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    #219063 - 07/02/15 11:10 AM Would Appreciate Any Advice on Kinder Decision
    Hildy Offline
    Junior Member

    Registered: 11/17/13
    Posts: 14
    Hello friends,

    I'd appreciate any advice or insight on a very tough decision we are having to make for our son's Kindergarten this fall. He is 2E HG (PG in visual/spacial) with Executive Functioning issues, socially delayed, and severe anxiety. He's been reading since 2.5 and is quite advanced in math and is NUTS for robotics. He gets extremely uncomfortable/overstimulated/nuts in large classes (he says his current preschool has way too many kids at 21 with three teachers). We've had him evaluated by an amazing psychologist who has been so incredibly helpful and believes his best chance is a school with tiny class sizes. Has anyone heard of such a thing in the Los Angeles area? We had our hopes set on a school in Pasadena we thought was perfect (micro class sizes, individualized learning), but just found out he didn't get in and we are devastated.

    Our choices right now are between our local public school (which by all accounts is excellent but extremely overcrowded and a very basic curriculum but a very warm feeling) and a STEAM Magnet that he got into (also big class sizes but not very "nice," long drive, but possibly a curriculum he'd be more willing to participate in).

    Just wondering if anyone can offer any insight or comfort or ideas or just generally tell us it's going to be ok. wink This is a huge transition and we are getting down to the wire and not sure what to do.

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    #219173 - 07/06/15 03:41 PM Re: Would Appreciate Any Advice on Kinder Decision [Re: Hildy]
    aeh Offline
    Member

    Registered: 04/26/14
    Posts: 3959
    bump
    _________________________
    ...pronounced like the long vowel and first letter of the alphabet...

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    #219179 - 07/06/15 04:30 PM Re: Would Appreciate Any Advice on Kinder Decision [Re: Hildy]
    suevv Offline
    Member

    Registered: 08/10/12
    Posts: 381
    I wish I could offer some specific advice about LA schools, but we're up in the Bay Area. DS7 just finished first grade at our local public elementary. He seems much like your child in ability and temperament (except he wasn't an early reader). Here are some data points and thoughts. Lots of folks may have very different thoughts, but maybe this will get a conversation started for you.

    K was very, very bad for us. The chaos/boredom couplet combined with a very old-school dictatorial teacher had DS miserable enough that we almost pulled him out of school all together. But here is the relevant data point for you - we could have! There is no legal requirement for a child to go to K in California. I know this goes against the early-entry flip side of ideas on this site. But for an easily overwhelmed little boy with EF issues and anxiety, classrooms are just generally going to be very tough. So don't ever forget that whatever you decide, you can always pull the plug and re-boot next year! Frankly, we practically did that. DS had an astonishing number of "doctor appointments" second half of K year. Like twice a week. I had to check attendance requirements to make sure I didn't cause a problem due to absence. I don't recall the rules, but there was never an issue. So just remember that if you get into a rough patch, you can give your kid a break, or just step off! And FWIW - if he's overstimulated and nuts due to the crowd, I expect "nice" will be more important for him than the magnet school. There's always time for that later, and you probably do a bunch of STEAM with him at home anyway, right?

    To the second part of your post - I do think it will get better and your DS will be ok (parents too!). First grade was light years better for DS. Some of that was the fact he simply had a better teacher. But to be honest, a lot of it was that he is beginning to grow in to more control over his excitability, impulses and anxiety. He has survival strategies. He's learning how to manage himself. In short, he is beginning to have EF.

    There is much to be said for early entry and acceleration for kids that don't have to struggle with EF. But for kids like ours, the extra time to learn to catch themselves is just so valuable. DS honestly learned very little in academics this year (maybe nothing). He did "learn" to read, though this happened almost overnight and he went from not reading at all to reading just about anything. So it wasn't due to academic instruction at the school.

    So - no academics. But really he is learning so much about how to manage away from the protective wings of Mom and Dad. He's going to be so much more ready when it comes time for him to actually tackle something academic in school. I've had to do some pretty heavy lifting to make sure the school supports my quirky little guy with proper discipline/teaching as opposed to improper punishment. But he's getting there. I'll bet your guy will, too.

