Preschool/Kindergarten

Hello.

I have a 4.5 year old son who is currently attending pre-school 3 days a week, 2.5 hours a day. My son was a 24 week preemie. I spoke briefly with his teacher today and she was expressing concerns that maybe he could be behind with recognition of letters and letter sounds. She suggested maybe having him assessed by a special ed teacher and then possibly getting some help. I am completely fine with this - I don't want him falling behind before he even starts school. My husband and I were maybe thinking of enrolling him in kindergarten this coming fall, but were on the fence. He was supposed to be born 8/20/07, but was born 5/6/07. If he was born on his due date, he would not be starting kindergarten now. As a mother, would you wait to start your child and do one more year of pre-school? That is the direction I am thinking of heading. Just wondering if there are other parents out there who had children born around this same time, but are waiting until the 2013 school year to enroll them into kindergarten.
Thanks.

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There were recently a few posts regarding this - the Inspire search engine isn't the best, I'll see if I can uncover them.
I would likely hold him back a year. Reason being, once they begin kindergarten, they need to be reading simple words, not just knowing their letters and numbers. If he's struggling with letter recognition just 7 months before starting, it may create struggles for him once Kindergarten starts. And once they start struggling, you often see them getting frustrated and insecure, etc., and there is absolutely no joy in learning - and who wants that!? I know that my sister has been shocked at how much is required of these kids in Kindergarten and 1st grade - homework, reading books, etc. I don't remember what it was like when we were kids, but I know it wasn't nearly as intense as it is now.
Good luck!

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I am weighing in based on our experience with our full term son, who is in first grade this year. (my preemie was born in Feb but due in April, so she started K in the year she would have anyway.) DS was born at the end of June. We weighed the idea of holding him, but decided to send him on. He was ready for K level academics, but we wavered on the maturity question. Kindergarten is not like is was when we were kids. Today kindergartners are expected to come in knowing the letters and most sounds. They finish the year reading simple stories on their own. Learning to tie shoes no longer earns a place in the curriculum, as the teachers are busy showing the kids how to use the school computers to do math problems. My full term son had some behavioral challenges as the year progressed, and I would be willing to bet those challenges occurred at times when he wanted to not being doing work but running or climbing on something instead (in other words, when he was feeling 5). He pulled it together nicely, though, and ended up the year very well placed for first grade. Had he been born much later in the summer, we would have probably held him back. I personally would consider a boy with a summer birthday, but no other risk factors, already on the cusp of 'should be held' back. I would probably hold a boy with risk factors from an early birth.

Some things to consider when deciding placement:
- how old are the other kids in the class going to be? My son has classmates with May birthdays - OF THE YEAR BEFORE. If your son is not quiiiiiiite ready, consider that he might be up against kids quite a bit older than him.
- how big is your son? My son is tall for his age. Even being on the younger side, we figured he could hold his own. Had he been short for his age as well as being on the younger side, well again, we might have changed our decision.
- how does your son do in noisy groups of kids? A small preschool is not the same as a noisy cafeteria with two or three grades together. Can your son function in a noisier group than his preschool class? Will he be able to eat in a noisy cafeteria?
- how does your son like preschool? How does he do socially when he is not with you?
- Is your K a full day program? how does your son do when he's busy all day? Kindergartners don't always get naps (rest times, even) any more. My daughter's school did not even include rest mats on the supplies list. My son's school does, but they don't get used everyday, or even most days. Does your son have the stamina for that?

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I have a son who was also due in August (August 5 actually), 2009. He was born in April, however, at 23 weeks. We won't be sending him to kindergarten at 5. Here, the cutoff is August 1 in our district, but even if it were September 30 as it used to be, we wouldn't send him. He gained absolutely no advantages from being born at 23 weeks, and I am going to assume your son gained no advantages to being born at 24 weeks, either. They are probably tougher and may tolerate pain better, so in that way, yes. But mentally, physically, maturity wise, etc., preemies don't end up ahead of where they would have been had they been born on time--if anything, they may be a little behind where they would have been had all things worked out with the pregnancy. At best, they would be exactly at the same place, our sons, had they been born in August, though for micropreemies that would be very unusual-- as studies have shown that more than 99 percent of 23-weekers and 95 percent of 24-weekers were found to have at least some residual effects from their prematurity into toddlerhood and beyond...some of these effects last throughout childhood and can interfere with acadmic learning. I guess I am saying, if you wouldn't have started him to school if he were born on time, then definitely don't just because he was born almost 4 months early, because that didn't give him any advantages for school. Probably quite the contrary.

