By Debra Collins, Family therapist
I am the mother of a 5-year-old girl currently attending kindergarten. We've spoken with her teacher about the curriculum planned for this year and among other great things, he stated that he will be teaching the kids to read. The problem is, our daughter started reading at age 4 and can now read second- and third-grade level books.
My concern is while the other children will be learning, she will be held back or not advance as we'd like for her to. We found out that her school has advanced-placement classes. She would have to be tested to find out whether or not she is eligible (which we think she would be) to be placed in those classes for a limited amount of time each day.
Do you think this is a good idea? Is there anything she will benefit from if she stays in the class setting while the other children are just beginning to read?
It sounds like you want a nice balance between challenging your daughter academically and allowing her to ease into the kindergarten experience. Having the advanced-placement testing will give you a more through understanding of the scope of her reading abilities and skills. With more information, you can work with her teacher to determine what placement best meets her current skill level, or if she is fine where she is.
It will be important for you to know if they are testing for comprehension. Some children can read the words of higher grade levels, but don't fully understand what they are reading, or how to put what they read in context. This type of "disconnect" is not uncommon and is, in part, a developmental issue. A child can learn to read words before she has a full understanding of what the words mean.
If you do find that she is fully comprehending more advanced reading material, find out from her teacher if she seems bored during reading, or if she is enjoying herself. If she is engaged with the experience of learning with her classmates, then you may want to advance her later when she needs more of a challenge. You may also want to find out from your daughter how reading in class is going for her.
Kindergarten is a time for children to acclimate to school-based learning and socialization. It is OK to take your time so that you get enough information to make a decision you are comfortable with. It is good that you are looking at her overall needs and not just the fact that she is a good reader. A "whole child" approach will benefit your daughter now and throughout her academic career.
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.
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