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  1. #1
    Liziz is offline Emerald level (3000+ posts)
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    Default What to request for engaging an advanced 1st grader?

    My 1st grade DD is incredibly bored with school right now. She routinely asks me "why do I have to go to school when I already know everything they teach us?" I feel like she started kindergarten last year in the middle of the road -- she knew all her letters and letter sounds but wasn't reading yet, she could do uuuuuper basic addition but it took her a long time of counting on fingers, etc. However, part way through Kindergarten she just shot ahead. We worried a bit last year about her being bored, but there was still so much "play" in Kindergarten that she was always happy and loved what she was doing -- she loved their free center time, group work, etc.

    This year, in first grade, she's pretty unhappy and very bored. I think the difference this year is that there is less "play" in the day, so she doesn't get those breaks from the stuff she already knows, like happened last year. She's not wildly advanced, but she's reading at a mid-2nd grade level, is very strong on math, routinely sits down and writes me full notebook pages full of stories/thoughts/ideas/messages. She's already finished 100% of the 1st grade sight words and gotten 100% on every spelling pre-test (aka before the students have a chance to study the words), or, for that matter, any evaluation she's taken this year.

    I had a phone conversation with her teacher in late September about this. The teacher was aware and in full agreement that DD knew all the stuff they were doing in class at that point, but hadn't realized that DD was unhappy -- she said DD is happy-go-lucky, rule-following, and cheerful in school. She was very glad I'd contacted her, and took the time to pull my DD aside that day and talk with her, including explaining what she was going to do to help DD do more interesting work. At that time, she told me that she had only just started differentiating, because the first month of school is needed to assess everyone, set up general class rules/routines/expectations, etc. Moving forward, the things she told me she'd be doing were: 1)early finisher packs - extra worksheets that students who finish their work early can do. Said these were seasonal, logic puzzle, game-like type challenging worksheets that most students loved doing and were excited to do. 2)Workshop groups - starting in October, they'd have daily workshop time where kids worked in small groups that were differentiated based on abilities. My DD would be in a group with other more advanced kids and they would get more challenging/engaging work and assignments.

    Fast forward a month, and DD still routinely expresses boredom with school. She seems to be happy enough when they do workshop, but that's a teeny segment of their entire day, and they don't even do it every day. She is definitely doing the early finisher packets, and sometimes has fun with them, but the reality is that she's a kid who hates worksheets (though she's a rule-follower at school and so she'll do them without complaint in the classroom), so being given additional worksheets isn't a particular reward or something to look forward to.

    I want to contact the teacher again to check in and figure out what else we can do, but that will be most effective if I can provide some ideas about what might work/what I'm looking for. What would you ask for in this situation?

    A few potentially relevant facts - this is a public school. They have a gifted program, which we are requesting they test DD for this year, but that testing would lead to inclusion next year -- there's no way to test in for the same year. Additionally, at the first grade level they don't offer anything for the children in the gifted program other than classroom differentiation (whereas starting in 2nd grade, those kids get pulled for a few hours a week with the gifted teacher). DD's teacher is an experienced, well-respected teacher at the school. She is the most-desired teacher by most parents and I routinely hear from parents of older children that she's been one of the best teachers for their child -- so it's not a situation of dealing with a weaker or ill-prepared teacher.
    Lizi

  2. #2
    jenmcadams is offline Sapphire level (2000+ posts)
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    My DS was pretty advanced in K and in a mainstream classroom. Starting in first grade, we ended up moving him to a school that had GT Center classrooms and that was definitely a better fit academically although in retrospect (he’s now a HS Junior), I don’t know if it was the right thing socially. A few things that we were lucky enough that the school did for my son that may or may not be options depending on how your school is structured:

    • Subject Matter Acceleration: my son entered K reading (and comprehending) pretty fluently at the early chapter book level. The school did some pretty extensive reading testing and ended up deciding he was reading at around a 4th grade level. They suggested moving him to 3rd grade for reading, but given his sister was in 3rd grade, I asked them to move him to a high reading group in 2nd grade and he spent about an hour a day in that second grade classroom for all of K. The downside was he missed some things in K that I now regret, namely handwriting. The 2nd grade teacher would “scribe” for him during reading assessments since he couldn’t really handwrite the 3-4 paragraph summaries and writing assignments that went with the reading level. To this day, his handwriting is horrific and starting in 1st/2nd grade they let him type and we didn’t push the handwriting. He’s always been lucky that he’s been allowed to type everything and it’s mostly worked out, but I do kind of regret not pushing handwriting
    • Special Projects: starting in about Nov of K, they realized it might make sense for him to do something different for social studies/etc. and they allowed him to work with the librarian on special projects. He did research projects and created presentations and reports and really loved that. Eventually they put 1-2 other kids in there with him and that was even more fun
    • Reading: DS was always allowed to have 1-2 books to read whenever he finished early. He’s not a big reader any more, but was an avid reader through about 4th-5th grade