    Hope this rambling email helps. Happy to chat if that would help.

    Sue

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    #219516 - 07/13/15 02:58 PM Re: Would Appreciate Any Advice on Kinder Decision [Re: Portia]
    Hildy Offline
    Junior Member

    Registered: 11/17/13
    Posts: 14
    THANK YOU so much for your replies!

    Originally Posted By: Portia

    The 21 kids to 3 teachers ratio is not the same as a 7:1 ratio for a socially anxious child. It is 24 people in the room instead of 8. The adult/kid ratio is important to help with some of the behavior, but does not matter with social anxiety. I hope that makes sense.


    It does! I hadn't really realized that, but he's been trying to tell me that in his way. We just found out about a small school that is 16 max in a class with 8 to 1 ratio. While I'd prefer even smaller, we are looking into it. PS NO CLUE how we'd pay for private.

    Originally Posted By: Portia

    We put DS in a private transitional kindergarten (TK) and kindergarten (K). The public school here is very good, but it was very clear it was not going to be a good fit. It could not meet him academically. The class sizes were 23-27 students, which did not work for DS at that time. There were good things about the private school and not so good things about it. The teacher made a difference. Vision therapy made a big difference for us as well (but DS has vision processing issues). The bad things were that private was not open to more differentiation than the 1 grade level acceleration within the class. The math was never met and became a huge source of frustration by K. We had to afterschool to get learning needs met. We now homeschool, which has been the best solution for us.


    The disparity between the emotional/social needs and the academic can be so acute, can't it! I completely understand the homeschool decision, and god knows, we might have to go that route, but really want to try and see how things go at first. Thank you SO MUCH for sharing your experience!!

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    #219519 - 07/13/15 03:25 PM Re: Would Appreciate Any Advice on Kinder Decision [Re: Hildy]
    puffin Offline
    Member

    Registered: 12/11/12
    Posts: 2035
    I really don't think there is such a thing as a suitable school for such a child. It may be that you can get some needs met and cover the rest at home but if you can homeschool i would go for that.

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    #219529 - 07/13/15 07:34 PM Re: Would Appreciate Any Advice on Kinder Decision [Re: suevv]
    Hildy Offline
    Junior Member

    Registered: 11/17/13
    Posts: 14
    Originally Posted By: suevv

    K was very, very bad for us. The chaos/boredom couplet combined with a very old-school dictatorial teacher had DS miserable enough that we almost pulled him out of school all together. But here is the relevant data point for you - we could have! There is no legal requirement for a child to go to K in California.


    I don't think I knew this! Do you think that's why attendance wasn't strictly enforced with the doctor visits and stuff? My kid is going to be in three therapies a week and I'm trying to figure out just on that level how we're going to make it all come together.

    Originally Posted By: suevv

    I know this goes against the early-entry flip side of ideas on this site. But for an easily overwhelmed little boy with EF issues and anxiety, classrooms are just generally going to be very tough. So don't ever forget that whatever you decide, you can always pull the plug and re-boot next year! Frankly, we practically did that. DS had an astonishing number of "doctor appointments" second half of K year. Like twice a week. I had to check attendance requirements to make sure I didn't cause a problem due to absence. I don't recall the rules, but there was never an issue. So just remember that if you get into a rough patch, you can give your kid a break, or just step off! And FWIW - if he's overstimulated and nuts due to the crowd, I expect "nice" will be more important for him than the magnet school. There's always time for that later, and you probably do a bunch of STEAM with him at home anyway, right?


    YES, absolutely, he is STEAM-ed out at home all the time. You might be very right about nice vs magnet. Something in my gut is telling me this as well. But we've got people telling us we'd be nuts to pass up the magnet. But I seriously don't think they understand what our little guy's cocktail of issues are like for all of us.

    So do you mean that you literally just sort of...gave your guy days off? And it was ok? I like this.

