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    #46243 - 05/01/09 08:20 AM Need advice....("School Frustration!" follow up)
    trout Offline
    Junior Member

    Registered: 02/13/06
    Posts: 6
    About two weeks ago I posted the story of our battle with the school ("School Frustration!" thread.) First, I really want to thank everyone for the amazing responses! This board is incredible!

    So, here is the update... and I really need advice. We had the "answer" meeting with the school yesterday (the head of school, current teacher, and the 1st grade teacher.) We walked in and they were extremely happy. They said they had a great solution and they were eager to make things work for DD. A little background: The school is a Montessori school and DD has been in a primary program for 3 to 6 yr. olds. We are asking that she be accelerated into the 1st through 3rd grade (combined class.) So, given the mixed age class, it is a good fit for her-- better than simply accelerating to 1st in a traditional school. A little more background: when we first requested acceleration they said as a "test" they would "invite" DD to the 1st-3rd classroom and see how she fared. After the second "invite" they gave her an "open invitation" which meant she was allowed to go, on her own, any time she wanted to. (It simply required asking her Primary teacher.) The classrooms are a few doors apart, so her leaving one classroom and entering the other is no big deal logistically.

    Well, since our initial request, DD went to the 1st-3rd class about 5 times. All of these were by "invite" and none were via her own initiation and the "open invite." I think she is quite intimidated by the idea of entering a strange classroom with 1st through 3rd graders she doesn't know. (Although next year, presumably she will know three or four of the kids, who are the ones "graduating" from her class into that class next year.)

    So, with the background out of the way, here is the school's proposal: DD will start the year in the primary classroom (3 through 6 year olds) with an "open invitation" to go to 1st-3rd classroom any time / as much as she wants. She can go in the morning and stay for the whole day, she can go for an hour. She can choose to not go at all. When she begins to choose to go every day, for as much time as the day is long, she will be in that classroom, and she will be a 1st grader.

    They were very excited by this proposal. They feel that when she is ready she will "chomp at the bit" to get out of the primary classroom. And that because it is "child-led" she will be accelrated when she is "truly ready."

    In addition, they asked us to not tell her, to not encourage her to "go up" so it will be authentically her choice.

    I responded by asking if it equated "being ready" too much with extroversion and a boldness that has nothing to do with if 1st grade was really right for her. I pointed out that DD is very "law and order" and I think it is likely that she feels that without a specific invitation she should not go. They said she would not be intimidated when she is truly ready.

    When we left the meeting we were torn. My husband's first reaction was that this is great. My first reaction was that it is terrible. Here are the reasons I am not happy with it:

    (1) She is "ready" to be in that classroom now, but she hasn't chosen (on her own) to go... why? what will change between now and next year? How can you equate "readiness" with all the other stuff that is packed in with taking that sort of initiative?

    (2) Is this just a clever way to effectively say, "no"? We know they have been very negative about acceleration, citing size issues and refusing to speak to the expert we hired. Do they believe that DD won't avail herself of the opportunity and so they appease us while doing exactly what they want?

    (3) This is too much pressure on DD! Being totally responsible for her own classroom placement is not fair. She will be five years old, making her responsible for her own acceleration is problematic.

    (4) Will there be subtle pressures on her not to go? Will she ever feel like she "belongs" with the 1st-3rd grade kids? Will she ever feel like the 1st-3rd classroom is really hers, or will she feel like an "impostor" sneaking in, instead of being "chosen" to be in like the other kids? Is missing the rite of passage of being placed in that class-- missing what is in effect the stamp from authority of "graduating"-- important? Will she ever feel truly included when her transition happens this way instead of the way it happens for all the other kids?

    As you can see I have a lot of misgivings. But I am wholly able to acknowledge that I might just be paranoid. So, what do you think? Is this really a good idea, and I am just too blinded by my anger from the process to see that it is good? Or is it really rotten? I am really confused. Thanks for any thoughts you have!

