WWYD: Full Day vs half day and extra program — The Bump
School-Aged Children

WWYD: Full Day vs half day and extra program

My DD has ADHD and a speech delay.  She has been in speech therapy for 2 1/2 years and will continue in the fall when she starts kindy.  She has been on meds for her ADHD since Sept and it has made a huge difference in every way.  She still struggles with her classwork - her 4 year old sister is ahead of her in many of the basics of knowing her letters and such (not comparing, just trying to give a full picture).  She has made huge strides this year.  We held her back a year and had her repeat her amazing PreK program.  She has the most amazing teachers in the world who work really, really hard with her.  She will always struggle.  We know this and we know that getting her tutors and whatever extra help she needs is something that will happen.  She was born with a brain injury and overall is totally fine and she developed normally and all of that but she processes things a little slower than her peers and we have always known that school will be a struggle.

She will start kindergarten in the fall.  Right now she is enrolled in full day which will be 27 or 28 kids for 6.5 hours.  She will get pulled for speech therapy and any other special help she needs will be determined in the fall.  Her transisition IEP meeting (from the early childhood program to the elementary one) is on Thursday.  Her current speech therapist, the head of the speech dept at the school who worked with my DD last summer and her current teacher along with me will be present.  Her private speech therapist has been asked to submit any information she feels we need.

Her current teacher and the head of the speech group both feel that she would be better off in the half day kindergarten class (2.5 hours) and the program that the school calls KinderConnection for the other 4.  The class size for the kindy part would be the same or a little smaller but someplace in the 25 student range.  For the KinderConnection part there would be a lot less kids - this year the group has 12 kids, so more 1:1 time with the kids.  The staff are do not have the same certification as the kindy teachers but they follow the same curriculm as the full day class.  Most of her friends will be in the full day program.  (30 kids in her PreK class and about 25 of them are staying at the same school).

 I am so confused as I really want her in class with her friends as that will make the transistion easier for her and I know the kids in the full day class get more information and do more but I also know that the smaller class size and more 1:1 contact would be better for my DD.

So confused.  What would you do?  (I am assuming I can still make the switch in classes - need to verify that information but the speech therapist doens't think it would be an issue).

Jenni Mom to DD#1 - 6-16-06 DD#2 - 3-13-08 

Re: WWYD: Full Day vs half day and extra program

  • I am no expert but I am assuming she will still be pulled out of the Kindy part so that means she will have way less then 2.5 hours of real Kindy. I would be very suspicious about them saying they follow the same curiculum since it is not being taught by actual teachers. Be open to their suggestions but personally I would lean towards full day. 
    Jen - Mom to two December 12 babies Nathaniel 12/12/06 and Addison 12/12/08
  • Auntie really, really knows the ropes of special ed in school and she has given you some great advice in the previous reply.

    My only advice in this situation is not to be too worried about maintaining friendships made in preschool.  Friendships are flexible and fleeting at ages 4, 5, and 6.  Kids tend to become "best friends" with other kids based on proximity more than personality.  

    If you decide that the 1/2 day + Kinder-connection is the best placement for her, she'll undoubtedly make new friends in that class and still have a connection to the kids she knows from preschool who will go into the regular class.

    I knew at the end of my son's 4 y/o preschool year that he would be staying in preschool for an extra year.  It was hard because the kids who would be moving on to kindergarten were super nice kids.  But I knew that my son wasn't ready for kindergarten yet and that they were.  He stayed in pre-K when he was 5, and met another group of friends from that year.  Now it's kind of nice for him to have buddies in first grade AND in second grade. 

    High School English teacher and mom of 2 kids:

    DD, born 9/06/00 -- 12th grade
    DS, born 8/25/04 -- 7th grade
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    imagejlw2505:

    My DD has ADHD and a speech delay.  She has been in speech therapy for 2 1/2 years and will continue in the fall when she starts kindy.  She has been on meds for her ADHD since Sept and it has made a huge difference in every way.  She still struggles with her classwork - her 4 year old sister is ahead of her in many of the basics of knowing her letters and such (not comparing, just trying to give a full picture).  She has made huge strides this year.  We held her back a year and had her repeat her amazing PreK program.  She has the most amazing teachers in the world who work really, really hard with her.  She will always struggle.  We know this and we know that getting her tutors and whatever extra help she needs is something that will happen.  She was born with a brain injury and overall is totally fine and she developed normally and all of that but she processes things a little slower than her peers and we have always known that school will be a struggle.

