all entries with the category


Kindergartner's shyness worries mom

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz October 9, 2012 06:00 AM

I have a 5 1/2 year old daughter who is very shy when put in new situations or meets new people. I know that this is very common behavior but there are times when I think her shyness harms her more than I'd like it to. She has a tendency not to talk at all in these situations (such as meeting her brand new kindergarten teacher), and even resorts to acting like a cat, which includes crawling around on all fours on the ground. She often squeaks in response to a question, rather than utter a simple statement like, "My name is ....". Once she warms up to the new person or group, she's fine and participates as required. Is there anything I can do to help her grow out of this shy phase sooner rather than later? Help boost her self-confidence, perhaps? Thank you!

From: Concerned Mom, SmallTown, NH


Family will be moving right after daughter starts kindergarten

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz August 2, 2012 06:00 AM

Question: We have been trying to help my my very shy 5 year old get ready for transition to kindergarten in the fall. We've taken her to the playground in her new school, bought her a few books about kindergarten, and reminded her that she'll know three children from her preschool. She feels re-assured and is really looking forward it.

For a variety of reasons, we have decided to put our house on the market and move to another town where she won't know anyone. Unfortunately, she will be in school for a month or two and she will have to switch schools. We are confident that this will be a good move for the family in the long run. Any advice on what we should tell her now and what can we do to make this "second transition" easier?

From: Vanessa, Worcester, MA


5-y-o: "I'm gonna kill you!"

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz June 13, 2012 06:00 AM

Hi Barbara,

My son just used " I'm going to kill you " to a school friend because he got to the swing before my son. My son is 5 and I have no idea where he got that from and it's upsetting. Can you please help me find ways to correct this the right way.

From: Barbara, Los Angeles


Unhappiness at preschool -- could it actually be about kindergarten?

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz May 4, 2012 06:00 AM

My 4.5 year old son has been struggling intermittently for the past year over going to his pre-school. He seems to struggle the most when he returns to school after vacation and on Monday mornings. Lately, his struggle has become more emotional and he will cry and become upset over everything--even the weather--as he grows more and more insistent about not wanting to go to school. Once he settles into the school environment, his teachers report no problems. I remain positive with him, remind him of what he likes about school, often pack a favorite book in his bag, and try to be upbeat. Occasionally I've had to semi bribe him to get him into the car in the mornings and lately he's been extremely upset when I leave him at school. I've talked at length with his teachers and school administrators about this and they've offered various tips to help him but nothing seems to stick. Things work for a little while but he always returns to this sadness in the mornings.

I'm wondering what else I can do. I hate for him to start his mornings in such a sad way and I feel immense guilt that he feels this way. When I've tried to talk w/ him about it in the evenings, he shrugs it off. Any tips for working through these emotions with him? He is in a full time preschool program. My husband and I both work full time but we tailor our hours so he is in childcare about 7.5 hours a day. We hate to see our son so sad in the mornings!

From: Emily, Arlington, MA


Screening the screenings

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz April 20, 2012 06:00 AM

Hi Barbara:

I have a question about kindergarten screening that I don't recall seeing you answer in the past (I'll give you an early start on the typical late summer, early fall rush of school questions!).

My 5-year-old daughter will be starting kindergarten in the fall. She just had her kindergarten screening using DIAL-4. Based on her performance, she scored borderline in the concepts section (mostly numbers, shapes etc) and based on my responses to a survey, she scored borderline on self-help. By borderline, I mean her score was the lowest in the range of "ok", 1 point lower and she would have been in the potential for delay category. The things that caused her to score borderline in concepts are things that I know she can do (count to more than 10, recognize a square, etc). In fact, as we were leaving the school and without any prompting from me, she counted to 20 (missing, as usual, 15). Her preschool (which she has attended for 2 years, 3 full days a week) has documented that she can recognize shapes.

The items that resulted in a borderline score for self-help included brushing her own hair and teeth, pouring milk into a cereal bowl on her own, picking up her own toys, etc. My rationale for my answers in self-help include that her hair is long and if she brushed it, it would either never get done or I would be cutting out the hair brush. I interpreted the teeth question as she is responsible for her own brushing so I answered rarely or never. Our approach is that she does "her part" and then mommy or daddy does "their part". We buy gallons of milk so they are too big for her to pour without spilling and unless prompted, she never picks up her toys on her own. If we declare it is clean up time or I tell her that to move onto the next activity, we have to pick up game or puzzle pieces, then she will clean up, but she doesn't do it on her own. There weren't any questions on getting herself dressed, putting on her own coat, washing hands, eating with utensils, etc. All of which she can do and the large majority of the time does on her own. Of course, taking into account the occasional day when she just feels like being obstinate or we are running late...

We had been away for the weekend and she was not her usual self that morning. The environment and the people were new to her. Parents had to sit out in the hallway. I don't mention these things as excuses, but wonder if/how the testing takes factors like these into account.

I question the validity of the borderline scores, especially the self-help category. What is the intent of these screening tools? What do these tests really predict? How do schools use these scores? Are borderline scores something that should concern me? What, if anything, should I do based on these results? What should I do, if anything, about these results when she actually starts kindergarten this fall?

Thanks for any insight you can provide. I value your advice and read your blog daily.

