Monday, May 05, 2008

School Blues

Mr. P is not the biggest fan of school.

He complains that it is "boring." He loathes circle time, especially. Which is odd because there is nothing he likes more than stories, and a close second is showing off whatever knowledge he might have about a particular subject.

He can read very well, and in discussing what school he should attend next year with Hubba-hubba, I began to think that perhaps he needed to be challenged more. His teacher had told me, well, whispered because there were other parents around that Mr. P is "very, very intelligent" and is the only one in his class that can read at such a high level. He can read so well, in fact, that he read "If You Give a Pig a Pancake" to his classmates.

Ok, bragging aside, my last wish is for him to detest going to school. Because dude, you've got at least 12 more years to go.

I agonized over whether he should enter first grade in the fall instead of kinder. I talked to people, and of course, no one could answer such an important question for me.

In desperation, I called the local elementary school and asked if I could speak with someone, or get him tested, or something that would help me make this decision.

That very day he went in for an assessment test, and he passed the kinder asessment with flying colors, he missed only two things. One being that he forgot the number fifteen when counting, and the second being identifying a lower case "l" as an "i." It was found that he is reading at or above first grade level. He can write sentences and sound words out phonetically at a first grade level. The teacher said that academically, he would do fine in first grade.

But then that whole social aspect of it loomed large. And should I really put him in school all day long when he already has doubts as to its usefulness in the overall scheme of his life? Do I want him to be among the oldest in the class, or the youngest?

What do y'all think? Should we challenge him and put him in first, or hope that the kinder curriculum can keep him occupied?


Margaret said...

Wow. That's really a hard one.

I completely see both sides of the coin.

So I have nothing to say except, I think you and hubby will figure out what is best for him.

See? I got nothing.

dr sardonicus said...

Hard to say. My parents started me in first grade. From an academic standpoint, it was probably the best thing they could have done for me. Socially, it was a mixed bag - I was always awkward about socializing with the other kids, even through high school. But I don't know if that came from always being the youngest in my class, or because of us moving around all the time with my dad being in the military until I was in seventh grade.

One thing to consider might be that if your son was more challenged in class, he might not see school as such a big waste of time.

Cherry said...

What a tough parenting decision!

I'll give you my experience (as a kid). I'm an August baby and started kindergarten at age 4 and pretty much loved school until Third Grade when suddenly "they" started swapping me between the advanced kids and the not so advanced kids every quarter.

I had advanced math skill and average reading skills, so the teachers didn't know where to put me. I would love math and learned to hate to read when I was challenged, and got cocky with math and was bored by reading when I wasn't. I got lazy in school during those periods where I wasn't challenged so when they challenged me again, I didn't feel I needed to put out the effort because it was so easy before.

In Jr High I entered in the advanced levels, and then the switching happened again in 8th grade which was the beginning of the downfall in my academic level.

On an opposite note, my brother wasn't socially ready for kindergarten and they suggested he wait another year and started when he was a week shy of 6, and he excelled throughout school, where as I started off with a bang and ended up struggling.

Socially we were both fine. We both had friends in grades above and below. I feel the social matter is purely a question of who Mr. P is.

Although it did suck when I was in high school and I was too young to get my license with everyone else, and could never write my own tardy and absence notes because I wasn't 18 until I was already in college. Perhaps that's a good thing to a parent. ;-)

Good luck!

boogiemum said...

we faced the same issue with our A. She was reading chapter books on entry to Kinder, but socially we didn't think she was ready to enter first, even though her pre-school teachers suggested otherwise.

I think academically most kids even out around 3rd grade. We did't let her skip and are very pleased with this decision as she is in 5th grade now and at the top of her class, but not exceeding as much as she was in Kinder.

I think whether Mr. P is ready socially should be one of the biggest factors and only you would know that. He is going to school either way, so what age group does he most relate to? When he is at the park or something, what age kids does he tend to gravitate to?

Anvilcloud said...

