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I have a 4yo (4y5m) who I think is certainly gifted, likely highly gifted. I started doing Phonics with him a couple months ago and he has made quick progress, working ~20 minutes per day when he feels like it. Yesterday when he spontaneously spelled the word “igloo” with some wooden letters, and a simple 4-word sentence, I thought, he’s definitely going to be too advanced for kindergarten when he would start by age in 1.5 years!

Our state does not permit early entry to kindergarten. A child who does K in a private school at 4 can enter public school the following year in grade 1, though. (Ridiculous favoritism of kids with money! Fortunately, we do have the money for private school if we choose.) A student homeschooled for K at 4 would be placed into K initially and evaluated for moving to grade 1 during the first few weeks, but it’s very subjective. No student can advance to grade 1 without completing a full year of K, regardless of ability, according to policy.

I am leaning toward homeschooling, but I would prefer to keep my options open with public schooling until I see whether it’s a good fit for his temperament. So I am concerned about his advancing more than a year beyond age-grade level. On the other hand, I wouldn’t want to hold him back just for the purpose of conforming him to the system. And as reading progress snowballs, we may be getting to a point of no return, if that makes sense. There is only one small private Montessori in town through grade 6, no other private schools. I don’t know whether it is a good fit for gifted children or not.

He has been in preschool for two years. He seems to be socially average and happily plays with boys his own age in a mixed-age classroom. So I don’t know whether he would succeed being accelerated at a young age, especially with a school that seems to be prejudiced against it.

I thought that gifted testing might help me decide, but the first place I called doesn’t do testing until 5.5 years old.

I have to commit to some extent to doing K or not doing it, because if he is enrolled in preschool, he will not be eligible for skipping to grade 1 the following year, even if he completes a full K curriculum, at least as I read the policies. He’s been going to school because he is a high-stimulation child, the oldest of 3 young children, and does not do well being home day after day. So I would have to commit to more outings with 3 under 5, and still fit kindergarten lessons in. And try to make sure he gets time with same-age peers to ensure age-appropriate social skills. Either way, I am planning to start the middle child, 3 years old, in preschool in the fall, which will help me have more time to focus on learning activities with my oldest.

He loves doing learning activities with me and would do much more if I had the one-on-one time with him, so I’m not worried about pushing him.

Do you have any advice?

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While at older ages you can avoid being redundant with school material by choosing side-topics, passions, etc...I think you are not really going to stop a gifted kid learning basic computation and reading if they are ready. My middle son (supposedly pg) read the Harry Potter series in Kindergarten...then we pulled him out along with his older brother who also was reading in kindergarten and was bored in 2nd grade . He is now back in since 7th grade (in 9th now) and while bored with the pace, the material itself was not an issue putting him back in. Grades 1 and 2 are the rough years to be way ahead IMO.

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We separated out skills.  I taught reading when he wanted to learn how to read (at 4), but Kindergarten in our house was all about developing fine and gross motor skills, exposure to classic stories and rhymes, learning about the world around him, art & music appreciation, and lots of free play.  The 3Rs were not a main focus, but he progressed at his own rate, if that makes sense, by doing how much he wanted to do while I focused on richness.  Like, everything else had to be just as important, too, to keep things well rounded. 

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We did the early entry to K in a state with similar requirements (possibly the same one).It was a tough year for DD, in part because she did it in a school where most of the kids turned 6 before she turned 5, and a couple turned 7 before she turned 5. It was hard being simultaneously the youngest and least physically mature and the most academically and cognitively advanced in the group. 

And it still didn’t meet her educational needs. We ended up homeschooling after that first year. At 12 she started college classes, and became degree seeking after completing 12 credit hours. It wouldn’t have made any difference for her to apply as a 12 yr old 6th grader with good ACT scores or a 12 yr old 7th grader with good ACT scores.

If I had to go back, I’d homeschool from the start and not worry about registering for K until she met the state cutoff. 

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If he’s ready to read and/or do math, you may not be able to stop him. My daughter jumped from sounding out words to a middle school reading/comprehension level in about a year at preschool age.

If you’re not interested in homeschooling more than one year, I’d check closer into exactly what the district’s guidelines are. If they do require a full year of kindy, check if they have more flexibility in skipping later grades. It might be possible to keep him in preschool, homeschool him for what would be his kindy year, then enroll him into second grade, skipping first grade at the school. That would have your kids a little bit older before needing to manage the social outings with all of them.

