A year and a half ago, on the last day of my nephew's second year of pre-school, just days after his 5th birthday, I began an intensive effort to get him reading, writing and doing basic math. We started with Hooked on Phonics and soon moved on to easy readers. For numbers I used a dot-to-dot generator to get him counting to 100 (see the links on the left), and moved on to workbooks after that.
The goal was straight-forward: to get him to second grade in the 2009-2010 school year. This was made harder by the fact that the school absolutely refused to give him a year of academic kindergarten--while kids just a week or two older got an intensive program of phonics, whole words, writing, math, and fact-based learning. That is what I had to try to replicate at home. My job was to make sure that when he started the 2008-2009 school year, they could not deny that he was capable of doing 1st grade work, thus leading him to 2nd grade next year.
The enrollment contracts for next year arrived in the mail today.
We did it! He's going to 2nd grade next year.
I'm so proud of him for the work he did, however reluctantly, and for being able to learn from a teacher who didn't know what she was doing half the time. (It was hearing the word "sight words" while at the kids' school that got me on the right track. Sight words were what he needed the most, but I had forgotten all about them.)
I know that another family, who we warned about the school's tendency to flunk 6 year olds, was in shock after a parent-teacher conference a few weeks ago. They didn't take the advice we gave them last year to do work outside of school and to be proactive. They trusted the school to educate their kid. Big mistake. Their child will now turn 19 before heading off to college. Our kid will turn 18 just in time for high school graduation.