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shand

Postponing Kindergarten

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I never had any doubts about starting DD on a formal kindergarten curriculum. DS(4), though, is a different story. While he understands everything said around him, his speech delay keeps him from communicating well. He's come a long way in the past year, but is nowhere near where he should be. On top of that, he refuses to focus on anything that isn't something that he wants to do. We've been working on the AAR pre-reading, but are only working on the letter/sound recognition, saving the skills for a second go round. Due to behavioral/focus issues, I've been wanting to have him evaluated but between DH and his doctor, who insist that he'll outgrow it (they also said the same thing about his speech and wouldn't refer him to a speech pathologist until he was 3). I've even had one of the speech pathologists suggest that he see a behavioral therapist.

 

So, I guess my question is two-part. How do you decide whether or not to postpone homeschooling? And is there any advice on getting him evaluated when his doctor is intent on giving us the go-around? We're on Medicaid so we're supposed to have a referral in order for them to cover everything. I'd appreciate any input.

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I would definitely hold off on formal kindergarten and just keep learning at his pace while seeking therapy as needed. I have a nonverbal 5 yo with Down syndrome whom I've already held back a year and I'd really like to hold him back a second year. 

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That is quite young. I would suggest letting him do a lot of fine motor woek. Writing letters in sand . Writing on a whiteboard hung on the wall. Swings are great. Look up balavisx and some crawling ans retained reflex work that might help with the wiggles and the attention. With kids this age fine motor is very important legos,puzzles,tweezers.

 

For speach have him listen to audio books make sure he gets a lot of auditory stuff like tell him directions have him got do it. Talk with him a lot. Getting speach therapy that young is challenging. My son had speach delays ans I later found out he was having undiagnosed problems with his ear canal. I lost precious time while his pediatrician was sure he would out grow it.

 

Here they have specialist meet for kindergarten screening ans if they spot something they send you back to your pediatrician with a refferal. That might be worth pushing for.

 

Are you planning on public or homeschool? When is your child birthday? If your gut says redshirt for a year then I would trust NY momma gut.

Edited by exercise_guru

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When the speech therapist mentioned behavioral therapy, did she imply autism?  Or did she mean something else?

 

If you are wanting an evaluation of some kind, maybe you can go through the school system and then just decline services if you are not interested?

 

If you want an autism eval, I think make your case as well as you can with the doctor, just asking for a referral.  If you have any information from a school eval, maybe that would help you to get your referral.  I think sometimes doctors have an attitude "you could do a lot of stuff through the school district for free, so why don't you do that?" 

 

I think definitely keep working with him on his level!  That is always a good thing to do. 

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I would definitely hold off on formal kindergarten and just keep learning at his pace while seeking therapy as needed. I have a nonverbal 5 yo with Down syndrome whom I've already held back a year and I'd really like to hold him back a second year. 

Thanks, it helps knowing that other's have held off for a year (or two).

 

That is quite young. I would suggest letting him do a lot of fine motor woek. Writing letters in sand . Writing on a whiteboard hung on the wall. Swings are great. Look up balavisx and some crawling ans retained reflex work that might help with the wiggles and the attention. With kids this age fine motor is very important legos,puzzles,tweezers.

 

For speach have him listen to audio books make sure he gets a lot of auditory stuff like tell him directions have him got do it. Talk with him a lot. Getting speach therapy that young is challenging. My son had speach delays ans I later found out he was having undiagnosed problems with his ear canal. I lost precious time while his pediatrician was sure he would out grow it.

 

Here they have specialist meet for kindergarten screening ans if they spot something they send you back to your pediatrician with a refferal. That might be worth pushing for.

 

Are you planning on public or homeschool? When is your child birthday? If your gut says redshirt for a year then I would trust NY momma gut.

We're saving the school route for a last option since they're not that great in this area and I have experience with the teachers there that makes me hesitate to go through them. We are homeschooling them and his birthday is in August. We include him in school activities for DD(5) and give him his own "school time" for AAR Pre-reading, math games, and speech skills. I'm hoping that the light schooling will help him catch up before then, if not we'll keep on as is.

 

When the speech therapist mentioned behavioral therapy, did she imply autism?  Or did she mean something else?

 

If you are wanting an evaluation of some kind, maybe you can go through the school system and then just decline services if you are not interested?

 

If you want an autism eval, I think make your case as well as you can with the doctor, just asking for a referral.  If you have any information from a school eval, maybe that would help you to get your referral.  I think sometimes doctors have an attitude "you could do a lot of stuff through the school district for free, so why don't you do that?" 

