Making an appeal regarding kindergarten evaluation (Einschätzungsbogen kindergarten)

TLDR: Who does one get in touch with if they feel that Kindergarten evaluation does not match the reality? Can one appeal, and if yes how?

Hello everyone, I got into a peculiar, unexpected, and quite unpleasant situation.

I have a feeling that my 6-year-old got undergraded on most points in Einschätzungsbogen kindergarten form.

We had a meeting with teachers two days ago regarding his going to school next year, and we were given the evaluation, never before have we heard anything from kindergarten that we are falling behind.

I scanned the evaluation

In which almost everything is graded as ‘Manchmal erkennbar’ (unacceptable), with the suggestion we take a two-year-long Einschulungsklasse, which came as a huge surprise to our family.

I am a father of three, and two older ones are in Bezirksschule (BIZ) with the oldest one having an average over 5, and I can damn well bet, that the youngster is no less capable than the other two.

Also, my wife has a state university diploma as a special needs child tutor and child speech therapist, with quite some years of practical work experience in our home country.

We both don’t see any developmental problems, and both agree that grading looks inadequate, but we are parents and are obviously biased, also different countries - different expectations, fair.

So with that in mind, what I did I went online and found the criteria for evaluation…vs.pdf#page=20

Turns out most of the criteria are very straightforward:

one example, the motor function has criteria, that a kid can jump and land on two feet. can’t do a salto, but I would say on track for 6 year old.

Another set of criteria can do jumping jacks or throw and catch the ball:

Another can do zippers and buttons:

Another - can repeat a rhythmic pattern:

Then there is holding a pen with 3 fingers when writing, folding paper, gluing, coloring etc,… basically on every measurable criterion described in the canton requirements he does fine in our combined opinion. Regarding mental capacity, he can read in English and add numbers up to 100.

So either our assessment of this measurable criteria is out of touch (and salto and drumming like Ringo is expected from 6 year old) or there is a possibility of a mismatch with the evaluation.

A question: Who does one get in touch with, if they feel that evaluation does not match the reality? Can one appeal, and if yes how?

Sorry to hear that, and hope it will be resolved.

Document everything. Make videos of your son doing those activities in both an uncontrolled (catch him do these things and film) and a controlled environment (ask him to do a specific skill):

- gross and fine motor skills activities - including checking for dyspraxia and dysgraphia

- cognitive skills - including checking for dyslexia (tailored to his age); include here all languages, ex. English, German, Swiss-German

Once you have all this, ask for an appointment with the principal, which will involve you and the child, the teachers, and the principal. Bring the evidence. If even then you are not satisfied, next step is to contact the cantonal ministry of education or just switch schools if possible.

We had a teacher who routinely downgraded one of my children by .25 to .75. I homeschooled one when a couple of teachers started bullying them (don't recommend homeschooling unless as a very last resort - for us it was a great experience). Another child moved schools because of the unfair assessment.

A few thoughts:

It is perfectly normal for children in Switzerland to be held back a year or recommended to take the two year Einschulungsklasse. This isn't a judgement on your child. That your child is being recommended this also won't be a stamp on him or her. Kindergarten in Swizterland is strongly considered to develop childrens behaviour so that they are ready to start learning properly once school proper begins.

That your elder two children are in the BIZ is an irrelevance. Children develop at different rates and this recommendation at this early stage certainly doesn't mean your youngest will not one day also enter the BIZ.

That all said you can appeal and ultimately if you do it is quite likely your child will be allowed into the first grade with his or her classmates. The question is would you really want to do this? I've known of parents pressurising for their child to join the first grade against the school/kindergarten recommendation only to be returned to the kindergarten half a year later once when it's clear to all that the child isn't yet ready to learn.

Likewise, I've heard of children getting unfair assessments which have easily been resolved through appeal. First point of call though is to speak to the Kindergarten teacher and they will point you in the correct direction for appeal should you choose to do so.

Normally you sign a form which has the teacher's recommendation and you can tick a box to say whether you agree or disagree.

We have the opposite problem. My child is clearly not ready for school and due to specific development needs, teacher has recommended that he takes a 3rd year of KG instead of going to school or going to 2 year EK route.

