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    #12758 - 03/31/08 10:43 AM What IS the goal??
    newtothis Offline
    Junior Member

    Registered: 08/28/07
    Posts: 34
    This will be a long and philosophical post...we are struggling with our school decision for DS and in meeting other parents of kids like these, we're realizing that maybe we haven't really done a good job of defining what "the goal" really is in terms of education. I'm very interested in hearing thoughts from all of you on this topic....

    We've had horrendous preschool experiences and we know that we will have more of the same if we choose poorly for "real" school next year (K or 1st...one of the decisions we need to make!). So, I guess I'd say that for us, our goal (implicit...never really thought of it this way before...) is to find somewhere that DS is challenged enough to stay on the wagon from a behavior perspective, in a place where he is encouraged and respected by his teachers and in a place where he has a chance to make friends and enjoy school. Since I find it hard to believe that any K (or even 1st) grade classroom will be able to provide a true academic challenge, we've been trying hard to find flexible schools that seem excited about having a kid like DS and open to acceleration if needed but also creative with how DS can have a "helper" role in the classroom with other kids who aren't reading, etc.

    In our area, there are several options for these kids, including a program for the highly gifted that is self-contained and tiny...and they push the kids VERY hard - working at least 2, and often far more, grades ahead of their "age" grade. When we visited, we felt like it was way too much - 2 hours of homework in K, etc. But, in talking to parents who have kids there, we have heard a completely different "goal" expressed - that we need to do everytyhing we can to help DS reach his full potential, and if that means an intense academic environment, even if it's not always "fun," then we should still do it beacuse we owe it to him to help him really reach his potential.

    How have you all thought about "the goal" of education for your kids? Would you choose a hardcore program (very worksheet/textbook/desk work intensive with lots of testing and competition) where you could be SURE that your child was being pushed every single day to the very highest level he/she could achieve OR would you choose a program that was not likely to be very challenging academically but would grow into something more challenging (converting to a 130+ GT classroom at 3rd grade - still not nearly as rigorous as the other program, but closer). This second program would focus on "Learning Immersion" or going deep into topics and using them for multiple disciplines (kind of like unit studies in a very collaborative, team based environment with very little "desk work" and such). I think DS would be much happier in the second program, but there's NO doubt that he will learn more in the first program. 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...

    I'm less looking for advice on our specific school situation (though I'll happily take any offered!) and more looking for everyone's thoughts on what you think "the goal" is when making education decisions for your HG+ kids?

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    #12767 - 03/31/08 11:39 AM Re: What IS the goal?? [Re: newtothis]
    Kriston Offline
    Member

    Registered: 09/19/07
    Posts: 6145
    Loc: Midwest
    Originally Posted By: newtothis
    Would you choose a hardcore program...where you could be SURE that your child was being pushed every single day to the very highest level he/she could achieve OR would you choose a program that was not likely to be very challenging academically but would grow into something more challenging (converting to a 130+ GT classroom at 3rd grade - still not nearly as rigorous as the other program, but closer).


    What a great question! But I'm going to wimp out and answer both/neither.

    2 hours of homework in K is neither desirable nor productive, IMHO. That seems to me to be of the "Baby Einstein" brand of thinking, and I don't buy into it. Kids learn by playing, experimenting, DOING, not by doing tons of homework. Frankly, I have my problems with even upper elementary students doing hours of homework. But in K? No way!

    The other option isn't ideal either. Lack of academic challenge >in a highly academic program< (that's key!) is not acceptable because it will tend to kill the love of learning for the child. Now, a play-based program can be great, especially if it's half-day so the child has time to pursue individualized academic pursuits on his/her own time. But learning the ABCs when you can read chapter books is not going to cut it, not even for a couple of years. A couple of years is half the child's life when they're 5!

    We're emergency homeschooling this year (after starting DS6 in public school in the fall), so we have--out of necessity!--thought a lot about this question. Our philosophy is very much what you outlined as your initial philosophy, though perhaps we expect/require a bit more than just enough academic rigor to keep him from misbehaving. I want DS6 to have the chance to do things that are hard for him so that he understands that you haven't failed until you've quit trying. I want him to grow in his education, not merely survive it.

    However, I don't believe that hours of homework and a slavedriver mentality achieve those goals. There is no prize for finishing school first or fastest, and there's no reason to make learning itself into drudgery. I'd greatly prefer that DS6 gain a depth of knowledge and love of learning over speeding through material in some quest for maximizing potential...whatever that means!

    The fact is, kids are natural scientists, and they learn most things best by playing around with them. That takes time to think and some measure of freedom.

    As a side note, if I may be so bold...

