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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So, I think DS going into 1st grade a year early might be a good idea. I thought I might need to get all my ducks in a row about this, so I've been working on doing what I need to this year. Fortunately his preschool/kindergarten is OK with not deciding whether he'll be a kindergartener next year before registering him for school, they are happy to put it off for a while.

The thing is in this process I've been told I need to write a letter to the board of ed explaining why DS should be allowed early entry into 1st grade. I've been asked to explain why I think DS is different.

The problem is, I'm not really all that good with words. Seriously, this is as good as it gets. What I type here on MDC is the hight of my eloquence. Why in the world should DS's need for acceleration be based on the ability of an exhausted dyslexic mommy?

Some how when I started this process I thought the decision would be based on evaluating DS not on evaluation of me. [sarcasm] Though I suppose I should be flattered that it's all about me[/sarcasm]
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Ah, you've uncovered the ages old issue with the inequality of the way the world works.....

* you have to be aware of choices
* you have to act on choices/opportunities
* the best way to work the system is to be born to intelligent people who know how to work the system

I read recently that the most important factor in whether or not a child will attend college is whether his or her parents did. Doesn't that suck?

All that said.. get a friend to help you or maybe your spouse. If you believe this is right for your son... get going, mama!
 

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I kind of feel that way about elementary schools that rely heavily on homework to teach basic skills. Have written work time in school already, who wants to know what the parents are capable of.
Well, in this case, your DS is probably too young to write the letter himself...you mentioned that he has made great strides in writing recently so you could include a short note, I suppose, saying "I really want to go to first grade to learn..." um, whatever they'll be doing in first grade that he hasn't mastered already. Will your letter be the be-all and end-all or are you really applying for an evaluation/start of some kind of assessment process? If so, you probably don't even need to write all that much.
How about asking his pre-school for a written assessment report to base your letter on? You could just include it or take ideas/phrases from it. Has he ever been assessed by any kind of professional, with a written report? Can you ask a teacher friend what they'd like to read if they were called on to make that decision? Maybe the school board can give you a short outline as in "we really like to read about x". "The children we have entered early demonstrated..." etc.
If it helps any, I really enjoy your posts and get a lot out of them! What your DS can do really speaks for itself, too. A letter just describing this should be plenty persuasive. Good luck! I am already thinking about entering DS early into first grade (K is a pull-out program in pre-school) and am worrying about it already. The application process for first grade seems to be pretty straightforward (simple request, agreement by the principal, and it's only a matter of a couple weeks after the cutoff and I hear they are cool about that) but I need to talk the pre-school into accepting him into the K program early, too, and as far as I know there is no formal route. Just me being persuasive and the head teacher being agreeable. I really want them to come up with it, though, not have it be reliant on whether I am persuasive.
 

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I also think your writing is just fine! Seriously, I doubt they're expecting a Shakespearean sonnet. Since you're worried, why not enlist the help of a few friends? Sometimes its easier to write when you have someone to bounce ideas off of. I do this often when I write- do you think I should start with this idea, or do it that way instead? Hey Sally, how would you describe DS? etc. Once you have a rough draft, have some people whose writing skills you trust go over it and correct it for you, and help you with form etc.

If you truly hate writing, you can even dictate it to someone else (a technique I used often as a teenager- I was full of ideas, but despised writing them down, so when, say, my scout troop wanted me to compose thank you letters for us to send out, I'd agree, but only if someone else did the writing!) Actually, not having to worry about the writing left me free to contemplate the contents of the letters more thoroughly, you might try that, if the writing is what gets you but the ideas are there?

In any case, I'm sure you'll do fine. There's nothing wrong with your writing. I wouldn't have ever known you dont consider yourself a good writer, you really cant tell from your writing.
 

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Can you write it as well as you can then pass it to a friend who has the kind of writing skills you wish you had and have him/her do a rewrite for you? I think if I were doing it I would also get other letters of recommendation. Maybe his teacher or pediatrician or any other professional who knows your son well enough to speak as to why he needs to be in 1st grade.
You'll do great! I know you will!
 

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Aw,
I know (from my years with DH) how stressful it is having to write when you are dyslexic. But in this case, I doubt very much that they're going to be judging your eloquence, which, by the way, is far better than average. They probably just want, in writing, a list of the reasons for the proposed grade skip, and you're the logical choice for the author. So, write a sentence stating the purpose of the letter, list the reasons (in bullet points, if you like), and conclude with a sentence thanking them for their consideration.
 

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I can't advise you on the content too much, but I am a professional editor and would be happy to help you polish the letter. PM me if you're interested.
 

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You've been asked to explain why he is different.
That doesn't necessarily you have to do all that explaining in your own words.
;-)

I'm sure some verbage from you along with examples of work that shows how much farther ahead he is, would help to cement your argument far better than just words.

Tammy
 

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Generally, I think the school board is trying to provide an opportunity for input to parents, who presumably are most familiar with a student and have the most insight and understanding of their abilities. Most parents leap at the chance to participate in the process.

If you are really troubled by their request for written input, perhaps you could request a meeting and an opportunity to make your case orally.

There are many professional educational advocates out there. You can hire them to help you navigate the process with educational authorities. If you really dislike doing it yourself, perhaps this is another option for you. If you can't find an educational advocate (often they are teachers, former school trustees, or other parents with a lot of knowledge and experience with the various school systems), then you could hire a lawyer or paralegal to help you. It's not really necessary though. The school board just wants to know what grounds exist for the decision you are asking. They aren't expecting an PhD thesis - just a simple outline of what he is capable of doing, and why you think a particular grade/class/program/school is the most suitable for him. It isn't an evaluation of you, it is an evaluation of him - but if you don't tell them, how will they know? Would you really be happy if it was left entirely with the teacher/school, and you were not allowed to provide any input into the decision?
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by ollyoxenfree View Post
Generally, I think the school board is trying to provide an opportunity for input to parents, who presumably are most familiar with a student and have the most insight and understanding of their abilities. Most parents leap at the chance to participate in the process.