Unfortunately, this was possible and routine until this year where new cantonal/gemeinde policy does not allow for 3 years of KG and the only official options are EK or school.

While I'm not in general in favour of holding kids back, I can also see that I'd not be doing the kid any favours by pushing him beyond his ability as then he'll be 'one step behind' for the rest of his educational program, which ultimately will be worse for him. Better that he takes the extra year he needs to be ready.

I think you're to be commended on your balanced approach, here. Also for having researched the evaluation itself.

This seems to be a good point worth checking. Depending on your son's language skills, might it be that he can perform the tasks well... except when he possibly doesn't understand - or forgets that he has to "tune in to" - the instructions in German or Swiss German?

Also, my kid had to do a 'written test' and we saw the results of this. Did your kid do something similar and did you get to see the results. From the test results, we could clearly see why the teacher made the evaluation.

Yes, this. Repeating a year doesn't have nearly the same crushing, humiliating meaning, here, than it does in some other countries.

This, too. The general principle here is often that before escalating, one is expected (after the shock has worn off) to go back to the party with whom the disagreement took place, to re-discuss the matter and see whether there's room for compromise or a better understanding of each other's perspectives. The first question of any higher authority may well be whether one has already tried to do that.

Could it be possible that the teacher is considering holding your child back due to (German) language difficulties and marked the relevant checkboxes to support this assessment?

When we sought to have our youngest skip year 2 of Kindergarten/école primaire, a school psychologist evaluated him. After six sessions, she presented her findings in a final session. Our son excelled in every criterion, and though the psychologist suggested he might be gifted, she hadn't tested for it. Surprisingly, she recommended against skipping a grade, citing the teacher's concern that he was close friends with another boy in his class. This conclusion puzzled us, as it wasn't based on the psychologist's observations. It appears the psychologist recognized the inconsistency, as we received her written assessment two weeks later, now with the opposite recommendation.

In your situation, it's possible that the teacher has reasons beyond those mentioned in the Einschätzungsbogen for wanting to retain your son. It could be that she marked the checkboxes to ensure that the assessment aligns with her recommendation.

Getting a child put forward a year is even harder than appealing a recommendation to have a child kept back a year! We had a neighbour whose child was born right after the cut off* and was very mature for his age. They appealed to the school board to have him start kindergarten a year early. This was rejected. Once he started kindergarten it was clear within a month that he was too mature and the school bumped him up a year. Now the boy has lost out on a year of kindergarten.

It's a difficult topic, whilst a child might be academically gifted, they may be behaviorally/emotionally not ready to be with older children. I think overall the system here tends to function well though.

*when a child is born in the year is also an important consideration in kindergarten. A child born in August will have a year's more life experience (one fifth!) than a child born in July in the same class. This counts for an awful lot at that age!

Finally, the OP shouldn't be concerned about questioning this with the Kindergarten teacher and asking about the appeals process. This is perfectly normal in Switzerland and it won't be taken personally. In my experience, this point is drilled into the parents at every school introduction session at the beginning of the year.

Our oldest was born in June, so he is at the younger end of his Kindergarten class. He is in 2nd year but we are fairly aligned with the teachers that he would benefit from a repeat of the 2nd Kindergarten year.

Liufa, I would ask for a meeting with the teacher(s) so they can elaborate on what the problems or issues are.

When our son was in Kindergarten, it was discovered that he had some issues with his hands where he wasn't able to button buttons or do zippers well and didn't hold a pencil the way its supposed to be held, etc. So when he was in the 2nd kindergarten class, he would go to a special one-on-one pedagogy class at the primary school for an hour a few times per week to remedy that. We were thankful that the school offered that pedagogy course and thankful that his issues with manual dexterity (?) were discovered when they were, rather than going undetected. He's our only child, and we didn't even realize that he had that issue because we didn't have other children to compare him to, in terms of developmental abilities.

But it sounds like a sit-down meeting with the teacher will shed some light on your child's situation. And maybe try to remember that teachers and the school system here tend to (thankfully) be proactive when it comes to childhood development. It's better to be discovered early because that means it can be remedied early on as well.