    Part way through K, the school district tested him for GT and based on his scores, they recommended he move to a GT Center (neighborhood schools with 1 self contained GT class per grade). We did end up moving him starting in 1st grade and academically the move was good. The GT Class was really more of an advanced academic (vs true GT class) and basically operated one grade level above. Until 3rd/4th grade when they went to more whole class instruction, he was still generally his own reading group of one, but eventually everyone else caught up somewhat. Being at the GT school allowed him to do acceleration where needed (including taking Pre-Algebra in 5th grade), but eventually even at a GT school they started pushing us to grade skip (not an option socially or really even academically given he wasn't super motivated) and we ended up moving to private for middle school (before coming back to public school for HS).

    DS was never super motivated academically, but was advanced. If he cared about something, he did well, but mostly was (and is) a pretty lazy student. As a HS Junior, he’s pretty advanced, but isn’t a phenomenal student. He’s made mostly As in high school (only 2 B’s total) and will have already taken 10 AP classes by end of this year, but doesn’t love school and mostly tolerates it and rides on his intellect. He did not fare well during COVID and was diagnosed with ADHD last spring so is still figuring all that out.

    From the way you describe your DD, she sounds like a motivated, bright girl. As a first grader, she might not be quite at the level to read independently for long periods of time, but if she is, or as her reading advances, I think that’s the easiest thing to advocate for if she’s feeling bored. Rather than additional worksheets, I’d push for reading when she’s done (as soon as she’s able). If it turns out she’s advanced in math eventually, there’s a lot of research on the types of math that advanced kids in elementary and middle school can attempt rather than just pushing through the standard curriculum. I used to do a pull out group for advanced math kids with my DD and my DS and we mostly did logic, probability and “fun” challenge math.

    I hope this novel of a post is somewhat helpful - I found it helpful to listen to other anecdotes (some on this site) when my DS was little and I was trying to decide what to do. Every kid is different and needs different things and every school is different in what they can and will offer. I definitely lucked out in that my DS's elementary schools were super accommodating with my DS and I was also super fortunate that we could afford an amazing private for middle school.
    Mom to a DD (8/02) and a DS (6/05)

  3. #3
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    Ds2 had these issues in K and 1st (online.). Starting in K, He was single subject accelerated for math and Pull out gifted reading group for literacy. First grade online was a disaster since no other kids at his reading level in his online class. So he just ditched the google meets and read for 2 hours. I had him read scholastic news (2nd grade) and complete the worksheets. This year, second grade, is better since they grouped high level readers in his class, plus he goes to third grade math daily.
    DD (3/06)
    DS1 (7/09)
    DS2 (8/13)

  4. #4
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    KpbS is offline Red Diamond level (10,000+ posts)
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    When I was in this situation, I homeschooled my DC.

    My DS started Kindy reading on a 5th grade mid-year level. When I saw that most of 1st was getting everyone up to speed with reading, I decided we would work on everything else at home. He kept reading because he loved to read on his own, but we focused on writing, grammar, spelling, math, history, art, music, etc in his level. So much more to learn without having to wait on others to catch up or understand a lesson.
    Last edited by KpbS; 10-22-2021 at 07:13 AM.
    K

  5. #5
    Liziz is offline Emerald level (3000+ posts)
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    Thank you for all your suggestions so far.

    To the best of my knowledge, our school does not do pull-out classes nor have a separate GT school. They only have the couple-hours-a-week pull out class for kids in the GT program that starts next year.

    The idea to ask for reading instead of worksheets may be helpful, thank you. I certainly would have preferred it as a child! DD can and does read herself simple chapter books -- but honestly still is a little kid and much prefers to cuddle up and be read to -- so I'm not sure, but it would be a nice additional option.

