Kindergarten Considerations (Should I Send My Child to Kindergarten?)

Kindergarten Considerations

This is the time of year when I start getting questions for parents, “should I send my child to Kindergarten?”  Typically it’s coming from a parent whose child has a birthday within a couple months of the cut-off age and isn’t necessarily a student of mine.  Regardless of whether there’s delayed speech or language, my answer is nearly always an emphatic “no!”

Parents, even teachers, are often so caught up in readiness skills.  Do they know colors and shapes?  Can they follow directions and show some patience?  But even for those students who clearly are capable of a kindergarten curriculum, if they have a birthday that has them younger than the majority of their classmates, I recommend waiting a year.

It isn’t easy for parents to hear, especially if it’s the youngest child and mom is really looking forward to having everyone off at school.  But the decision is one that has implications for a child’s entire academic career, not just the kindergarten year and should be based more on social issues rather than academic ability.

It’s an unfortunate fact, though hard to believe when you look at your 5 year old, that at some point they will be offered a cigarette, alcohol or drugs.  For me, I’d rather my child be older rather than the youngest classmate when that happens.

Same with driving.  I may have a rule, no driving with a peer until you have a license yourself, but it will be easier to enforce and they won’t feel as left out if they aren’t a year behind in getting their license.

Dating?  I know my husband wants my daughter asked to the prom by a classmate that’s the same age (or younger, or, frankly not at all) rather than older.

I’ve seen seniors that sailed through high school with high marks, that were still very uncertain about heading to college and just because they were a typical 17 year old and not quite ready to leave home.

And back to academics, how many times have you seen a child ready for kindergarten that falters later?  Not because they’re struggling with the coursework on an intellectual level, but because they’re simply a year younger?  I see students at a rigorous private school and I’ll find myself explaining to both teachers and parents that while their child is struggling in the classroom, on testing everything looks rosy because they are being judged against same aged peers.

Many students need classroom support, but it’s not unusual for those same children to faulter with their self-esteem when they do.  Is it worth setting up a child with a developmentally more advanced school career than their age would suggest just because we think they can handle Kindergarten right now?

Concerned that waiting that extra year will have your child bored and twiddling their thimbs?  Given the choice, I’d much prefer to work on supplementing a child that’s sailing through class work and needs an additional challenge.

I have two children, both with fall birthdays and both are among the oldest in their class–I practice what I preach!  But it’s my opinion.  I’d love to hear yours whether you agree or (politely please!) dissent.

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Filed under Home is Where the Heart Is (esp. for parents)

Phonological Fun Park

PFP box copy

I’ve professed my love of the ASHA exhibit hall before, and given that I was raised in New Jersey, it shouldn’t be a surprise that I’d be drawn to what is, at its essence, a speech mall.

In Chicago this fall, I perused Super Duper (of course) and made a few purchased, but I had my eye on Phonological Fun Park which I did not pick up.  Actually what I really wanted was the activity book it comes with but that’s not available separately, so I relegated the item to my “wish list” both for reasons of size (anyone else suffer storage issues?) and price.

But a couple months later, I got a Super Duper offer in my inbox that “the Park” was 50% off.  I decided fate had intervened (and that the box probably wasn’t that big and if I moved a few things around…); within a week it was at my house.

The Book

PFP book copy

The activity book was everything I hoped for—lots and lots of phonemic awareness activities/worksheet in tiny incremental steps (82 pgs.).  The activities were particularly good for getting a few students acclimated to the types of tasks the game addresses since they often had a visual prompt that is missing in the game card decks.  The only annoyance was the lack of CD because the book was a colossal pain to copy.

The Game

PFP board copy

This caught me off guard.  The game board is cute enough.  There’s an electronic spinner (with a switch to control noise—God bless ‘em) and little tokens you collect as you move around the path and pass each carnival “ride.”

PFP tokens copy

To me, it seemed pretty boring—just a typical start to finish game board.  But the kids loved it.  Whether it was the electronic spinner or collecting the little tokens, each child I pulled this out for wanted it again.  Enough so, that I ended up using it a bunch of times with other decks since the board itself is open ended.

