13 answers

Struggling Kindergartener

I have a 5 1/2 year old kindergarten son. He is having difficulties with writing. His classmates can all sound out and spell simple words and he is having difficulty. He also doesn't write as well as they do. He writes like a pre-schooler and I am afraid that he will be retained because he's struggling. He needs assistance with fine motor skills and I'm not so creative about ideas to help him with it. He doesn't like to make necklaces, but we do play with small legos. Does anyone have any suggestions for improving fine motor skills or any programs, websites that can help with sounding out spelling.

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So What Happened?™

Thank you all for your wonderful advice and words of encouragement. I will try all the wonderful ideas. A special thank you to those who clarified the possibility of retention. You are right, he will probably benefit from it if needed.
Thank you thank you.

Featured Answers

Hi J.,

I have been struggling with whether or not to start my daughter in kindergarten next fall- she has a "late birthday" and if we lived in another state or went to private schools, she would have to wait another year (most have cut offs of Sept 1 or June 1st often for boys). I have talked to so many teachers, the principal, and other moms with experiences and the consensus is to wait- especially for boys. Many people have also suggested starting her if I felt she was ready and then have her repeat kindergarten so she can have the advantage of being older and all the benefits that come from that. I feel that it is much better to keep him back in K than to have him struggle for years to come.

Good luck,

J.

More Answers

I'm a Montessori teacher and know alot about fine motor work as well as have a daughter who struggled as well - now is graduating 5th grade and is doing well. Here are some hand development skills you can use to strength his hands. Playdough, squirt bottles in the bathtub and in the backyard, turkey basters, drawing with tub crayons, painting, squishing and ripping paper, wadding paper, digging in sand boxes, pouring juice, cutting meat, preparing food, gymnastics classes where you have to do hang bars, monkey bars at the park, cutting, beading, picking up pennies to put into a money bank.

You might want to consider holding him back as the bones in boys hands strengthen more slowly than girls and since he is having a hard time of it I would also consult a occupational therapist to give him an evaluation. There is a connection between fine motor skill development and the ability to read. Lots of boys enter kindergarten now a year later.

I recommend - Educational Therapist for sounding out words Judy Benn from Milestones. ###-###-####

I recommend - Occupational Therapy evaluation (you can get one for free from your public school) or call Therapy West in Los Angeles (near Culver City) ###-###-#### Ask for Gustavo Reinoso for an evaluation.

B. Wacker
My Friends' Montessori Preschool Coop
____@____.com

1 mom found this helpful

Hi J.,
I don't know of any websites but I just wanted to let you know that I know of many people who hold their kids back a year. A friend of mine held her five year old son back and he will start kindergarten in the fall. He's a good boy and she is a wonderful mother. It just seems to work out best that she held him back. Also, boys walk and talk slower than the girls. I'm sure your son is fine. Perhaps he just needs another year of kindergarten. Good luck whatever you do. I'm sure you'll make the right decision. :)

1 mom found this helpful

Hi Jennifer,

It's great that you are looking for help to supplement school at home. The advice about playdough is great. And Legos are also good. Try scissors and gluing too. You can cut anything and glue it to anything-make collages so there's no pressure for things to be perfect.

Being retained in Kindergarten is not unusual, particularly for boys. Their fine motor skills develop later. But you should definitely work with his teachers in making the decision. If his fine motor skills are the only area he'd benefit from another year, then you might want to move him along to first grade and get resource help or a tutor for the writing skills. If he seems younger in other areas too, like separation and social interaction with his peers, then another year of kindergarten might benefit him.

While my daughter is too young for me to have experienced this myself and I taught older grades so I don't have any experience as a teacher to offer, I do know my mom wishes she had retained my brother in Kindergarten for the same reason-a delay in fine motor development. The school socially promoted him and my mom send him to an educational therapist for assistance with writing. She ended up only delaying retention since she did it in the 7th grade. She had him switch schools to keep my brother from the social experience of suddenly being "younger" than his peers.

Good luck. If you work with his teachers, it will all work out fine.

K.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi J.!

Two programs that help with sounding out and forming letters - zoophonics.com and Handwriting Without Tears www.hwtears.com. They both are great, developmentally appropriate programs to give a little extra support for your son.Good luck! And p.s., I was a first grade teacher and I got many many children (esp boys) with poor handwriting and fine motor. It just takes a while to grow out of it! It will definitely get better with help and practice, though.

1 mom found this helpful

Don't be "afraid" he'll be retained because he is struggling....it could be the best thing for him. Another year of life experience could really help him develop the skills you are concerned about and just be more confident about school in general. If he is only 5 1/2 now, he is young for Kindergarten, and CA is one of the few states that let's kids start Kindergarten before they are 5. As far as what to do to work on improving those skills now, I suggest asking his teacher and your pediatrician! Good luck!

Often boys take a little longer, as previous posters have mentioned. But have you considered that your son may have a vision problem? Difficulties with reading and writing have long been associated with certain types of vision problems. Just because a child can "read" the eye chart at the peds office doesn't mean your child's vision is just fine. You may want to consider bringing him to your optometrist or a pediatric optometrist just to rule out his vision.

After 12 years of teaching in early elementary, I became a stay home mom. What you have is a problem that you cannot help in. This is ALL about maturity. Boys and girls mature differently- each child matures at a different rate. A maturity problem cannot be forced or tutored. You said your son is five and 1/2 now- which I'm guessing means he started K at 4. He is a VERY young kindergarten. My strongest advice would be to focus your energy on his self esteem not fine motor. You will have a far bigger problem on your hands if he begins to perceive himself as behind, slow, or unsuccessful. I doubt you need to worry about retention from the school. If he is in public school, they are only retaining kids that are more than two years behind. HOWEVER, you may want to consider your options. Maybe more time is what he needs. Would you be willing to give him another year of K at a different school? If he is going to continue to get further and further behind, what would it hurt to give him another year of K. Please know, first grade is extremely academic. Can he sit still and perform under a rigorous academic day. He will also have much less play time. I think he started K too young. If if does have to be retained because he was too young, better K than another grade where he and the other children will be more aware that it happened. You have the power as his parent to NOT make a big deal of it. I have always tried to encourage parents to think of being "ready" for K as bigger than being 5. It's in their personal maturity. Also, it effects every aspect of his life. If he started K before he was mature enough, he will go the first grade before he is ready. He will start everything from here out middle school, high school, everything.. he will be the youngest and least mature. Is that what you want? I'd be curious if he was screened for anything other than a birthdate before he was enrolled. Without having seen him, only knowing his gender and grade, my strong suspicion is that he just needs more time- not tutors. Don't jump to conclusions that there is a learning problem.

Note: Fine motor is developmental- very difficult to tutor.

Hi J.,

I have been struggling with whether or not to start my daughter in kindergarten next fall- she has a "late birthday" and if we lived in another state or went to private schools, she would have to wait another year (most have cut offs of Sept 1 or June 1st often for boys). I have talked to so many teachers, the principal, and other moms with experiences and the consensus is to wait- especially for boys. Many people have also suggested starting her if I felt she was ready and then have her repeat kindergarten so she can have the advantage of being older and all the benefits that come from that. I feel that it is much better to keep him back in K than to have him struggle for years to come.

Good luck,

J.

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