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Kindergarten - 4 year old behind

I had my son's conference last week and they said he is not ready for kindergarten.  That he should do junior kindergarten and then kindergarten.  The reason being is his fine motor skills are not where they need to be and he does not know his letters well enough.  I have no issue holding him back but he is a feb. birthday and he will be so much older than the rest of his class.  I am having him evaluated to see if he qualifies for services but do not know what to do about placement.
5 Responses
189897 tn?1441130118
  It would help to know when his birthdate is.  But essentially - as a retired elementary school principal - he should not be in kindergarten at age 4.  In fact, in California - he legally could not be.  All in all, it is much better to be the oldest kid in the class then the youngest.
  Put him in (whatever junior kindergarten is - we call it preschool) and see how he does there.  Chances are he will do fine.  If he has problems there, then have him evaluated.  But at his age, I would expect his fine motor skills to be a bit remiss compared to the other kids.  I am guessing that you are somewhere (?) without age requirements for kindergarten ?
   So all in all, this really is a no brainer.  Put him in preschool and see how he does.  Both of you will be much happier.  Best wishes.
973741 tn?1342346373
Hi.  Just to clarify----  your son is now 4 and attending what you thought would be his last year of preschool before entering kindergarten next Fall.   He turns 5 in February, so he'd be 5 1/2 when he started kindergarten next Aug/Sept, right?  And as he is in an 'older' preschool  class, during your mid year conference they have told you that they recommend not starting actual kindergarten next year due to some issues they've identified.  Do I have all of that right?  

Okay, so in thinking about this----  I will say that I don't hear you disagreeing with them.  I too think that if a child has an issue with fine motor skills, that kindergarten can be very frustrating to them.  They begin writing right away there.  Kids come in at all different kinds of skill levels and they expect that.  However, the school you are currently at feels that he is a bit further behind than typical.  I really believe in a 'great' start to kindergarten and agree with Sandman that it is okay to be the oldest in the class if it helps a child do better.  My son has two boys a full year older than most of the kids in his first grade class and the kids don't even notice.  I know that we mom's worry about the social implications of starting later, but it isn't the early grades that anyone cares or even thinks of this.  

Now, my son also had fine motor difficulty.  He has sensory issues and that was part of it.  We enlisted the help of an occupational therapist which did a wonderful job of moving him along.  His handwriting, while not perfect, is spot on for where it needs to be for his grade level  (now grade 2).  They use grips to help, slant boards, etc.  They identify what exactly the problem is and implement things to help.  Also strengthening core muscles helps----  an easy thing to do is tape a big sheet of paper on the wall and let him color vertically.  Don't worry about how he does----  it is just the muscle strength that you are after.  Erasing a chalk or dry erase board is also good.  Hanging from monkey bars helps.  Lots of exercises to do to help with handwriting beyond the ones you initially think of.  We also used a program called "handwriting without tears" which is great.  You can get these items from their website, a teacher supply store or even on ebay.  They have work books and you start with the most basic one.  It helps with letter identification as well.  

And what you can do if you are unsure about school next year is to go ahead and pre enroll him in the preschool "junior kindergarten"----  as enrollment is usually in early winter and see how he does until May when you have to get serious and send in a payment.  (most preschools just have an enrollment fee and then you pay a larger amount in the spring----- check what your school does).  If he has improved, you can enroll him in kindergarten.  In most places, you can enroll all the way until the week classes start.  You'd be out that enrollment fee but it might be worth it if you are unsure.  We did this.  My son went on to kindergarten (this is not my 2nd grade sensory kid but my first grader that we worried about maturity) but we liked having that extra time to be sure that was the right choice.

If you can't afford to do that or it isn't an option, well.  You know your kid best.  I believe that teachers do a great job of letting you know where your child stands verses their peers and their recommendation is to be respected.  But you have to do what is in your heart.  good luck
1035252 tn?1427231433
I agree with the other comments completely, but wanted to add...

I think that him being older is actually a good thing. I do!

I was one of the two youngest to graduate from my high school and we got NO awards for being the youngest, no recognition, but we were always playing catch-up to our peers, right from the beginning. I managed to graduate with good grades and I was always a mature child, but I can tell ya that entering college and being too young to go out with my friends to some of the places they went because I was still a minor was a bit of a bummer!

But even more than that, being younger and less mature in elementary school was no benefit!
13167 tn?1327197724
I agree with all the others, and am interested in what experience he has had learning letters and fine motor skills.

Is he just behind because he hasn't been introduced to them?  

Do you play with playdough,  kid's scissors,  other manual dexterity things,  and does he get read to a lot and watch Sesame Street?
171768 tn?1324233699
Everyone's advice is great.
I often see kids with fine motor delays (I teach 4 yr old preK). Some make tremendous progress without being evaluated simply by being exposed to more activities that develop fine motor strength and coordination. Play doh is a huge one, as is cutting, ripping, legos, etc. Look online for recipes for "gak"- it's a homemade silly putty made with elmer's glue and borax. It is fantastic for increasing fine motor strength. If you want to spend $, you can look online for theraputty. I'm using that now with a student (and for myself as I have developed fine motor issues).

You can kill 2 birds with 1 stone by using play doh and gak to form letters and play games like that :) You can also get alphabet cookie cutters pretty cheap. Or, use legos to build letters.

I can't say if an evaluation is necessary, but it probably wouldn't hurt. It can either give you peace of mind or if he needs help it'll get him that. Even if it were determined he needs help when he really doesn't, it certain wouldn't hurt him and only benefit him.

As for junior K, I'd look more in to what it is. Is it the kindergarten curriculum but with smaller class size? What modifications do they make that makes it different from regular K? Also, is there an option to move to first grade after if he catches up? In my district, the goal of junior K is to get the kids to the point by the end of the year where they can go to first grade. Of course, if necessary, some kids go to regular K after junior K, but many move on. It is designed for children who are less mature for developmental reasons (not learning disabilities). It is often full of younger boys, but since it is normal for some kids to learn letters later or develop fine motor skills later, you will some older 5's in there too. The junior K acknowledges these typical developmental differences, whereas most traditional K classes do not.

The only concern I have is that you were told as early as December that he would need Junior K. In conference, I may mention it to a parent as a potential option for a child who is struggling due to maturity, but I would never decide so early on that a child belongs there. A LOT can change in the next few months, especially if you start working more at home on these skills.
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189897 tn?1441130118
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