PFP decks copy

The decks (7) cover:  phoneme rhyming, identification, discrimination, manipulation, blending, deletion and segmenting.  Each card has a hierarchy of four possible questions, which was also helpful if you’re trying to determine the next little step you need to take with a skill and aren’t sure where to break it down.  A bunch of kids I see struggled mightily with these tasks being strictly auditory, but, again, since we had the activity book to get us started it was a manageable challenge.

Anyone else using this game in therapy?  Let me know what you think.

I purchased this game and views expressed are strictly my own.

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Filed under Language Therapy, Phonemic Awareness activities

American Girl Apps

AG home screen copy

I have family in the Chicago area so we travel there with some frequency and when my daughter was little we spent an inordinate amount of time in the American Girl Store.  It made me smile that as you approached you would begin to see lots of 4-10 year old girls carrying dolls and wearing matching outfits.  The store is an experience and if you can pop in for tea all the better (they set your doll up in a booster chair with their own doll sized plates and cup).  And let’s all take a moment to appreciate the women who work in the “hair salon” and tame (or re-tame) abused doll hair into something glamorous.  Though the sticker shock is…shocking, I do generally like the messages they promote which seem almost quaint by today’s standards.

While our AG dolls were passed on a while ago, I have little girls I see regularly who are still big into it.  For them, I give you “American Girl apps for speech and language therapy!”

AG Ponies copy

Most of their apps are FREE and, of course, you could just dangle them like a carrot.  Do this for me, and you get 2 min on the iPad.  McKenna’s Gymtastic (free) and Saige’s Paint Ponies (free) are best for this since they don’t offer a lot in terms of speech/language.  (Though Saige’s app could be used with a child for pointing/handwriting type skills since you need to draw a smooth line around like-colored ponies.)

Kanani’s Shave Ice (free)

AG Shaved Ice copy

I’ve used this one with kids that struggle with tracking left to right and/or sequencing.  The object of the game is to create the shaved ice concoction that the customer is thinking of and the app requires a specific order be followed.  First the container (of course), then you need to add the flavorings (tracking a left to right order) and then the topping.  Seems easy, easy, but I’ve had kids struggle with it.

Runaway Pup (free)

AG outfit copy

First, you need to dress your guide in appropriate clothing, great for vocabulary and making reasonable choices based on weather.  Next, there is a story with a runaway puppy scenario.  This can be used for discussing possible outcomes, ways to help, etc.  You have to complete a little map puzzle (I often do this for the kids because they can’t figure it out) then you’re on your way to finding Pepper.

AG Runaway copy

While the story continues, it will present you with a sticky social situation.  You get a choice of two answers and you end up with consequences of your selection (no going back to “fix it”).  It’s a nice way to discuss what the repercussions of each might be and then see them play out.  Once you’ve found Pepper, your friends host a Charming Party, a game with a large party scene for you to scour for charms.  Honestly, the girls I’ve done this with can never locate the charms and it’s just a boring, frustrating activity.  If you can scoop the iPad out of their hands after the happy puppy reunion and move on, I would.

Scene Sounds (free)

AG scenes copy

This is designed for open ended play.  You choose a pictured scene to accompany your play (Gala, School, Summer, Winter) and can create a play list of three songs for the scene (songs are included).  Knock yourself out if you have the patience to hear an endless loop of children singing.  I prefer the “sounds” options in which you can press buttons for sound effects.  You can use these to:  guess what the sound is (using the location as a clue), add drama to your play or to discuss/plan how your script will play out.  For example, the school scene has the sound of a school bell so I might prompt a little one to come up with a school activity that can be interrupted by the bell and that will then prompt us to “pack up to go home” and do an activity there.

Catalog (theoretically free)

I haven’t actually used this app, but you do have the option to download the AG catalog.  You could use this for all sorts of describing activities or to remind yourself how good life can be.

utf

I’m linking this post to the U.T.F. (Unexpected Therapy Find) Linky Party over at The Speech Place.  This month’s theme is “Apps” so hop on over for some other finds.

The post was in no way sponsored by or endorsed by American Girl.  To download any of their apps, simply go to the app store and search “American Girl” for the complete list.

 

 

 

 

 

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