Both posters above are so right about the rigors of kindergarten and first grade today. It's nothing like what we experienced when we went to school. Kindergarten is totally the first grade of old and is better suited for 6-year-olds than 5s. If he did start at 5, he would really be just 5 years 0 months, his true age, and he would likely have no other little boys as young in his class...perhaps one if the cutoff is late August, as you still occasionally have some who don't hold back their late summer boys. But there will likely be older May boys in that class, as Z1Z2 said...that would probably be much more common than young August boys. Maybe even an April full-term boy too. And some older June and July girls, who would be very mature. The class average when I taught was around December, for turning 7 in first grade. But one year when I taught second, the average boy in the class turned eight in August! Meaning, your son would be a full year younger, with corrected age, than the middle boy in my class that year. I had a May boy in the class that year, and a June one, both young, and I can tell you they didn't fit in with the group of boys at all...they were so much less mature. Academically, they did all right, but as far as the social hierarchy, they weren't even on the chart, in preemie terms. And those were full-term May/June boys. I wouldn't put him through that, even if he excelled academically. But definitely not if he has been struggling. As mygirlsmom said, the struggles don't usually go away as the children age, they actually can get more intense as things get harder. It's wonderful they may be testing him soon. If he needs help, it's good to get it early. Good luck!

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My girls were born in July but due in October. They are only 2 right now, but we already know we are definitely waiting. It seems like the district should also be on board with this since if he goes in now, he may be needed special Ed resources which are expensive for them, but going in later, he may not. Best of luck.

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Our son had a 8/11 due date but was born 15 weeks early (also in 2007). He's advanced on math and reading. Socially, I'd describe him as average (for his adjusted age). We are going to go ahead and try out K next year. My dad (son's name sake) was a young one in his grade (age 5 in 1st grade). He's convinced that Henry needs to try K next year. It's a gamble, I realize. But I suspect that it is right for our son.

We have a FT daughter who has an October birth date (also 2007). She is only 2 months younger than Henry's adjusted age. She gets confused on letters and sounds, so I'm glad that she has another year of preschool and will be "older" in her year. She's more socially mature than our son BTW.

There probably isn't a 100% right answer. Positives and negatives to either choice. Previous posters above have great insights.

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I have never seen a child hurt by waiting, but have seen many who had difficulties due to going too soon. Even kids who academically do well, suffer socially if they are not mature enough to play and interact with their peers. Another thing to think about is not just kindergarten, but maturity when they get to middle school and even high school. There are so many peer issues at those stages, and if he has another year of maturity, he may have less difficulty. Lots to think about.

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Are kids supposed to recognize letters by the time they are 4?

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RE: "Are kids supposed to recognize letters by the time they are 4?"

I was trying to find guidance of letter recognition as a milestone but haven't come up with anything definitive. In our kids preschool, the classes seem to be about focusing on the differences between upper and lower case letters. Many kids seem to have recognition of letters. Usually as the kids transition from the 3s room to the 4s room, they are incorporating letters into their art work but don't necessarily know what the all the letters mean.

http://www.babycenter.com/0_learning-milestones-cognitive-skills-kindergart en_72361.bc

In kindergarten, your child will learn to
* Categorize objects. For instance, he may place blocks in a row from shortest to tallest, or group items by color.
* Count ten or more objects.
* Recognize and write numbers up to 10.
* Sort objects into specific categories. For example, he may learn to put pictures of toys, animals, and food in their own groups.
* Compare the length, weight, and capacity of objects. For example, he might say, "That telephone pole is taller than the streetlight" or "Dad's shoe is heavier than Mom's."
* Stick with a project until it's complete — finishing a puzzle, for instance, or finding his way through a maze game.
* Collect objects, such as rocks or bugs, to examine more carefully later.
* Identify and possibly draw shapes such as circles, squares, diamonds, rectangles, and triangles.
* Understand broad concepts of time, including "yesterday," "today," and "tomorrow."
* Name the days of the week.
* Identify the seasons of the year.
* Identify the general time at which everyday events occur. For example, he might say, "I eat breakfast at 7 o'clock in the morning" and "I go to bed at 8 o'clock at night."
* Use his senses to investigate his surroundings and then tell you what he's discovered. For instance, he might say, "Lizards like to hide under rocks" or "Birds build nests high off the ground."



Seems to me that in both my kids' preschool rooms (one for younger 4s and one for older 4s and younger 5s), the kids are learning those things already. FWIW, my younger 4 (FT child) knows her capital letters for the most part (still some mistakes). Where she gets tripped up is on sounds matched with letters and the difference between upper and lower case.

