Bored, Unchallenged, and Misbehaving in Kindergarten

My son, who will be starting first grade, is an extremely bright and active child who gets bored easily. I was told he needs to be on Ritalin, though he doesn't have a problem when he is challenged. I've worked with him at home, using a series of first-grade readers, and he is like a sponge, soaking up knowledge. We're moving, so he'll be in a new school, but I'm also considering sending him to a private school. I want to do the right thing for my son and would appreciate your input.

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Parents should and must be an advocate for their children's education. The fact that you are involved in your child's education makes a difference, not only for his teachers, but for him.

His behavior should be considered in all of this, too. It is true that children who are not being challenged may disrupt the classroom, but that may not be the only catalyst for his behavior. Learning in a group at school and learning one-on-on at home are very different. The distractions and opportunities for getting into mischief are much greater in a regular classroom than they are at home. While I am not advocating that you run to the doctor immediately for a Ritalin prescription, I do think that the issue of your son's behavior in class should be given some consideration. It's important for children to learn to model acceptable behavior at school.

If you are truly unhappy with your child's public school experience thus far, private school is certainly an option. Private schools are usually a bit more liberal with classroom placement and may even have smaller class sizes so that the children receive more individualized attention. However, you may find that the new public school may serve your son's needs just fine.

The school will probably do IQ testing on Austin at your request, but remember that IQ tests measure a child's potential for learning, not what he actually has learned. Should Austin qualify as a gifted student, the school may include him in a supplemental program or enroll him in a self-contained classroom for gifted students. You may want to inquire about the types of programs available at the school and the prerequisites for enrolling in those programs.

Another option that you may want to consider is homeschooling. You have already been doing that in a way. Enrolling him in an official homeschooling program with solid curriculum will provide you with the support and guidance that you need. Of course, homeschooling is not for everyone, but it may be a viable option for you.

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