    #46259 - 05/01/09 10:40 AM Re: Need advice....("School Frustration!" follow up) [Re: Dottie]
    inky Offline

    Registered: 10/10/08
    Posts: 1299
    I'd talk to DD about the situation and explain that you think the 1-3 would be the right level for her, but she'll have to take the initiative to go there. Hopefully having this conversation with her and giving her your blessing will take some of the pressure off that you're worried about. This way she doesn't have to make the decision about whether it's the right level. You've made that decision and she's not fully responsible.

    Will there be subtle pressures on her not to go? Will she ever feel like she "belongs" with the 1st-3rd grade kids? Will she ever feel like the 1st-3rd classroom is really hers, or will she feel like an "impostor" sneaking in, instead of being "chosen" to be in like the other kids? Is missing the rite of passage of being placed in that class-- missing what is in effect the stamp from authority of "graduating"-- important? Will she ever feel truly included when her transition happens this way instead of the way it happens for all the other kids?

    I'd address these concerns with her explaining that she does belong and she is not an impostor. Many other kids join and feel included who move into a school without the "graduation." I think these graduations may do more for the parents than the children.

    This is probably the best you'll get from the school for now, so I'd grab the opportunity and make the best of it. Good luck!

    #46265 - 05/01/09 10:48 AM Re: Need advice....("School Frustration!" follow up) [Re: Dottie]
    st pauli girl Offline

    Registered: 01/29/08
    Posts: 1917
    Hi trout. I would agree with dottie in that the school sounds like they are really trying to help your DD. But, I also think that this is too much pressure to put on a 5yo who really belongs in the 1-3 group.

    Can you ask if your DD is any different from the kids who will be graduating to the next level? Maybe it would help if they compared?

    But if they refuse to budge and let her start in 1-3, I would do as dottie suggest and not follow the school's suggestion to not encourage your DD. I would plainly tell her that she belongs in 1-3, but because of school rules re: age, she has to ask to go to that room for a certain period of time. Tell her she has accomplished as much as the other kids who are age-appropriately graduating to the next level. Something like that.

    Too bad there's always some tricky catch. Good luck!

    #46271 - 05/01/09 11:00 AM Re: Need advice....("School Frustration!" follow up) [Re: st pauli girl]
    VolcanoMom Offline
    Junior Member

    Registered: 04/27/09
    Posts: 30
    Loc: California
    Hi Trout. I'm sorry to hear about your situation and I empathize. I would also ignore the advice about not encouraging her. Can you arrange play dates with a child from the 1-3 room? Can you help her visualize going on her own to help her work through any issues she might encounter?

    Our DS7 is bored in school but refuses to attend a higher grade classroom for math or english. When I asked this morning if he would like to stay home one day a week to take different classes he said, "No. Then I will only have a few friends who have liked me all along and everyone else will hate me."

    #46274 - 05/01/09 11:10 AM Re: Need advice....("School Frustration!" follow up) [Re: CFK]
    lilswee Offline

    Registered: 03/10/09
    Posts: 116
    I agree with Dottie, that's exactly what I would do. DD8 is not shy, except in public speaking situations but she does get very (overly emotionally) attached to her friends and teachers. At that age I doubt she would willingly choose to leave them. When they moved her to K at 4, some friends stayed behind and some went with so it was OK. DD4 however, moved to a new preK teacher this year without a glance. She liked her teacher but was more worried about her friends. She really likes the new teacher but is excited about moving up as well.

    I should say our montessori isn't (I think) a traditional montessori. They aren't AMI but some other certification. Once past preK they have K, 1,2,3. They are about a 6 months to a year ahead starting in K compared to our public schools though. By first I think they start transitioning to a more traditional school at times to get them ready for public or other private schools. Unfortunately they haven't been able to sustain upper elementary yet....

