Friday, April 25, 2008

Next Steps for Son #3

Son #3 will be finishing his kindergarten year in May. As is the custom at his school, I had a conference with his teacher to help decide the best placement for him next year. The options for any child are: 1) repeating kindergarten, 2) transitional 1st grade, 3) traditional first grade, or 4) multi-age.

The Traditional 1st grade (also called T-1) is a program that's not quite kindergarten and not quite first grade. It's often referred to as "the gift of time." It's for kids who socially and emotionally aren't quite ready for traditional first grade. At the end of the T-1 school year, the student will move into 1st grade.

The Multi-Age program is where ten first grade students (called "novices") are placed in a class with ten second grade students (called "experts"). There are a lot of centers and collaborative work. The following year, the "experts" move into tradition 3rd grade, while the "novices" (1st graders) become the "experts" (2nd graders) and a new group of 10 kids join them as novices. The advantages are the same teacher for two years in a row, plus half of the same kids.

Son #3's kindergarten teacher and I met this morning to discuss what would be the best option for my little guy. Academically he's 'very stong.' (I'm not surprised since I home schooled him for pre-K - at his request.) However, there are some areas where emotionally and socially, he's a bit "developmentally younger" than his 6 years.

How much of this is because I kept him home with me until kindergarten? How much of it is because of his general personality? Who knows?

According to the Gesell Developmental Observation, he ranked 'very strong' in math and in visual memory. Slight behind in auditory memory (duh, he rarely listens to me! Didn't need a test to tell me this.) His cognitive skills are above average. His symbolic/drawing skills are strong, as are his spelling skills.

He gets along well with his peers, does well in group settings. His challenges, however, are:

  • ♦ fine motor skills. He's such a perfectionist at forming his letters that he sometimes does not finish his assignment. Is it a fine motor deficiency (developmental) or a personality train (perfectionism)? Who knows.
  • ♦ while he works well in groups, he does not want to take the lead, doesn't want to go first. (heck, I'm 40+ and I don't like to take the lead). Again, is this developmental or personality?
  • ♦ at school, he has difficulty expressing his feelings. NOT a problem at home.
  • ♦ although he rarely needs help from the teacher, on the rare occasions where he does not understand the instructions, he doesn't seem to ask for help.

It boils down to this:

School Son #3 versus Home Son #3

  • ♦ School Son #3 plays well with other kids
  • ♦ Home Son #3 plays well with other kids EXCEPT his brothers
  • ♦ School Son #3 shares shares
  • ♦ Home Son #3 shares when he wants to, which isn't often
  • ♦ School Son #3 has difficulty expressing feelings
  • ♦ Home Son #3 won't hesitate to tell you exactly what he's feeling
  • ♦ School Son #3 lacks confidence
  • ♦ Home Son #3 is a complete bulldozer

Will the REAL Son #3 please stand up? I thought the teacher might recommend Transitional First Grade but I've read studies and while I think it might be a viable options for some kids, I'm not sure it's best for Son #3. Dear Hubby is very resistant to this idea (as is the National Association for the Education of Young People).

Fortunately, his teacher said that while T-1 is a viable option, she's not going so far as to recommend it for Son #3 (like she has for a couple of other students). She and I seem to agree that the multi-age program (which offers a bit more flexibility than traditional first grade) might be a good fit. Next step: she and I each write a letter to the principal stating our opinions and rationales. As a parent, I'm allowed to request a specific program (in this case, Multi-age), but I'm not supposed to request a particular teacher.

There is one multi-age teacher that I would love for Son #3 to have. She was Son #1's second grade teacher and we loved her! So while I cannot request her by name, in my letter, I can describe the type of teacher would help my son thrive and blossom. Let's hope the principal can read between the lines. Wish us luck!


Nadine said...

Wow, my kids have been out of school for a long time. I had no idea there were these types of programs. Interesting. I pray for the best for son #3.

Elle*Bee said...

nadine, it is a *very* different world from when we went to school.

Shionge said...

Hey Elle sorry being away for so long.

I enjoyed your post about your Son's placement in is so comprehensive we don't have such practise here at all

Sue said...

Elle that's awesome there's so many options for Son #3...and isn't it amazing how they act one way at home and completely differently outside of home?

Elle*Bee said...

shionge, I know there are several similar programs throughout the U.S. but I don't know how widespread it is. Our school is one of only a handful that has a transitional first grade. I've been researching it online and for every positive study I see, I see at least one negative. I hope he gets into the multi-age program. Same teacher and at least half the same classmates for two years.

sue, it is amazing. I dug out a book I bought in 1998 called Raising Your Spirited Child. I bought it for insight into Son #1, who scored borderline on the Spirited assessment (more anecdotal than scientific). Flash forward almost ten years: Son #1 is worlds different in temperament now than when he was three. I was surprised to see that Son #3 actually scored lower (slightly). In fact the only person in our 5-member immediately family who ranked "Spirited" was ME! So much for that book! LOL