First of all, none of this is a measure of 'intelligence' - it is a measure of specific skills and development at a moment in time, and compared to a benchmark and the teacher's own perspective. I assume this was filled in by the teacher without any further input from any developmental therapist ? Has your child done the two full years of Swiss Kindergarten without interruption and have they had any additional supports during this time?

As others have said, first point of contact is your child's teacher. You may need to sit back and listen to their concerns. Surely they are very concerned to have a child that has missed out on so many benchmarks. OR they are recommending further intervention/support before it becomes a problem (they have 6 months to work on this before the end of the school year). Or maybe they just worry that he's not a native speaker and they see his potential and want him to get extra support to ensure that potential is maximised ?

It's interesting that your child's report reads 'English' as their first language, because I read on your EF profile that you are Lithuanian. Do you really speak English as your first language, or does your child have two home languages, perhaps English not as a mother tongue, and then with the Swiss-German layered over the top ?

Secondly, I think (personally and professionally) third children have a special place in the world. And don't even get me started about 'fourth' children...does your child tend to be quiet/reserved or avoid competing/performing in front of the crowd ? That will make it much harder for them to cope well in the Swiss system, which certainly expects a strong personality and a child who is fast to respond to the demands/requirements/expectations of the teacher. Even if they seem very comfortable at home, they may be very reserved in school. That's something to ask/check with the teacher/s.

Yes, it's possible that this is a prejudice of the teacher. Yes, it's worth looking further and seeing what may be needed to ensure your child is getting a fair go and being accommodated, whether his development is on track, out of sync or falling behind. It's also possible to have a big gap (asynchronous development) - esp. with something like reading development - a very smart kid who is a fast learner, but simply struggles and struggles with decoding letters (or doing their shoelaces!).

Are your children all from the same parents or is this a second partner ? genetically it will be quite substantially different. Also, there are other genetic risk factors like being the child of older parents, being super busy parents, and I would also definitely want to know if your child was born from April onwards.... putting them at the 'young' end of the group. Also, are they small/petite/short as well ? Do they appear young ?

These are not necessarily excuses. They are part of the dynamic. Often the kids of teachers are the worst (I should know, my kids are in this category).... on the one hand, we know a lot, and on the other hand, our kids are really fed up with all the analysing and performance that is expected of them.... so they are pretty good at either avoiding the performance, or under-estimating the importance of what showing the teacher what they can do... So even with an early childhood specialist 'in the house' you may simply not be seeing what the teacher is seeing (or vice versa).

OK. that's a few ideas. Also, as others have noted, and it must be said again and again, spending an extra year at school, is not seen as a negative in Switzerland. It's an costs the town an extra year of school.... but they consider that worth it if in the end you have a child that thrives, rather than struggling.... there is no point pushing your child to jump ahead, and then having them at the bottom of the pile, or even struggling in the middle, if they could be a little bit more mature and cruising to the top of the class.... on a different time schedule.

If late puberty is a factor (in our family our older boy is *still* growing more height at age 22!)....then even more so worth giving an extra year of school at the beginning, so that they don't hit puberty 3-4 years behind - I'm not just taking about the physical growth - I'm talking about the very obvious brain restructure that happens with puberty and affects school dramatically - for most kids around age - a 15 year old who looks like and behaves like an 11 year old (even though they are super academic and have certainly done the schooling), or a 20 year old who looks and behaves like a 16 year old!

Once the kids hit upper high school you will see huge benefits in slowing down and letting kids go through at their own pace - for example, at my daughter's class in the FMS (Fachmittelschule) there were kids in her class who ranged in age from 15 to 19)... for apprenticeships and university the range in age could be even bigger. In the long-run, no one cares if you took more or less time to do your compulsory schooling....

What did the teacher tell you about your son during the first year meetings?

This is hands down the best talk on TED. It’s funny, the author was a very successful learned man.…&autoplay=true

I mention it because, within it, Sir Ken Robinson points out that neither of his two kids has anything in common. A statement I concur that is true, example in hand, my daughter went through her entire school career consistently ranked in the top positions in her class every year. And my son, well he would have done the polar opposite if my wife hadn’t intervened and pushed him to do the minimum of studying he could get away with.

But, listen a point that was never lost on me all looking through those ranking tables, all the kids in the highest-ranking positions in the class had birthdays early in the school year, including my daughter who was born in Autumn.