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3 hours ago, brownie said:

While at older ages you can avoid being redundant with school material by choosing side-topics, passions, etc...I think you are not really going to stop a gifted kid learning basic computation and reading if they are ready. My middle son (supposedly pg) read the Harry Potter series in Kindergarten...then we pulled him out along with his older brother who also was reading in kindergarten and was bored in 2nd grade . He is now back in since 7th grade (in 9th now) and while bored with the pace, the material itself was not an issue putting him back in. Grades 1 and 2 are the rough years to be way ahead IMO.

 Thank you! If I understand you correctly, are you saying that you would let him learn at his own pace and expect that he will likely need to be homeschooled until at least third grade?

 

3 hours ago, Jackie said:

If he’s ready to read and/or do math, you may not be able to stop him. My daughter jumped from sounding out words to a middle school reading/comprehension level in about a year at preschool age.

If you’re not interested in homeschooling more than one year, I’d check closer into exactly what the district’s guidelines are. If they do require a full year of kindy, check if they have more flexibility in skipping later grades. It might be possible to keep him in preschool, homeschool him for what would be his kindy year, then enroll him into second grade, skipping first grade at the school. That would have your kids a little bit older before needing to manage the social outings with all of them.

This is a good idea I hadn't thought of. I am interested in long-term homeschooling, I just don't want to commit to it at this stage and burn my bridges as far as successfully integrating into public school, if he goes crazy being at home too much or needs that more structured environment.

 

3 hours ago, HomeAgain said:

We separated out skills.  I taught reading when he wanted to learn how to read (at 4), but Kindergarten in our house was all about developing fine and gross motor skills, exposure to classic stories and rhymes, learning about the world around him, art & music appreciation, and lots of free play.  The 3Rs were not a main focus, but he progressed at his own rate, if that makes sense, by doing how much he wanted to do while I focused on richness.  Like, everything else had to be just as important, too, to keep things well rounded. 

Was well-rounded kindergarten for you at age 4 or 5?

It seems like my options are to decide to homeschool Kinder this upcoming year with the option of trying for first grade the following year, or to keep him in preschool this year and homeschool "Kindergarten" the following year with the option of trying for second grade after that, if he's not too far ahead. My intent was to go from 4-day preschool this year to 2-day next year, testing the homeschooling waters the other 2-3 days, so I'll probably stick with that plan and hope it doesn't go badly, since we'll be more or less stuck with it for the Kindergarten year after that! Unless the private school turns out to be a viable option.

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12 hours ago, HTRMom said:

 

 

 

Was well-rounded kindergarten for you at age 4 or 5?

It seems like my options are to decide to homeschool Kinder this upcoming year with the option of trying for first grade the following year, or to keep him in preschool this year and homeschool "Kindergarten" the following year with the option of trying for second grade after that, if he's not too far ahead. My intent was to go from 4-day preschool this year to 2-day next year, testing the homeschooling waters the other 2-3 days, so I'll probably stick with that plan and hope it doesn't go badly, since we'll be more or less stuck with it for the Kindergarten year after that! Unless the private school turns out to be a viable option.

It was at age 5.

At age 4 we did a round-the-world theme with Little Passports, learning about cultures.  I stretched out each package to a full month with food, music, language, etc. Age 5 we spent more time with nursery rhymes/classic folk tales/children's stories (he read Matilda that year, iirc) and things like Wee Folk Art bridged with actual art and music - like, one week was all about apples, so Magritte's painting Son of Man was studied and recreated as he did apple prints, learned where apples came from, tasted different types of apples/explored farming techniques like grafting and hybrids, used apple-scented playdoh to make things, read a story on Johnny Appleseed, and made apple muffins. Kindergarten, but kindergarten for one. :)
We held off on 1st until age 6 because I wanted him to have enough of a background to begin to understand the parts of the world and culture before diving into ancient ones with a more rigorous set of work.  I wanted him to be able to make connections between past and present and nature's influence.  Now he's in 2nd and doing what I call 2nd, but keeping in mind that we need play in our lives as much as a Latin lesson balances the day still.  Since he works at an older level it's easy to push it aside or to feel like there's nothing play-like out there but he's still a baby.  :)  School still needs to have an air of excitement for him and be meaningful.

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Do you have any local preschools that include KG?  If so, maybe they would consider letting your child join their KG on a trial basis.

The rules in your state sound similar to what I found when I researched in mine.  My kids were attending a pre-school with a KG.  The KG had a policy of accepting young kids with fall birthdays (provisionally), but they would not let my January-born kid in despite the fact that she already knew all the material they would teach in KG and more.  However, they transferred her into their KG in December after the pre-K teacher pushed for it.  I then learned that the local schools (public and private) were happy to accept her in 1st the next year if she completed KG.  They weren't interested on whether she did the whole 9 months of KG.

