E.N. asks from Lake Mary, FL on September 16, 2007
Pre-K Experience and Expectations
My daughter who turned 4 on August started Pre-K at Forest Lake Education Center (Private school in Altamonte Springs). She is the youngest in the class and never went to daycare so this is her first experience in a school setting. Not even a month has gone by and the teacher has already warned me that she might need to repeat pre-k or hold her back in Kindergarten since she isn't as advance as other kids. My daughter is bright, but lacks confidence when trying new things that she doesn't perfect right away. I'm shocked that in such a short time a teacher would evaluate my child as behind and already be talking about repeating. I'd understand if she was concern and wanted me to be aware and together work with her to catch up. I need your advice on how to proceed. I've bought Pre-K workbooks and work with her at night and weekends.
K.G. answers from Orlando on September 18, 2007
Don't panic. While your daughter's teacher may be great, there is no way to tell at this point one way or the other whether your daughter will need to repeat Pre-K. This is an age where children can seem to struggle with certain concepts one day/week/month, and then "magically" grasp them with certainty the next. I was a Kindergarten teacher at a private school for 8 years (up until this past August) and I've seen many cases that progressed exactly as I've stated.
If you are interested, I have also been a private tutor for over 10 years, specializing in Pre-K through 2nd grade. My fee is $45 for a 55 minute session, and I will come to you in this case (you said you are in Altamonte, correct?). However, if this is not something you are interested in at this time, let me just encourage you to take it one day at a time. Continue to work with your daughter in fun ways (don't push her, or she will recoil from the whole experience... she may already be picking up the "vibe" from her teacher). As for communication with the teacher, don't accept generalizations concerning your daughter's progress. Press for specifics so that you are able to target the areas that are most needed. Best wishes to you!
K.W. answers from Orlando on September 16, 2007
WOW! So your daughter has started her lonngggg educational experience with a not-so encouraging teacher. Maybe the teacher is encouraging, but she already has low expectations of your daughter that are surely transmitted in subtle and not-so subtle ways to your young, bright but perhaps, socially delayed daughter. PLEASE look for another setting for your daughter! I have taught older children -- from gifted to low achieving -- and I can tell you that teacher expectations play a role in any child's journey through school. School should be, of course, educational......but at 4 years old -- it should be educational mixed with fun, fun, fun. ((I'm already concerned that my own daughter, who is in 1st grade, prefers the weekends over school. I always loved school and learning. It didn't become "boring" until the older grades (middle school & h.s.))
Since I am a life long educator, I would have no problem confronting this VPK educator, and calling her on how inappropriate it is to scare you concerning your daughter's education. Please do not drill her with workbooks after a long day at VPK and make education even more tiresome to her -- since that teacher probably does it all day. FUN is the name of the game. Okay, maybe you should spend more time with her. (Running your own business probably takes many hours.) Play games with a learning agenda behind it (color and/or number bingo or sight word bingo) and, of course, reading together. (Purchase the LeapFrog tapes for learning letters and sounds -- they are amazing. But watch them with her!) Yet supplement what your school does in a FUN, laid back way.....where she is excited to spend time with you -- and learning.
Also spend some time on-line to see what she needs to know prior to Kindergarten. Most districts have a website and put a list of what a child should know prior to kindergarten. Focus on those areas. DO NOT take the word of one educator or even one school center -- private or not. And any "educator" who would actually say in September -- "your daughter may have to repeat VPK" -- has no common sense, let alone intellectual sense.
Above all, I know as a good, concerned parent you have not let your daughter hear or "overhear" any of this absolute nonsense. She may be only 4 years old, but negative comments and workbooks at night could be a dangerous recipe for a bright child.
Hope this put you at ease.
Please look into other VPK programs.
I would even suggest KinderCare at the corner of Winter Park Rd. & 436 in Casselberry. I sent my daughter there because every other program was full. I expected their program to be adequate -- but nothing too elaborate. (However, I wasn't too concerned since I teach my children a lot on my own -- in "fun" ways. Mainly, I was concerned about socializing my daughter since every other child in the world is in preschool.) Surprise, surprise, it was a very encouraging, happy place with a very solid program.
Probably too much information for you,
but education is close to my heart.
B.M. answers from Orlando on September 17, 2007
My advice, based upon very similar personal experience is to run, don’t walk, and get your daughter out of that environment.
I thought I was doing the right thing by keeping both my daughter’s home with me until kindergarten (out of state, not FL). I now regret this every day. When my older daughter started Kindergarten, we were almost immediately told all the same things your VKP teacher said. The same issues did not affect my younger child. Even in a different school system, this has followed my older daughter into third grade. She has always been viewed as behind, and to this day, even with all the testing she has received, I feel like no one (including me) knows what she can and cannot do. If she tests well on something, it is discounted, and when she does poorly on something, that is the standard they hold her to. Please don’t let this happen to your daughter.
I find it hard to believe that within one month a 4 year old could be deemed so far behind that the teacher already knows she may need to repeat. (Unless you know that your daughter has issues, which I am assuming not or you would not have asked the question). Every advancement your daughter makes will be tainted by the pre-judgment the teacher has made, and therefore not “good enough” even if she is doing the same things as the other kids. Perhaps your daughter (like mine was) is not familiar with the routines of the school and what is expected of her. If this is the case, the teacher may have to work a little harder with her, and the teacher may resent the time she needs to spend clarifying things for your daughter.
I don’t mean to sound overly dramatic, but as a parent with a daughter who was dealt with the same way from the very beginning of her school experience, you don’t want your daughter in that environment. (At 4 weeks into kindergarten we were told our daughter was “at the very bottom” of the kindergarten class, even behind kids with identified learning disabilities). I will never, ever forget that. We later found out the teacher gave the same speech to several other parents, but no one shared it at the time it occurred, most likely because we were all burning with our own private shame of having a child so far behind.
I hope you find the nurturing environment that will suit your daughter and allow her to flourish.
D.T. answers from Orlando on September 17, 2007
It doesn't sound like school is much fun for your daughter and learning at this age should be fun! I know it may not be an option, but have you thought of homeschooling? I played games for the first 2 years with my son and he was "taught" how to read and add and subtract without problems, just playing candyland and chutes and ladders with a learning curve and he enjoyed it.
Your experience sounds discouraging for both you and especially for your daughter. I happen to work for Homeschool Corner and help families with info for homeschooling or education in general. You may email if you think I can help.