    I'm also just very open to suggestions anything I can be doing at home (or they can do at school) to help DD dislike school less or deal with getting through things at school she doesn't like. I think it's tricky too because it's not like she's crazy advanced in a way that's impossible to ignore -- she's not multiple grade levels ahead or anything. She's juuuust enough advanced to be bored, which is making her miserable. I just worry that starting to hate school in 1st grade sets a bad precedent for her school career -- but maybe it's just b/c my oldest loved school, and was happy about going?
    Lizi

  6. #6
    bisous is offline Red Diamond level (10,000+ posts)
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    I love the idea of allowing for more reading. My (now second grader) still benefitted from free reading time last year so I think it is possible even at that young age. Also, the more I advance through the parenting journey the more I am convinced that reading is the gateway to ultimate scholarly success. It may not help with the immediate school situation but I can't think of a single academic skill that isn't enhanced by a deep love of and extensive experience in reading!

    As far as talking about enjoying school, that's a tricky one. I have to tell you I've always loved school even when (and maybe especially when) it came easy to me. But I loved the structure and I loved the social aspect of it. I'm looking forward to seeing how other families deal with this. I can absolutely see that personality-wise it just might not be a fit for all kids.

  7. #7
    AnnieW625's Avatar
    AnnieW625 is online now Black Diamond level (25,000+ posts)
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    Talk to the teacher. That is my only advice. Be grateful that you have a kid who does well in school.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Annie
    WOHM to two wonderful little girls born in April
    DD E, 15
    DD L, 11
    baby 2, 4-2009 (our Tri-18 baby)

  8. #8
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    It’s not uncommon for kids to be bored in first and second grade because many schools, both public and privates don’t start differentiating until second or third grade. Other than trying to get her in the g&t program for next year, there probably isn’t much more you can expect from the school. You can supplement at home if you think she would enjoy it.

  9. #9
    PZMommy is offline Diamond level (5000+ posts)
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    Quote Originally Posted by westwoodmom04 View Post
    It’s not uncommon for kids to be bored in first and second grade because many schools, both public and privates don’t start differentiating until second or third grade. Other than trying to get her in the g&t program for next year, there probably isn’t much more you can expect from the school. You can supplement at home if you think she would enjoy it.
    This would be my suggestion as well. If you really want more, I’d ask the school, not the teacher. Teachers are at their breaking points this year. Last year’s craziness was a piece of cake compared to this year. The biggest push is to help catch up students that are behind and to make up for last year. Unfortunately kids who are advance are not a priority. My son was identified highly gifted in first grade, and it wasn’t until middle school that he was actually challenged. It sucks, but most public education funds are spent on intervention for below level students and not on advanced or gifted learners.

    Also, a mid second grade reading level in first isn’t that uncommon. In my first grade class, 2/3rds of my students are reading 2nd-4th grade level, and then I have some who don’t even know their letters. It’s a wide spread, but that’s just how it works, especially this year.

  10. #10
    Liziz is offline Emerald level (3000+ posts)
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    Quote Originally Posted by PZMommy View Post
    This would be my suggestion as well. If you really want more, I’d ask the school, not the teacher. Teachers are at their breaking points this year. Last year’s craziness was a piece of cake compared to this year. The biggest push is to help catch up students that are behind and to make up for last year. Unfortunately kids who are advance are not a priority. My son was identified highly gifted in first grade, and it wasn’t until middle school that he was actually challenged. It sucks, but most public education funds are spent on intervention for below level students and not on advanced or gifted learners.

    Also, a mid second grade reading level in first isn’t that uncommon. In my first grade class, 2/3rds of my students are reading 2nd-4th grade level, and then I have some who don’t even know their letters. It’s a wide spread, but that’s just how it works, especially this year.
    Yes, I totally know that the teachers are stretched so much! That's why I'm trying to figure out myself what I can ask for, because I realize the teacher is wonderful but doesn't have the capacity to customize lesson plans or do anything special for one bored student. I also don't think she's way out of the bounds of normal for 1st grade, I just see that she's on the side of normal that means she's bored all day right now. I'm far less concerned with advancing her or pushing her further ahead (I'm not working on anything at home, etc. because she's happy at home with her play, which is so important!), and more focused on finding a way to make part of the school day interesting or engaging such that the whole day isn't miserable for her. I just worry that it sets such a bad precedent for enjoying school long term when a kid is miserable in 1st grade. I have talked to her a lot about how sometimes we need to do things we don't love, etc. but I'm still just trying to think of other things. It's just hard to do nothing when I have a kid who is crying several mornings a week begging me not to make her go to school. Thanks for everyone's thoughts so far!
    Lizi

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