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Parent Fears Kindergarten Will Be Too Easy

Gifted and Talented Expert Advice from Noreen H. Joslyn, LISW, ACSW

Q: My son will start kindergarten this fall. He is already reading -- more than just words like "cat" and "book." He can read and comprehend words like "accomplish," "discover," and "invitation." We also read chapter books together -- he reads one page and I read the next. My concern is about sending him to a kindergarten where they learn one letter a week. The principal says they work with each child on whatever level they are at and go from there, and I know he will benefit from the social interaction. But I am full of questions about what the best thing for him would be. All the gifted programs I have heard about start at second grade. What options do we have to explore?

A: Your son certainly sounds like he has a highly advanced reading ability for his age! It is not at all unusual for schools to not begin gifted programming until second grade or beyond. I believe that the school means well when they state they will work with each child at their ability level, but that is difficult for a busy classroom teacher to do if only one or two kids are as advanced as your son. I advise you to meet with the classroom teacher as early as possible in the year. Don't wait until the usual late autumn parent-teacher conferences. Let the teacher know of your son's abilities. Bring written or drawn samples of his skills if you have any. Ask how the curriculum can best meet his needs. Make sure he has challenging reading opportunities (for example, is allowed to check-out advanced books in the school library).

I am assuming you have settled on this particular school for your son. There may or may not be other school choices for him. I do know that many gifted kids start out not having specialized gifted programs for the first few grades. If a more advanced school is not an option for him, this is alright as long as you continue to challenge him at home and maintain a friendly working relationship with his school. For your reading, I suggest Bringing Out the Best by Espeland and Saunders. It has many helpful hints for parents of young gifted children. Good luck.

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Noreen Joslyn is a licensed independent social worker in the state of Ohio and is a member of the Academy of Certified Social Workers. She has a master's degree in Social Work, specializing in family and children, from the University of Pittsburgh. She is a psychiatric social worker in private practice with Ken DeLuca, Ph.D. & Associates, where she counsels parents and children.

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