    Originally Posted By: suevv

    To the second part of your post - I do think it will get better and your DS will be ok (parents too!). First grade was light years better for DS. Some of that was the fact he simply had a better teacher. But to be honest, a lot of it was that he is beginning to grow in to more control over his excitability, impulses and anxiety. He has survival strategies. He's learning how to manage himself. In short, he is beginning to have EF.

    There is much to be said for early entry and acceleration for kids that don't have to struggle with EF. But for kids like ours, the extra time to learn to catch themselves is just so valuable. DS honestly learned very little in academics this year (maybe nothing). He did "learn" to read, though this happened almost overnight and he went from not reading at all to reading just about anything. So it wasn't due to academic instruction at the school.

    So - no academics. But really he is learning so much about how to manage away from the protective wings of Mom and Dad. He's going to be so much more ready when it comes time for him to actually tackle something academic in school. I've had to do some pretty heavy lifting to make sure the school supports my quirky little guy with proper discipline/teaching as opposed to improper punishment. But he's getting there. I'll bet your guy will, too.

    Hope this rambling email helps. Happy to chat if that would help.

    Sue


    It's so, so, so helpful and hopeful. It's what I need to hear. Our little team (preschool director and psychologists) seem to think that he needs a year or possible two in a "safe" environment and then could transition to public school. We are looking at yet another private school that is a long drive but very small classes. I have absolutely zero clue how we'd pay for it, though! That is a real and unfortunate issue complicating this. But I think...sort of knowing that if we go public, this year might be a wash to some degree, but slowly he's going to grow into himself is what I want to believe right now. UGH.

    I do SO hope that discipline/teaching as opposed to punishment is fostered, wherever he goes. And I know that that is possible unrealistic. But it makes such a HUGE difference. Leaving our wonderful preschool who have espoused that is going to be so, so hard.

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    #219530 - 07/13/15 07:37 PM Re: Would Appreciate Any Advice on Kinder Decision [Re: puffin]
    Hildy Offline
    Junior Member

    Registered: 11/17/13
    Posts: 14
    Originally Posted By: puffin
    I really don't think there is such a thing as a suitable school for such a child. It may be that you can get some needs met and cover the rest at home but if you can homeschool i would go for that.


    Right now it's a last resort, as I am not a teacher, and he doesn't like to learn from me. I'm understating how stressful of a situation it could become.

    That being said, am I right to think that the issues my son has seem to be common for those on this board? I feel like these 2E problems are not surprising or unusual around here. It is so hard to explain to our family and friends, because it's not obvious (unless you're a teacher who has to deal with him).

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    #219531 - 07/13/15 07:38 PM Re: Would Appreciate Any Advice on Kinder Decision [Re: suevv]
    Hildy Offline
    Junior Member

    Registered: 11/17/13
    Posts: 14
    I wrote a big reply to this wonderful post and it has disappeared. I'm going to wait to see if it re-appears before re-writing, but just wanted to thank you.

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    #219536 - 07/13/15 11:41 PM Re: Would Appreciate Any Advice on Kinder Decision [Re: Hildy]
    Tigerle Offline
    Member

    Registered: 07/29/14
    Posts: 602
    Loc: Europe
    Originally Posted By: Hildy
    Originally Posted By: puffin
    I really don't think there is such a thing as a suitable school for such a child. It may be that you can get some needs met and cover the rest at home but if you can homeschool i would go for that.


    Right now it's a last resort, as I am not a teacher, and he doesn't like to learn from me. I'm understating how stressful of a situation it could become.

    That being said, am I right to think that the issues my son has seem to be common for those on this board? I feel like these 2E problems are not surprising or unusual around here. It is so hard to explain to our family and friends, because it's not obvious (unless you're a teacher who has to deal with him).


