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Kindergarten and Prematurity

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Kindergarten and Prematurity

Postby mollysmom05 » Sun May 23, 2010 10:53 pm

by mollysmom05 (90 Posts), Sun May 23, 2010 10:53 pm

Hi There!
Our daughter Molly was born at 29 1/2 weeks. She spent 53 days in the NICU. She's 5 years and 4 months weighs 32 pounds and is 44 inches tall. She's very thin and petite. We've been blessed that up until this point, she hasn't really had any difficulties.

I had an eye opening meeting however with her Pre-K teacher this past week. She said she knew almost all of her letters and numbers and her address. She did point however, her gross motor skills were still a little behind and their concern was with her pokiness (looking around in class while they were doing a project or just falling a bit behind everyone else). We've noticed this too at soccer, that she has a hard time keeping up and gets tired easily halfway thru the practice.

She seems right on par with her friends that are 4 so after a lot of discussion and concern, we are leaning towards possibly having her stay back and start kindergarten in the fall of 2011. She will be 6 then and 7 that following February so hopefully she won't feel too much older than the rest of her class. It's such a hard decision, I was just wondering what everyone's elses experience was with this and whether or not you held off a year on kindergarten and if so, why or why not. Thanks in advance for your help!
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Re : Kindergarten and Prematurity

Postby mnmom » Mon May 24, 2010 08:02 am

by mnmom (1419 Posts), Mon May 24, 2010 08:02 am

Such a difficult decision, and whatever you decide, it will be the right decision for your family. My second born daughter has a May birthday-yesterday, actually. She was a tiny little thing, although not a preemie. In preschool she did great academically and motor skills, but she was very shy and not extremely social. We struggled with the decision, but ultimately sent her to K at 5. I have to admit, kindergarten through the first part of second grade were somewhat of a struggle. But during second grade, she all of a sudden "caught up" and became very social and a leader. Would she have excelled even more if we would have waited? Who knows. We made the best decision we could at the time. She is now a senior in college and amazing!
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Re : Kindergarten and Prematurity

Postby frasiah » Mon May 24, 2010 10:47 am

by frasiah (1074 Posts), Mon May 24, 2010 10:47 am

Like Lori said, each child is different and decisions have to be tailored to that child. We held DD back a year and it was the best thing we ever did. Now in Kindergarten she did very well and did not struggle at all like she did in her first year in PK. So she will be going to K at 7 yrs this fall as she has July birthday. Our son who turned 5 in April is set to start K this fall. After much discussion with the teacher we agreed this was best. However, we did say that should we see him struggling, we have no qualms either moving him back to PK5 or doing a secong yr in K. So far those decisions have worked very well for our children.
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Re : Kindergarten and Prematurity

Postby catherine » Mon May 24, 2010 11:07 am

by catherine (2832 Posts), Mon May 24, 2010 11:07 am

I think that a certain balance needs to be achieved. Do you feel like your daughter has grown "beyond" the pre-K curriculum? Lucy is one of the oldest in her class (October birthday) while Chloe is one of the youngest (July birthday) but the most striking thing about their K year was when the "light-bulb" went on with reading. A lot has to be achieved in K, beyond the socialization and organization components, it is critical that a child displays confident independent reading skills by the end of the year. Without them, 1st grade is almost an intolerable challenge. Based on our experiences and those of my friends I'd be a "start K and then if there's a stuggle with any or all of these elements, go around again" because a "double-hit of K" might yield greater benefits than an extended wait time. In the case of one of friend's kids, she really benefitted with her second cycle because her up-until-then weak social/attention skills were really sharpened by the combination of "familiarity" from having done the work the year before combined with having something to offer as the "older, experienced-in-the-playground, know-the-rules-and-the-monkey-bars" expert to the newbies who were smaller and shyer than she was.
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Re : Kindergarten and Prematurity

