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Age should not determine Grade Placement

... is a mom who is afraid she isn't doing enough.
Jeanette Underwood

While it is somewhat true that boys and girls mature at a different rate and also that girls have less issues relating to learning disabilities than boys, we still come back to environment. Parental expectations, societal expectations, and role models all play a huge part in child development. As parents, we should not take a passive role in the education of our children. Education starts at home, and continues at home - we don't just hand off the baton to the teacher when we place our children in school.

Issues affecting the rate of males repeating in early grades include developmental rates and abilities. Early intervention is needed, and addressing the different maturity levels of children and the different learning styles they possess is vitally important, regardless of male/female status. In this arena, I throw the added issue of age requirements/grouping.

Some children are ready earlier than others but are held back because they are a few months shy of the age requirement - this was the case in my firstborn (son) Even though he was male, he was still a high-achiever who found himself already bored in 1st grade. He could have been allowed to start kindergarten at 4 ½ - he was already reading - but had to wait until he was 5 ½ per the school administration guidelines. By the middle of first grade, behavioral issues due to boredom were already appearing.

On the other hand, some parents may feel pushed to start their children based on age-grouping, rather than maturity level. Some mothers are aware their child is not ready for a more formal school atmosphere, but are pressured to enroll their child anyway.

Also, no concession is made for those with developmental delays. My youngest child turned 5 on August 24, 2005. He therefore was too old to qualify for any of the subsidized programs for preschool. He was born at 28 weeks gestation - and should not have turned 5 until November. If he had not been born premature, he would have been in preschool with his developmental peers. He could, however, start in kindergarten based on his age. I knew he was not ready for kindergarten in any way, but in this case I could not pay for preschool that year. So, near the end of the school year, I withdrew him from kindergarten with a medical note from a Doctor, which meant his first year of kindergarten was not completed and he would therefore not be considered by the school system we were then in to have been 'held-back' - pretty sneaky, right? How sad that it had to be that way! His experience that year was not good, and formed a miserable foundation for his future in school. He should have been in preschool. He just wasn't ready to be a kindergartner.

As I delved further into the needs of my older child and his boredom in the classroom, certain ideas were promoted by a school psychologist - he needed more kinetic movement in order to stay focused - and the suggestion of special furniture or sitting on a bouncy exercise ball was put forth. The school was not happy with this approach, because the teacher felt that then ALL students would want a special seating arrangement. Now 16 years of age, he is right now sitting on a bouncy exercise ball - at home, being "home-schooled" - and learning C++ programming and software development. What a sad outcome for this story. He has developed disrespect for schools. How sad that a parent can do a better job educating a child at home, given all the opportunity that should be presented in school during the early grades to accommodate different learning styles.
Maryellen Spirko 02/28/2013


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