View Full Version : How can we tell how much he really knows, anyway?
I've posted before about my 5-y.o., who shows a lot of ADD characteristics (no dx yet, though). He's having difficulty at school learning letters and numbers. When they test him there, he appears not to know many letters or numbers at all. When I work with him at home, the results seem totally dependent on his mood. Sometimes he knows most of them; sometimes he says, "I don't know" and starts acting goofy. Even working in short blocks of time, I can't get him to stay on task very long. I don't know whether it's just his short attention span, or something else. Either way, it's frustrating for both of us. I think the teacher's test results don't reflect his abilities, but I can't get a handle on what he actually knows.
I think it's time for a specialist, but I'm not sure what kind.... :confused:
02-02-04, 02:23 PM
I think it may be too soon to be thinking specialist here. This may not be what you want to hear. When we suspect our kids have troubles, it helps us to be able to quantify them and "get a handle" like you said. Is his teacher relatively new to the profession, or near retirement, or in-between? He is in kindergarten, right? Is he one of the older ones in class or younger. Remember, when you are 5, six months is 10% of your entire life, so that alone can make a huge difference.
Does he like school, is he excited about going there and learning? Or does he resist more often than not and complain and cry about it? I have some thoughts.
He likes school, but is frustrated by the writing tasks. He's a young 5, and maybe should have waited a year for K. To further complicate matters, he has fine motor issues that make writing tough, plus articulation problems, plus vision problems that were just dxed a couple of months ago. The teacher he has right now is a sub who is filling in for someone who's on an extended medical leave. She (the sub) has worked as a kindergarten and a special-ed teacher in the past, but she has been harder to reach for questions and comments than the regular teacher was. (I suspect that she didn't really want to get stuck with two K classes like this.)
I find that he does better when he doesn't have to do paperwork. His vision is improving with treatment, but he still doesn't like to sit and look at a printed page. Of course, that's the main focus of regular kindergarten! ;) I'm wondering if his problems are more due to the approach they're taking, rather than his ability to learn.
02-02-04, 02:55 PM
If he is a young 5, I REALLY wouldn't worry too much. Why did they change the focus of kindergarten to writing and other academia? I still beleive the most important thing in kindergarten is learning how to be student. Emphasis on respecting teachers, rules, other students. Emphasis on creativity. Emphasis on learning to love books. Good Lord, they're FIVE!
With the regular teacher out, this may be hard to do, but could you request that after one or two tries, his writing assignments be sent home to complete? The ideal scenario would be no pressure on him and as little attention called to it as possible. I'm envisioning the teacher just picking up his worksheet and swapping it for something he could be more successful at. Perhaps some other, less frustrating fine motor practice.
You would have to let him know this was going to happen though, or it would probably throw him for a loop. Maybe even "pretend" it a few times at home so he'd get the feel of how it would go at school. He would still be accountable for the work, and you could work on it with him one on one, five minutes at a time. The last thing you want is for him to develop a less than positive attitude toward school.
Just some quick ideas. I'll think some more.
His eye doctor (a developmental optometrist) feels the same way about the handwriting, etc. Many kids just aren't ready for that at his age. And I wouldn't want to see him kept back just because that approach isn't right for him.
He does have an IEP, so I think I need to request another meeting to see if we can find a better way to work with him. Now that we know about the vision issues, I have more ammunition... ;)
02-02-04, 03:22 PM
This is a terribly difficult judgement call, the holding back issue. If you don't do it now, you may have to do it later, but then again you may not need to. You might not do it and wish you had.
We were in the same position when my older son was in kindergarten, except that he HATED school. He came home crying every day. We debated the issue day and night. We ended up not holding him back due to the fact that his younger, but taller, sister is just a year younger, and would be in the same class if we held him back. We ended up not holding him back and thankfully it has worked out. She is much larger than he is now, but he has matured and his motor skills have come up to par.:)
Good luck with this, krisp, and keep us posted. Keep this in mind: It is just now the beginning of the spring semester AND lots can happen over the summer.
I'm probably missing something here, but I don't really understand why early education has to be so writing-intensive. Our K isn't as rigidly academic as some, but the kids do have to work pretty hard. No doubt they get pressure from some parents who really want their kids reading and writing ASAP, but I'm afraid the ones who aren't quite ready for that are getting needlessly discouraged. Is it fair, or necessary, to put that kind of pressure on 5 and 6-y.o.s?
