Thursday, September 02, 2010

Parenting Gifted Children: Do Kindergarten Students That Start Ahead Fall Behind?

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Kindergarten. Ugh. After an incredibly enriching preschool experience we literally sent our oldest to kindergarten to learn to walk quietly in line in the halls , understand the school rules and hopefully make a few friends.

He was in a half-day program, so we figured it couldn't hurt. After all, we'd still have the afternoon to read, play, or go on adventures (or as it turned out deal with melt-downs from whatever stresses he was holding in at school).

I was a naive mom who meekly suggested to the kindergarten teacher, "You should hear him read. I think he's kinda smart."

Yeah whatever. By our fall conference she still hadn't sat him down to listen to him read, but that's a whole other post.

I came across this old report card just days before my friend Gina sent me a link to a Science Daily article, Learn More in Kindergarten, Earn More as an Adult.

"Moreover, students who learn more in kindergarten are more likely to go to college than students with similar backgrounds. Those who learn more in kindergarten are also less likely to become single parents, more likely to own a home by age 28 and more likely to save for retirement earlier in their work lives."

Disappointingly, much of the article seems to focus the impact of small class size and it still sounds specious to me.

Still, it does raise a bigger question: what is the long-term impact of not learning much in kindergarten (or any grade) because a student had met most or all of the stated academic goals for that grade prior to entering it?

12 comments:

Drew @ How To Cook Like Your Grandmother said...

Here's another way to put your question: What is the long-term impact of spending most of grade school bored out of your mind? What is the long-term impact of never facing an academic challenge until you are in college? What is the long-term impact of growing up knowing that there's no value in hard work?

Not that I know what that's like or anything.

adrienne said...

Kim,

I saw this research written up elsewhere, and, if I remember correctly, the research was based on children's achievement scores after preschool rather than an actual measure of change in performance from kindergarten entry to exit. It seemed to me that smart kids stay smart whether or not kindergarten is a growth experience.

It is disheartening that gifted kids can (and too often do) end up in classrooms/schools that do not challenge them. It's a huge waste of very valuable resources (future worldchangers).

Jessica said...

Kim,

The Director of my son's preschool was just talking about research on this recently. As a kid, I was sent to for an evaluation by a child psychologist for behavioral issues at the recommendation of my kindergarten teacher. The response after the evaluation: I was acting out because I was already able to do everything that was being taught, and I was bored. Got in trouble all the time for talking in 1st grade- again because I was bored. I was lucky in that there were opportunities for gifted children in my school once I reached 2nd grade, and for years, the "gifted" class was the only challenging class I had all through elementary school and junior high. It didn't even meet every day. I still turned out okay, but I think school systems do a disservice to all children by assuming that they all have the same educational needs in kindergarten (or at any age) and not learning how to work with kids so that they are challenged, regardless if they have already advanced behind the basic concepts taught in that class.

Tiffany @ Lattes And Life said...

I totally agree with Drew. Been there! I came to Kinder knowing how to read and was promptly skipped into 1st. Then I got in trouble all the time for talking and visiting my friends. Rinse and repeat. My teen went to Kinder knowing how to read and was given extra busy work to "challenge" her. She resented this and started calling herself stupid and doubting her intellect (which has stuck around...she's a Senior in High School this year). So, my next two are getting homeschooled. My son will be 4 this Fall and he's already reading. I know he'd be bored out of his skull in a Kinder classroom and act up and get labeled as a problem child. (Especially since he can't enter public school until a few months before his SIXTH birthday!!)

So...my response to all this would be.....If Kinder students that start ahead fall behind WHY? Is it the school environment? Is it boredom? Is it a desire to fit in with the more average students?

innreach said...

Really really enjoyed reading your blog.. I would have the same questions.. My ds is now in late teens, however, entered kindergarden just having finished reading charlottes web... learned nothing except to be bored, unhappy and many times (at least in my opinion) mislabled. It would be a good piece of interesting research to follow a group and see..

TheNextMartha said...

We had the same view of Kindergarten. We figured if he made a few friends then that was great. We had already had him tested after pre-school and let that K teacher know about his reading/math levels. Neither were addressed the whole year. He was taught the alphabet and numbers daily along the rest. Never once was he even given the chance to read a book. I wonder what it would have been like if he had.

Jeanne said...

All the more reason to love Value Added Assessments. If we measure where a student is when they enter K (reading comprehension, numeracy skills, etc.) and measure them when they leave we have a baseline for what they learned that year. For many, probably not much. And districts in Ohio are starting to be penalized for that in their AYP scores. I think that's a great opportunity for districts to look at these learners (who are above grade level in some ares) as candidates for subject acceleration.