While my kid was in pre-K for the fall when she was 4, not knowing the future, I also home-schooled her in the evening, keeping records of what books she read, visits to the zoos / museums, math games played, etc.  I did know of one private school who would accept her in 1st grade if we homeschooled KG.  That school was kind of far away, but I would have tried to make it work to get her into the right grade level early on.

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I think the choice on early Kindergarten is about the social maturity.  If you think your son can socialize just fine, I'd definitely apply and see what the private schools think.  You may still have to homeschool eventually because he'll learn at a faster pace, but at least you stand a chance of having him enjoy a year or two or even just making it work longterm.  If you wait another year to go to K, most likely he'll be bored from the start.  If they don't think he's ready, then you simply wait.

Also, I would recommend not doing extra academic work with him at night unless he specifically asks to try to slow things down.    If he's gifted, in 2-3 years, he'll be top of the class anyways.    You can always focus on other things--art, robotics, music, informational shows, but if you do reading and math with him, he's more likely to be bored in school.

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This is the worst, right?  Dd4.5 is starting to ask for math problems at night.  We are working with addition, subtraction, division, all orally and with counting on fingers. Just whatever I make up on the spot.  I know she would fly through a real curriculum, but she won’t start K until fall of 2019 so I am purposefully treading water.  But she is going to figure a lot of reading and math out on her own in the next 1.5 years.  We considered early kindergarten, but it wasn’t a great social fit, and I don’t think it will be a great academic fit no matter what we do, so might as well not be the youngest...  I fantasize that if she’s mature and well-behaved they are more likely to let her read in the corner, or do her own worksheets...  I’m trying to fill her up with audiobooks and she will start Saturday German school this fall.  Fingers crossed we are doing the right thing!

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I like the idea of trying to redirect to things that are not language arts and math, but can still be mentally stimulating, like science, cultures, hobbies, etc. I can’t just let him “be a kid and play all day,” he has such a drive to learn! Of course he can learn and play, but you know what I mean. 

He loves learning Spanish words, as one of his teachers at preschool is Mexican. Maybe I could be more intentional about that. And he’s very mechanically oriented, and loves learning science too, so I’ll hold off on buying math workbooks and do more of that stuff until/unless he insists on math. 

I think I’ll continue our reading lessons, anyway. Reading will be such a boon for his curiosity and imagination. Plus, I’m having too much fun watching him learn to quit! Surely a kid who reads fluently could be allowed to read quietly during reading lessons. At least you would hope. 

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I will say that although my dd was way ahead in reading, she never complained about school being boring or anything like that.  She didn't know any different.

They didn't let her out of the daily reading activities or anything; they didn't even give individualized instruction in 1st grade.  But she just went with the flow.  She could work on her penmanship or just quietly daydream like I did in school.

(She was an early entrant, but even so, she was way ahead.  When she finished KG her ITBS score had her around 3rd grade level reading, and she read hundreds of books over the summer before 1st grade.  Still she had to start at the very beginning in 1st.)

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I'm going to give a different perspective here. I loosely homeschooled during the preschool years for my oldest, and I was back at work full time when my youngest was 2.

Our elementary has an extremely bright population with very highly educated parents, and I've been able to keep both of mine in their age grades so far. This has been advantageous particularly for my oldest, who had weak handwriting skills (and as a seven-year-old is now full caught up). Both kids have had the benefit of playing longer at school than they would have if accelerated.  

If you want to go for a grade skip or K early entry, be sure that your child is ready for the handwriting demands. Get a good pencil grip and ensure that he's forming letters in the proper way. Be sure he's compliant enough to do daily handwriting. Schools expect a lot more writing than the homeschooling population, and writing is one of the key's to accessing higher levels of work in a school.

Additionally, schools assess reading alongside comprehension. My five-year-old was tested by our school and can read and comprehend at a seven-year-old level, which is too easy for him. He can read the highest level they have, but he doesn't have the life skills and analytical ability yet to answer reading comprehension questions for eleven- and twelve-year-olds. This mismatch means that the reading level at home doesn't match with a level at school; that's been fine. My seven-year-old has gone through this same process, and his comprehension (i.e. ability to answer the school's reading comp questions) has gradually improved. He was tested by school as well and read the highest level (end of elementary, twelve-year-old age) and was also fine with the comprehension questions. Basically, the boys read whatever they want at home, and the reading at school is generally easy for them. This hasn't been a problem at all; we've seen no problems with perfectionism, underachievement, or stagnation of skills.

For math, schools can't really cater for my five-year-old, who can handle negative numbers and is passionately learning times tables because he wants to do everything his big brother can. That's fine. At home, he learns a ton, none of which I teach him as I now work. He does his math work at school, wows the teacher with what he thinks is simple, and loves playing with numbers. A grade skip wouldn't help the mismatch, and so far, we've been happy with things.

