Super Two, What To Do?

Waiting For Kindergarten

I get that it’s stressful being a parent and naturally we all want the best for our children, especially when it comes to nurturing their potential and wanting to make the very best school decision we can for them. But every now and then I get a question thrown at me that warrants a longer discussion. This is not a new question. Actually, it’s one I hear more often than you think. So, for all you parents of brilliant two year-olds, this one’s for you!

Q. “I have a 2 1/2 year old daughter. Growing up in the shadow of her older brother (just turned 6), my daughter is leaping ahead of her peer group, and is super smart to boot. Because she was born in January, she will not be eligible to start Kindergarten until 2015. Having already spent 8 months in preschool, I can’t imagine keeping her there for 3 more years. Would you be able to advise me on getting her a permit for early admission into Kindergarten (I am hoping for a 2014 admission). I am looking to find out what I have to do and who I have to talk to in order to petition for early admission. Looking forward to hearing from you!”

A. Thanks for writing to me. While I can appreciate your concern and best intentions as a parent, it is still WAY too early to do anything about an early admission for your daughter as far as public elementary school goes. Age cut-offs are a matter of state law, not individual school districts, or even individual public schools.
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That being said, my advice to you is to get her into a great preschool program (which might mean moving her if the current one is not providing enough depth and exploration), monitor her progress with her teachers, and when she is 4 years old, re-assess the situation and start to make plans. This might include:
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1. Enrolling her in a 2-year Kindergarten sometimes called a DK – or Developmental Kindergarten when she is 4. Many charters offer this.
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2. Speak to the principal where you son is enrolled to see if you can petition/appeal to have her admitted early (this is rarely done these days due to state law mandates but not impossible.) Just know that if you ask an elementary school principal about a 2 1/2 yr-old they most likely will not take you seriously so wait another year and a half before you approach the situation.
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3. Look into Montessori schools that allow children to work at their own pace (some go up into grade school and beyond), or
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4. Consider private schools for her as they are more flexible on the age cut-off as they have the flexibility to determine their own internal age cut-offs.
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5. At 4 you could also consider whether or not to have her tested to see if she qualifies for a gifted program.
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Mainly, the age you should begin this process in earnest is when she is 4, not 2 1/2.
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Dialog at this point should be between you and her preschool teachers. A good preschool will support and stimulate all kinds of development beyond what we typically think of as “academic” learning.
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Ideally, a quality preschool is a place where your child can experience group work, team work, a solid sense of self, learning to express oneself but also being mindful within the context of the group, fine-motor skills, ability to focus and stay on task for longer periods of time, social-emotional development, including making, developing and sustaining friendships, discovering connections to each other, their environment, their world, stimulating curiosity, problem-solving, conflict-resolution, inquiry, exploring possibilities, creativity and creation, and drawing conclusions. While not exactly “academic,” these are developmental skills that will build the foundation to serve her throughout her life.
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I know we all mean well, and it’s hard to be patient and watch our budding child unfurl in real-time as opposed to projecting various scenarios on them in fast-forward, but truly these are magical times right here, right now. Enjoy them for what they are, as, coming from a mother of a nearly Middle-Schooler, they surely are fleeting.
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I told another stressed-out mom of a 2 year-old in my seminar last night, “This is a good time to survey the land, get a sense of what your elementary school options are, and get informed, but really, there’s nothing you can do about it yet, so relax. Have a glass of wine. Know it’s all going to be OK.”
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Sending love out to all you parents…
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2 thoughts on “Super Two, What To Do?

  1. Thank you for saying this! I had a precocious 2 1/2 year old who started writing her letters at 2 years, 9 months and read her first BOB book at 3 years. She spent a year in public Pre-K (LAUSD does have these! Just be the “typically developing” English-speakers in a school with mostly English-learners) working on her social skills, then entered K a few weeks before her 5th birthday already reading chapter books.

    Fast forward a few years- academically, she was unchallenged until this year (third grade!) and ranks at the top of her class. Looking back, I could not have held her back a year (very typical in our neighborhood to not enter Kindergarten until at least 5 and sometimes 6), nor could I have sent her to school ahead of her peers. She was already one of the youngest and smallest in her class (age 4 years, 11 months on the first day of school) and there are children a year and nine months older in the same class. It’s disturbing, but we have girls showing signs of puberty in our classroom and girls like my daughter still able to wear toddler sizes.

    Sit back and let your child develop on her schedule. It will all work out!

  2. Thanks for adding your story here Terri. Good to hear it all worked out for your daughter as well. One of the hardest things about parenting is not projecting either into their future, or back into the past of our own childhood. To be fully, achingly present in the unfolding of our children, is glorious.

    And we’ll cross that other bridge when we get there. And trust me, there’ll be plenty of bridges to cross. 🙂

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