Yep, it's now de rigueur in progressive education circles to honour and encourage parental input. So, they solicit info from parents as part of good practice.

Bullet points should be just fine, and I think samples of work would be perfect.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Quote:

Originally Posted by dessismama View Post
Remember they are not asking for a PhD thesis, you can certainly write something coherent...

I know I can manage coherent, but what about persuasive?

Unfortunately examples of his work come down to organizational skills. I know that somewhere in this house is the sheet of paper he wrote letters on when he was 2 1/4 yo, but for the life of me I don't know where. My husbband put it somewhere when he decided there was too much stuff on the refridgerator. Assuming he didn't throw it out (don't ask how often he throws important things out
.)

In general though, we don't have much on paper, when we do math we use the black board and his fine motor skills aren't exactly great. He goes to a Montessori school, so again very little that involves paper.
 

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Could you get a list of the things kids should know when they make the move from kindergarten to first grade and ask his Montessori teachers to sign off that they've observed him do those things?

Or even just
"Dear school system,

My son can do the following:
list of skills

This demonstrates that he is ready for first grade.

Sincerely,
Eepster"

Start by assuming they'll take your word for it, because that's going to be a much more pleasant way to interact with the school. Only move to developing a portfolio if they give you grief, and at that point I'd definitely work to get his current teachers and his potential future teacher on your side.

For that matter, since he is ready for 1st grade, it shouldn't be horribly difficult for him to write out things as you request. But don't do it unless they ask for proof.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Not that any of this is an emergency, considering it's over a year before he would start 1st grade if he goes early. I do have time to work on this.

It really is pretty unfair though. While a child's ability is often somewhat related to a parents ability both b/c of genetics and b/c of what the parent values and provides, there are many reasons a certain child's ability level might greatly out pace the parents ability to express and advocate for. In our case it is my dyslexia, which we can probably work around (thanks for all the offeres of help, but I think it'll b a few months before I'm ready to take people up on those,) but for some parents who don't speak much English, or who never got much education themselves these obstacles most likely turn into a very solid brick wall.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by eepster View Post
I know I can manage coherent, but what about persuasive?

Unfortunately examples of his work come down to organizational skills. I know that somewhere in this house is the sheet of paper he wrote letters on when he was 2 1/4 yo, but for the life of me I don't know where. My husbband put it somewhere when he decided there was too much stuff on the refridgerator. Assuming he didn't throw it out (don't ask how often he throws important things out
.)

In general though, we don't have much on paper, when we do math we use the black board and his fine motor skills aren't exactly great. He goes to a Montessori school, so again very little that involves paper.
Writing letters at 2 1/4 has nothing to do with starting grade 1 early.

Look up the kindergarten goals, ask the current teacher what she realistically expects the current class will actually be doing at the end of the year and then state how your son can already do those things.

I would think that those things are what they will be interested in.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Quote:

Originally Posted by JL83 View Post
Writing letters at 2 1/4 has nothing to do with starting grade 1 early.

Look up the kindergarten goals, ask the current teacher what she realistically expects the current class will actually be doing at the end of the year and then state how your son can already do those things.

I would think that those things are what they will be interested in.
I had figured the state goals for end of kindergarten were just a bare minimum, not really what most of the class has achieved level. I read somewhere (was it here?) that for skipping to be advisable the student should be in the top 90% of student in the new grade level. I'm not sure where to get that information from. DS is the only student at his current school who lives in this school district. I'm not sure if his teachers really know where he is in comparison to students here. At the first conference back in November they said he was working on their kindergarten level.

I think he may be working on a higher level at home though. The other day when I picked him up from school on of his teachers mentioned that he read the Bob books to her, which he finished reading to me well over a year ago. This year he's just been working so hard at behaving in school I'm not sure he's done much in the way of academics (it's a Montessori so he can choose what he wants to do, so he can choose practical life or sensory stuff if he doesn't feel like academics.)

Part of all this is I'm not sure if the skip is what DS needs, and I was hoping that I would get more guidance in this from the school system since they know what they expect from their first graders better than I do. I
 

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I wish I had more advise for you but I'm not experienced in this area.

I will say that finding out what is expected in 1st would probably help.
It can be very different depending on the school.

My dd is in first grade and in the fall was expected to do a research project for science. It had to include a written portion, visual part and an oral presentation.
And yesterday she brought home the test she took on Harriet Tubman and George Washington Carver.

But then in my dd's friend's school (which is only 5 miles away and in the same county) they aren't required to do anything near that.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by eepster View Post
So, I think DS going into 1st grade a year early might be a good idea....
The problem is, I'm not really all that good with words. Seriously, this is as good as it gets. What I type here on MDC is the hight of my eloquence. Why in the world should DS's need for acceleration be based on the ability of an exhausted dyslexic mommy?

You are fine with words. They aren't going to decide what to do based on your letter. Your letter just gets the ball rolling. You just need to organize your thoughts about why you think it is a good idea *for them to consider* bumping him up. You can do that right here and then cut and paste.

In general, I think skipping is a bad idea. I believe that *most* kids are best off with their age mates.

Just explain why (to me) why you think your child is one of those very few who should be with kids a year older. We'll help you organize those thoughts into something you can put in a letter. To convince me, you need to convince me that your son is advanced in math and reading, is advanced in fine and gross motor skills, learns new information more quickly than average, and has social skills that are higher than average.
 
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