking that I would send the teacher an email about what she was doing last year and does at home and tell her that I wanted to discuss this at our upcoming conference in a few weeks. Is that crazy?
 

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My daughter is five weeks into kindergarten, and I think she is getting frustrated. She's a people pleaser so she's not going to say anything at school. She is spending oodles of time coloring all the pictures that begin with M on a sheet. They are looking messier and messier. She brought home the first of the books that they made, designed to teach the sight word I. She shrugged and said, "Aren't you glad that I made this? It's just right for [brother who is three]!"

At open house, her teacher talked about how almost none of the students have a one to one correspondance between words and text, reading text that they know by heart. The next day, I asked my daughter to read an unfamiliar text and point to the words. She just flicked her finger under them. Uh oh. They aren't planning to test her reading level until January.

She's happily reading Roald Dahl, Beverly Cleary, Laura Ingalls Wilder, and similar. She writes sentences that I can read easily. I haven't done much of anything with her on math, but she can count to 100 by ones, twos, tens, and probably fives. She understands addition and subtraction and can do basic problems in her head. I have been telling myself that it's not that uncommon because her best friend is similar, a little less reading, a little more writing, a little more workbooky interest, a little less science interest, but roughly on par. Her friend is in a different school district and they just skipped her into first. I'm not saying that that's what I want, but I think something needs to change.

I hesitate to say something, but I think I really need to. I was thinking that I would send the teacher an email about what she was doing last year and does at home and tell her that I wanted to discuss this at our upcoming conference in a few weeks. Is that crazy?
Don't be afraid to talk to the teacher but don't do it on email. Set-up a conference ASAP. Bring in samples of your DD's work from home including the last couple books she read. The general conference is usually not the best place to introduce this issue as you are often limited in time and there are sometimes certain routines the teacher has to follow.

Acceleration can be a good tool but I understand your hesitation. There are other things that can be done though their success will depend heavily on your DD's personality. If she prefers to do things on her own, differentiated curriculum could work. If there are other staff members available, some one-on-one time can be great (like if this is half day kindie and the afternoon teacher is available to help in the morning kindie class.) Computer access for when she's done with the regular work is OK for some kids. Subject acceleration where she goes to 1st grade for academics may be possible.

You don't say what conversations you've had with your child. How does she actually feel about school?
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I had a couple of talks with her since she is home today. Out of curiosity, I asked her to skip count, compare numbers, answer little word problems, and add. She is even better at it than I had realized. I certainly didn't teach her all that. I asked her if she enjoyed doing those sorts of things. Yes, she does. Would she like to be doing it in school? Shrug.

I asked her about what she thought of her friend moving up. She said, "I think she likes it. I'm happy because she likes it."

I asked her what she likes best about kindergarten and she said, "Art and Computer." I asked her what she liked least and she said, "Nothing." Do I leave it alone even though her work is looking increasingly careless? Does she not realize that it is possible to learn AT school?
 

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You said in your first post that you think she is getting frustrated. If she's telling you that, or if you think she's displaying behaviour that could be the result of frustration, then I'd definitely arrange a conference. Otherwise I'd be inclined to wait for whatever normal parent-teacher communication opportunities are scheduled -- on the assumption that there's something normally arranged for the fall.

Miranda
 

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First, why are you so hesitant to communicate with the teacher about what is going on? In reading your post, I feel like I'm missing something.

Second, there are tons of ways to address the issues beside full grade acceleration. Some schools will not consider a full grade acceleration at this point, and some will only do it after everything else has been tried. (Such as differentiation, subject acceleration, etc)

I see two different things here, and I feel like you have merged them into one thing:

1 - what your did is capable of outside of school, and how this affects her effort in school.

2 - what actions the adults in her life should take to remedy this.

Right now, you are refusing to be open about #1 . I don't understand that.

The second one is a really big question, but the person you need to have that conversation with is her teacher. It's a question, and one that may take time to find the answer. It may take trial and error.

But if you don't start with being honest, then you will never find the answer for your DD.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Honest? I am confused. How am I refusing to be honest? I haven't had more than a couple of polite words with this teacher. The system isn't really set up for that unless there is an issue. We have conferences on Election Day.

