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Should I Move My Child to a New Classroom?

By Dr. Virginia Shiller, Family Psychologist

Question:

My daughter just started kindergarten and her best friend from preschool is in her class. Both girls are very bright and articulate. They went to a very academic preschool and most of the work so far has been review for them.

The problem is they are often in trouble together, talking, laughing etc. The teacher has let me know she has more of a problem with the other child who appears to be more of a leader. I am concerned that my daughter will continue to be distracted by the presence of her friend and the desire to please her, etc. Although I like her teacher very much I am considering requesting a transfer to another class.

Answer:

While a transfer to another class may be a possible solution, it would probably be best to make an effort to improve the situation in the current classroom. Changes can be stressful for children, and there is always the potential for an unknown difficulty to arise in a new classroom. And, if only a short time has elapsed since school has begun, the two girls may temporarily be sticking together for comfort, before making strides to establish new friendships.

Brainstorm with the teacher about ways you might work to help your daughter find new friends. Ask the teacher to suggest other children who might be compatible with your daughter, and see if you can arrange play dates with other classmates. Chat with other parents who attend school events, and keep an eye out for parents eager to foster new friendships. And respectfully inquire with your daughter's teacher whether she sometimes places children in pairs or groups aimed at fostering new friendships and changing social dynamics.

Also, discuss the curriculum with the teacher, and explore ways in which your daughter might be more challenged in the classroom. While it may not be realistic for the teacher to provide individualized programs for the more advanced children, he or she could likely add elements to the curriculum to keep your daughter more engaged with work. Opportunities to work on self-paced computer programs are an option in many classrooms, as well as the possibility of doing accompanying artwork when worksheets are finished quickly.


Dr. Virginia Shiller is a Connecticut-based child and family psychologist, lecturer at The Yale Child Study Center and author of Rewards for Kids! Ready-to-Use Charts & Activities for Positive Parenting.

 

Advice from our experts is not a substitute for professional diagnosis or treatment from a health-care provider or learning expert familiar with your unique situation. We recommend consulting a qualified professional if you have concerns about your child's condition.

Comments from GreatSchools.org readers

11/20/2007:
"I dont think this was skirting around the issue. children do need to learn to deal with those who are making bad choices. I think it might be a good idea to ask your childs teacher what is with all of the worksheets. A kindergarten classroom that is focused on worksheets might have drifted away from the idea that children in early years learn better from using concrete hands on learning. (worksheets are lazy teaching at any grade) "
11/12/2007:
"This article seemed to only skirt around the issue. I have a similar problem with my first grade daughter who is also very bright but her friend keeps talking to HER. So finding a new friend by my 'skimming' through the other parents, or adding more work to an already heavy classroom and homework load will only touch the tip of the iceberg. I guess I was looking for a more concrete solution. "
09/18/2007:
"Question- how much homework is appropriate for a child in Kindergarten? My child's teacher sends at least four worksheets home three nights a week. These worksheets (2, front and back) require not only writing (the parent reading of course), but also coloring and even cutting out at times. Last week, one night we spent about 30 mins on one assignment. Also, what about school fundraisers? This is a public school and the classroom is 'pushing' the fundraiser on the family. For example, one local skating rink holds on Monday nights an 'exclusive' night for the chilren and will donate one dollar of the $3.50 admission to the school. I understand that schools need money but on Monday night I am not excited about going skating until 8:00 p.m. It is worse when the teacher touts it as a Skate Party and my child is excited to go when she gets home. Even goes so far as to put stickers for the 'Skate Party' on their clothes. Need some feedback here. Thanks!"
04/20/2006:
"It's very helpful for me reading this article because I fear that my daughter will most likely be in the same situation. My daughter too has a neigbor friend whose mom wants them to be real good friends. She really wants them to be together in school so that she could free herself from the responsibility of bringing her child to school. I don't really mind much about carpooling but what I am worried about is how my daughter absorbs the bad attitude of the other kid. My daughter is really fine but after a day's play with that kid, she says words that I am not happy with plus a bad attitude that moms will not be proud of. This playmate also has the bad habit of telling my daughter that she will not anymore be her friend if my daughter does not give her the toy or food that they should be sharing."
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