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Dear Teacher

Kindergarten readiness & junior high adjustments

Kindergarten readiness
October 2012

Should this Child Drop Out of Kindergarten?

Question: My daughter started kindergarten in late August. She is the youngest child in her class. At first she seemed to love going to school and bringing home the papers that she did in class to hang on the fridge, but everything seemed to change overnight. About three weeks ago, she started crying and not wanting to go to school in the morning. It is definitely a struggle to get her to school now.

I talked to the teacher and she says that my daughter even cries in school. I wish I had waited another year to send her. I feel she is intimidated because the other children can write their names and color within the lines. What should I do now? – Pushy Mom

Answer: School has only been in session for a little more than a month. Don't panic. You need to talk more with the teacher before doing anything. Find out if your daughter is really significantly behind the other children academically. In fact, you should visit the classroom to get a better picture of what is going on and whether your hunch about academics is really the problem.

The year has only just begun so your daughter has plenty of time to learn new things. The big question is about her readiness for the academic challenge of this kindergarten. Did the crying start when the work became more difficult? Is she handling some of the work without difficulty?

Ask the teacher if your child needs an additional year of preparation for the kindergarten experience, or if she can easily catch up with the other children. An additional year in a pre-kindergarten class could be right for your child. You don't want your daughter to always feel under pressure to keep up with the other children.

School needs to be a happy experience for young children. Do remember that having her go back to a pre-kindergarten class does not automatically guarantee that she will handle the academics of kindergarten better next year.

Handling a Poor Adjustment to Junior High

Question: My son is having a difficult time adjusting to junior high. He just received a terrible interim report: 1 A, 1 B, 2 C's, 2 D's and 2 F's. While he never failed in elementary school, he did have to work very hard to get C or better grades. He is a great golfer. Should we demand that he quit the sport until he pulls up his grades? We want to emphasize the importance of academics. – Lack of Success

Answer: Admittedly, moving from elementary school to junior high can be a very difficult transition for many students. It certainly appears to have been difficult for your son. He may not have figured out yet how to cope with so many teachers and all their assignments. Learning how to do so could turn things around for him.

Your attitude needs to be one of helping the child cope rather than punishing him. Be aware that there is absolutely no guarantee that forcing your child to quit something he loves will improve his academic skills. Praise your son for doing well in some of his classes. Then ask him if he can pinpoint exactly why he is having trouble in the others. This will give you an idea of what special help he needs. The people who can help him turn things around are his teachers at the junior high. Ask the counselor to schedule a meeting of all of his teachers, yourself and your son to see what can be done to get him on track.

At the meeting, the question should be raised about whether he is taking too many classes. Also, ask if the classes are appropriate for his ability level. Would dropping a class and taking a study period be the correct move? Does he need a tutor to get the hang of how to handle the classes in which he is receiving D's and F's? Can individual teachers provide the help he needs? Would being in a resource room make a difference? Could he possibly have a learning disability holding him back from academic success?

Your son is probably very frustrated and unhappy about his lack of success in junior high. Hopefully the teachers will be able to help him succeed in all of his classes by building on what he is doing right in the classes where he is receiving A's, B's and C's.

Parents should send questions and comments to dearteacher@dearteacher.com or ask them on the columnists' website at www.dearteacher.com.

Tags: Education, In This Issue

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