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RE: "Are kids supposed to recognize letters by the time they are 4?"

I don't know about "supposed to", but by today's academic standards (what children are expected to know going into kindergarten), I would have to say yes. Our 4 1/2-year-old daughter recognizes and can write nearly all upper and lowercase letters as well as knows most of their corresponding sounds. Her pre-K class has been working on "sight words" and of the current list of 30, I would say that she knows half of them consistently (recognizes the words on flash cards as well as in practical application...in books, on signs etc.) and the other half she's about 50-50. I'm both fascinated and flabbergasted at what's expected of preschool-aged children nowadays.

The cutoff date in Nevada is September 30th. Our daughter was due on August 9th (2007), but born 12 weeks early in mid-May. When we first enrolled her in preschool at age 3 1/4, we considered keeping her back a year (putting her in the 2 & 3-year-old class vs. the 3 & 4-year-old class) because she seemed "young" in comparison to her peers, but ultimately we decided not to. She's a bright child and had thus far been "typically developing"; we reasoned that had she been born in August, it is unlikely we would have held her back even though she'd be one of the youngest kids in class. 

My husband and I are both summer babies (early July for him, end of August for me). I started kindergarten at "barely 5", whereas he started at 6. All throughout school, I don't recall ever feeling like I was at a disadvantage (academically, emotionally or socially) being one of the youngest; nor does he recall feeling like he had any sort of upper-hand being one of the oldest. The right decision really only has to do with what is right for an individual child. Seeing how much our daughter has flourished this past year and a half, I feel like we've made the right decision for her. Best of luck with whatever you decide.

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I was one of the oldest in my class. I had a January birthday back when the school cutoff was January 1st. At that time it was the fall birthday kids who were at an age disadvantage. Then they moved up the date so that fall birthdays were held until the next year. Now summer birthdays are at a disadvantage. There will always be younger kids in a class. I can say that I did think I had advantages over many of my classmates. I was more mature, and I was cognitively ready to grasp the concepts being taught so I learned very quickly and was placed in advanced academic programs. It didn't really help me socially because I was very shy. A few months can make a big difference in social and cognitive awareness. I have seen with my daughter how much she can change in 4-5 months in terms of the concepts she is able to grasp. Hannah's due date was in August and she was born the end of May. It never occurred to us to hold her back a year because she was doing well and wasn't delayed in any way. However, now I sort of wish I had. She does well academically (As and Bs) and seems to be doing well socially, she has a lot of friends, although she does seem less mature in many ways. But I sometimes think some things in school are harder for her, that she has to work much harder for those As and Bs than the other kids and that if I had held her back a year, school would be easier and she would feel more confident. Her small size for her age also puts her at a physical disadvantage to the rest of the class.

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GaRe0809,
In some school systems yes, letters are thought to be important. But not in all approaches. There are actually many "schools of thought" beyond what is offered at your local public school. I highly recommend familiarizing yourself with what is on offer there and looking at some other approaches. Some preschools spend time having children copy random shapes that they do not recognize (letters.) And some "play-based" schools feel that young children benefit from learning through play, moving their bodies, experiencing life and nature in person rather than having a "nature book" read to them.

I highly recommend a visit to a "play-based" preschool. Some names associated with play-based learning include "Waldorf" and "Tools of the Mind."

http://www.nytimes.com/schoolbook/2011/12/07/is-the-tools-of-the-mind-curri culum-effective/

http://www.communityplaythings.com/resources/articles/valueofplay/learningt hroughplay.html

http://blog.bellalunatoys.com/2011/waldorf-reading.html

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Hi ladies

Thank you all so much for your replies. I did find older posts about this and majority of parents did not start their children until the following year. My husband and I have been talking a lot about it and we think it will benefit him to wait and do pre-school one more year. The pre-school he attends is a play based one (I know the pp mentioned that). They have been teaching them their letters and writing his name, counting, etc.
z1z2: I know you asked about his size and how he does around other children/in class - he is small for his age. We have been attending a kindergarten informational session and he is about a head shorter than all the kids attending. Another worry of ours. My son is also an only child. When he gets with a group of kids, he will play with them, but sometimes it takes him a while to warm up. He'll play a lot on his own even when he's in a room with other kids. He does say he has friends in school as well - he talks about a few of the boys and that he plays with them on the playground/in class. It's amazing how much kids will learn in kindergarten. Some of the things we were told that they will learn by the end of the K year is: learn 40 sight words, count to 100, count by 2's and 10's, learn vowels and nouns, read/write short sentences. I get so nervous thinking of how much these kids have to learn in one year! I know some of the stuff they are learning are things we didn't learn until probably 1st grade.
I am curious to talk to the special ed teacher and see what her thoughts are and see what she will assess him in again. Will it just be letters or more than that. I get down on myself too cuz I feel that maybe I'm not doing enough with him at home. One thing I always do though is read to him everyday. Usually 2 stories at bedtime. That's one thing I've always read that they say is good to do for kids.