    I would suggest that you NOT push to have your child treated as an assistant teacher. Chances are good that this will happen anyway, but it is often not good for a child to be cast in that role. For a natural teacher, it might provide early on-the-job training--as if you need that!--but not everyone is a natural teacher. Many GT kids have no idea how to explain to a struggling student how they arrived at the answer, so it winds up being a frustrating interaction for both kids that leaves bad feelings on the part of the "student" and a nasty superiority complex for the "teacher." What a mess!

    So to wrap up, I'd say that if you only have those two school choices, then I'd probably go with the second, the one more geared to exploration, suppplementing as necessary in the classroom and afterschool. It seems to line up best with your beliefs and seems to me to be best for kids. FWIW...

    I look forward to reading the responses! Thanks for posting this!

    K-
    _________________________
    Kriston

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    #12768 - 03/31/08 11:45 AM Re: What IS the goal?? [Re: newtothis]
    Ann Offline
    Member

    Registered: 02/15/08
    Posts: 179
    Loc: painting the dining room
    Maybe my mind will change as DS2 gets older. Right now I'm open to exploring all schooling options. I have told DH and my mom that I'd like to find a school that best-suits DS's personality/learning type. That doesn't mean that I don't expect him to be challenged. But challenged at the expense of ____ is a valid question. It would be nice if his (eventual) academic environment includes an environmental/community stewardship component. I'm concerned about DS as a whole person -- not just a kid that performs well on exams.

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    #12770 - 03/31/08 12:12 PM Re: What IS the goal?? [Re: newtothis]
    incogneato Offline
    Member

    Registered: 10/25/07
    Posts: 2231
    Loc: up in my head.......
    Hi newtothis,

    It all depends on your child. There's no magic answer. If your kids are like mine, you'll have to try a number of things and see what's right for your child.
    I will say that I have two girls one HG and one HG+. DDHG+ loves to learn and wouldn't think of homework as work at all if it is new and interesting to her. But,there's no way she would do 2 hours of repetitive drills or work she has already mastered. Nor would I think it is appropriate for the school to ask this of her.
    DDHG is not as interested in school work. We let her kind of do her own thing and follow her interests. Both girls are easily operating at 2 years above school grade level or more and pick up concepts so easily. So based on my experience with my HG+ kids, I wouldn't be concerned at all if the curriculum is 2 or more years above grade level, in fact I would think it's a good thing. You could always remove your child if it's not a good fit.
    My biggest concern is having a child sit at school for 5 1/2 hours being exposed to material they have already mastered.
    That's a long time to be bored.
    So the short is, my only goal is to have the kids be happy. So we've asked ourselves, what do they know already? Are they sitting around for 5 whole hours not learning much or anything new? If that's true, does that make them happy or unhappy? What would be the point of sending a kid to school for 5 1/2 hours to learn nothing. We actually had an out of level achievement test administered to our oldest daughter. She scored in the 99th percentile for her grade in every subject. and a minimum of 2 years above grade level across the board. That made us question her grade placement. Luckily the school has responded well and provided her additional challenges so we can say, okay, she is learning on some level and she is happy right now. DD5 had mastered kindergarten goals before she even stepped in the door the first day. She is not happy. The school is working with us currently to help her as well. In both cases we asked them: What is she expected to know to graduate from her current grade and does she know it already? To be fair, we paid to have the achievement test done privately because the school didn't know the answer to that question and I felt it should be our responsibility to provide that info, but some would have asked the school to do it.
    You mentioned you had a really angry frustrated kid. Was that from lack of academic challenge or something else?
    I do think a child can have emotional issues as a result of prolonged understimulation. But is could be something else entirely. It all depends on the child and situation.
    So I think the goal would be to make sure each child has an appropriate education whether they are behind the average or ahead. The question is what is considered appropriate for your child and you would probably be the best person to answer that.

    I

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    #12771 - 03/31/08 12:17 PM Re: What IS the goal?? [Re: incogneato]
    incogneato Offline
    Member

    Registered: 10/25/07
    Posts: 2231
    Loc: up in my head.......
    p.s. I would second Krison's recommendation of not letting the school make your child a child teacher. That was the situation for first grade for DD8. In hindsight, that was the worst possible way for them to have handled the situation. I'm still pretty mad about it.

    I

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    #12774 - 03/31/08 01:44 PM Re: What IS the goal?? [Re: incogneato]
    kimck Offline
    Member

    Registered: 09/20/07
    Posts: 1134
    I would answer a lot like Kriston. These comments about pushing your child to their greatest potential kind of turn me off. I truly believe children will find their greatest potential if NOT pushed and allowed to learn and grow in whatever way serves them best.