Given those two facts, letting your last son have an additional year to find his feet in the world will only benefit him, none of the other kids will notice at that age.

It would be far worse to push him ahead, only for him to slowly but surely fall behind and be pushed back a year, five years down the road. At that point, all of the other kids will notice as will he.

A year at that age makes a huge difference. In some countries, parents deliberate hold back their kids so that they have the age advantage for the rest of their schooling. Boys are further impacted as they develop later than girls (at the kindergarten, I could easily see that they girls have > 1 year advantage over the boys).

Maybe it would actually make sense to change the age bands and have boys 18 months older than girls at the equivalent stage.

Thanks everyone for so many responses. They are very much appreciated, I will collect more material over the weekend and will go confront the teacher next week.

Had the form given by the teacher, been marked that my kid was lacking discipline, language skills, or perhaps some other more subjective metric, I would not have been overly surprised or opposed to the idea of extra schooling to make it easier for him later.

I had no strong opinion on extra schooling.

However after getting the form, when everything is marked as non-acceptable, I can see that the criterion is quite clear and does not match with reality (easily verifiable clear-cut requirements like doing the zipper and buttons are marked as not acceptable), Even under Hanlon’s razor rule - I cannot trust such a teacher, can I? How can I believe that she is able to evaluate it right? It’s like getting a brand-new car for inspection and failing it with the reason of needing a new paint job or something as ridiculous…

Reuploaded Evaluation, because it got marked as ‘inappropriate’ content and deleted…0240117_074323

Subconsciously couldn’t resist the opportunity to brag about the kids I suppose. Just wanted to convey that this is not a first child and I have at least some way to compare even on a very limited set of data.

This is my primary suspicion too, but then why do this? Is she hoping parents will not check the form? and once they do, what other outcome can then come out of this? Any diligent parent will check the form, find the discrepancies, and will question the recommendation.

There is a checkbox for language, and I wouldn’t expect to get top marks on it. He does understand instructions in German.

He will be seven years old in late August 2024.

Did two full years in the same Swiss kindergarten, same group, the teacher is somewhat new she started on the 28th of August, 2023 - so 4 months, 22 days. No additional support or any hint that he would be falling behind until now.

My passport is Lithuanian, migrated to UK in my twenties after Uni, kids were born and raised in UK (mostly… long story). The main language in the household is English.

Same wife, I hope I am the father of all three, the size and looks can be seen from YouTube vids. , I’d say handsome, about average height for his age. Myself and wife are both in our early Forties.

This was the first meeting with this teacher.

Could have made it as a comedian

Again thanks to everyone for the suggestions on what to do and for getting a general sense, of what is how and such :heart:

The key comments of the teacher is in the heading "Bemerkungen". Translated:

"We see this as a chance for XXX to emotionally mature and widen is vocabulary in this additional year".

So the teacher considers the "language skills" and the "emotional maturity" to be the key reasons. So I would focus less on the individual check marks but on these two points (indeed everything else flows from those).

Not necessarily, you need to understand why the evaluation form was marked as it was. To do this you need to speak to the teacher first. Before you do that it is too early to make this judgement.

Got it, thanks Tony.

I'd like to add something in terms of the culture or mentality with teacher-parent interactions, here. Some parents (and you are plainly not one of those, and that's good) aren't in the slightest participatory and are content to leave everything up to the teacher. In such families, usually both the child and the teacher suffer. The opposite extreme is those parents who demand and threaten the teacher to give the child better marks or opportunities, and the teacher is then sandwiched between her own assessment of the child and the bullying of the parents, while the child either ducks below the crossfire or copies the parents, which latter then escalates everything.

Teachers are accustomed to queries from parents and are on the look-out to see whether they're getting one of the bullies, or rather a sober, rational, empathic parent who is attempting to understand the system and assessments and to contribute to the child's well-being. I think you are this latter, even though your last post reads to me as if you've shifted a bit more towards the teacher's being wrong and your being right. Fair enough, as you know your child. However, if, when you go to see the teacher, you can clearly demonstrate yourself as a parent who wants to cooperate, to understand, to help towards improvement, etc., etc., blah, blah, all nice and diplomatic, this seems to work much better in the Swiss system.