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    #12817 - 03/31/08 07:42 PM Re: What IS the goal?? [Re: skyward]
    LMom Offline

    Registered: 12/14/07
    Posts: 902
    I agree skip and immersion sounds like a wonderful option.

    2 hours of homework is insane and to expect them that they will do every single problem in a textbook shows a complete misunderstanding of gifted education. Doing every single problem must be boring, and honestly pretty awful. Gifted children should be allowed to show mastery and move on. It seems like they have it upside down. This shouldn't be happening in a gifted school.

    2 years ahead is a plus, but 2 hours of homework would be good enough reason to turn the school down. Here I am planning to homeschool DS5 for 1st grade so that he doesn't have to be in school all day long and that was a school without homework. I believe that most HG+ kids need time and freedom to explore their interest.

    #12819 - 03/31/08 07:57 PM Re: What IS the goal?? [Re: skyward]
    questions Offline

    Registered: 11/24/07
    Posts: 864
    All the latest research seems to say that homework is not helpful until I believe sixth grade. That said, the private schools around here love to give homework, and the parents love to talk about how hard their children are working. Personally, I think homework in kindergarten is ridiculous, and 1-2 hours a night is outrageous. I'd say avoid the rigidity of school number one at all costs. Try to find some way to supplement school number two to make it work and allow your child to do what he wants to do after school, whether it's work or play.

    I think the trick is to allow our children to reach their potential, not ensure that they do. I'm still struggling with poor school choices, myself, and have no answers.

    Still, school number one makes me think of all those truly gifted junior athletes who quit their sports once they have decision-making inedpendence, despite international caliber abilities and achievements, because using their talents is no longer fun - too much pressure from parents and coaches, too much drudgery practicing, too much on the line, to enjoy their sport and successes.

    #12823 - 04/01/08 03:12 AM Re: What IS the goal?? [Re: newtothis]
    Grinity Offline

    Registered: 12/13/05
    Posts: 7207
    Loc: Connecticut
    Originally Posted By: newtothis
    And, there's a chance that the lack of extreme academic challenge will breed the same issues we had in preschool (terrible behavior and a really angry, frustrated kid) - but possibly not because the teachers and principal seem excited by having DS instead of burdened by him...

    Hi NTT,
    Great to hear about you choices and thoughts! Loved reading the advice you've heard so far.
    First of all, I'm totally pleased that you have even these level of choices - wow!

    But yes, past performance is a wonderful guide to the future. If your son was angry at being denied opportunities to learn, then he isn't a candidate for heterogeneous classroom, although having wonderful, flexible teachers may really really help. If there are so wonderful, have you shared your pasted experiences and hear them say - oh - we'll send him to first grade (or second grade )for reading and math if he starts getting antsy. BTW - the 130 program with a gradeskip or two sounds VERY attractive.

    I think your post wasn't long enough. I'd like to know more:

    How did the teacher of the self contained group seem?

    Were the children 'playdate' material?

    How did the material seem in comparison to the material he's using now? It's the end of the year - do you see your child doing the level of work one year from now? (Too bad you don't have a friend in the program who could lend you some worksheets from September to look at!) If you haven't already - buy a few worksheet books from the bookstore and see how he reacts to them at the level the class would be at in September.

    Is your son a slow processor on the IQ tests?

    By IQ score, would he be at the bottom of the class, top of the class, or right in the middle?

    Does your son have the personality that you thing would be inspired by being around a lot of hard working kids? (My 'angry behavior availible' boy does, although I don't!)

    What happens if you try the K program and hate it?

    What's the goal? Happy enough and Challenged enough to learn how to learn. I'm sure that there are some children who would know be happy enough without the kind of K program you've outlined. And the only way to know is to let him have at it! The preschool experience tells me that he needs something 'quite' out of the ordinary! The fact that the school wants to put him there means that it's likely he can handle it. And you can always try it and negotiate with the teacher if it's more pencil work than he can handle, yes? I do suspect that the '2 hour thing' is a bluff, or only for the bottom quarter of the kids, and I don't hold that against them - unless you try it and it makes your child miserable!


