My son turned 5 in May of this year, and I registered him for Kindergarten. I thought this would be smooth sailing and he would breeze through, because his pre-school teachers believed he was more than ready and "one of the brightest children they had seen come through their program".
So it was much to my surprise when the kindergarten screener called me and suggested I hold my son back into their "Young Fives" program. When I started questioning her and finally got down to it, she told me that he didn't score low enough to even really be in the program, but that his "late" birthday suggests that he wait one more year.
So my husband and I only had about three hours to decide whether or not to hold him back or move him forward! So I called his pre-school teacher and she was floored and all the parents who know my son were shocked as well. So we decided to put him in kindergarten. He did his KRAWL testing and though he did fine, the teacher once again suggested the he be put down into the younger program.
Now we are in the second week of school and the teacher is already sending notes home saying our son needs to learn to write his name faster. Though he can write it, she says it takes him too long to do it! When he does his homework, he does a great job and is enthusiastic about it, and writes his name neater than I was ever expecting, but he does take his time to make it perfect when writing it.
Do you think that we made the wrong decision? And do you believe that the teacher is possibly "picking" on his abilities because she didn't want him in that class yet? That maybe she likes to deal with the older kindergartners better because it's easier for her, so that's why she kept pushing the pre-K program? My son talks very well, can count to 20 with no help and to 100 with slight help, can tell you all the letters and colors, is very social and has lots of friends, can sit still and listen, can follow 2-step instructions.
Am I being paranoid or do you think I might have a problem?
From: Amanda, Waynesville
I don't think you are being paranoid; everything you suggest is possible. But here's another way to look at it:
For better or worse (and I think it's worse), academics are being pushed down, down, down, all the way down to kindergarten. Blame it on our standardized testing, George Bush, whatever. But the fact is, teachers are teaching to the tests (that would be MCAS in MA), even, I fear, in some kindergartens, and the teachers are held accountable.
It sounds like your son is bright and that he has age-appropriate social skills for success and therefore it is likely that he will do just fine.In fact, it's highly possible that the teacher will realize this on her own, and all will be well.
On the other hand, if this teacher is, indeed, picking on him, that could have serious ramifications.
It's fairly common in lower grades for a child to think a teacher doesn't like him. Mostly it happens because (1) young children don't have much experience interpreting adults' behaviors and non-verbal nuances, (2) they're incredibly ego-centric, and (3) they can be overly sensitive. When a child perceives -- rightly or wrongly -- that a teacher doesn't like him/her, it can affect self-esteem and performance.
If your analysis is accurate, your son is a prime candidate for coming to this conclusion and his reasons could well be valid.
Don't go looking for trouble, but keep your eye out for diminished enthusiasm, or sense of self-esteem, or even, an outburst: "My teacher hates me!"
If that begins to happen, play detective and make some observations to him: "I notice you don't seem as enthusiastic about school as you were in the beginning..."
If you begin to get a picture that leads you to think the teacher really is giving him a hard time, it would be in his own best interest not to rush into the classroom and make accusations. There's a life-long learning lesson here and it's to help a child learn to problem-solve. I'd start by asking him, "What do you think you can do about this?" He may have some very good ideas.
At some point, however, it may, indeed, be appropriate to talk directly to the teacher. (Note: always talk to the teacher first, even when you suspect the problem may end up in the principal's office.) Keep the issue of not having held him back totally out of it. That's in the past. Be diplomatic but direct, concerned but not condemning: "J doesn't think you like him. I knew you'd be as concerned as I am, so I wanted to bring it to your attention. Do you have any idea what might be going on? What can we do to help him?"
No teacher -- well, ok, maybe a few -- will not not respond. And if you have the bad luck to have one of them, then you do need to talk to the principal.
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