We're five weeks in. The first two were entirely given over to topics like sharing and personal space. The next two included basic assessments of the children. I thought I could just let them figure this out. It's a nice school. Suddenly, I am wondering if I should be more proactive in some way.

I guess your answer is that I am already late?
 

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Set up an appointment with the teacher. It's not too late at all. Your DD may, or may not, have shown her teacher what she knows. But, you won't know that unless you talk about it.
 

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You aren't too late. I'm one who has been best served letting the staff figure out my kids on their own. My eldest was noticed right off the bat but then, my eldest was highly public with her abilities and when she was unhappy in kindergarten, every single person knew without a doubt she shouldn't be there. However, my youngest LOVED kindergarten. He didn't want anything to disrupt the kindergarten experience he was enjoying to the point where his teacher recognized he was unusually intelligent but had no idea how skilled he was. He was careless because he wanted more time at the lego table. We chose not to say anything largely because it was a treat to have such a happy kindergartener. That and DS (who was 4 when he started) was NOT at all ready for the extended seat time in 1st grade despite being able to do the work easily. DS started pushing for challenge around 2nd grade and at that point, he did most of the advocating for himself.

It's really difficult to "give advice" sometimes. We don't know your child and so we read "frustration" and react based on what that meant in our own situations. If your child is happy, then waiting might be key. Not all gifted kids appreciate prescribed challenge at young ages. If it's ONLY the messy work you are seeing, it might not be as big a problem as you think. If what you are seeing is more extreme, talk to the teacher. You know your own child. I think what everyone here can agree on is that you have every RIGHT to talk to the teacher now if you are concerned over what you are seeing.
 

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Honest? I am confused. How am I refusing to be honest? ...

I guess your answer is that I am already late?
by acting like your DD's capabilities need to be a big secret from the teacher.

Ways one can communicate with a teacher:


  • email - this is my personal fav. Our district posts all teachers' email addresses on the web site.
  • phone - I find this tricky because the timing is often off, some people prefer it. While most teachers can't talk during the school day, they will return calls at the end of the day.
  • in person - briefly during pick up or drop off. Long enough to say, "There are a couple of things I'd like to talk to you about. Would you have time to talk one day this week after school for 15 minutes?

I don't think you are too late, but I don't understand why you are so hesitant to be open and honest with the teacher. Your DD is producing poor work, so the teacher isn't gong to figure out that she is capable of more. Your DD is becoming increasing unhappy and disengaged. They only person who can do anything to change any of this is the teacher, but you are telling us about rather than her.

We can't fix it.
 

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Your DD is producing poor work, so the teacher isn't gong to figure out that she is capable of more. Your DD is becoming increasing unhappy and disengaged.
It's interesting how different people can reach different conclusions when the evidence is minimal and second-hand. I read that her colouring had got messier, that's all. When asked the child couldn't come up with anything that she didn't like at school, and she only shrugged when asked if she would like the kind of challenge at school that her mom suggested. I'm not sure where you got the impression that she's unhappy and disengaged, but that's certainly not the impression I got.

So I suppose that's why the responses are all over the map here: we're reading the comment about messier colouring pages in very different ways. What matters is whether her dd is actually unhappy and disengaged, or whether she's enjoying her kindergarten experience and has simply decided that with the amount of colouring she's doing neatness is less important to her than it was during the first week.

Miranda
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I am updating in case anyone was curious. I emailed the teacher and asked to talk about an academic plan for her at our conferences. The teacher was nice and helpful and started modifying work immediately after the email. Now, rather than circling the pictures that begin with M, she is labeling the pictures. Rather than coloring sight word books, she is reading more complicated (but still not near what I think is her level) books and writing and illustrating an additional page to add to the story. Most of her work is being altered.

I have come to the conclusion that this is fine for now. Her work looks better. She is very happy in school. She has friends. She doesn't chafe under the work now that it has been altered. She gets to be the one who frequently walks people to the office and nurse.

