My 5 year old is in kindergarten and is loving it so far. I think he has a very good teacher who is enthusiastic and perfect for teaching little kids.
Academically he's doing very, very well. He's the most advanced reader in his class and the teacher and reading coach are doing a good job giving him harder books (appropriate for his level) for independent reading. His writing is about standard for his age (I think). His math skills are way above average and this is where he's not being challenged at all in my opinion. A few times he's been given two worksheets to do rather than one, but they're still at the same level as everyone else. Giving him more work won't challenge him. He needs a more complex math curriculum. To make matters harder, the kindergarten is a separate school, so it's not possible to send him to the year ahead just for math. Socially he's happy with the other 5 year olds.
Next week is my conference with the teacher and I'd like to ask for a more complex math curriculum. How do I go about doing this? I've never had a child in elementary school and didn't go to school in this country until high school. I have no idea what's possible and realistic and what I should/could be asking for.
Any advice would be great. Thanks!
Is the first grade far away? Could he be walked over? Otherwise, maybe one of the first grade teachers could send the first grade curriculum down for him to use. If they're big into self-directed computer learning (prob not at K level) out here they direct us to IXL to explore skills at different grade levels: http://www.ixl.com/math/grade-1
I really loved the Montessori math curriculum and used some of it for home enrichment last summer, since I also wasn't crazy about K-level math. If it's not practical for them to offer him 1st grade math at school, you can offer enrichment activities at home to at least keep him interested until he's in a multi-grade setting and can float to the level where he's appropriately challenged. Here's a site for looking at some of what the Montessori math materials can do: http://www.montessorialbum.com/montessori/index.php?title=Math. The full bead materials are expensive and beautiful, but at 5 you could get a lot out of the Golden Bead materials and the strip boards. It's a little bit of a learning curve for the instructor if you haven't worked with them before, but not too hard - you can find videos of presentations online.
As you can tell, we were in a similar boat. The bub is 6 and in 1st grade, very proficient at reading and math, I'd say about grade-level for writing skills and spelling, and definitely grade-level socially. In his school reading is pretty independent so he can do his own thing there but he goes into the closest 2nd grade room for math, which is providing a good level of new skill development for him.
ETA: this post outs me as a bit of a crazy helicopter parent. It drove me nuts, though, to see him being asked to do things like number identification in K. Our school has such a broad range of school readiness in its kindergarten that there were kids who needed to start with learning letters and numbers. We had just come from a Montessori school where the bub had learned to read and math up through the concept of cubing integers, so it was a little bit of a culture shock. I'm actually much happier with the teachers at the public school, but we've needed to find the right solutions for me to feel comfortable that he's actually learning new things and not just in 6 hours of childcare.
It's rare, in my experience, for schools to identify kids as gifted or advanced prior to about third grade (I'm in Canada). Even then, you're not likely to get advanced curriculum in the classroom, but instead get some supplemental enrichment activities.
This is just my experience with my own provincial system here. It seems like in the US the schools can vary incredibly, however, you won't know if what you're asking for is available at your school until you ask for it.
Same situation here with my kindergartner. As the parent of a 10 yr old in a class for the highly gifted, I've been on top of this from day 1. Well, in a way. The school district is trying to postpone highly gifted placement until 2nd or 3rd grade and so they are discouraging parents from requesting to have their kids tested. I'm also reluctant to request that Baby Grey be tested because while I think intellectually he's gifted, I'm not sure that his concentration skills will allow him to perform as high as he is. He definitely doesn't have the same concentration skills Girl Grey had at this age. So, I'm supplementing at home when I can. I've been printing first-grade level math worksheets for him and he does them for fun on the weekends (he likes them, really). He also reads to us nightly.
I, too, am a little bugged that he is reading quite well while the rest of the class is learning letter recognition. However, I don't want to be that parent and bug the teacher. We have our first parent-teacher conference in a week--I've been waiting until then to start laying on some pressure for some differentiation. Also, the teacher sent home two simple addition and subtraction worksheets wiht about a total of 40 problems on Monday. The note on them said that the kids should aim to do about 5 problems per week. Baby Grey knocked all of them out in one sitting (about 10 minutes). I attached a note to it and asked if the teacher could please provide us with more.
So, I get it. My experience is that schools really seem to be pushing to wait to identify kids until 2nd-3rd grade. I think it's just a cost-saving measure. You can request for your son to be tested for gifted, but I'd be sure that he'll do well before you make the request otherwise if he doesn't perform as you hope, they may not let him be tested again (though you could pay for private testing). I hate this. Girl Grey was identified in kindergarten and although we opted not to send her to a magnet school (an hour away when we lived in MD), she had a fabulous teacher who accelerated her all she could. When we moved to NM half-way through first grade, we had to wait a while before they'd test Girl Grey, but by second grade she was placed in the highly gifted class at a different school from her home school. Things have changed since then--only 3 years ago.