Anyway, I want to thank you all for your wonderful advice. I am taking all of it into consideration. We have conferences with his teachers on 2/9 and will probably discuss more. After doing much thinking, I am weighing towards waiting to start. I'm glad to have a place to go to discuss with other preemie moms :)

Take Care.

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I have a full term kindergartener that is one of the oldest in his class. Also have a 25 weeker that would make the cutoff due to birthday not due date. I volunteer in kindergarten and see the younger kids struggle and know 100% that I will have my youngest wait another year

I am also worried about the social aspect. Some of the youngest kids do not socialize and literally sit at lunch and on the playground all by themselves talking to no one. It breaks my heart. The older kids seem to make friends easier and start conversations and make up games to play on the playground.

I believe waiting a year will have a lifelong impact on self-esteem

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RE: "I highly recommend a visit to a 'play-based' preschool."

We are on-board with play-based preschool approaches as well. Although our kids' school isn't Waldorf, the school is heavily driven by the observations of Piaget and consequently doesn't do a lot of route learning b/c the school feels that children 5 and under should be making the most of their creative thinking skills (which they see as the path to becoming natural scientists).

Our son spends a lot of time constructing block paths for a marble set. His teacher found an article that maintained working with blocks is excellent for developing fine motor skills, which has not been his area of strength.

In the 3s room, the kids spend a lot of time with play dough, flubber, and paint. Everything is sensory-activity based.

In the 4s room, they spend some time learning numbers and letters but the % of time sitting around a group listening to instruction is minimal in comparison to the time spent in centers, illustrating numbers through play. They are learning adding and subtracting but not in a "formal" route learning way.

As was explained in our preschool's orientation, kids can learn how to be scientists through play. For example, take a toilet plunger (unused of course!) and stick it to the ground. See if the child can figure out how to unstick it.

Both our four year olds can recognize some words by sight (and our older 4 is starting to read independently) but we have steered clear of route learning at home. We read a lot. And the kids pick up words merely from having seen Little Engines Can Do Big Things a dozen times.

I find it rather ironic how the skill expectations have increased in K and yet what is expected in 4th-6th seems to have slackened off (where a lot of information is repeated from previous grades). Seems like U.S. education really needs a major overhaul in design!

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re: "I find it rather ironic how the skill expectations have increased in K and yet what is expected in 4th-6th seems to have slackened off (where a lot of information is repeated from previous grades). Seems like U.S. education really needs a major overhaul in design!"

This sentiment (with which I do agree, BTW) reminded me that the PTO of Zoey's school just sponsored a viewing of "race to nowhere".

http://www.racetonowhere.com/about-film

I did not know anything about the film, so I googled it. I thought it was going to be a discussion of the value of standardized testing. Any teacher can tell you what's wrong with such a heavy focus on that. Aside from being able to personally brag that Zoey can outscore 90+% of her statewide cohort in verbal skills- related subjests, what do standardized tests REALLY do for an individual child? Yet, despite protestations to the contrary, teachers (have to) spend lots of instruction time teaching to the test.

No, what I found when I googled the film - sponsored by my kid's school - is that, somehow, homework free weekends will be the magic elixir to fixing our educational system. Apparently there is nothing wrong with homework, in and of itself (busy work bother anyone else aside from me?), and weeknight (when kids are tired and parents are pulled between homework, dinner, baths, etc) homework is OK. Yet, homework FOR ANY AGE STUDENT on the weekend is the cause of our educational malaise? Who knew? (sarcasm fully intended) Yes, I think things are askew, but be careful of some of the proposed solutions...

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I agree that one shouldn't exactly teach to a test exclusively. But at the same time, it shouldn't be unreasonable to capture information about how a child is doing through a standardized mechanism. Otherwise, you get students passed along with evaluation of "the child is at her/his level" which never tells the parent what the child has accomplished that quarter. You also make it impossible to weed out teachers who don't put effort into teaching. [NOTE: Before someone jumps down my throat at the last statement, yes I know most teachers work hard. In fact, I am a teacher. My parents were/are teachers. And my sister was a teacher who is now a middle school director. But there's also some dead weight out there who inhibit the development of many kids through their inaction.]