 

I think definitely keep working with him on his level!  That is always a good thing to do. 

 

She didn't mention anything specific, just that if he didn't start cooperating and continued to throw fits they wouldn't be able to work with him any longer. His doctor mentioned autism when he was 2 but ruled it out at the next appointment. 

 

As I mentioned above, we're saving the school-route as a last alternative, though if we don't figure something out soon, we might have go ahead with it. 

 

Thanks! I always feel like I should be having him do more but I'm afraid if I push it now then he'll start to hate school before we really get started.

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Personally, I’m of the opinion there’s never a need to do a formal kindergarten program unless it’s something the child would really enjoy. Any kindergarten skills they need can be easily learned through daily living, games, and lots of discussion and interaction with parents. Immersing him in a language rich environment through discussion, reading aloud, and audio books is probably the single best thing you can do. Number sense, basic math, and letters/sounds can all be learned through games and discussion during daily living. Others gave great fine motor suggestions.

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We were homeschooling when my kids were that age, and we chose, for most of them, to wait until age 6 to consider them to be in kindergarten. I did work with them before that. Working on fine motor skills, as suggested above, is perfect. Play preschool games. Read aloud a lot. Teach nursery rhymes and folk tales. Color and do puzzles.

 

You can engage in these activities through play, but I think it's also fine to have him spend a little time each day sitting at the table with you. Just five minutes of doing an activity page or maze or cutting and pasting something from a Kumon workbook. Keep it fun! But work a little on his ability to sit and pay attention. He doesn't have to be perfect at this, but give him some practice, so that when you do need him to sit and work for a time in a couple of years, it is not a big adjustment.

 

It can be helpful to provide a lot of structure for children with attention and behavior issues, so it may benefit him to establish a regular daily pattern, if you don't already.

 

Four is young. And starting K when just turning 5 in August is also young!! I think it is perfectly fine to work with him as you can,and as he is able, and wait until he is turning 6 to call it kindergarten. Some of his difficulties may just be because he is young, but keep note of the things that he seems to be having trouble with.

 

I think it's interesting that you say the doctor suggested autism at age two and then "ruled it out" the next year. How was it ruled out? Just as the doctor's opinion, or did he do some kind of testing? Frankly, pediatricians often miss the signs of these kinds of issues. Ours did, even though we brought them up at the annual appointments.

 

If you suspect autism, don't believe anyone who rules it out without doing a full and complete autism evaluation. It takes an expert to figure it out.

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She didn't mention anything specific, just that if he didn't start cooperating and continued to throw fits they wouldn't be able to work with him any longer. His doctor mentioned autism when he was 2 but ruled it out at the next appointment. 

 

What your speech therapist is saying is way more informative than your doctor "ruling out" autism from one visit to the next. Speech pathologists are used to working with kids and encountering resistance--it's hard work! They usually know how to make it as fun as possible and gain cooperation. If your SLP is that frustrated, something is going on.

 

Your ped sounds like he has his head in the sand. Our kids were rarely sick, so we didn't see a ped much--he really had zero idea about what our kids were like developmentally, but he was willing to give a referral when needed. 

 

If this ped is really your only option, I would start filling out checklists and taking them in. I would drive him nuts until he gave me a referral. 

 

Have you considered seeing a developmental pediatrician? Do you have any kind of developmental disabilities board or a community mental health organization that would provide the medicaid referral instead of the doctor?

 

What if you enrolled him in a developmental preschool and had them refer him?

 

Just trying to throw out some ideas. I wouldn't hesitate to recruit another professional, such as the SLP, to describe the behaviors and basically shame the doctor into giving you a referral. If you do any church or extracurriculars, you might also find someone who can give you an honest description of his behavior to round out your concerns (be sure they know that being overly positive to be nice is NOT in his or your best interest--sometimes people are too nice because they don't want you to be mad or offended).

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What your speech therapist is saying is way more informative than your doctor "ruling out" autism from one visit to the next. Speech pathologists are used to working with kids and encountering resistance--it's hard work! They usually know how to make it as fun as possible and gain cooperation. If your SLP is that frustrated, something is going on.

 

Your ped sounds like he has his head in the sand. Our kids were rarely sick, so we didn't see a ped much--he really had zero idea about what our kids were like developmentally, but he was willing to give a referral when needed. 

 

If this ped is really your only option, I would start filling out checklists and taking them in. I would drive him nuts until he gave me a referral. 