Assuming that he were to go into kinder, would he be a young kinder or an older one? If he were an older one, perhaps he would fit in okay in first grade. If not, perhaps he should stay with his social group. In fact, I'm leaning to that regardless no matter his relative age but throwing that out for consideration.

Liz said...

What is the curriculum for kindergarten in your county? Do most of the kids come from preschool settings or is kindergarten the first school most of these kids have? I ask because if kindergarten is taught assuming that most kids don't know their letters and numbers etc...Mr. P could end up very bored indeed.

deboo said...

Katie's BD is Dec. 1st - she could have started school a year earlier than she did. We thought she would do better emotionally to go in when she was nearly 6 years old. We have never ever regretted that decision.

YMMV - But I think emotional space is more important than mental abilities.


Maternal Mirth said...

I can't tell you what to do, but I can offer you what I did:

JayT was reading at 3 1/2 YO. He was spelling words at 4, all the while doing simple adding & subtracting. I wish I could say I worked VERY HARD with him while home schooling, but honestly, Jay caught on to reading/math very easily.

We were living in AZ at the time Jay was approaching kindergarten. His birthday was 2 days later than the cut-off. 2 days! So, they tested him. Of course, he scored off the charts with a 1st grade reading level and almost 2nd grade math level. They said WITH CONFIDENCE he was ready for kindergarten. 'They' being the professionals. My mom, who also is a professional educator with a Masters in Early Child Development, felt a little reservation ... but she said it was up to me as Jay's mom.

Go to the 1st day of school: total 5 YO break-down!! He said he liked the school part, but he was utterly frightened at lunch & recess. Too many kids, too much noise. All the comotion and chaos that is an elementary cafeteria & playground. It was too much for him and I ended up having to pick him up from school.

He didn't go back.

Not until the next year. He is one of the oldest in his class and always will be, but he is also doing VERY WELL. Now that he's in 4th grade, he's in gifted classes with straight A's.

Jay is also very socially adept. He is a favorite of both the kids and the adults. He volunteers in the cafeteria and helps the 1st graders and kindergarteners with reading time.

I am proud of my son and SOOOOO happy I let him mature for one more year, because while he was scholastically ready, he wasn't ready socially.

Sorry so 'blah-blah-bla-dee-blah' ... I hope this helped.

Autumn's Mom said...

It's one of the biggest decisions I remember making for Autumn. I remember lying awake at night thinking if I made the wrong decision I was going to screw up her schooling forever. I know that probably wouldn't have happened no matter what decision I made. But it felt like it. I know I've told you that we ended up waiting, even though academically she was ready. We were able at the time to send her to a Montessori school. Best decision I ever made.

Piece of Work said...

That's really hard, Gina. I think the most important question you have to figure out is how Mr. P will do socially. A lot of the kids in 1st grade will already know each other and be friends from kindergarten--would this be intimidating to Mr. P, or is he able to go with the flow in that kind of thing?
Also, how long is Kindergarten in your area? It goes to 2:30 here and then they have after school programs that are pretty neat, like Spanish or chess classes, which maybe would be something that could challenge MR. P, if your Kindergarten does that kind of thing. (It might be a statewide program, it's called STAR)

Good luck.

chichimama said...

I forget, did you hold him back this year? My "advice" would be different depending on whether you were skipping him ahead or just moving him back in with his peers.

If you want to email me, I can give you the run down on how the kindergarten year has gone for C in more detail if that would help at all....but bet you have a gut feeling and you should go with whatever that feeling is...

J at said...

I hate hate hate to see a bored child in school. I think it sets up a dislike of school that is difficult to overcome.

But I have also read what one of your other commenters said, which is that kids tend to even out academically at about 3rd grade. That's when some major brain stuff goes on. Because of that, I know many folks who have decided not to advance their kids, for fear that the rest of the class would go through that development earlier, and leave their child behind.