    It really depends on what 2 hours of homework in kindergarten looks like, but it's extremely unlikely to be highly engaging to every child in the class. My 1st grader will happily spend far more than 2 hours researching or learning something of his choosing. But to sit him down nightly with a 2 hour stack of hoops to jump through? Not likely. He regularly reads on his own 2 hours after school or "plays" in his math workbooks without prompting. That being said - we are homeschooling next year because we don't see another option that will make both him and us as parents happy.

    Good luck! I know these are difficult decisions!

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    #12777 - 03/31/08 01:59 PM Re: What IS the goal?? [Re: incogneato]
    st pauli girl Offline
    Member

    Registered: 01/29/08
    Posts: 1917
    We are thinking through these same things concerning our DS4, but we don't have the options you have. But I'll throw in my 2 cents anyway. For me, the goal is to have my son learn something new every day and be exposed to challenges so he doesn't become an underachiever. If I had the choice of the accelerated school (working 2 years ahead), we'd definitely go that way. Right now, we're going to let DS play until he's 5, and then we'll work with the public school to see what they can offer in terms of accelerations for academics in K+.

    Is the gifted school for HG kids, or is there a range? I'm going to throw it out there that 2 hours of homework for k might be based on what would take the average student in that class to do. Although I think that much homework for K is absurd, perhaps your child could really do it in 1/2 hour. But if the school is advertising this homework, I'd question the flexibility of this school anyway. It sounds like they have a philosophy they plan to stick to, in the teensy info i have. It seems to me that most kids who are HG or HG+ are better off in a flexible situation, even if not necessarily in a gifted-contained program.

    Good luck!

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    #12780 - 03/31/08 03:00 PM Re: What IS the goal?? [Re: st pauli girl]
    incogneato Offline
    Member

    Registered: 10/25/07
    Posts: 2231
    Loc: up in my head.......
    Good point, St. Pauli Girl.

    I'm not a big fan of homework. As mentioned if their learning needs are being met at school, why on earth would they have to do more assigned work for 2 additional hours at home. Kind of defeats the purpose of sending them to school.
    It could be that child A does the homework in 30 minutes and child B takes 2 hours to do the homework. In that case I would investigate if the program is really a good fit for child B.
    Also, as St. Pauli Girl said, flexibility is key.

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    #12781 - 03/31/08 03:09 PM Re: What IS the goal?? [Re: st pauli girl]
    Kriston Offline
    Member

    Registered: 09/19/07
    Posts: 6145
    Loc: Midwest
    Originally Posted By: st pauli girl
    I'm going to throw it out there that 2 hours of homework for k might be based on what would take the average student in that class to do. Although I think that much homework for K is absurd, perhaps your child could really do it in 1/2 hour. But if the school is advertising this homework, I'd question the flexibility of this school anyway.


    I agree strongly with SPG that the homework seems like a badge of honor thing, and that doesn't spell flexibility to me.

    I'd also add that while some HG+ kids breeze through homework/busywork quickly, many do NOT! My DS6 took FOREVER to complete the easiest assignments because he was simply too bored to be bothered. It took us a good hour of my prodding every night to get him to finish his "a is for apple" homework from his age-based 1st grade class, and the homework was minimal: just the stuff he didn't finish during class time (because he was bored with it). It should have taken a few minutes at most, but it was like pulling teeth with him.

    We now cover easily 10x the material at a much harder level in the same amount of time for home school. Easy doesn't always mean quick.

    OTOH, what if the homework is actually hard stuff for your DS? If the average kid takes 2 hours, that means it will take longer for somebody! HG+ kids don't learn everything at the same speedy rate, so chances are there will be at least a time or two when he's the slowpoke. So how much is too much?

    And besides, I have to ask the question the schools always ask us: if the child is in class 7+ hours per day and has MORE schoolwork to do when he gets home, when does he get to be a kid, to pursue his own interests, to read for fun or build with Legos or play kickball, to do his own thing?

    A challenging educational environment is vital, but more material faster is not always better. I think SPG is right: flexibility and responsiveness to the child's individual needs is really vital, and I don't see that with 2 hours of homework and "maximizing potential."

    I have to say, it sounds like a hothousing school to me.
    _________________________
    Kriston

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    #12783 - 03/31/08 03:23 PM Re: What IS the goal?? [Re: Kriston]
    Cathy A Offline
    Member

    Registered: 05/26/07
    Posts: 1783
    Loc: West coast, USA
    Originally Posted By: Kriston
    I have to say, it sounds like a hothousing school to me.


    You also have to consider the source of your information...sometimes parents who perceive a school as hothousing will exaggerate the amount of homework involved. Was the person who described the school actually a parent of a student there?


    Edited by Cathy A (03/31/08 03:24 PM)

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