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Learning Too Much Too Fast?

Elementary School Expert Advice from Barbara Potts

Q: Our daughter has just started kindergarten and her teacher took her class through the entire alphabet in two weeks. Now she is expected to learn letter sounds and site words. This teacher used to teach first grade. We feel the teacher is going too fast and now our child has begun to call out letters, words, and numbers in her sleep. We have scheduled an appointment with the teacher -- how can we voice our concerns without making the teacher feel bad?

A: Be honest with the teacher when you meet with him. Explain what letters, sounds, and sight words your daughter knew when she started kindergarten and remind the teacher how quickly the class has been covering the material. (Many kindergarten teachers spend at least the first semester teaching letter sounds and the entire year on sight words.)

Tell the teacher what you have observed about your daughter's learning style and that you think your daughter would feel more comfortable if the class was not rushing quite so much. Explain also that you believe your daughter may be showing signs of stress (talking in her sleep) since she began school.

Before you meet with the teacher, talk with the school counselor. Explain the situation and ask the counselor to be present at the conference to address the issue of stress in young children. The counselor can speak for the other children in the class as well while you speak for your daughter. The counselor can also address what is covered in the kindergarten curriculum and discuss what is being taught in the other kindergarten classes.

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Barbara Potts has worked as an elementary school counselor for many years. She has a BA in psychology from Wake Forest University, and an M.Ed. in Guidance and Counseling from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.


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