Sara (from Saving for Someday) said...

Hi Kim,

Well, there you go getting me all riled up about this whole Kindergarten and gifted topic! It's one of the main reasons I homeschool.

My daughter could read at 18 months and do basic math at 2. So of course I did things with her at home to keep her busy and engaged.

Fast forward a few years and I begged my local school district to enter my daughter into Kindergarten. NO, they said b/c she misses the 'age 5 by Sept. 1st' randomly set deadline.

So my then almost 5 year old couldn't go to school even though she could read, do addition/subtraction/multiplication, count to 100 in 3 languages, type and ..... You get the picture. My kid wasn't qualified only because she was too young.

So I'm supposed to wait another year doing who knows what so that my child can enter Kindergarten when she's almost 6. They never even answered my question about what do they think they'll do with her after I've been working with her for another year?

High ability children often end up having difficulties in school until their school can catch them up or their parents force the school to do something. Many school districts in AZ still don't offer any type of 'gifted education' until 4th grade! By then these kids have developed anxieties that are so deeply embedded in them that it takes so much time to ease them.

The education system often fails high ability children for many, many reasons.

There is a terrific book that I read several years ago and had the pleasure of meeting its author: Kids Who Start Ahead Stay Ahead. http://www.gentlerevolution.com/mm5/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=G&Product_Code=2055&Category_Code= (no affiliate link, just straight to their site)

The thing is, it's not just our system. I thought that if I had to send my daughter to school she'd go to a language immersion school. I didn't want her to be behind the kids who went in pre-K so we learned many of the basics I thought were learned in pre-K. WRONG!

Now, my daughter could do all these things in another language and be held back. Fabulous! And all I was trying to do was catch her up.

I could go on but I won't hijack this post.

Sara (from Saving for Someday) said...

Hi Kim,

Well, there you go getting me all riled up about this whole Kindergarten and gifted topic! It's one of the main reasons I homeschool.

My daughter could read at 18 months and do basic math at 2. So of course I did things with her at home to keep her busy and engaged.

Fast forward a few years and I begged my local school district to enter my daughter into Kindergarten. NO, they said b/c she misses the 'age 5 by Sept. 1st' randomly set deadline.

So my then almost 5 year old couldn't go to school even though she could read, do addition/subtraction/multiplication, count to 100 in 3 languages, type and ..... You get the picture. My kid wasn't qualified only because she was too young.

So I'm supposed to wait another year doing who knows what so that my child can enter Kindergarten when she's almost 6. They never even answered my question about what do they think they'll do with her after I've been working with her for another year?

High ability children often end up having difficulties in school until their school can catch them up or their parents force the school to do something. Many school districts in AZ still don't offer any type of 'gifted education' until 4th grade! By then these kids have developed anxieties that are so deeply embedded in them that it takes so much time to ease them.

The education system often fails high ability children for many, many reasons.

There is a terrific book that I read several years ago and had the pleasure of meeting its author: Kids Who Start Ahead Stay Ahead. http://www.gentlerevolution.com/mm5/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=G&Product_Code=2055&Category_Code= (no affiliate link, just straight to their site)

The thing is, it's not just our system. I thought that if I had to send my daughter to school she'd go to a language immersion school. I didn't want her to be behind the kids who went in pre-K so we learned many of the basics I thought were learned in pre-K. WRONG!

Now, my daughter could do all these things in another language and be held back. Fabulous! And all I was trying to do was catch her up.

I could go on but I won't hijack this post.

Catherine said...

Well, you know studies and statistics - they can say whatever you want them to say. Wouldn't there be a correlation between kids who simply couldn't learn much in Kindergarten also not able to earn much, go to college, etc? I bet that if he's learning with you at home, you'll more than make up for what he might be missing.

But of course, I didn't actually read the study so feel free to ignore me. :)

Shari said...

I think we have to force schools to teach all kids at all grades. I had to fight with the girls' school to get them some challenging work in kindergarten. They fought me for months, but I pressed on. The key to success was to show that there was an entire population not being served. It wasn't about my girls, but about all the children testing at the same level. I was able to rally a few other parents to put some pressue on the school. It's sad that we had to fight so much, though. I took it as a lesson that I'll have to fight at each grade level. Now the school is on notice that they better start from the beginning and they know that I won't back down until they do.

MusingsfromMe/Jill said...

This is exactly the experience we had with our oldest. Her half-day kindergarten teacher insisted she learn phonics. She could read. She didn't need to learn phonics. She had no choice. No enrichment was offered to her until 1st grade. She read through the Junie B series at home, but read no books in K until April.