    #46275 - 05/01/09 11:11 AM Re: Need advice....("School Frustration!" follow up) [Re: CFK]
    Nautigal Offline

    Registered: 04/22/09
    Posts: 1032
    That's the problem with the type of mindset that says children know what they want to learn and that's what they should do--there are a lot of things that make up a good education that we don't necessarily "want to learn". I'm sure that I personally could be considered "ready" to learn lots of things that I don't have the interest or the discipline to sit down and learn--and even knowing that, I still don't bother to learn a lot of things that I would like to know! A 5yo child cannot be expected to take the reins and drive her own education competently, and they should not put that kind of pressure on her or expect anything good to result.

    That said, it is entirely possible that she could come up with the initiative to do well with this program by next year--kids do change a lot in short periods of time. I think that the school does in fact believe that their system works, they are not trying to doublethink you--but that doesn't mean that it really does work at all, or will work with your child. Schools are notorious for blindly following whatever dogma has come down the pike most recently and convincing themselves that it's the best thing since sliced bread and will solve all the problems of the world--until the next thing comes along to contradict it, and then they believe that instead with no thought for what they said last year.

    What should you do? Heck, I don't know! smile I believe in getting an education in spite of the school, not because of it!

    #46278 - 05/01/09 11:21 AM Re: Need advice....("School Frustration!" follow up) [Re: VolcanoMom]
    Grinity Offline

    Registered: 12/13/05
    Posts: 7207
    Loc: Connecticut
    Originally Posted By: VolcanoMom
    arrange play dates with a child from the 1-3 room?

    Love this idea.

    I also think it's ok to smile and nod to the school and do a home graduation ceremony for your daughter at home. Maybe read a book where kids learn in a one room school house, or Pippi Longstockings where adults just don't expect a little girl to be so strong. The bottom line is that unusual isn't bad, it's just different.

    It's also perfectly acceptable to keep pushing, but know what your bottom line is and what your alternatives are. There are moments in live where being sneaky is best. 'Discretion is the better part of Valor' yes? ((pout))

    Best Wishes,
    Coaching available, at

    #46287 - 05/01/09 12:23 PM Re: Need advice....("School Frustration!" follow up) [Re: Grinity]
    Dazed&Confuzed Offline

    Registered: 04/05/08
    Posts: 1815
    If you don't want out and out break the rules, how about "Hello DD, how was your day? Did you visit the 1st-3rd grade room today? No? Why not?" Then wait a few days and ask again. You're not telling her to go but you are letting her know that it's OK to go but you're not telling her to go...wink wink wink.

    And DEFINITELY arrange a playdate w/ some of the 1st-3rd grade girls. Then you can say, "Oh did you see Julie in the 1st-3rd grade room today?"

    Now not everyday, you don't want to pressure her if she's emotionally not ready but if you ask her why not in this scenario, the answer could be telling.

    #46299 - 05/01/09 01:17 PM Re: Need advice....("School Frustration!" follow up) [Re: Dazed&Confuzed]
    incogneato Offline

    Registered: 10/25/07
    Posts: 2231
    Loc: up in my head.......
    Hi Trout. I agree with most of what's already written, Especially Dottie, that the school is honestly attempting to do the right thing. Volcano Mom: Playdates with the older children,, and Dazey's brilliant idea about the afterschool chats.

    I do have a comment on this:

    Originally Posted By: Trout
    And that because it is "child-led" she will be accelrated when she is "truly ready."

    In addition, they asked us to not tell her, to not encourage her to "go up" so it will be authentically her choice

    I have two daughters who are opposite. DD9 would be DYING to go into the other classroom, but is painfully leary of any kind of scrutiny. She would never, never, ever get up and go on her own accord, especially at that age.

    Then there is DD6. I would be afraid for her to go to your school, she'd be running the place in a month! I'm sure she would attempt to child lead them into allowing them all to ditch read and relax and watch movies all day and nothing but chocolate bars for lunch! I'm afraid if they attempted to have her eat a nutritous lunch, it would not be authentically her choice. shocked grin

    I'm wondering with all the different ideas about acceleration if they don't want to be responsible for *harming* her by *pushing* her. Perhaps you can feel that out and if that's the case, there are several approaches you can take to "let them off the hook" for that.

    Good luck!



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