Schools are militant about birthday cutoff for T-K! Ideas to persuade them?

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    • #108804

      I have an ADHD son (hyperactivity and impulsivity) who was diagnosed at age 4 and has been doing well on Quillavant for the last 8 months. He still requires pretty close supervision, is noticeably less mature than his peers (on par with his 2 year old brother), and is so exhausted from his activities that he regularly takes a 2-3 hour nap every afternoon – despite medication and 11-12 hours of sleep the night before. He turns 5 in June, which makes him eligible for kindergarten, but the only schools in our area offer full-day kindergarten only. They also offer half-day transitional kindergarten (TK), but only for children with birthdays in September-December. I thought that it would be completely reasonable to ask that the schools place him on a list for TK and give him priority for a spot if the ones they had weren’t filled by Sept-December birthday, but I’m getting flat NOs from the school offices.

      I have explained that he has an IEP through the county, but I keep getting the same answer that TK is for kids with certain birthdays only. Unless I can manage to get someone to listen to my explanation, our only options will be to send him to kindergarten (almost certain failure and reputational harm there, I fear) this year or keep him home next year and start him in kindergarten a year late. He’ll age out of the special ed preschool that he’s currently in next year, and isn’t allowed to return to our other preschool options due to his pre-diagnosis struggles.

      I understand that lots of parents want to hold their kids back a year to give them an advantage, but I can’t seem to get through to the schools that this request is not to that. It feels as though there’s a complete lack of understanding of what an ADHD child struggles with, especially at this early age. Am I not using the right buzzwords to get me to a special ed person who might understand why I’m making the request? I am certain that the county will agree and include it as a recommendation in his IEP, but by the time his IEP is updated in May, the waiting lists will be closed.

      As I’ve written this, I’ve just received yet another email regarding his request stating “Per Ed. Code XXX, your child qualifies for Kindergarten, not Transitional Kindergarten.” So frustrating. Any suggestions?!

    • #108811

      TK programs are usually very full. If I were to guess, the school may be adamant about cut offs either because they have waiting lists for qualified kids already and/or because they have an obligation based on how the program is funded to be age restrictive. If it were me I would wait to put him in Kinder, maybe even wait two years if your heart tells you sending him now would be setting him up for failure. A June birthday makes him a very young birthday already and adhd makes him immature for his age on top of that. In my opinion, there’s not a single reason to rush Kindergarten for any child. My son was a Jan birthday so he started full day Kinder at 5 and a half and I still wish I had waited one more year. He was not dx at that time tho and I thought he’d be ready after 3yrs of preschool. He did ok, but starting a little later would have helped, I think, with the struggles he had in later years like 2nd and 3rd grade. He’s 13 now, and does ok, but I’m always an advocate in waiting until your kid is ready. They have a lot of years of school ahead of them and there’s no need to rush things imo. If you have the resources and can send him to an academic preschool like Montessori or a private school Kinder for this year to start preparing him knowing that you can repeat Kinder at the public school next year that’s another option.

    • #108821

      Is there any chance the special education pre-school he’s in now would let him stay another year even though he is technically aging out? They might be more understanding If you have to leave him out next year, it will be okay. My son went to a private church pre-school ages 3 and 4 and 1/2 day kindergarten there as well. Academically speaking, he could have gone on to 1st grade, but he just was too immature. He started K at 6 and we have never regretted that. He’s 15 now and doing well. Definitely follow your instincts. You know your child better than anyone.

      • This reply was modified 2 years, 11 months ago by deb91.
      • This reply was modified 2 years, 11 months ago by deb91.
      • This reply was modified 2 years, 11 months ago by deb91.
    • #109056
      Dr. Eric

      Depending on the state, there may be no discretion to deviate from state law.
      Other states, the school may have discretion, but would not get funding for students that are out of age parameters.

    • #109089

      I’m glad you have a diagnosis and a IEP plan for your son. What does the preschool recommend? Surely schools are prepared for children entering kindergarten who have already been diagnosed and have an IEP in place; have you discussed this with your school? I find it better to lean into my fears and get as much info as I can about something I’m anxious about.

    • #109463

      When I worked in a school the SpEd Coordinator was the key. If there’s a way to get it done that would be the person who would know how. And, if not, they would know how to deal best the incoming IEP in the best way.

      You might check out the district website or call the Administration office and ask who is in charge of overseeing Special Education for the district.

    • #109480

      With an IEP you can request accomodations to a Kindergarten day, which might include a shorter school day within K or even part of the day in the TK room. Unfortunately TK is a state program limited to certain birthdays. The school district only receives funding for TK students if they meet rhe TK birthday criteria, hence the flat NO you are getting. But within the K day there are lots of adjustments that can be made due to the IEP.

      Don’t talk with the school secretary any more. Go straight to your district’s Special Ed director, that is who has the power to allocate resources and accomodations. Email her requesting an intake IEP where accomodations can be put in writing, and remember you can always request a new IEP if changes/updates to his program are needed. Always do so by email so there is an electronic record of your request.

      Working with school bureacracy is frustrating because some rules are inflexible. Fortunately your son’s IEP will give him the wiggle room he needs (figuratively and literally).

      Best of luck to your little one!

    • #109518

      Honestly, in your position I’d just wait a year and start regular K later.

      My kids have some ADD traits but it’s not causing them problems yet (fingers crossed), but I was simply appalled – appalled at how rigid, academic, and regimented kindergarten has become. I was really worried it was going to screw them up by forcing them to act like third or fourth graders when they were just 5.

      I truly believe that schools themselves are responsible for a lot of the explosion in early ADHD diagnosis, because a lot of the expectations for 5 year olds these days are just *not* developmentally appropriate, even for neurotypical kids.

      Little ones need to play and explore and go outside, not sit in a chair doing worksheets for hours. Self-directed free play and outdoor time in nature are 2 of the most powerful influences on developing executive skills.

      ADHD is a developmental difference/disorder. Your son’s sympotoms aren’t always going to be the same as they are now, and his executive functions are going to keep developing.

      To my thinking, an extra year to develop and enjoy himself without pressure to conform or perform can only do him good.

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