 

Have you considered seeing a developmental pediatrician? Do you have any kind of developmental disabilities board or a community mental health organization that would provide the medicaid referral instead of the doctor?

 

What if you enrolled him in a developmental preschool and had them refer him?

 

Just trying to throw out some ideas. I wouldn't hesitate to recruit another professional, such as the SLP, to describe the behaviors and basically shame the doctor into giving you a referral. If you do any church or extracurriculars, you might also find someone who can give you an honest description of his behavior to round out your concerns (be sure they know that being overly positive to be nice is NOT in his or your best interest--sometimes people are too nice because they don't want you to be mad or offended).

 

We live in a small town, so our choices are limited. There is a new ped that's moved into town not to long ago and once they've really established themselves I'm gonna look into how well they're doing. If not, we may have to go out of town. We do have a local mental health center and I recently found out that they have child therapists there, so I'll look more into that.

 

We've recently switch SLPs since the one who suggested having him seen was promoted. His new one is learning to compromise with him, giving him a few choices, and quickly set up a routine so there's fewer behavioral issues with her. He actually looks forward to it now as long as we make sure his morning and the trip there goes smoothly (it's an hour  away).

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No, you don't need a child therapist. That's a rabbit trail. She means you need a behaviorist. It's the autism question. Don't get a therapist. Get the referral for a behaviorist and for evals. 

 

Yes, you want to call him K4 this year because his b-day his borderline. He's young, not ready, not advanced, and there's just no benefit to him being called K5 this year. He'll be a full year younger than most of the other K5ers.

 

That's great that your new SLP has more skills to work with him. I've had therapists like that. That's really telling that his behavior is so challenging that he's needing these extra supports. You really want to be getting the referrals and getting evals. It's not going away, and the fact that she *can* work with it now does not mean nothing is going on. It just means you got someone will more skills this time. 

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In every district I've lived in (and was aware of public school age cut-offs), an August birthday is past the cut-off.  Calling him K when he turns 6 is actually pretty standard for a late summer birthday.

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There are some states that use a later date like September or even a few using December. The reality is this particular child is not well-served to be on the young end of his grade. For some kids, especially precocious girls, it might actually be fine. 

 

Grade level is one of those things that is uncomfortable to pull back later. It's also social. So a child with that many issues probably needs the extra time to bloom socially. He can be taught where he is, called K4, and then he can grade skip later if it's apparent that's a good fit for him.   My ds has a gifted IQ with his fall b-day, and it was a better fit for him to be on the older end of his grade. In fact, we'll probably grade adjust him again at some point or do a gr13 or something. It has become very apparent that he clicks better with kids who are a bit younger than him and fits in those classes better. So for Sunday School, activities, anything, he does better if he's on the older end in a younger level class, rather than being on the younger end of an upper class. 

 

None of that stops me from teaching him exactly where he is. You should work with him where he is. Having btdt on behaviors, I can sympathize that it's a challenge. I *didn't* get help on behavior when he was 3-5, and although I was teaching him it was horrifically hard. We brought in a behaviorist, into our home, began ABA, and that helped. You'll find therapies and people that have trite answers (like RDI and their oh we'll just do this and he'll fall right in with a mentor/apprenticeship role!). Fine, whatever. For us it was lots of layers of things. Working on behavior means less academics, and then you'll feel guilty about that. The WORST combination possible is not working on academics AND not having effective behavioral interventions. That's the one thing to avoid.

 

Evals will save you time and grief in the long-run, because they'll allow you to cut to the chase and find effective behavioral interventions. If standard parenting would have done it, you'd have done it by now. Most kids, typical kids, are working on obedience from ages 2-5 and by 5 have it pretty well nailed. They have their sense of group plan, who's in charge, what their place is, and are by age 5 transitioning to work on self-regulation and self-control. So, when I worked in K5, the kids started the year with teacher control and ended the year with self-control. That is the BIG GOAL of K5. 

 

There is a curriculum, btw, that they use with this age. It's something you could look into or something a behaviorist could do with him if you brought one in. It's We Thinkers by Michelle Garcia Winner of SocialThinking.com This is the stuff behaviorist, SLPs, etc. use with kids to help them begin to understand concepts like group plan, body in space, etc. It uses picture books and activities and is EXCELLENT. You can also find social skills groups sometimes that are doing it. In the groups my ds attends, there are some kids who have ADHD or no diagnosis yet, and there are kids on the spectrum. The kids on the spectrum need *more* intervention and instruction to get there and the kids with ADHD catch on faster. So my ds has worked through a lot of this curriculum 1:1 with a behaviorist, and now he's able to do it in groups. 