My gut says to talk to the folks at the school, talk to the Kindergarten teachers, and find out how they deal with kids who are advanced. I suspect that they get a large range of kids, from those who have never read before, to those who are already reading chapter books. Also, with math. They probably get some kids who understand the basics, while others are still counting how many birds on the page and not doing any kind of work with that number. So that's my thought...try to find a way to keep him challenged, academically, if you can.

Sue said...

Um, ignore this if you want, but could you consider homeschooling for a year or two? Or if he wants to go to school for the social aspects (such as they are...) then maybe try the kindergarten, and do some extra reading/maths etc at home for fun.

My younger son could read at way beyond 'first grade' level when he was four; we were in the USA for two years and he liked the idea of going to kindergarten, but was too young by about a week. A private kindgergarten would have taken him, but we couldn't afford it. So he stayed home for the year - and it was the best thing we could possibly have done. He set up his own desk, and I bought a few workbooks. We read books together, and his reading took off by leaps and bounds... so much so that when we returned to the UK, and he went into Year 1 (first grade equiv.) the following September, his reading age was tested at fifteen!

There's a strange myth suggesting that home schooled children don't do very well socially, but it's total rubbish. They do *better* usually, because they learn to mix with people of all ages, and don't have all the yucky peer pressure/bullying that happens at even the best of schools.

Anyway, ignore this if you wish, as I said.... I was pretty against the idea of homeschooling at first, and our sons did enjoy a British primary school for four years, but when we moved abroad again and took up home education again, we loved it and have no regrets. Some children just don't fit in a traditional school model, and that often includes those who are advanced academically.

Scout said...

I'm sorry I don't have time to read all the comments, so I apologize if I am repeating what the others have said. My daughter was a brilliant little five year old, academically far above other kids her age but socially behind--physically behind as well. We put her in first grade, making her one of the youngest in her class, and she graduated salutatorian. She didn't have many friends, though. Either way you face the situation, kids will struggle with something. It's part of growing up.I think it's better for him to be challenged academically and learn to make friends as he develops. Otherwise he might lose interest in school all together.

Family Adventure said...

Gina, I need more info...are you thinking about skipping the second of two years of kinder and going straight to grade 1? Have I got that right? If so, how much younger than his peers would he be? I mean, is he an early or late calendar baby? I would be concerned about having him skip a year if he was a late year baby, meaning he'd be up to almost two years younger than some of the kids in his class...Socially and maturity wise that's a lot to ask of a little kid. However, if he's an early baby, this might not be such a bad idea.

I know. I'm no help. Good luck in making your decision!


Ana said...

Wow way to grow Mr. P! Now, never again claim that you can't win the Mother of the year award! It's evident you are doing wonderful with your son. :)

I've been battling with the same isha with Lil Man. As a matter of fact I have a post scheduled for 2morrow on the same.

In his testing he surpassed everything and they recommended that Lil Man kick ahead. My gut told me no. I had him retested at another place and they recommended putting him in a gifted program for kids his grade level. I really think this is better for my son. Socially he is at his peer level. Perhaps this is an idea you may want to look into for Mr. P.

Ana said...

Oops I just realized that Mr. P is going into Kindy. That kinda makes my suggestion sound crazy. lol Then again maybe there are gifted programs for kindergartener. I think Anvilcloud made some sound points.

gmcountrymama said...

I guess I would think about how much younger Mr.P would be in comparison. If he is just a couple months difference, I would put him in first. He could also try first and if it was too much stress, go back to kindergarten or do first twice? T is starting Kinder this fall and will be one of the youngest in his class, only turning 5 in July. He is definately not ready academically for first. Good luck with what you decide.

Steph said...

This is definitely a tough one, and probably something that only you and Hubba-hubba can decide, knowing Mr.P's personality.

M was one of the oldest in her kinder class this year (turning 6 in December). At her school, they do a lot of pull-out programs as soon as the kids are identified by the teachers to further enrich the advanced kids. I would think that a lot would also depend on the teachers and if they are willing to give Mr.P extra attention or more challenging work in kinder.

Good luck with the decision!!