    Yes, to both. This was an issue my kid had as well, and preschool was hard for him. I have to say that grade school was much better, among other things the classroom was much calmer than the mixed age classrooms in his preschool, more structured activities, free play only during recess outside when he could get away (free play in preschool was hardest on him).
    You may not be able to find a perfect setting - even the school you wanted may not have been that. The foremost thing I'd look for is flexibility - none of "that's the way we've always done things/everybody does things" stuff but attention to the needs of the child. They may not be able to fully meet them but at least being aware of them may help. Warm, caring, sounds good. Forget academics, they won't meet his needs, and they may not be to blame even. If he is happy, makes friends, learns stuff like good handwriting and organization, gets to read good books - you're good. Actual academic learning that gets him excited would be the icing on the cake.
    Careful about schools that are far away and a bother to commute to. It's rarely worth it, the time in the car is very stressful for these kids as well. Try to prioritize stimulating hobbies and time outdoors.


    Edited by Tigerle (07/13/15 11:43 PM)

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    #219548 - 07/14/15 10:25 AM Re: Would Appreciate Any Advice on Kinder Decision [Re: Hildy]
    suevv Offline
    Member

    Registered: 08/10/12
    Posts: 381
    Hi Hildy,

    I'm happy if my post helps. I remember feeling so lonely and sad during K year, just fighting, fighting to get through it. And feeling so sad for DS, knowing for his whole life he would be baffled when he heard people talk about how K was this fun, magical thing. And I can only imagine what he'll think if/when he sees that book "Everything I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten."

    [[AH - I have lots to say here. I'll try to be organized and concise (but see my post on the EF thread!).]]

    School selection -- I think Tigerle has it nailed re unlikely to find a perfect setting and flexibility being key. This is relevant to private schools in an important way. No matter what they say, in the end they are unlikely to be flexible enough in the particular issues our kids struggle with. When faced with extreme asynchrony/quirkiness/classroom disrupting behaviors, they will have to ask you to leave. Folks are paying big bucks to be there, and the school HAS to please their paying clients. I would want to have explicit, on point discussions and examples of extreme flexibility and tolerance before sending my son there. And for heavens sake - apply this especially to any school for gifted kids. They are highly focused on achievement. And this advice is straight from the admissions director at one of the best known gifted schools in the Bay Area. [This is not to say these won't be good schools for our kids in a few years. We still have them on our radar for middle school.]

    Honestly - this was why we ended up at the local public school. I knew my son couldn't handle moving from school to school. I hear about PG kids who do that, looking for the right fit. But this would be devastating for DS. He needed a place that would fight through it with him. And no matter what - the public school has to keep working with you. Important caveat - I had good reason to believe that the principal had her head and heart in the right place.

    So - we had a terrible K setting. But the principal worked with me to shepherd DS through it. And she mandated more appropriate discipline strategies that didn't work perfectly, but did help. And most critically - she FINALLY, truly believed that DS's behavior wasn't volitional, that he wanted so much to be "good" in school, that he really was trying hard. It took a few conversations with me and with DS, but she got it. That was the turning point. And most critically, it led to the optimal teacher assignment for first grade. Hopefully the same will be true in the future (I'm already losing sleep over start of second grade in a month ....). FWIW - we have never explicitly discussed his neuropsych assessment or IQ. But I'm fairly certain she knows he is far outside the box - even for our crazy Silicon Valley demographic.

    And yes - I sometimes just give my little guy days off to help him get through the week. I try to have some colorable activity in case somebody asked him where he was. But sometimes it was nothing more than going over to the ocean for a particularly low tide, or visiting a friend's lab at the university for 30 minutes, or even just doing a science experiment at home. Once, I had a (really) huge block of ice and he just spent an afternoon smashing it. But I always sent email to the school saying "DS has a doctor's appointment and will not be in school on [insert date]." So the absences were excused.

    And the email wasn't false if you read it carefully! He does have a doctor's appointment. And he does miss school on [date]. He just didn't miss school FOR the doctor appointment. wink If anybody ever asked, I planned to just say that the appointment got re-scheduled. But nobody ever asked.

    And things are getting better now. Stay tuned for second grade! I hope we don't have any dramatic plot twists.

    So this was long and not concise, and I probably should have made it a PM. But maybe it will be helpful to others.

    We're with you Hildy,
    Sue

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