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Tough questions! Only you can really answer this one. Personally, I waited to enter my son in Kindergarten (his bday is end of Sept) and he really needed the year to mature. There is a boy in his class that started early and really does well. I think it depends on the child. I would chose the homeschool option. (Right Bensmom?) if that is an option for your family. But, your child will still be leaps ahead of any class when he enters the school system. From my personal experience, any Talented and Gifted Program is not always a great option in the public schools. What kind of GATE program does the school have?
Even though I'm a homeschooler myself, I'll vote for option 1, and I'll tell you why. If you start him early and he's not successful, he'll be frustrated, he'll feel like a failure, and he'll have to repeat a year. It doesn't matter how smart he is, if his social or motor skills aren't up to the task (knowing some people hold their children back a year, so he'll likely be TWO years younger than some kids in his class!), his self esteem will be devastated, and he may learn to hate school.
You can always accelerate him later if necessary, but you can't get back that lost year if you push too soon.
I also feel you should begin homeschooling right now. It takes only 15-20 minutes a day at this point to keep him sufficiently challenged. You don't need a curriculum, and those of us who homeschool can point you in many directions for free resources. There are three reasons to begin now: (1) you'll be able to see how easy it is and know that you're "cut out for it" when the time comes to make a legal decision about school, (2) he'll be challenged enough for you to know what level he needs to be working at when 2013 comes along, and (3) your dh will see his progress, which means he'll be more open minded about homeschooling and/or a grade skip if you're successful.
Even if you decide on a traditional preschool program, you can still work with him a little bit each day to keep him challenged. A preschool won't be able to do that.
I introduced myself here a while back. (link to that thread here (Can I get some input?)) I've continued to lurk off and on, but now I'm back for more guidance. As we've watched Liam grow and learn more, we're definitely feeling like he's quite above his peers. We're not sure where to go from here as far as his education.
At least in our area, to start kindergarten next year students are supposed to be 5 before the beginning of September. Liam will not be 5 until that December. In our district there is an option to test in early, but that means he would be the youngest in the class. Given the theory that boys mature socially slower than girls, I wonder if/how that would affect him.
Liam is now officially reading. Aside from needing a bit of help with words here and there, he can pick up most basic, first level books and read them just fine. He is obsessed with the meaning of words. When he hears a new word, he wants to know the meaning, it's synonyms and then tries to use it in a sentence. He loves to figure out how things work. He adds and subtracts well with small numbers and has a recent affinity for fractions.
I feel like I have 3 choices.
1. Wait until the 2013-14 school year and enroll him in kindergarten with "his class". Pro: might be the best choice socially. Con: risk him being bored and losing interest in school.
2. Test him for kindergarten for the 2012-13 school year. Pro: encourage moving ahead, challenges, etc. Con: is that too much pressure?
3. Homeschool until "his class" reaches 2nd grade (2015-16 school year) at which point the GATE program is available and enter him in public school. Pro: allows him to be challenged until the school is ready to do the same. Con: what if I'm not cut out to be a homeschool mom or our family needs change and I go back to work full time?
DH votes for option 1. I think I'm leaning towards option 3, but DH isn't in favor. I'm thinking option 2 may be the best choice for all of us. I just can't seem to settle on one choice.
Thank you for your input. I'm wrestling so much with this decision because I know it it something that will affect his future. What if we push to much and it's too much pressure for him? What if we hold off and he ends up bored, distracted and uninterested in learning? Ack! Where's the owner's manual for this kid?!
I guess technically we can say we're homeschooling now and I will continue to for at least the next year. We don't follow a set curriculum, but we take every opportunity to learn. We've been using some little workbooks I found at Target this summer. He's currently working on a grade 1-2 math book. I've been over to the homeschooling board for some sites to check out as we look for more ways to encourage his love of learning. Right now, he seems to enjoy math and science the most.
Anyway, I was mostly just curious to find out what other moms of advanced kids thought. Thanks for letting me pop in again!
Good luck with your decision. I don't know which I would pick. I try to live in denial most of the time... since the issue isn't in front of us right now I'm doing next to nothing and calling these Hugo's years to play. Might I be shortchanging him? Probably, but there is way too much else on my plate in every other area of life to do anything differently and frankly I think I would rather him get to school and then determine if he needs acceleration then. The plan is 2013 for him too but we are looking at full Spanish immersion which may give him the extra challenge he needs.