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    #214402 - 04/16/15 05:33 PM Educational environment
    sallymom Offline

    Registered: 03/11/14
    Posts: 121
    We are trying to decide what to do with DD 8 (current second grader) for next year. DD attends a small private school and has since kindergarten. The school runs about a year ahead of our local public school. There are no gifted programs or services at her current school. They are perfectly willing to do a grade skip but her teacher says the class she would be skipped to is a nightmare, 7 or 8 kids that struggle academically plus a few behavior problems, there is only one class so no other options. Her class is more advanced as a group and pretty well behaved, they also mesh well. We thought that DD was fine with the lack of enrichment . She is an avid reader so does that a lot on her own but we recently started letting her work with a math professor for enrichment (she asked) and she has advanced three grade levels in two months. We live in a state where gifted services are mandated and our local public school has a once a week pull out program for elementary and we are thinking about that for next year. It is so hard to know what to do, so what kind of experiences have you had at public? Private ? There are no gifted schools in our area. DD scored at the 99.9th percentile in all cognitive areas w/ the exception of processing speed which was high average, all academics were 99th percentile and DKEFS measured very superior executive functioning. I guess I did not realize how much doing nothing was not working!

    #214406 - 04/17/15 06:35 AM Re: Educational environment [Re: sallymom]
    ConnectingDots Offline

    Registered: 09/06/13
    Posts: 848
    I think if I was in your shoes, I would set up a time to tour your local public school and to see what it is like/what kind of services (beyond the pullout) are available. That's assuming you have not already been there. FWIW, it's probably wise not to lead with too much "gifted" wording until you know their philosophy (and how to word your questions/comments in line with that -- it's sort of ridiculous, but unfortunately necessary. Consider yourself a spy of sorts until you know what you're dealing with...). You mentioned your daughter is already 8 -- so perhaps acceleration in the public school might be an option. (There are a lot of 8 year olds in elementary schools around here, so in some areas, she would not be too far off age wise, which I think matters to you.)

    We have been at three private schools. The first was an excellent Montessori, but we moved out of the area. The Montessori schools here are weak for elementary students (at least advanced ones). We tried an "exclusive" private school which turned out to be quite rigid and downright mean spirited (the administrator, at least). Currently are at a parochial school that is extremely flexible (they have offered several acceleration options!). Our child is 8 and in 3rd grade (no accelerations, summer birthday and started at 5). Accelerated about half the day by two years. This is the latest variation and it seems to be working well. He still finishes early (in the two grade up classes) but is happier.

    #214408 - 04/17/15 06:46 AM Re: Educational environment [Re: sallymom]
    SFrog Offline

    Registered: 10/07/11
    Posts: 156
    Loc: IA, USA
    You mileage may (will) vary, but we found a grade skip at the same time as a move from private to public school worked well. Our daughter was going to change her classmates with either, so doing both was not any more social stress.

    The public school system seemed amiable to the idea that a gifted, private school taught student might be ahead of her age mates and were happy to evaluate her for a grade skip.

    Set up a tour of the public school and while you are meeting with an administrator, bring up the idea of acceleration.

    Best of luck,
    For gifted children, doing nothing is the wrong choice.

    #214411 - 04/17/15 07:11 AM Re: Educational environment [Re: sallymom]
    indigo Offline

    Registered: 04/27/13
    Posts: 4293
    You've received great advice already. I'll just add that you may wish to make a school comparison chart to aid you in your decision making. A spread sheet makes it easy to list pros and cons of each learning environment in a simple grid format, and to add more weight to the factors you believe are most important, at this time, for finding a good "fit" in a learning environment.

    The Davidson Databse has articles on school selection, including some questions parents may wish to ask.

    You may wish to arrange to have your child shadow for a day in each of the possible placements, and see how each felt for "fit".

    Keep in mind that the public school may not have another student of your child's caliber, may be less flexible, may believe a once-a-week-pullout will meet needs of a child, and may have students with similar behavior problems as those expressed to you by the current school... without disclosing this to you proactively.

    One easy method to help parents plainly understand plans for a child's pull-out program despite buzzwords which may be used is to categorize the information the school provides into the categories of Who-What-Where-When-Why-and-How ( 5Ws ).

    Who is involved in the pull-out? Will your child be working in isolation or grouped with similar ability students? Will the students be of various ages, from multiple grades? Is the pull-out group lead by a teacher, aide, or volunteer parent, etc? Or is there no adult leader, leaving the children on their own to figure things out? It is unrealistic to expect all gifted children to be self-taught/autodidactic in all subjects.

    What types of learning experiences will students have in the pull-out? Will students be doing more work at the same level? Work one year advanced? Individual work, at each student's level or zone of proximal development (ZPD)?

    Where do the students meet... in the back of the classroom? School Library / Media Center? Higher grade level classroom? etc

    Timing, frequency, and duration... Weekly? How long is each pull-out session? What is the duration of the services... one semester... full year, etc?

    Why do students attend the pull-out? Have students been identified as having a need? What is the criteria for identification/qualification? Are there individual developmental goals to be met through the pull-out?

    How do children learn in the pullout experience? ... mode? Is the pull-out learning experience teacher-led? Individual tutoring? Computer classes? Auto-didactic completion of tasks, etc? Does the pull-out replace a class, teaching curriculum at a higher level? Is the pull-out in addition to other grade-level work? What do children "miss" in order to participate in the pull-out (What is the rest of their class doing at this time?) Is there homework assigned in the pull-out?

    Considering questions such as these may help families evaluate the quality of a gifted program.