The interesting wrinkle is that I have realized that her receptive language is much better than her expressive. They want her to be able to retell anything she reads with all important details, no unimportant details, and a discussion of character motivations. I feel like the teacher expects her to be a short third grader rather than a bright kindy student. All of her reading has been self-motivated and she refused to discuss it with me so she entered with little practice at this. A little work at home has gone a long way.
 

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I'm glad accommodations could be made and that your DD is happy!

It's typical in all young children for their receptive language to be higher than their expressive language. You'll have to keep in mind over the next couple years that in the school's eyes, a child is only as good a reader as they are able to express their knowledge of it. This isn't exactly a wrong approach but it could mean they'll put her in lower level books for a time until she can prove comprehension verbally and through her writing. That's not necessarily a bad thing and a good challenge for her in the mean time.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Yes, I get it now. How else could they possibly assess her reading level? It's not like they can watch her synthesize it in play. I just had a period of wondering if I was nuts when they told me where they thought her reading comprehension was. Then I realized that, of course, they weren't grading her comprehension, but her response. Basically, she was weird enough about answering questions that there was a huge gap between intake and output. She spent ages frequently refusing to answer questions and I freaked out worrying that she was actually unable to answer them. She has a little trouble with the concept of needing to prove what she knows to her teacher. She was the kid who looked at a worksheet asking her to draw a line from each animal to it's home, and said, "Why?" We've been working on it at home and she's well on her way. She had been getting end of kindergarten leveled things but the last book I saw was an end of first sort of level.

I spend some time worrying that her oddnesses will add up to something more, but she's lovely, if different, so I try not to stress about it.
 

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I spend some time worrying that her oddnesses will add up to something more, but she's lovely, if different, so I try not to stress about it.
I takes a LOT of oddness to add up to something else. The range of "a little different but normal" is bigger than most parents realize.


I have a kid who is both gifted and on the autism spectrum, and I'm working on my certification to teach special ed. Nothing in your posts sounds like a flag for a problem, just a very bright little girl who isn't convinced everything they do in school has a point for her. And she's right.
 

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She has a little trouble with the concept of needing to prove what she knows to her teacher. She was the kid who looked at a worksheet asking her to draw a line from each animal to it's home, and said, "Why?"
Haha! My kids were like this too! It was as if they felt like they were being accused of dishonesty: as if the adult/teacher in question was refusing to believe that they knew something, and therefore they were being called upon to prove it. If I happened to ask something like "Do you know what 7 times 8 is?" they'd answer "Yes," not to be smart-asses, just because they were answering my question honestly and literally. And if I said "Could you tell me what it is?" they'd get all irate that doubted their honesty. Or when my ds was really little, if I asked "What does a pig say?" he would furrow his brow and sternly reply "You know what a pig says." If I wanted to know what they could do, or what they understood, I had to rely on trust and observation, not interrogation.

My kids didn't go to school through their early years so we were able to side-step most of the evaluative mentality that they disliked. Trust and observation were enough in a home-based environment. They did eventually have to adjust, as they began taking lessons and classes. My eldest was unschooled until 10th grade when she started school. I remember watching her try to write her first short essay for some English Lit. assignment and even though at an intellectual level she understood that the assignment was about assessment of her learning, she had tremendous difficulty making her peace with just spewing out teacher-pleasing stuff just to show her understanding. She couldn't get past the idea that if you're going to write something it should be truly worth reading: as in, publishable and full of new interesting ideas that people would actually choose to read based on their literary merit and insight. There were tears. But at age 14 it took just that one assignment and a few hours of angst to get over it. I imagine it will be a more gradual process to adjust to this at age 5.

Still ... I don't think it's that unusual an attitude for a young child. I would think that for many kids, at least those who haven't grown up with relentless parental quizzing as an interactive style, it's a pretty normal getting-used-to-school thing. It's just more of an acute issue when knowledge and understanding aren't roughly where it's assumed they are.

Miranda
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Thanks, you all help me feel better. Homeschooling would definitely look different, and in some ways it would be an easier fit. In other ways, it would not. My daughter loves to get away from me. She loves having a secret life apart from me. She loves spending time with peers. Her outstanding displays of temper are saved for home. She will do anything the teacher asks without complaint. This sounds like we don't get along, but we really do. I think I am just where she dumps all her problems and frustrations.
 
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