    As an aside: There isn't a school on this earth that I would trust to handle having a young child in the helper role in the classroom. I strongly feel that this is an area should be under your or your partner's personal supervision. Let him tutor afterschool at 'church' or for money or start a lego club, but I just do not have enough faith that any teacher can track a kid of that age thoughtfully in that role.
    Coaching available, at

    #12829 - 04/01/08 06:15 AM Re: What IS the goal?? [Re: Dottie]
    incogneato Offline

    Registered: 10/25/07
    Posts: 2231
    Loc: up in my head.......
    Another word of caution concerning the teacher situation. When DD8 was in first grade her teacher approached me and told me she loved working with a little boy with Aspergers and was going to have her work with him as "enrichment"
    After I asked DD about it she told me she adamantly did NOT want to do this, so the teacher was very incorrect about his asumption that she liked it. She's just a big time teacher pleaser and didn't want to say no to him.
    We talked to the teacher and then she worked with a boy with Down's Syndrome which worked out fine for awhile.
    The teacher had good intentions, but I don't think the program was monitored as well as it should have been. She was being hit and pinched by him and felt it was her job to "manage" him.
    Finally they seperated them and DD was sent to work to help the rest of the class learn how to read. To this day she will sum up her entire first grade experience as teaching the other kids how to read. She sat next to her best friend and thought it was her responsibility to teach her how to do math. Now, this child was doing just fine in first grade math. But because the child wasn't doing what DD was able to do, they both incorrectly believed it was DD's math abilities were the norm and friend was going to flunk first grade if DD couldn't teach her to do math like she could. They were whispering about this for weeks and the mom and I found out later, both girls were convinced friend flunked first grade and would have to repeat.
    So, teacher presented the helping other kids idea as "enrichment" and it was a total nightmare. Just because my daughter was ahead intellectually does not been she was developmentally ready to take on that responsibility.
    I was very open to the teaching as enrichment idea when first approached, but now I would never, ever, allow this to occur.


    Edited by Mark Dlugosz (04/17/08 11:25 AM)

    #12831 - 04/01/08 07:04 AM Re: What IS the goal?? [Re: incogneato]
    newtothis Offline
    Junior Member

    Registered: 08/28/07
    Posts: 34
    Wow what great thoughts! I particularly appreciate being called out on my characterization that they are being "pushed." Yes, that is totally my judgement coming out, and that's exactly why this thread is so helpful to me - lots of perspective and food for thought! I think that the characterization from the parents of kids there has definitely affected how I think on this. At least one of them was very clear that this school was not "enjoyable" but was what was needed to push her child to meet her full potential and I think that's what got me headed down the path in the first place about how much to "push." I think you're right that it is VERY possible that this school would be the bees knees for some kids, and I need to really remember that!!!

    In terms of the classroom atmosphere, the kids and teacher all looked exhausted and honestly sort of bored (kids, not teacher on this one) - and this was at 9:45 in the morning. Other parents who have toured report similar observations, so I don't think it was just an "off day." Now, that said, the 2nd grade classroom was a relaxed, happy place - there was a volunteer there doing a lesson on Impressionism and the kids were loving it! The teacher was very short with the kids in the K/1 class; the 2nd grade teacher didn't have that "vibe."

    In terms of the work, I have no doubt that DS could do the work - but, it is extremely heavy on math and writing, and while DS likes math a LOT, it's the practical application that he enjoys - doing lots of problems isn't appealing to him. I saw almost no evidence of science other than a weekly visit to a (totally tricked out!) science lab (and that observation comes from both looking at the schedule for their days and the student portfolios). That clearly changes in 2nd grade because there was lots of science stuff in the classroom.

    Not sure where DS would fall from a score perspective. From an achievement perspective based on what I saw the kids doing (and what parents have told me their kids are doing), I think he'd be right in the middle - trending to the high side in math and the low side on writing. Probably right at the average on reading.