RE: "Yet, despite protestations to the contrary, teachers (have to) spend lots of instruction time teaching to the test."

But there are many ways to teach to a test, right? I mean if the goal of the test is to assess reading. And a person is worth her salt as a teacher teaching reading, then the most students should be able to easily pass some kind of test. For example, I teach statistics. My pedagogical approach to teaching statistics varies from how my other two colleagues teach statistics. And yet, if you gave any of our students a basic statistics exam at the end of the semester, I'm confident most would pass it. Am I teaching to the test? No. I'm teaching content. And most of my students learn that content well enough to pass the scrutiny of different types of testing approaches. Now if the testing approach matched how I test in my class, I'm sure that they would achieve higher scores but in any event, I'm still confident that they'd pass any reasonable test of the material if those testing methods that differ from my own.

RE: "Yet, homework FOR ANY AGE STUDENT on the weekend is the cause of our educational malaise?"

LOL! Yes, homework on the weekend is the root of all evil. ;)

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Katek, Thumbs up on the toilet plunger, thumbs down on the flubber. :) Have you touched it? Cold and kinda slimy. Not my first choice but popular.

Don't gt me started on school reform. I was thinking we should stay abreast of our public school curriculum, which is teaching with "Everyday Math" (also called "Chicago" math.) As far I can tell it's some sort of horrible math mush. So I am trying to figure out the Orton-Gillingham of math, if there is such a thing. We have enough problems, I don't see a need to actually make math MORE confusing!

To make matters worse, our public school special ed services may use something else because they know the Everyday Math is confusing! but still being taught!
http://kitchentablemath.blogspot.com/2008/01/orton-gillingham-for-math-maki ng-math.html

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re: "I agree that one shouldn't exactly teach to a test exclusively"

I think it is the "exclusively" that is the key to standardized testing issue. Some measurement has to be done, I just don't think we've hit on the ideal means.

I may have come across as harsh on teachers teaching to the test. If so, I did not intend to (and honestly, I don't think most teachers actually intend to). Teachers are overworked and underpaid for what we demand from them, yet most manage to somehow do a decent, even stellar, job.

re homework on weekends, frankly, it does not bother me a bit. Zoey has more time to do it, I have more time discuss it with her and be sure she understands it, and we're all more relaxed while doing it. Furthermore, I can't recall it ever interferring with our plans. Zoey has more than once done homework on a Sunday at Barnes and Noble (I tell her it is good practice for when she is in college.), at my office when I was working on a Saturday, not to mention in the car on the way to relatives' houses (and AT a few relatives' houses, when staying there over spring break).

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RE: "I may have come across as harsh on teachers teaching to the test. If so, I did not intend to (and honestly, I don't think most teachers actually intend to)."

I'm aware of a couple situations where teaching to the test is the norm. So I don't think that your comment was fallacious by any means!

My friend's brother is a teacher in Austin (freshmen math, I think). The school district has every 10 minute block of his class structured for him. That strikes me as...ummm...excessive.

Any class of more than 2 students by definition to going to have kinds of learners, so one should probably choose the approach that works for the most students possible (the approach that works one year, one necessarily be the approach that works the following year). And, part of the joy (and challenge) of teaching is getting be creative in how one presents material. Structuring every minute of a class for someone takes strips them of control and autonomy. While I think that there should be a set curriculum in terms of goals and resources should be provided for teachers so that they can see different ways to teach material, I also think you have to let teachers figure out what works for them as individuals to convey material. It's kind of like joke telling. If you write out a joke for me and I try to deliver it word for word the way you've written it, I'll bomb. Different styles work for different teachers.

RE: "Katek, Thumbs up on the toilet plunger, thumbs down on the flubber. :) Have you touched it? Cold and kinda slimy. Not my first choice but popular."

I have one kid (Robin) who loves flubber (probably b/c of the obnoxiously bright colors that her teachers put in the recipe!). One (Henry) who won't go near it. He also freaks out if syrup gets on his hand.

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My mom quit as a classroom teacher a few years ago because the powers that be dictated every moment of her day. They were the ones forcing teachers to teach to the test. The majority of the time it is not the teachers choice. Not only that but their job depends on the test scores. And when you have no control over the child at home it can be an impossible task. Many parents out there don't read to their child, they don't feed their child breakfast or enforce a reasonable bedtime. A teacher can stand in front of a class all day teaching but if a child is not prepared to learn the lesson falls on deaf ears. All of these things impact test outcomes and yet teachers are held responsible for the scores.

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