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    #219607 - 07/15/15 01:14 PM How to Get School to Challenge Your Child
    Marcy Offline
    Junior Member

    Registered: 07/13/15
    Posts: 34
    I'm having huge issues with my son's school about challenging him. He's 6yo and just finished 1st grade. All year he complained about how boring school was and how he hated it. It all came to a head in March when he started having morning meltdowns and making getting him ready for school a total nightmare.

    I emailed the principal/teacher almost weekly about challenging him and got essentially nowhere. He got math enrichment for a few weeks with the "curriculum coach" but then it turned into her leaving a problem for him to work on, on his own, with no support.

    The worst part is that my kid loves learning, math and reading. He goes to Mathnasium for fun, because he saw the storefront and asked to go. There he has already finished multiplication and division, and is learning square roots and imaginary numbers. He loves to read as long as it isn't forced stuff from school -- he blew threw the entire Diary of a Wimpy Kid series in a week.

    I'm at my wit's end with his school. He had a terrible 1st grade teacher who didn't challenge him in the slightest. He was given the same homework as all the other kids in the class, that was totally basic and busy work for him. We stopped doing all homework in November because it wasn't worth my time to force him to do it. I made him read instead of spending the time on busy work.

    I've thought about pushing him ahead a grade, but it really isn't an option. Our state is very strict about it, and he already is the youngest kid in the grade because he made the cut-off by only a week. He is academically advanced, but socially not so much so. I don't think he's mature enough to put with kids that will all be 1-2 years older than him.

    Any suggestions on what to do? I emailed his teacher and principal almost weekly last year and got nowhere. I'm not sure where to go from here.

    #219611 - 07/15/15 02:05 PM Re: How to Get School to Challenge Your Child [Re: Marcy]
    George C Offline

    Registered: 03/12/15
    Posts: 282
    Hi Marcy,

    It sounds like you have quite a bright kid! Your experience sounds very frustrating. I think many people on this board have had similar experiences with their schools and will be able to offer you a lot of advice.

    Have you had a in-person meeting with the principal about your concerns? I've found that usually gets more attention than e-mails, and that way you can have a conversation. It would be helpful if you brought up some of the things you just told us here and that you think he might be gifted and see what the school says. Do they have a gifted program or do gifted screening? It seems like those might be the easiest places to start.

    #219612 - 07/15/15 02:10 PM Re: How to Get School to Challenge Your Child [Re: Marcy]
    indigo Offline

    Registered: 04/27/13
    Posts: 4977
    You may have read these advocacy tips elsewhere on the forums:
    - In this recent thread, several posts discuss reasons to not use the word "bored" when advocating.
    - This thread suggests some words to use, rather than "gifted", when advocating.
    - While in general there is good and bad in everything, a focus on negativity and disappointment may be seen as smacking the oobleck with a spoon and creating an unyielding solid... it works against advocacy.
    - Focus on the positive, on the ideas set forth in the law and in school policies, and how the school can implement these to help meet your child's needs for intellectual peers and an appropriate level of academic challenge and pacing.
    - Tips on preparing for a meeting.
    - In addition to many helpful threads on the forums, the Davidson Database contains many articles by experts.

    A few key resources:

    Advocacy - Working with your child's school

    Guidebook - Advocating for Exceptionally Gifted Young People (40 page printable pdf)

    Helpful Advocacy Books:
    Academic Advocacy for Gifted Children, by Barbara Gilman,
    Re-Forming Gifted Education, by Karen B. Rogers, Ph.D.

    #219613 - 07/15/15 02:11 PM Re: How to Get School to Challenge Your Child [Re: Marcy]
    ConnectingDots Offline

    Registered: 09/06/13
    Posts: 848
    Do you have any test results (like the annual assessments/standardized testing) you could use with the school?

    I agree with George about asking for a meeting with the principal to plan for next year. You might bring results from Mathnasium with you to show the level at which he's working and start with asking what they might propose to meet his educational needs (that's a buzzword phrase)?

    Sometimes single subject acceleration is an option (i.e., going to a higher grade just for math).

    #219617 - 07/15/15 02:40 PM Re: How to Get School to Challenge Your Child [Re: Marcy]
    howdy Offline

    Registered: 10/04/13
    Posts: 279
    1) Find out as much as you can about gifted programming and testing in your district by using their website or the state site, etc.

    2) One strategy that might help is going to the school, say things like I know my child is ahead in math and he gets good grades, but how do we know if he is progressing? Can we do some tests to see what his actual level is?

    if they have no idea what type of test, you can ask for an end of year 2nd, 3rd, 4th grade test to be done.

    Once the school has their own evidence on what the present level is of the student, it become much much easier to advocate.

    Good luck!

    #219619 - 07/15/15 03:16 PM Re: How to Get School to Challenge Your Child [Re: Marcy]
    Loy58 Offline

    Registered: 09/11/13
    Posts: 816
    I'm sorry, Marcy - but your DS sounds so much like mine, I just about could have written your post!

    Does the school system you are in have any G&T or advanced programming, even if for older kiddos? If so, when does it start? How do you get in? Knowing that our schools at least offered advanced programming in 3rd/4th grade kept us in our p.s. (versus the $$$$ private gifted school)...but it is hard to wait! Honestly, if such programming did not exist, we probably would have left our school system by now.

    Also, I would network with parents of bright children in your area (especially the parents of older students) to try to find what schools and programs are working for their children. We have learned so much from other parents.

    How your school will react to an advanced student is really a YMMV situation. A talented teacher can make for a good year, but IMO - if your school is leaving EVERYTHING to the teachers (no advanced programming), they may be setting the teacher and her advanced student up for failure. Expecting the teacher to differentiate, when she may have more than 20 students, may be extremely difficult, if not impossible.