Basically, I don't expect a school to reach the top of my kids' abilities for math and reading. Both skills get practiced at home out of interest, and school is great for handwriting, spelling, writing in general, and social skills. These things are done in a much better way and at a much higher level than I could achieve through homeschooling.

We've had great experience talking with schools. In general, I like to have objective information to present them, in the form of test results or concrete examples (writing examples, text the child can easily read), and we have allowed the schools to make suggestions on how to meet the children's needs. At the moment, we are in the process of a move, and we've been speaking to the new school (also highly educated population but a public school rather than private). The old school made a report, and the new school will use this as a basis to make a recommendation. Based on preliminary discussions, both kids will be grade skipped.

Basically, I'd recommend talking to the school and seeing what they advise. Being in the age grade for the early, play years has been a great choice for us, and now that both boys are writing easily (younger brother is advanced for writing and doesn't have the relative weakness his brother did) and ready to leave play-based schooling, a grade skip feels right. 

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17 hours ago, HTRMom said:

I think I’ll continue our reading lessons, anyway. Reading will be such a boon for his curiosity and imagination. Plus, I’m having too much fun watching him learn to quit! Surely a kid who reads fluently could be allowed to read quietly during reading lessons. At least you would hope. 

 

There are pros and cons.  The pro is that when it comes time for reading books, they're able to go off on their own.  The con is that because they can read, they learn to block out the teacher when the teacher is leading them through worksheets--which for some schools is multiple hours a day.  It can become a real problem later because the kids are in the habit of blocking out voices around them.  They learn to ignore both teachers and parents and may have a harder time remembering multiple step commands.  They may also bomb IOWA or other tests where you have to listen to the instructions.  We had some *very* interesting IOWA scores come back for the kid that learned to read before Kindergarten.  Most parts in the 90s, but one part was in the 23-30% range--that was the part where you had to listen to the instructions.  In later grades, teachers will report that the kids aren't listening or paying attention.

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On 4/9/2018 at 4:52 PM, HTRMom said:

Surely a kid who reads fluently could be allowed to read quietly during reading lessons. At least you would hope. 

 

He might be able to do this, but may not receive any reading instruction at school.   Problems this may cause include creative pronunciation and incorrectly inferred definitions, even with above grade level reading and comprehension.  Some examples I have seen: 

  • DS calling DD "ignorant" repeatedly, because she was ignoring him.
  • pronouncing grotesque as grot-es-cue during a middle school presentation.

It's great when kids learn independently, but sometimes they need a little guidance.  Consider being prepared to work on reading at home through elementary, if he goes to school.  

If he is still driven to learn, teach him about dinosaurs, the latin names for every plant in your neighborhood, get a "Gray's Anatomy" coloring book and learn all the parts of the body.  Anything but the standard school curriculum.  Its boring enough once through for gifted kids, the second time can kill a love of learning.

 

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23 hours ago, nwahomeschoolmom said:

Totally agree!  

I have always thought I must be ADHD or something because I space out so much, but maybe this is why....I never paid attention in school and I now have terrible listening habits.  I went to a "top school" for undergrad and really struggled because, among other things, I was not in a habit of paying attention.   I could still have a touch of ADHD, but being able to stare out the window half the day sure didn't help!  

Hmmm.  Good point.   I do wonder if my son has something "diagnosable.".  He was already ignoring us to some extent, so maybe it's not really related, but it sure doesn't help when a kid can zone out and still do the work and think they're perfectly fine/smart because they can do it themselves. 

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  • 1 month later...

First . . .

All the academics your kid needs to learn at age 4-5 is how to read and elementary arithmetic. IMHO.

For the good of all that is holy, please give yourself and your kid a break and don't "do" Kindergarten. Just make sure he learns to read and do basic arithmetic and is a happy and nice kid. 

Second . . .

I sort of tried to slow down my kids' accelerated learning by broadening their education. In early elementary, they were studying an instrument seriously (suzuki violin beginning around age 2-3) and by age 6 each had added a second serious instrument (harp, guitar, piano respectively). They were each learning both Latin and Spanish as well. Lots of science. Hobbies and social things (scouts, church, book club, etc.) They all did lots of art studies. Pets. Sleepovers. Kid stuff. 

Third . . .

Despite all that, and likely also because of it, they were each always very accelerated in traditional academic subjects. Worked fine for us, but we did stick with homeschooling. Integrating back into a mainstream school with a highly gifted child who is academically advanced is going to be hard. Given the choice between dumbing down my kid vs smartening up that kid's academic environment . . . was an easy choice for me.

 

 

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