Postby dohertyab » Tue May 25, 2010 10:38 am

by dohertyab (236 Posts), Tue May 25, 2010 10:38 am

Hi, our twins were very similar in build, so I have another track to consider - how does your daughter sleep? The twins were also very small, didn't eat much and really had very little stamina and then during a routine developmental assessment the assessor noted that they were both mouth breathers and asked if they snored at night. They did and always had. It turned out that they had huge, swollen tonsils and adenoids and once they were removed they started to sleep better, eat better and low and behold, had better stamina and concentration. It turned out that many kids who have low stamina don't sleep well and that's why they have trouble concentrating, etc. It makes sense that even though they spent 12 hours in bed they weren't getting any type of quality sleep so they were groggy during the day.

I'm not saying that removing her tonsils is the answer but something to consider.

We did not hold the twins back but they're May birthdays and in our system they register by calendar years so even corrected age they would have started with the same class. We kept a close watch and while they're not setting the world on fire, they are now coming into their own (they're in grade 3). I don't think it would have made a difference for them to have a little extra time.
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Re : Kindergarten and Prematurity

Postby lauchlan » Wed May 26, 2010 10:49 am

by lauchlan (281 Posts), Wed May 26, 2010 10:49 am

Our daughter has a March birthday so when she started K this past fall, she was already 5 1/2 and the oldest in her class. She has had some difficulties as far as reading goes, but she's catching up. I think her issue started with the horrible Montessori program we had her in vs. a majority of other children that were in the school's Pre-K program.

That said, her teacher isn't concerned with moving her to 1st grade next year. We will, however, be finding a supplemental program during the summer to keep the letters, sounds, and sight words (at the very least) fresh in her mind. Her daycare will offer a phonics program, and we're looking at Kumon or Sylvan for another supplemental source.
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Re : Kindergarten and Prematurity

Postby anonpreemiemom » Wed May 26, 2010 12:35 am

by anonpreemiemom (185 Posts), Wed May 26, 2010 12:35 am

I have thought about this a TON the past year. I have a 28 weeker who was born in June but due mid-September. In Calif the cutoff is Dec 2nd.

-- FIRST, you don't have to choose between repeating pre-K or going straight to kindergarten. At least here there are many programs called Junior Kindergarten which act as a bridge between the 4 yr old pre-K program and Kindy. We REALLY really did not want our son to repeat pre-K and knew that would not be stimulating enough. Yet we feel starting early and repeating kindy would be awful for his self-confidence. We found a Junior K that incorporates half of the California Kindergarten curriculm and really is a nice transition.

-- For us the big thing was class size and our city has moved up from a ratio of 1:20 to 1:30!!! That means instead of 20 kids to one teacher it is now 30 kids to one teacher in kindergarten. NO teacher assistants (parent volunteers but not the same as a qualified teacher) Considering all the extra help kids need learning to read and write we think this is atrocious! We'd probably do kindy this year if it was still 1:20.

-- In or son's case he is very ready academically, knows everything he needs to know for kindy, but has weak fine motor skills. Common for early preemies. Unlike in my day there is so much emphasis now on writing full sentences pretty early on that the fine motor is enough for us to consider doing Jr K. It's tough since he's really ready in other ways.

-- I had a good chat with the head of Developmental Pediatrics at my HMO last year and I remember him telling me that most early preemies do not get diagnosed with a learning disorder until 2nd grade. I hate to sound negative, but the point is that our children (esp the early ones ie micropreemies to 32 wks) do face a larger risk for some learning issues as the curriculm gets more complicated. Fortunately our son tested out of all Early Start and other services by the time he was 3, but I recognize we may have some challenges ahead of us and want to make sure he is fully prepared and not struggling at the bottom end of class.