From: MMR, Medford, MA


This kindergartener sounds right on target

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz March 30, 2012 06:00 AM

Dear Barbara,

My son is in half-day kindergarten and he seems to enjoy it. His teacher has told us that he’s extremely bright and knowledgeable but that it’s hard to get him to do activities that don’t interest him and he’s not working anywhere close to his academic potential. I saw this firsthand when I volunteered in the classroom. The kids rotate to different “centers” with a partner (e.g., computers, games, writing) and my son refused to do the writing activity even after I explained what was expected and pointed out that all the other kids were doing it. A lot of work that he brings home is sloppy (writing, coloring, cutting out shapes) and I know he can do better. He doesn’t have a hard time focusing or sitting still – he can spend hours playing with Legos and making up stories or doing crafts. Is this just a developmental stage he’ll grow out of or this something we should work on and, if so, how do we do it? I know this is just kindergarten but I want my son to participate and have good school habits. Thank you.

From: MV, Needham, MA


Her son only wants to play with girls

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz March 27, 2012 06:00 AM

For the past year maybe, I've been a little worried about my 5 year old son behavior in terms of being a boy. He likes playing with girls more than boys, he's love the arts (which I love), and likes playing "girl games" (among other things). Although I don't mind any of it, I did notice it all. But today he said to me, as I asked him to give me back my hair band: "I wish I was a girl." That really surprised me and worried me. I explained to him that he is a boy, and being a boy it's cool, but I don't really know what else to do. Should I worry about this? Or am I just making something out of nothing? Is there any literature that you can suggest for me to read? Thank you!

From: Maria, Rochester, NY


Kindergartener needs to be part of his class, repeating or not

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz March 13, 2012 06:00 AM

Hi Barbara,

My daughter decided to start my Grandchild in Kindergarten this last year knowing all along that she was going to hold him back ready or not. He has a September birthday so he is a young one. She is pretty firm with her decision although his teacher is totally against it because he is very ready for first grade. The teacher also thinks he should not participate in the little graduation ceremony they have and that maybe he shouldn't be there the last couple of days.....I think that is totally wrong. My daughter has been very open in discussing the situation with my Grandson and in my eyes he is graduating even though he will be repeating. Can you give me your opinion on this situation. To me it is as if he has failed versus accomplished if he does not attend the ceremony.

Thank you so much and I look forward to hearing from you.

From: Tricia, Littleton, MA


Pros & cons of mid-year moves

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz February 10, 2012 06:00 AM

Dear Barbara,

Our family will be moving some time in the next year or year and a half, and we are trying to figure out the timing. I'd like your advice on how traumatic a mid-year school change would be for our 4-year-old son, as opposed to one during the summer. He just turned 4, and is in a private 3-day-a week preschool now, where he's doing well. He's smart but naturally cautious and self-conscious, and our main worries about him are social, as he's slow to warm up to new friends and situations. His current preschool teacher says he's been starting to initiate interactions with other kids lately, though, which we've been thrilled to hear.

He will start kindergarten next year, and we're debating 3 different scenarios; a) to move this summer and have him start a new school in September (it would be a little difficult to do the move this soon for financial reasons, and it may entail actually moving twice, though the second move would be within the same town); b) to stay where we are, have him start a new school year in a new class at either his current private school or at the local public school, and then move mid-year (this second option would entail starting out with my husband having a 45 minute commute); or c) waiting another full year in our current location, then moving the summer after his first year of kindergarten (but with Daddy having a long commute all year).

So I guess my question is: will changing schools be easier or harder as he gets older? Is a mid-year school change likely to be as traumatic for him as it was for me when my family moved when I was in 3rd grade? (I was shy, too, and it was very hard). Would you judge that a longer commute for Daddy would be as hard as changing schools?
Thanks so much for any advice!

From: Carriefran, Boston


Full-day or half-day for K?

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz February 9, 2012 06:00 AM

I am hoping you could address some questions regarding kindergarten choices. I live in a district that offers half- and full-day programs, and I chose half-day for my son who will be almost five and a half when school begins in September. I think he'd do fine in full day, but I chose half for a few reasons: because I stay at home and enjoy our time together, because he sleeps 11-12 hours at night and I feel like we'd never see him, and - honestly - because I am just in no rush to put him (and me) on a big kid "fast track" lifestyle rushing from one activity to the next.

Unfortunately, I just found out our district is moving to an "embedded" half-day program, which means all the kids are in one class together, but the half-day kids (of which there are fewer) will be sent home before lunch, while the rest of the class will stay. Am I overreacting to think this is a slightly cruel thing to do to the half-day kids? I am imagining that the full-day kids will have more time getting to know their friends and their teacher, putting the half-day kids at a big social disadvantage.

I was a big fan of the half-day program, when it was a group of kids who were set as true peers in the classroom. This change has me considering a switch to the full-day program, which isn't at all what I'd envisioned. (My son is in his second year of pre-school, but going from three mornings a week to five full days seems like a drastic change for him.) Since he's my oldest, I don't know what to expect from kindergarten, but I assume there is a lot more traditional teaching, as opposed to the free play learning he is used to at preschool.

Also, and we are expecting a new baby this summer. I feel like all these changes may be too much for my little guy. I know they seem like a lot to me!

I would appreciate any advice you may have. Thank you.
From: Tracy, Scituate, MA


About the author

Barbara F. Meltz is a freelance writer, parenting consultant, and author of "Put Yourself in Their Shoes: Understanding How Your Children See the World." She won several awards for her weekly "Child Caring" column in the Globe, including the 2008 American Psychological Association Print Excellence award. Barbara is available as a speaker for parent groups.

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