02-04-04, 09:32 AM
I was thinking of asking wether it is full or half day kindergarten. I have found that many places that have gone to full day really push reading readiness activities. I guess they have more hours to fill. Also, with "testing" and concern wiht passing minimum standards coming into play more and more with federal funding, the districts are pushing it earlier and earlier.
You might try to check out your school district's curriculum rq's. You could wade through all that jargon (in your spare time;) ) and see if it is really required or if it is just your school or the individual teacher pushing it. If the latter is the case, you could deal with that fairly easily. If it is the former, well, that's a little harder. You said you have an IEP, though, so it shouldn't matter. You just want to get a feel for whose expectations you are up against.
You could also request that the issue be set as an agenda item for the next PTA or school board meeting. That way you'd have time to feel out other parents on the subject. You've got another child coming up through the same school system. I think the effort would be doubly worth it.
I think there is something else. Call it Plan B. Do you have other educational alternatives available to you? For instance, montessori or other private school, any church affiliated schools, and could you afford such? If you live near a university, they usually have affiliated child development programs.
I am thinking about other school alternatives. There are a number of private schools around here. (I've been told, though, that the Montessori schools here are extremely expensive. I might have to start bringing in some money again if we want to go that route.)
There are probably other parents who feel the same as I do, but most of the ones I've talked to are anxious for their kids to start doing academic work ASAP. This attitude is so ingrained in the culture of our school system that I'm not sure we can get what my son needs there. He doesn't belong in special ed, but he needs more attention than he's currently getting.
When I've finished playing phone tag with the teacher, I may have a better idea of what to do next.... :rolleyes:
02-04-04, 10:04 AM
My kids go to private school. It definitley hurts ($) but I find that the staff is more willing to accomodate requests. And we came from one of the best school districts in the country. I think it's like I said, no pressure from higher ups, dictating what the minimum testing scores should be in order to secure more federal money. Interestingly, federal laws on accomodations DO apply, so bring your IEP if you go.
We had our final parent-teacher conference today, and did decide to hold him back. :( The combination of all his issues just puts him a little too far behind his peers. The good news is that he's doing well socially (in spite of the fact that the other kids can't always tell what he's saying). And he still likes school. If we sent him on to the next grade, I'm afraid it would just be too frustrating for him. I feel in my gut that this is the right decision, but I'm still sad.
(whine)Also completely drained ... I have an ear infection now, and was up with an earache all night.(/whine)
04-02-04, 08:01 PM
Haven't the best decisions in your life also been the same ones that were the most difficult to make? Think about it. I am sad to hear you are feeling down about this (and your earache :( ). I was thinking about your little dude the day before yesterday (weird :dizzy: ) when I read something about holding kids back. The quote was something like "when in doubt, keep them out." Better you to choose to keep him back now then have the choice made for you later on. He is going to be the coolest next year, plus in a little more than ten years, he'll be one of the first in his class to get his driver's license. /me waves smelling salts and attempts to revive krisp :D
Forget the smelling salts, sweetie, I want painkillers! :p
04-03-04, 12:16 AM
I didn't read it all, but I agree about the writing issues.
I semi forced my son to write early on, it frustrated him a lot.
And my son had good fine motor skills. He is 8 now and it is still the area where he seems least advanced. I started teaching him script a year ago, he hated that and argued that it will soon have no practical purpous. Getting off track here...
Some kids can and some can't. I leave him alone for now about it, but still worry, although I know I shouldn't.
Yes if your son had vision problems he definetly needs some time to make up for that.
It has probably been mentioned but he may have a bit of dexlecia.
All in all give him time. My child resisted things I wanted him to do. When the pressure was released he'd usually show an interest a few months later.
My son talked clearly, but spoke very funny, he sang when he spoke until 5.
My brother could not be understood and I think hardly talked till he was 7. He tested genius level though.
Through home schooling and unschooling families I know, I have known bright kids who didn't read till 10-13 yrs old. Some of these parents just patiently waited till their child said o.k I want to learn to read now. One boy at 13 decided and in a couple days taught himself, and is an avid reader now.
I think we/our kids are to pressured to do yhings when others think we should. I am trying to realize right now my sons needs other than societies needs.
I am glad you decided to hold him back.
My son's developmental optometrist says that in some countries written language isn't introduced until the age of 10 or so. He thinks that schools in the U.S. push reading and writing on kids too early. It works OK for some children, but certainly not all of them. There are a lot of very smart little kids out there getting very frustrated!