Monday, July 02, 2007

Advice for Advanced Children in Kindergarten

From which I found on EduKey:

Q:MY SON turned 4 years old at the end of May. He will not be going to kindergarten until 2008. My mother heard a statistic that 90 percent of kindergarten children can count to 10 and know their ABCs. This concerns me because my son can count past 50 and write these numbers as well. He has known his ABCs since he was 2, can write all the letters and can spell and write many words. I am concerned about his going to kindergarten and being bored because he isn't given a challenge. At the same time, I don't want him to be overchallenged. Here is my question: How do I make sure that the kindergarten teacher will give him assignments that challenge him and are not too easy?
— Thinking Ahead

A: Your son will have even more skills by the time he gets to kindergarten. He might even be reading. Don't spend the next year and a half worrying about your child being bored in kindergarten.

Instead, wait and see what happens. More than likely, there will be other children in your son's class with comparable skills, since so many attend preschool. His teacher should have a curriculum to accommodate their needs.

Plus, class time is not just spent on reading and math skills, but also on interesting art, music, science and storytelling projects.

Give the teacher time to get to know the skill level of the students before deciding the curriculum is not right for your child. If it isn't, ask the teacher how you can work together to make it more appropriate for your child. Plus, you need to remember there will also be time in the day for you to challenge your child intellectually.

We are really concerned about the number of parents who are worried that their children will be bored in school. If children are finding interesting things to do at home without parental help, they are less likely to be bored at school.

This is such a poor answer. This woman has genuine concerns and the answer basically states "He's going to be even more advanced than you think. His teacher might help, if there are enough other kids with the same high skill set, but give her six weeks before you ask her. If she can't or won't help, just remember a good portion of his day is spent in non-academic areas (we won't mention play). Because he will be so far advanced and probably won't get any challenge in the areas you're concerned with, console yourself that you can send him to school for three hours to play and have art and then you will be responsible for the real learning at home. Besides, if he's bored at school it's really because it's your fault for guiding him and teaching him too much and you need to back off so he had to entertain himself."

What about real options? Like "Don't send him to a public school. The public schools are geared only to accommodate most average learners and occasionally more advanced or further behind learners, but only in reading group. Your son will basically be ignored because he already knows the material. Maybe the teacher will give him a special coloring sheet while the other kids go over stuff he learned two years before.

"A good alternative is a Montessori school. Montessori schools teach that level of skill to all of their pre-schools and pre-kindergarteners. Montessori schools also allow very advanced children to continue to move forward no matter where their other classmates are because the whole program is geared for individual learning and to foster a child's commitment to learning.

"Another possible alternative is to homeschool him. That way you can understand your child's abilities without waiting six weeks for a teacher assessment and you can give him the appropriate material without having to breathe down the teacher's throat."


Ryan said...

Alternatively, skip him to 1st grade. If the child has the skill set, why not?

Kim said...

Skipping a grade could be a good answer. I'll guarentee, however, that it will not be done voluntarily by the school system. The mother would need to start now for 2008. Even still the school will probably decide that his social immaturity will not warrant it even at the expense of his enjoyment of school. Many school systems do not even allow the possibility of skipping grades at all.

This site has some great advice, as well as a realistic approach.

Lisa said...

Have you started looking into what schools you have the option of sending him to? I know it's early, because you have another year... but since you're concerned now, you may want to start researching the schools near you.
My daughter turned 5 in June, and is starting kindergarten this year. Her preschool and pre-K teachers consistently told me that she was advanced, although I personally believe that she's well withing the range of what is "normal". When I mentioned concerns about her writing, reading, and math skills(normal first-time-parent concerns) about what skills she should have entering school, they told me that she was going to be fine... that they didn't expect incoming kindergarteners to be able to read at all, or to do any math... that they basically just needed the social skills to participate in the class. To which I responded "I know she'll be fine. I'm not concerned about whether or not she will meet the low expectations of the school district. I'm concerned that she's not doing what SHE is capable of". That's when I started looking at schools.

I'm a single mom and can't afford private school, but we found a charter school which seems perfect. Small classes, lots of individual attention, focus on personal responsibility and kids learning at their own pace. They do a lot outdoors (most of their science, and some math), at all ages (the school is K-12). Lots of hands-on learning. I don't necessarily think my kid is "smarter" than anyone else... I do think that after listening to other people and preschool teachers, her skills are beyond what the public school expects, and therefore they will be teaching some things that she already knows... I'd rather her time be spent challenging herself to reach the next level.

Good luck; I think you're doing the right thing by starting to ask questions now!