    Ordinarily, we'd be all over the "try it" idea, but we switched him 3 times for preschool and ended up pulling him completely when he was physically assaulted by a teacher whose buttons he pushed one time too many. That's a story for a whole other day, but suffice it to say that it's taken us MONTHS of "homeschool" to "unwind" him from his past school experiences and we don't feel like we can risk that again. The good part of homeschool has been that I've gotten to see up close what he loves/how he love to learn. But, it's put a real strain on everyone else (I have two little ones younger than him and he'll be 5 in May) and he wants to go to "kindergarten" - NOT school, but "kindergarten." He is VERY clear that he thinks there is a distinction...go figure!

    And, we are really lucky to have so many options. Actually, we also have the 'perfect' school here too - in the form of a Charter school for the HG that is AWESOME - exactly what I think we want...a very "regular" school environment that just happens to be geared WAY up in terms of content (my favorite quote from another parent that originally came from a teacher... "K kids should all sing head, shoulders, knees and toes, but here, we just happen to use the parts of the bug instead of the parts of people!"). But, unless I somehow knock out the entire K class 1.5 times over, he'll never get a space because he drew a horribly low lottery number (and siblings took well over 50% of the total K slots).

    So, I think I'm sort of answering my own question as I type the previous paragraph - THAT school is our we need to figure out the "least worst" of the rest!

    #12833 - 04/01/08 07:08 AM Re: What IS the goal?? [Re: Dottie]
    AmyEJ Offline

    Registered: 03/10/08
    Posts: 79
    Loc: Texas
    I'm jumping in late here so I'll just respond to the first post like Dottie.

    I have turned this question over in my head so many times! I still don't know what the exact goal is, but I do want my kids to have good self esteem and be happy while trying to achieve their potential, even if they don't reach it fully right now. For my DD6 that may look different than your DS5, and I suspect that it might. My DD6 would be miserable in a school that required that much homework. When she gets home at 3:20 or so from kindergarten, she's so tired. She enjoys playing with her sister or having some down time, and then several afternoons a week we have other activities like piano or gymnastics. We make time for reading and playing together, then we have dinner, bath, and go to bed. She's still so young, and I imagine that she would quickly become so turned off by the 2 hours of homework (or even 1 hour of homework) that she would dislike school, which is what I don't want at this young of an age. Right now she loves to learn but worksheets are her least favorite activity about school.

    She goes to a regular public school kindergarten class and has loved it this year. I don't think she's reaching her full potential this year, especially in math, but she is learning things that I wouldn't think to teach her (she really enjoyed the Texas unit), and her reading and writing skills have really improved. She reads pretty much everyday in a reading group that's now at 3rd grade level for fiction and at 2nd grade level for nonfiction, so she's with her "peers" from her class for reading. She feels really good about herself and has friends. And for her, who is someone who gets anxious easily and is very self critical, I think a little boost in her confidence has meant more this year than being pushed to her potential. As for next year, though, I think a little more push is needed, so we may have to make some changes. It will all depend on her teacher, though. I'll have to keep my fingers crossed!

    I know you've talked with some other parents at the first school but do you know them well enough to get a feel for how the kids actually like it? Do any of the kids have a similar personality as your DS? How does he like to learn? My DD6 loves doing projects and doing more active learning still (don't we all, though?) as well as the opportunity to explore topics more in depth. Plus, she's a visual-spatial learner. My point is that every child is differnt, and you know your son best. As Grinity asked, how was his processing on the IQ test? My DD6 was about 75%ile on the WPPSI, and it still shows that her hands don't keep up with her ideas. Doing intensive writing right now leads to frustration for her; what's that like for your son?

    Dottie's so right: you need to decide what your goal is for your DS. If it weren't for the homework, the first school may be ideal for him and his personality. And with his ability, it sounds like it may not be so much a question of whether he can do the work but whether he'll continue to enjoy it.

    I hope this helps a little. I know you've already gotten some great advice. I wish you the best through this process!

