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Action Alert – Kindergarten Entry Date

May 30, 2012

Dear Families of Gifted Children and Youth,

The Michigan legislature is currently considering and leaning toward moving the date for kindergarten entry from December 1 to September 1st.  House Bill 4513 would amend the Revised School Code (MCL 380.113) to move up the minimum age requirement for a child enrolling in kindergarten to require the child to be five years of age by September 1, rather than December 1.

The bill includes a waiver provision that parents and guardians may invoke if a child is five by September 1 rather than December 1 but this could be time consuming for families and the waiver request may be rejected.

The obvious implication for a gifted child is putting off entry into school for another year.

If you support the gifted and want to ensure gifted children have the option of entering school at age five by December 1… Please write or call your state representative and senator right away.  At the present time, legislators are probably going to pass the new legislation.

The links below provide the text and analysis of the bill.
House Bill 4513
House Bill 4514
Summary as Introduced
Legislative Analysis

Please support gifted learners!

-Friends and advocates of gifted children
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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Kate permalink
    May 31, 2012 6:10 PM

    I actually would like more information. What would the waiver entail?

    I have two ‘young for grade’ kids that were screened upon moving to MI. They were 5y10m and placed in 1st grade without having done Kindergarten in another state (not age eligible). We were going to place them in K, but upon further discussion with the school, they requested a screening so we could best decide. Our girls have done wonderful, and even in some areas are certainly under-challenged (reading specifically). I have some legitimate concerns with the local schools– but I truly think they got it right when they suggested we place our kids in 1st (without having done K), even though both have some mild special needs.

    I would have liked 1st grade to have more explicit enrichment for advanced readers and/or a differentiated Math program. Social/Emotional support would also be a welcome surprise since young-for-grade and/or advanced kids sometimes have trouble fitting in with peers due to a difference in social-emotional maturity and cognitive development/interests.

    Considering how mobile our nation is, a federal cut-off date (with well defined wavier option for Fall Birthday kids) would be welcome as far as I am concerned. It would enable mobile families to not worry about a potential 18 month gap in grade upon moving to another state. State entry ages (and also if K is mandatory) are so widely spread that for families that may move, it creates all sorts of potential problems. In some states, “red-shirting” is rampant and the average Kindergarten student is 6 upon school entry. Some states have a waiver system for ‘early entry’ or young for age kids that works- in other states it is a disaster with vague and inconsistent guidelines that vary by district.

    The lack of Gifted/Advanced placement in Michigan is a greater issue than a cut-off date that holds the potential for allowing early-entry to advanced/gifted Kindergarten aged children.

    After a bit of research, I found that many private schools in the area (even the ones that cater to gifted/advanced children) have suggested cut-off dates of Sept 1st. (5 by start of K), even for 1/2 day programs. In Michigan, Kindergarten is not mandatory. Though school enrollment by age 6 is. If we had lived in Michigan last year, I would have had reservations on sending my 4 year olds to all-day Kindergarten (which is one of the reasons for pushing the cut-off date back). Both my daughters were reading, writing, and able to do K level math (and beyond)– but one still took a nap and both were still developing age-appropriate social skills and really needed ‘playtime’ that they would not be able to get in an all day school setting. Many advanced ‘older4s or young 5s’ would do well in an all day setting, but some may not. That is the uniqueness of advanced kids, each one has such different needs.

    Another option would be to have advanced kids defer K and place into 1st. Or also the state could allow for more K/1 split classrooms (which is what we were anticipating for our -then- K age 5 year olds when living in another state) or multi-age settings. Or the best solution— creating a state-wide Gifted/Accelerated Program for K-12 in Michigan : so regardless of age students would be able to have access to an education that meets their needs (both chronologically and cognitively). Or maintain a single 1/2 day K class for younger-aged kids ( Summer/Fall Birthdays) that are ready for K (or higher) material but still benefit from a shorter formal school day.

    I think a waiver- with certain guidelines- is a good compromise. A potential waiver does need to have clearly defined guidelines that serve in both the students and the schools best interest. Guidelines should be formulated after discussion with Gifted/Advanced advocates that would enable schools to best serve their students of all ages.

    • June 18, 2012 10:11 AM

      At kindergarten level, you don’t have to worry about speillng you don’t even have to worry about reading, really, if you’re child isn’t quite ready. If the child isn’t ready, then trying to teach him or her to read will only be frustrating for both of you.If he or she is ready and wants to learn how to read, a good book is Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons by Siegfried Engelmann. My youngest daughter went to K at the public school and they tried to teach her to read we had nothing but tears and battles over reading lessons all year long and she felt like a complete failure. Then we homeschooled in 1st grade and used that book she was reading on her own by Lesson 30 without a single tear shed! I highly recommend the book.Good luck..