Good luck! Tiffany
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Re : Kindergarten and Prematurity

Postby jenmatt1 » Wed May 26, 2010 01:15 pm

by jenmatt1 (566 Posts), Wed May 26, 2010 01:15 pm

Even kids without preemie issues, sometimes just need more time to mature before entering kindergarten. My sister kept my nephew back in kindergarten because she did not think he was ready. Not academically, but maturity level was not there. He was the same way as your daughter- he had a little trouble focusing. Today he is a 13 year old with Straight As, plays 4 sports and is doing great. I think at this stage, it hurts the parents more than the kids to keep them back. Whereas if you try to push them too far ahead, it might be to their disadvantage. I think you know your kid better than anyone else and you need to go with your gut.
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Re : Kindergarten and Prematurity

Postby blznbec » Sun May 30, 2010 10:22 am

by blznbec (153 Posts), Sun May 30, 2010 10:22 am

My son was born at 32 weeks and had a 30 day NICU stay. We have been very lucky. He has never been behind developmentally, although always small for his age. He should have been born 12/26, but came on 10/30, so if he would have been born anywhere near his due date he would have missed the K cut off date. He is currently 5 1/2, 43 inches and about 40lbs. We made the decision to keep him at his preschool and enroll him in the Kinder program last year. He just 'graduated' last week and after watching his the past nine months, we know we made the right decision for him to 'give him the gift of another year'.

He is currently reading at 1st grade level, knows shapes beyond the usual circle, square, diamond, etc., uses a ruler, understands simple multiplication problems...the list could go on and on. Academically he could go right into 1st grade. He grew tremendously socially, is more mature, and very considerate. I can't imagine him being in 1st grade this year, attending with kids that are 8-10 months older than him.

My husband is a teacher and was also born in October but was not held back. We have a lot of insight when it comes to teaching and how kids learn, but deciding what to do was still a hard decision. At this time, we do not regret our decision one bit. We live in CA and it would have been difficult to hold him back for a second year in K, but if we decided that we wanted him to go to 1st grade in the fall it would have not been a problem. We couldn't hold him back later in his life (say in 6th grade) and did not want to regret not giving him that extra year. The only obstacle was having to decide to pay for it, and as of right now we have no regrets about spending the money. We know that we gave him an extra year of growth in many areas, not just academically.

We know our local elementary K program very well and know it would not challenge him, so because of his success he is going to a 100% Spanish Immersion school in the fall. He would have been with kids who haven't been to preschool; who can't recognize colors, letters or numbers, spell their name, etc., and would have probably got lost (ignored to some extent) in the classroom because he is 'advanced' for entering Kinder. He has had some Spanish at his previous preschool, so we know he enjoys learning this language and figure if he doesn't like it or isn't successful we can move him back to our local school for 1st grade. To ensure he doesn't lose his reading abilities, we are continuing his current reading program over the summer and into the new school year where he will only be taught and spoken to in Spanish.

I can also tell you that in our experience, boys are a given to hold back and it is a toss up for girls depending on the child. As the other posters have said, every kid is different and you never know how they will succeed in whatever they do. I can tell you that we have had several friends in this situation and there has only been one who has regretted not holding their child back (all the others did...girls and boys). We get all kinds of comments (opinions) on what we should have done, the 'real' reasons why we are holding him back, and some comments that are just rude. So beware that not everyone will be on board with your decision, no matter what you decide, but know that it is your decision to do what is best for your child.

Sorry this was so long. We have been in this process for almost two years, so there has been a lot of discussion!

Good luck.
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Re : Kindergarten and Prematurity

Postby lauchlan » Tue Jun 08, 2010 03:33 pm

by lauchlan (281 Posts), Tue Jun 08, 2010 03:33 pm

Just a quick update... on Grace's last day of Kindergarten, a note got sent home from one of the 1st grade teachers. She's offering tutoring over the summer!!! We're so excited! We're going to have her go once a week. It's going to be great because the teacher obviously knows what she's going to need to know in 1st grade and can keep her moving forward as far as her letters, phonics, sight words, etc. goes. I'm so relieved!!!!
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