    #12835 - 04/01/08 07:14 AM Re: What IS the goal?? [Re: newtothis]
    AmyEJ Offline

    Registered: 03/10/08
    Posts: 79
    Loc: Texas
    Originally Posted By: newtothis

    So, I think I'm sort of answering my own question as I type the previous paragraph - THAT school is our we need to figure out the "least worst" of the rest!

    I was typing my post and I missed this. I'm glad you've answered your own question! Now on to the next part . . . .

    #12836 - 04/01/08 08:49 AM Re: What IS the goal?? [Re: AmyEJ]
    kcab Offline

    Registered: 10/02/07
    Posts: 1603
    Loc: Sparta, apparently
    Interesting question & discussion. For my family, I think our goal for education is that the kids learn enough so that they can navigate their world successfully, can make good decisions, and can continue to learn the things they want or need to know. I'd choose for them to be in a program where they were encouraged to think about the subject matter, maybe come up with their own questions, interpretations, & extensions of the material.

    As far as the best short-term choice, I think the thing to do is remember that it's a short-term choice. Pick the program that looks like it will work best for next year, don't base your decision on something farther away. You might want to check with the schools for any potential changes that may be coming for next year - teachers leave or retire or get moved around - so that you aren't surprised in the fall.

    #12839 - 04/01/08 11:24 AM Re: What IS the goal?? [Re: newtothis]
    Val Offline

    Registered: 09/01/07
    Posts: 3296
    Loc: California
    From the perspective of school-based education, our goal for our kids (ages 3.5, 6, and 8 as of today) is to give them time to explore the world around them so they can make informed decisions about their futures.

    In practice, this means that we estimate each will finish high school a couple years early or so (there is a local ability-based middle/high school that they'll all attend). Rather than sending them off to college right away, we'll encourage them to take random courses at one of the local community colleges so that they can find fields that interest them --- without the pressure of having to declare a major and move forward in the traditional sense. They'll also be able to take advantage of internships ("Marine Biology in the Bahamas" for example, which my eldest is already talking about) and part-time jobs.

    Could they finish high school sooner? Maybe, but we won't push them. Reaching their full potential will involve a lot more than grinding through a curriculum in the shortest possible length of time. They need time to dream up crazy ideas, get muddy, and do absolutely nothing at all.

    They need to learn about the kind of work that's involved in bringing a crazy idea to fruition --- which means soldiering on when the initial excitement fades and the work becomes drudgery. They need to develop an internal engine that will keep them working on their crazy idea when the smaller minds around them say "you won't be able to do that."

    These qualities are not typically learned in school, and though many are innate, they benefit from nurturing. We address this idea at home by having them work on maths or reading or whatever at a level they're ready for and by pushing them a bit when they say "I can't do this! It's too hard!" Some of my favorite moments are when they struggle and eventually succeed, and I get to say "See! And you thought you couldn't do that!"

    I teach them to say "I can do." and "I did do!"

    We do goofy stuff too: this weekend we're going to isolate DNA from fruit. My kindergartner has been a paleontology fanatic since he was tiny and wants to get DNA from dinosaur soft tissue and clone up a dinosaur (soft dinosaur tissue has been found BTW). So I thought it would be fun to show him real DNA. As a bonus, DNA is gloppy and gross, will have tremendous appeal to two little boys, and will inspire countless booger jokes.

    So would we choose a hardcore program? No. Two hours of nightly homework in kindergarten sounds like a great way to kill a love of learning and squelch imagination. Lots of work does not necessarily mean lots of meaningful learning. When do those kids get to do nothing at all? I expect that a lot of free time is a neurological/developmental need, especially at that age.

    My best ideas always come when I'm rested and my mind has had time to wander through a universe of its own creation.

    Well, that's my two cents on our rambling attempts at educating our kids.


    #12847 - 04/01/08 02:49 PM Re: What IS the goal?? [Re: Val]
    Kriston Offline

    Registered: 09/19/07
    Posts: 6145
    Loc: Midwest
    Ooooh! Val! How do you know how to isolate DNA, and can you teach me so I can use it with my kids?

    That sounds like an absolutely AMAZING science experiment!!!

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