 

Are you still with this ped? He seems really outdated on his understanding of developmental issues. Our ped had me going to the SLP for my ds' apraxia well before he was 2. Waiting till 3 is way late, depending on what you're seeing. And to suspicion autism and not do a referral is, I don't know. You're saying pretty significant things, things that ought to get you referrals. My ds wasn't diagnosed til 6.5, and I look back and go wow, he was clearly diagnosable at 2. That's a lot of time where we didn't have help we could have had. 

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In every district I've lived in (and was aware of public school age cut-offs), an August birthday is past the cut-off.  Calling him K when he turns 6 is actually pretty standard for a late summer birthday.

ITA, this wouldn't even be considered delaying here. I'd just work on getting the diagnosis and help you need, you've still got plenty of time. Good luck!

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Thanks for all the advice! I feel a lot better about not pushing forward with a formal k5 next year and will continue to do easy learning activities with the exception of AAR (he really enjoys it). I'll make sure to add in some of the fine motor skill activities suggested here and focus on getting his speech/behavior/focusing where it needs to be and check out the resources suggested. I've also looked into a new doctor in the area. Despite only being here for a few months, she has some amazing reviews including some about her working with nonverbal children and I'll be calling tomorrow. Hopefully we'll have better luck with getting referrals there and hope he does well with the change. Thanks again for helping me come to this decision.

Edited by shand
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Is he due to turn 5 before the school cut off for K in the fall? I guess I don't understand the concern yet since he's 4. To be honest, it sounds like he'd be starting K early, rather than being held back unless he's turning 5 soon? Maybe I missed some details.

 

Dd and ds have been very different. Dd is 3 and what I'd consider more of an eager learner, whereas ds was reluctant in a lot of ways when we tried homeschooling (age 4? for PreK stuff). I definitely wouldn't sweat a formal K program right now. What dd and I do is flip through the phonics flashcards (full sheet size with pictures and a letter to trace with your finger) from Genki Phonics. Sometimes she brings them to me when I ask her to get a book. Ds, ehh, he wasn't really into them. Dd has speech issues but we're trying to help her with her tongue placement. I think being ready for K may or may not have much to do with the speech, though. That's an element to consider of course.

 

We also use the Doodling Dragon books and AAS and LOE apps. You might want to try those. You can let them tap on the screen for the right sound or listen to the sound from the chart. I don't know how your AAR program is laid out, so I'm not sure if this is helpful or not.

 

 

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FWIW, my oldest (mid-August birthday, speech delay, ASD) was well-served by starting school by age (everywhere that I've ever lived has their cut-off past August, in September or October or December). So, he started PreK at 3 years 3 days, and then the second round of PreK at 4yo, and then K around his 5th birthday. That said, he was in a mixed special ed/regular ed public PreK class, and then in K he had a 1-1 aide (first part of the day, but then after we moved to a different state for the whole day, since this state (or at least this school) had much more seat work in K). So, he started school barely talking at all, and made huge progress over the years (I started homeschooling him in 3rd grade, because homeschooling had been the original plan - the only reason we didn't from the start was life circumstances). Because he was tiny (he's short for his age - if you have a tall kid this might not apply) and young the teacher and other kids were more forgiving of his delays and issues in my experience than they probably would've been if he'd been the oldest and biggest kid in the class. Either way, you should be able to get some evals and some services through the school district, even if you don't enroll him in school (afaik... at least that was true in the states we've lived in). 

 

When homeschooling, grade level doesn't really matter though - you don't have to do a kindergarten curriculum, and if you do, you don't have to start it in August or September - you could start it in December or March or whenever you feel like it. If you have to report to your state, that might make writing your reports a bit more complicated, but certainly not impossible. If the state makes you declare a grade level, then yes, it might make sense to redshirt him, but if they don't make you, I wouldn't really assign him a grade level yet. My oldest went from testing well below average at 4yo (verbal IQ of 70-something) to testing into CTY's gifted program at the end of 3rd grade (though his writing is still a weak point, and his pronunciation of words still isn't as good as it should be).

 

Of course, ymmv and all that - just saying that your kid is still very young, so it's hard to tell what the future will hold. Also, I don't know what the odds are of the new pediatrician's practice filling up in your town, but you might want to switch now rather than after everybody decides they're awesome and you can't get in. 

Edited by luuknam

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If his birthday is in August he would attend Young 5s the fall after he turned 5 and then K the fall after he turned 6 if you lived in our area.....even with no special learning concerns.

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