Friday, August 29, 2008

Should I request to switch classes?

Another dilemma from an SF K Files visitor:

Ok, so here is my dilemma: I am not sure that my daughter is in the class that is right for her. There are 3 k-1 (mixed grade) classes at her school. In her class there are only 2 other kindergarten girls (7 boys). She is really a girly girl, and the gender unbalance really concerns me. She will remain in this class for 2 years. She says that her teacher is really nice, but there is another teacher there that I think would be a better fit for her (and there are more Kinder girls in that class). I am having a hard time gaging if I am being over protective or if my concerns are legitimate. My husband seems to think that I am the latter, and I should just let her work it out-let some of the 1st grade girls take her in. I am kind of hesitant to approach the schools administration with this-I don't want to come off as a psycho mom-plus I am 99% sure that I will start to bawl (so many emotions tied up with her going to kinder!). Anyways, I like the school, but I am kind of at a loss as to what to do. Should I wait and see how it pans out? Should I press to have her moved to another class? Thanks!!!!


  1. I think it would be far preferable for her to remain in her current class. She should have plenty of opportunities to interact with the older girls in the class, and I bet you'll find that she eventually begins to socialize more with the boys.

    Class-balancing is important, too. If you request to have your daughter moved into another class, there will be only two Kindergarten girls left - exacerbating for them the difficulties you feel your daughter might experience.

    And of course, if this is a public school, there is likely to be some movement after the Labor Day and you may find the class has a slightly different gender balance.

    As to the issue of teacher and student mismatches, I do think they can occur. It can be a positive, since both the teacher and the student can learn new strategies of interaction so that they work with each other effectively - a critical life skill. I don't think that's the case here, since you report your daughter likes her current teacher. In that case, why move her? I am not sure it's possible to judge "classroom fit" a week into the program. Why do you think the other teacher might be a better fit? How much of the other teacher's teaching have you seen?

  2. As a teacher, I can tell you that mixed grade classes are not the ideal in education. They are definitely harder to teach, and both grade levels, more than likely, will not be taught as effectively. I'm surprised that the school has 3 classes like this, as most schools try to minimize their number of mixed grade classes.

  3. I'm also a teacher, and find it weird that this school has three split grade classes at the same level. Have you inquired about the thinking behind this? It's hard to imagine the teachers actually want splits, as 11:31 points out, they are definitely more difficult to teach.

    That said, I wouldn't move her to another class.

  4. I agree that splits are no good. I taught a k-1 split a few years back, and it is nearly impossible: k's are learning letters and phonics, 1st are learning to "read". They are at different levels, causing the teacher to split his time, neglecting one grade for the other. I think splits should be banned!

    But, if your child is bright, and ahead of the k curriculum (knows her letters, sounds, numbers to 30)then she should be fine. What is good as policy (the banning of splits) often is better left alone when it comes to your child. Yes, politics in education sucks!

  5. My son is the only native-English boy in his immersion class. A couple boys are bilingual and one speaks another language at home as well as English, but I worried this week about what that means for my son and developing friendships in the class (as I have seen that typically kids do group by language even when I am hopeful there will be more crossover.) I worried that maybe he'll be left out. But then I tell myself that this fear is mostly mine, and perhaps something unexpected will happen - he may develop friendships with Spanish speaking children (a good thing) or connect with some girls (a good thing) or play with his best friend at recess and be able to concentrate more in class itself (a good thing).

    I don't think you should ask for a move. Your concerns sound like they are more about your own anxiety. Also I have found over the last few years that I can absolutely NOT predict which teachers my son will love or connect with. Those early observations about teachers by us parents also have more to do with our own perceptions and desires. in the end people develop their own unique relationships, and no one can predict which ones will gel or not. (In other words, the teacher is probably fine, and could even prove to be a wonderful teacher for your daughter.)

  6. As a mom who's had both my kids in split classes at different points in elementary school I have to disagree with the broadstrokes against it. Some teachers love it and do it well and in the case of my kids, it was a fantastic option for them.

    I think it depends on the teacher and the kids. May not be for the teachers posting on here, but some love it. I especially liked having two years with one teacher for my son. He left elementary very prepared and it was great going into the second year (5th grade for him) with the same teacher who already had been working hard with him. My daughter is lucky enough to now be in 4th grade with the same teacher. The split is a great fit for her but for completely different reasons (she is performing more at at 5th grade level and this is more challenging for her.) So, as far a split classes to, I say it just depends.

    Regarding your question on requesting a switch, I'd keep your daughter in the class. They may try to balance out the gender more after the 10 day count (they usually try to keep a balance as it seems to make a difference.) That said, my daughter's class is very boy-heavy (the boys outnumber the girls 2 to 1 in 4th grade and have since kindergarten.) And she's a girly-girl and has done fine.

    Also, you really want to pick your battles and it sounds, frankly, like it bothers you but not your daughter. One of the best things an experience parent ever told me was: How is your child doing? If she is fine, sit back and see how things play out. If there is a problem, start by taking it up with the teacher - state what the problem is FOR YOUR CHILD and ask the teacher their thoughts. Create a partnership with your teacher and share your concerns. I've found that the teachers my kids have will welcome working together to ensure my kids get what they need for academic success. In the instances where I didn't, I took it up with the principal (and let the teacher know I was doing this>)

    A final thought on teachers - I think it is only in extremely unusual instances that parents should intervene in a perceived teacher/kid fit or mismatch. I've certainly had my own situations where I thought my kid would do better with someone else. In my experience, it's often the parent that is the problem, and less the kid or the teacher. If there is an egregious 'fit' issue - it's probably an unfit teacher, and not a kid/teacher mismatch. The unfit teacher is a bigger issue and you would need to address it with you principal (I'm not suggesting you go there unless it is truly an underperforming teacher.)

  7. I really appreciate everyone insight! It has helped me out a lot. I have decided to leave my daughter in the class that she is in. Like I said, she likes the teacher-when I ask her who her favorite teacher is she says it is him. As for the k/1 split, it is actually one of the reasons I chose the school. The school has a really effective way of working with both grades. I understand the concerns with it, but it is a good fit for us. Thanks for helping me work through my week one neurosis!

  8. Glad it is working out for yourd daughther.

    Can I ask which school has the K/1 program? Does the program continue for 2/3, etc?

  9. I also teach and I agree with the original poster - split grade classrooms can be a powerful experience when they are well-planned. They are often last-minute classes with little thought given to the roster, and that is a real challenge. (And I've heard of cases where the split class' roster is carefully considered but not exactly fair, too.) If the school and teachers are able to use them constructively I think they can really work. And since balancing two sets of content standards is a lot of work, a set of split grade classes will help teachers work together and support each other - what I didn't like about teaching a split was that I felt isolated

  10. 1:53 -- I'd bet money that your kid will speak Spanish sooner (and better) than most English-speaking children in immersion classrooms. He has more of a motivation to learn the language than they do. Once kids hit 3 or 4 years old, peers are a much stronger motivator for learning a language than adults. You are very lucky, indeed.

  11. To 8/30 10:48 PM
    She is at San Francisco Community School. It has k/1, 2/3, and 4/5. It also has 6, 7 and 8. From the OP

  12. SF Community is a fabulous school and has a very hands-on project-based educational philosophy.