    If she has really good teachers now, who you feel really "get" your child, then I would urge you to listen and consider carefully to the suggestions they make.

    She will start kindergarten in the fall.  Right now she is enrolled in full day which will be 27 or 28 kids for 6.5 hours.  She will get pulled for speech therapy and any other special help she needs will be determined in the fall.  Her transisition IEP meeting (from the early childhood program to the elementary one) is on Thursday.  Her current speech therapist, the head of the speech dept at the school who worked with my DD last summer and her current teacher along with me will be present.  Her private speech therapist has been asked to submit any information she feels we need.

    Be careful of pulled out service delivery. Take a look at her IEP and count the hours. They will list the number of hours/percentage of the week spent in a special education setting. Because all hours spent with typical peers count as general education (i.e. lunch, recess, specials) you may find she becomes a guest in the classroom rather quickly if she's pulled out for speech a couple times a week and special instruction around math, LA or behavior related to ADHD.

    Her current teacher and the head of the speech group both feel that she would be better off in the half day kindergarten class (2.5 hours) and the program that the school calls KinderConnection for the other 4.  The class size for the kindy part would be the same or a little smaller but someplace in the 25 student range.  For the KinderConnection part there would be a lot less kids - this year the group has 12 kids, so more 1:1 time with the kids.  The staff are do not have the same certification as the kindy teachers but they follow the same curriculm as the full day class.  Most of her friends will be in the full day program.  (30 kids in her PreK class and about 25 of them are staying at the same school).

    This sounds like a very common special education set up for kindie kids with IEPs. Generally they attend a half day traditional kindie in an inclusion or integrated setting. Usually the class is up to 1/3 kids with IEPs and then they spend the rest of the day in a second special education classroom where they get additional support. Often the therapy providers can bring therapy into this setting or will deliver during this block of the day so that the students don't miss academics with their class.

    I'm confused about the qualifications issue. How many teachers are in the full day kindie? More than one? Unless the Kinderconnection is strictly childcare, I'm guessing they have at least one certified teacher in the classroom and that the rest of the adults are paraprofessionals. I can understand your reluctance to sign on with an unknown, but a well trained para can be awesome. In my district, many of the paras are young teachers trying to get a foot in a high salary district. A few are retired teachers double dipping with salary and pension. I'd ask for clarification.

     I am so confused as I really want her in class with her friends as that will make the transistion easier for her and I know the kids in the full day class get more information and do more but I also know that the smaller class size and more 1:1 contact would be better for my DD.

    Does she have a history of transitioning poorly? Are these kids really her friends? Does she go to their homes to play? Meet at the playground on weekends? Or are these just kids with whom she is familiar and who are nice to her.

    Little girl group dynamics are hard. Your DD has a number of strikes against her in this regard. Girls are all about the social communication thing. So much of their interaction is verbal. With a speech delay and slow processing, she will find it harder to keep up socially. These girls may mother her for a while, but will soon be frustrated and drift away. If she comes off to them as different- slower or not as bright, they will abandon her. I wouldn't pin my kid's educational setting on other children. It never goes well.

    So confused.  What would you do?  (I am assuming I can still make the switch in classes - need to verify that information but the speech therapist doens't think it would be an issue).

    I'd want to know exactly what they'd be doing in the afternoon class. Do they reinforce the lessons introduced in the morning in smaller settings? Do they have group activities that are theraputic around listening, self regulation, social skills pushed into the class? Do they have their specials classes at this time so they don't lose academic time in the morning?

    There's a real temptation to focus overly on the academic piece, but with global delays and ADHD, she may not be able to access the mainstream curriculum at the same rate her peers do and that could be emotionally difficult for her.

    It's really a hard choice you've been given.

    My DD currently has 2 teachers - one thinks the half day option with KinderConnection is best and the other thinks the ful day option is best.  I trust both but in this matter, am leaning towards the one who is telling me full day - just in conversations with both and the reasons they are giving me for what they think. 

     Other than speech, I won't know what other subjects she will be pulled out of class for if at all.  They will test her in the fall when all kids are tested.  The way they do this at this school is that the special ed teachers or the para come into the classroom and work with the kids that need extra help vs pull them out for special ed classes whenever possible so it might be that she only has speech outside the classroom but works with the para one one on during other academic times or in a small group vs with the whole class of 27 kids. 