  2. June 17, 2012 7:51 PM

    I would have to agree with the read, read, read, read (!!!!) idea. Next, I’d point out that just because snhtemiog worked for my kid doesn’t mean it’ll work for yours. We utilize a ton of PBS stuff for kids in the K age range, I think WordWorld is a great place to start. Super Why drives me batty, but some people like it. Starfall.com is also good. We did lots of Between the Lions, too. The earlier shows are the best; it’s like someone stepped in and demanded more edutainment out of the program, and it started to disintegrate into poor parodies of rock concerts. Sigh. We did a trial of Headsprout.com and my daughter loved it. Sadly, they wanted $200 for the program, so we went so further with that one at all! (Eeek!) We started out with the phonics program from K12.com. After that started falling apart, we had our eldest tested, and it turned out that he’s dyslexic. So we started working with Barton Reading. That went only so far and we really started to clash on reading and especially writing. So before I could make him hate the idea of the printed word entirely, I backed off. I let him play a lot of Club Penguin and PopTropica, both of which require reading to be able to advance in the game. He learned early on I wasn’t going to help him with it, and his reading picked up speed fairly quickly even his relatives were saying how much he’s progressed and, gee, what new program had I been working with to get such great advancement? Um how DO you say, I left him alone for once, without sounding callous or negligent? Maybe it was me not being there and pointing out every little mistake. Or maybe it was letting him get a little more maturity before moving forward. I have no idea. But after that he discovered Garfield and Calvin and Hobbes, and I got him the Wimpy Kid book series at the recommendation of a couple of kids from Boy Scouts. He ate those up with no issues. His dad bought him a book light and we allow him to stay up in bed and read. Somehow staying up late and reading is so very much more rewarding and attractive than reading during daylight hours. (???)With his little sister (who is so NOT dyslexic!), I picked up Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. She hated it. Despised it. In fact, she can read small words now and I’m not clear if I actually taught her how to do that, or if she simply picked it up along the way. At the moment we’re using Sonlight (warning: it’s a religious program!) don’t know how well it works, as we’ve only been doing it for a week now. It will probably help a lot if you know your kiddo’s learning style. You can look that up online along with tons of suggested approaches geared towards those learning types. It’s not that a kinesthetic kid CAN’T learn from a visual program, but it’s like taking the longest and most difficult path to get there.

  3. June 18, 2012 4:33 AM

    When I was a special ed theeacr, I had a group of boys who all read on or below a 1st grade level. Considering they were all 14, this presented a LOT of problems! I didn’t have the heart to do to them what had been done in years past give them a 1st grade reader and keep drilling them with dolch word flash cards and phonic pages. Their records indicated they’d done that for years. Instead I bought each of them a copy of the same book and I read to them. My rule was that I’d keep reading as long as I saw them following along. If they didn’t, THEY’d have to read. No non-reading 14 year old wants to read aloud so the threat worked. We read good books too! I avoided all the textbooks with partial stories out of context. They were boring and non-productive. We read literature. At the end of the year all were reading at or above 4th grade level. Their self esteem was high and they were beginning to take pleasure in reading. Considering where we started, this was extraordinary. READ TO YOUR CHILD. Write notes to him/her. Help them write notes back. Make word cards and stick them around the house, words like DOOR, WINDOW, BEDROOM, STAIRS, TOOTHBRUSH. Make chore charts, calendars, bulletin boards, and art with words. BUT don’t resort to only worksheets, flashcards and readers or you’ll kill the love of reading. My oldest has severe dyslexia. He didn’t learn to read until he was 11. Thanks to BASSMASTER magazine, he was reading on college level by age 12 and while he still has dyslexia he also has a degree from a college that gave him a huge scholarship ($80,000). My next two sons both learned to read fluently by the age of 3 and 4. My daughter isn’t fluent yet due to some visual problems but she’s getting there! Read fun stuff. Read exciting stuff. Find a bunch of Dorling Kindersly books and pour over them together. My third son is 15 and has read grad student level history books for years now. He loves to learn (and play ball and play music). I tried very hard to not kill that love of reading. Books are the MAIN Christmas presents requested by my children. Oh, one last point. We keep the video games to about 1/2 hour once a week. We keep the TV off unless its PBS or an old movie. We spend a lot of time outdoors exploring, hiking, gardening, playing in the creek. Outdoors play grows brains! Games, computers and TV makes for quiet children maybe but doesn’t grow their brains much.

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