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Making Sense of a Second Opinion
Q: Our child will be five in late March and should be going into kindergarten in the fall. A private psychologist we consulted recommended our strong-willed and very active daughter repeat pre-K because she is not sufficiently "self-directed" and "needs more structure before entering kindergarten." The current daycare/pre-K facility she attends hasn't expressed any concerns. What should we do?
A: Visit the schools to which you have applied and talk with the kindergarten teachers and the school counselors. Describe your daughter and the psychologist's concerns and ask their opinions on her readiness for their programs.
While you're at the schools, observe the kindergarten classrooms. Although the children who are currently there are a year older than your daughter, you will get a good idea of the classrooms' structure and the teacher's expectations.
If you decide to go ahead and put your daughter in a kindergarten class, you may find that she will have no problems. If she starts kindergarten and you think the psychologist may be correct, ask that your daughter be placed in a class with a highly structured teacher.
Research tells us that once a child starts school, any retention can increase the chances that the child will drop out of school when he or she reaches the legal age to do that. The best solution if there are questions about a child's readiness is to give them another year to prepare before starting school. If your daughter starts school but retention is suggested, kindergarten and first grade are the best years to make that happen.
You may also want to consider going to another psychologist for a second opinion.
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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.