    We have not figured it all out yet, but we are doing our best, working year by year. Best of luck!

    #219621 - 07/15/15 03:26 PM Re: How to Get School to Challenge Your Child [Re: Marcy]
    blackcat Offline

    Registered: 05/23/13
    Posts: 2154
    Can you ask about subject acceleration just for math? DS8 was sent to 5th grade for math and then was sent back when math was over. He is obviously not as mature as 5th graders but they just worked around that (luckily his school has been very the past we have dealt with schools that were exactly like yours). Subject acceleration is something that it's best to plan before the school year starts because they will need to align the math schedules of two different classes.

    Before DS went to that school, I advocated for him to be allowed to do Khan Academy on the computer during the second grade math. It has video tutorials for each unit as well as practice problems with tips/hints if he got stuck (if a kid gets stuck they can keep clicking on hints until the problem is basically solved for them). The teacher had asked for all computers to be removed from her classroom and I found out after a few months of school that she had been having DS do this on a mini-ipad (and only a couple times per week). DS wasn't coordinated enough to make it work on the ipad. He also didn't have access to any scratch paper. The teacher wasn't monitoring what he was doing at all. I asked for DS to be able to leave the room to do it on a real computer under the direction of a spec. ed teacher (DS has an IEP) and the classroom teacher made a huge stink. That's when we took him out and put him in current school. Anyway, the Khan Academy solution isn't ideal because obviously it's better for a child to have instruction from a real human, but it's better than nothing.

    For reading, I sent in books like Harry Potter for DS to read in class rather than the low-level books that were there, and that solved most of the reading problem (again, no direct instruction though).

    It's easier to advocate if you have test scores. DS was 99th percentile for both math and reading but it didn't end up mattering at the last school. The teacher was obsessed with the idea that he might have gaps. Current school on the other hand used that data to accelerate him for both math and reading. They assessed him at a reading Level V and instructed him at that level, whereas the other teacher a month or two earlier had assessed him at an L and I don't think he was ability grouped for reading even at an L.

    #219622 - 07/15/15 03:32 PM Re: How to Get School to Challenge Your Child [Re: Marcy]
    funtimes Offline

    Registered: 06/09/15
    Posts: 70
    This is my first post. I'm in the exact same boat as you it seems. DS7 struggled through first grade. Motivation was lost about 3 weeks in. He lived for the the weekends and mathnasium! It is very difficult to watch your child be unhappy in an environment where you thought they would excel.

    I ended up meeting directly with the principal who was extremely supportive verbally but nothing new was implemented before year end. We are now heading into 2nd with hopes that a new classroom teacher and my advocacy early in the year will set him up well. In the meantime, we are seeking out educational assessments and touring a few private school just to be well informed of our options. One extra road bump for us is that DS7 has a twin smile
    who is also gifted, possibly 2E but seems to be thriving in school. We will see.

    My advice is to contact an educational psychologist if you haven't already. It was great for my peace of mind and support.

    #219625 - 07/15/15 04:28 PM Re: How to Get School to Challenge Your Child [Re: Marcy]
    Marcy Offline
    Junior Member

    Registered: 07/13/15
    Posts: 34
    The worst part of his not being challenged is the school tests the kids regularly and knows he is advanced. His star reading score peaked at grade 6.1 in March. It started to go down after that, because March is when he gave up on trying at school and slipped to 5.1 by June.

    Similarly his star math score peaked at a scaled score of 842 in March (>4th grade) and then started to go down to a low of 640 (still >4th grade) in June. He took the test for 1st graders in math which doesn't give a grade level for more than grade 4 and he wasn't allowed to take the upper grade test because the school had only paid for exactly the number of licenses they needed for each grade.

    I understand why you say not to use the word bored, but it is sadly true. My son COULD make the best of the situation and try and enjoy school, but that is not his personality. I am working with him to try and improve his attitude, but it is slow going. I will however, remember that for my next meeting with the principal.

    I talked/emailed his teacher and the principal multiple times with no success except for a few weeks of math enrichment. I asked if he could go with higher grades just for math/reading time but got that whole "gap" nonsense that others have mentioned here. I feel like we could remediate any possible gaps at home in a few hours.

    I have just scheduled a full IQ evaluation for the end of August in the hope of possibly getting an IEP requiring him to be challenged. Nevada supposedly doesn't have gifted IEPs, but a teacher I met from the highly gifted program here told me they can be done.

    My district does have a GATE (gifted and talented education) program, but it only starts in 3rd grade and is only for a couple of hours per week. My son goes to a smaller charter school that doesn't participate in GATE. I've thought about pulling him out and putting him in our local school, but it's very overcrowded, so much so that they just went to year-round classes and I can't see things improving when he's in an overcrowded classroom and school. Plus they're already made the classes for next year, so he'll be stuck wherever there is an opening instead of thoughtfully put with the teacher that might be a good fit.

    I'm still reading through/processing the links posted above. I really appreciate everyone's responses and suggestions. I felt like I'm fighting this alone, but it helps to see others who have been there or are doing the same thing. Fighting for the kids who come after hit home too. My best friend has a highly gifted daughter at the same school who is entering 1st grade, so things I (hopefully) get changed will help her out too.

    #219645 - 07/16/15 06:44 AM Re: How to Get School to Challenge Your Child [Re: Marcy]
    cmguy Offline

    Registered: 03/30/14
    Posts: 387
    Hopefully you can make the existing school work. As others have mentioned though that if it is not fixable in any kind of reasonable time it may be best to remove your child and seek alternate arrangements. We did this with our DS4 as he was too young for kindergarten. Private school is expensive, the commute is a drag, but the program works, he has friends, and he is happy.

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