    #214423 - 04/17/15 09:28 AM Re: Educational environment [Re: sallymom]
    blackcat Offline

    Registered: 05/23/13
    Posts: 2154
    I don't think a once a week pull out program will get you what you are looking for. It's worth it to talk to the public school and see if there is anything else they can do (like acceleration), but I would not move there just for a gifted program that only does that. How long do they pull kids out? An hour? All day? Unless it's all-day, I don't think it's worth it, because the vast majority of time would be spent in an inappropriate environment. Even if it IS all-day, what about the rest of the days?

    We have two schools in our area that move kids to the right level and mix ages, without changing their actual enrolled grade level (similar to Montessori). They are both public schools (one is a charter), and luckily we have open enrollment and are not stuck with our neighborhood school. It's worth it to look around at ALL the options in your area. If you are stuck with that ONE public school choice, and they will only offer that pull-out program, then you will need to look at other private schools.

    #214425 - 04/17/15 09:58 AM Re: Educational environment [Re: sallymom]
    Loy58 Offline

    Registered: 09/11/13
    Posts: 816
    You have received excellent advice. I agree with blackcat - I would not move a child for once a week service. Please keep in mind that with a 99.9 percent child, it is extremely likely that even daily "average" gifted services may provide insufficient challenge.

    Perhaps an acceleration of some variety COMBINED with G&T services would be an option?

    #214585 - 04/20/15 09:15 PM Re: Educational environment [Re: sallymom]
    Polly Offline

    Registered: 06/29/09
    Posts: 330
    I would say it depends on the specific public school, good ones exist but it depends what you consider "good". We moved from an average sort of public school (was the best one within a radius of a couple of fairly low ranking districts so it drew bright kids from some distance) to one that is consistently among the highest ranked in the state (best in the best district in the region). It's been wonderful, but then perhaps I had low expectations that were easy to exceed. Somehow it is officially the same curriculum but what they do all day is very different, and DS7 seems so much more engaged.

    The previous school had a fairly substantial gifted program, with multiple pullouts and classes regrouped by ability level for both reading and math, but this just meant "gifted" served a whole 1/3 of the students, making very nearly 1/3 of parents very happy.

    Once we moved to the new school I went to the gifted info night and heard their stock talk that said, "at this school gifted identification is not pursued often because we differentiate for all students, so why bother". So I decided with that attitude I was just not even going to inquire. They did indeed differentiate homework to some degree, which was better than nothing. And I noticed there was a good selection of library books.

    And then they came to us after maybe 4 months and said DS is clearly out there and they needed to do something (they also referenced IQ testing we'd given them, that they hadn't noticed I guess at the beginning or chose to not worry about initially). So they have a secret gifted program I guess the way I have read on here that some schools do.

    They claim they have no other all around gifted kids in DS's grade except DS (though overall they are teaching I think about a grade level higher than the old school because they simply have no students that truly lag their grade level, many of the students seem at least moderately gifted to me). So they define gifted more stringently than elsewhere in the same state. I think due to the overall slight increase in academic level of the classroom and more creative type work DS is just happier overall, even before differentiation etc. When he says something, other children or the teacher gets what he says and say something back, which is sometimes interesting or funny. It makes a big difference.

    After testing shows DS capable of math and reading at high school or near levels they are giving him one on one in math twice a week, in which he's learned nearly nothing but has now switched from thinking he is bad at math and not really liking math (because other children are often faster at computation due to his low processing speed) to looking forward to his math time and feeling more confident, so I am all for it.

    Individualization in reading hasn't been necessary because there are a couple other kids close to DS for a spelling group. The spelling words are often remedial but overall it is okay.

    I wasn't actually looking for a school that would truly individualize instruction for DS because I didn't really expect I would find that at all in a public school. But this one does appear to be planning to do so in math, with the help of the district math curriculum person, youngest child they've designed an individual curriculum for, etc. Time will tell. This is one benefit of being in a public district is there is a large enough student population total that the district does employ someone capable of designing advanced math curricula. That may be an individual to approach ahead of time if you are really hoping for an individualized math plan.

    I was more just looking for a school that gave children more personal respect than the previous one and saw children as individuals. Not just lip service to parents but really respectful. And in a generally well educated area so that everyone, teachers and kids, would be likely to be normally bright. I was looking for the "nicest" seeming teachers and principal, people who would be understanding of DS's emotional side. Where when you walk down the hall the teachers don't sound bossy. And this principal had said to me "2nd graders do 20 minutes of homework a night. Of course unless that's too much for the individual child", and that's how I knew the school was a possibility. It is also small, where I thought it was more likely teachers etc would get interested in individual children.

    What elementary school has the interest or ability, even if they thought they wanted to, to teach a child math in the way that potential real mathematicians would optimally be taught it? It's not just presenting the next topic in line, it's transmitting a sense of awe and so on that inspires and interests. Would you even want any elementary school attempting it? They might really screw up! Better would be allowing a online math curriculum, or exempting the child from some of the standard requirements (homework for example).

    The math professor sounds awesome for teaching math. For my DS (who has a very similar IQ spread with high scores except in processing speed), looking at schools I am more looking to find somewhere that he basically enjoys spending his day. Where teachers are understanding enough to allow him to skip homework in areas he's mastered, etc. Barring moving states for a truly good gifted school.

    In looking at schools I asked multiple elementary schools, "Say in 5th grade you have a child who's finished the high school math curriculum. Can they sit in the back and read a text on a personal interest such as chemistry or physics?" The universal answer was no, that no matter the level, the child had to do math in math class... either differentiated or their school's curriculum. I thought that seemed quite closed minded, but that was the answer at a gifted school, at a highly alternative school, etc.


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