    There will be 1 full time teacher with the class at all times and a para is there for most of the day in the full time class.  In the half day option, she will have 1 teacher and no para.  In the KinderConnection class, the "teachers" are not certificed ar the elementary school level but have more of a preschool/daycare type certification.  The program is run by the group that does the before/after school program.  Yes, some of the staff might be teachers that just don't want a full time teaching job anymore.  They have a decent amount of turnover in the group outside of the main teacher so that would be a lot of potention change during the school year.

    My DD has great friends right now and someone asked about play dates, yes she has play dates with these kids and they don't mother her - she is a peer and is treated that way.  They might help her a bit with her speech (they totally understand what she is saying now but people that don't know her as well might struggle.  I know that at this age, friends change a lot and I am not making the decision solely based on her friends - her one teacher that is leaning towards full day does agree with me on the fact that having her in class with kids that know her will be helpful to her as the teacher is getting to know her vs being in a class with no one that knows her.

    The set up with half day has nothing to do with special ed, it is open to all kids that do half day, designed for the parents that need full day care but don't want to pay for full day kindy or didn't get in (space is limited in full day).  The second half of the day (4 hours in KinderConnection) is designed to cover the rest of the school day and while they say they do the same things as the full day class, I have heard that is not always the case depending on the staffing at the time. 

    DD will be pulled at some point in the day for speech but I am hopefully that even with full day, they can do it at a time when she won't miss academic time - right now she goes over nap time (she no longer naps) and they still do a quiet time in kindy (they call it a brain break) so I am hopfully that she can do it then or since she will be in the before school program that she could possible get it then.

     Her delays outside of speech are hard to explain, she processes things slower but when tested through the behavioral clinic last year, they didn't feel she needed special ed or that she was behind - they said she might need some extra tutoring but that she gets the concepts, that she understands everything - it just, at times, takes her longer to process.  She is doing amazing right now and I think having her on the meds allows her the concentration that she was lacking last year so she is picking things up faster although she is still a little behind (but she might be on par with some kids that come in that have not had prek or preschool or a parent that worked with them at home - no way to know that until next year).  She holds her own in class and does great - is not a great tester but when she wants to talk about something she has learned, she knows her stuff.  I never tested well so I think part of this might be that - they have been learning about space and the planets the last few weeks and she has learned so much so I know she is getting it but she has a harder time with things like letters and numbers so I know reading will be an area that she struggles in but she totally gets math concepts, patterns, etc. 

     

    DH and I did discuss this at length this weekend and we are going to stick with the full day kindy class as we just feel in our guts that this is the best option. If school starts in the fall and its just not working, we can always make adjustments as needed.

    Thanks so much for your input. 

    Jenni Mom to DD#1 - 6-16-06 DD#2 - 3-13-08 
  • imageneverblushed:

    Auntie really, really knows the ropes of special ed in school and she has given you some great advice in the previous reply.

    My only advice in this situation is not to be too worried about maintaining friendships made in preschool.  Friendships are flexible and fleeting at ages 4, 5, and 6.  Kids tend to become "best friends" with other kids based on proximity more than personality.  

    If you decide that the 1/2 day + Kinder-connection is the best placement for her, she'll undoubtedly make new friends in that class and still have a connection to the kids she knows from preschool who will go into the regular class.

    I knew at the end of my son's 4 y/o preschool year that he would be staying in preschool for an extra year.  It was hard because the kids who would be moving on to kindergarten were super nice kids.  But I knew that my son wasn't ready for kindergarten yet and that they were.  He stayed in pre-K when he was 5, and met another group of friends from that year.  Now it's kind of nice for him to have buddies in first grade AND in second grade. 

      I went throught that last year and like you, it has been the best thing for my DD.  She is so much more on level socailly with the kids she has become friends with this year and I just feel it is a better fit.  She is older than most of the kids and more equal socially.  I love that she knows kids a year ahead of her and the way the school is set up, she knows kids in many of the grades as they do like reading buddies with the 4th graders so she knows a lot of people.  My younger DD is starting the PreK program in the fall so my older DD will end up knowing those kids as well.  This is all so hard and everyone just wants to do what is best for their child and its not always a black and white thing - a lot of grey areas.
    Jenni Mom to DD#1 - 6-16-06 DD#2 - 3-13-08 
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