Pre-School Developments

As mentioned in an earlier post, it was my intention to switch Gavin back to the half-day school program after this term is over until I spoke to the headmaster.

Gavin started pre-school last year in August – about three months before I delivered Gareth. I was initially planning to home school him until he was ready for kindergarten until I got pregnant and found that I could barely stay awake, let alone interact with him with an appropriate level of stimulation to facilitate his development.  After that, I conceded the need for assistance and agreed to send him to school early.

When he started pre-school, he was two years and seven months old.  Because he was talking so much more than his peers, the headmaster felt it would be more appropriate to send him to the three year old class rather than keep him in the two year old class.  Gavin, on the other hand, had other plans.  He decided he preferred the teacher of the two year old class, plus his god-brother was in the two year old class, so he switched classes on his own.

Feeling guilty for flaking out on him and sending him to school early in the first place, I didn’t want to force him to do anything he wasn’t happy with at school so I allowed him to stay in the two year old class.  I figured that as long as he was enjoying school, I wasn’t about to complain.  Unfortunately, the teacher had something to complain because he was disrupting class.  Because he was already familiar with much of the content she was teaching the class, he would get bored and wander off on his own.  And when he wandered off, the other children would follow him.

When it was recommended that Gavin enter the four year old class for this year, I consented.  They felt that he was intellectually ready for the four year old class but needed more time to develop his social skills.  For that, they recommended that I send him for the flexi-hour program which would allow him more time to interact with his peers.  Unfortunately, Gavin and his god-brother had become the dynamic duo in school and Gavin wasn’t about to be parted. Again he decided to switch classes back to the three year old class.

Once again, I was content to let him be until the headmaster told me that he was too advanced for the three year old class and was getting bored in there.  She felt he should be in the four year old class and wanted to move him there.  The only problem was that he had not sufficiently developed the fine motor skills required for the four year old class since he spent last year in the two year old class.  Had he remained in the three year old class, he would have spent more time developing his fine motor skills in readiness for the four year old class.

The recommendation was to place Gavin in the four year old class and keep him on the flexi-hour plan so he could attend a special class that would help him develop his fine motor skills.  At home, we would work together to develop his skills with play dough and bead sorting.  The aim is to help him practice his pincer grasp so he could hold a pencil well enough to start learning to write.

When Gavin was younger, I bought him Kumon books that were designed to train children to learn how to write numbers and the alphabets.  We worked on them together but I eventually put them aside because Gavin would only practice if I held his hand.  If I asked him to try it on his own, he would claim he couldn’t do it and refuse to put pen to paper.  It seemed pointless to make him practice writing when it was really my hand that did the work.

So although I wanted to switch him back to the half-day program, it looks like he needs to take the additional class from the flexi-hour program to help him cope with the four year old class. It feels like I’m pushing him too hard with extra classes so he can cope in a class that is technically a year ahead of him.  However, the headmaster reckons because he was born at the start of the year, he is better suited for the four year old class.

The last thing I want to do is to make him hate school, but then again, I don’t want him to lose interest because he’s bored of the material being taught because it doesn’t stimulate him.  According to the headmaster, he is enjoying the extra class in the flexi-hour program and since he’s learning something that I seem incapable of teaching him, perhaps I ought to keep him in the program.  That class ends at 2pm so I figured I could take him home straight after rather than leave him at school until 3pm which is when the flexi-hour program officially ends.

What’s my dilemma?  I don’t want to be an aggressive, pushy mother wanting her child to be ahead of the pack, however, neither do I want him to be underwhelmed by school so much so that he has to find his own activities to keep himself occupied.  That would defeat the purpose of having him there in the first place.

So what do you think?  Stay in the three year old class and cut back to half day or move him to the four year old class with the additional class to help him catch up on his fine motor skills?

Published by Shen-Li

SHEN-LI LEE is the author of “Brainchild: Secrets to Unlocking Your Child’s Potential”. She is also the founder of Figur8.net (a website on parenting, education, child development) and RightBrainChild.com (a website on Right Brain Education, cognitive development, and maximising potentials). In her spare time, she blogs on Forty, Fit & Fed, and Back to Basics.

7 thoughts on “Pre-School Developments

  1. How about staying in 4-yr old class with no/partial flexi-program?
    Since he is already in school, more stimulation seems better than letting him be bored. As long as you stay encouraging without being pushy, he would find school challenging and interesting.

    Anyway, with Gavin being born in the beginning of the year, you’d be facing the same dilemma every year. That’s where the beauty of home-schooling comes in, IF mums get the energy and time to make it a reality.

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  2. That was what I initially wanted to do. The headmaster’s concern was that Gavin hasn’t developed the necessary fine motor-skills to cope with the four year old class. Having stayed in the two year old class last year, he didn’t do what all the three year olds were doing in the three year old class which would have prepared him for this.

    Although I can do those activities at home with him – I’m trying – I find he often says he can’t do it and either refuses to do it or insists that I “help” him (read: do it for him). And that defeats the purpose of him developing his fine motor skills. So it looks like I either keep him in the three year old class where he’s disrupting the other students or I agree to the additional flexi class and put him in the four year old class.

    We’re planning to send Gavin to an international school which begins in the middle of the year (so he won’t be the oldest in the class). Besides, I feel (read: hope) that when he’s older, he won’t be so disruptive because he’ll have enough understanding. Plus, I also think that when he’s older, the things he learns at school will be more complicated and not the basic stuff that he’s already learned at home which should hold his interest.

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  3. Oh yes, I really wanted to do the whole home schooling thing but could not get hubby on board. Since we both have to agree on something, I guess that idea’s out the door…

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  4. hahaha… nix nay. But if Gavin can help it, that’s what they’ll have. The teachers are trying hard to get him in the 4 year old class but he seems determined to stay with his god brother.

    He seems pretty confident and happy with school these days, so I’m pretty happy either way.

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  5. heheheh lack of fine motor skills eh?…get gavin to set the table for dinner and lunch everyday..haha get him to arrange the fork and spoons in place..heheheh…

    or get him the Thomas stationery set…thomas pencil color pencils crayons..

    get him clothes which he needs to button up or i am sure baby clothes such as the ones Gareth’s wearing has loads of button heeh try to get him help mommy button up gareth’s clothes or soemthign..

    heheheheh…just some of my silly ideas..hehehehe

    or draw pics of thomas train but dotted borders and get him to join all the dots together with a color pencil or something?

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  6. I’ve been monitoring him of late and I’m starting to wonder if his “lack of fine motor skills” is really a lack of ability or purely just a lack of interest to comply.

    Sigh… getting him interested to do things we want him to do is really a chore. 😦

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