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    #246965 - 03/21/20 07:53 AM Time to make a change, seeking general advice
    onemom13 Offline
    Junior Member

    Registered: 09/26/17
    Posts: 11
    Hello,

    I am grateful for the opportunity to seek advice from this community. Iíll try to briefly explain our struggle/question and some background information. My apologies if this post is too long!

    Our family goals are to be happy, healthy and kind, and good members of our community. We also want our child to work toward feeling more confident in sharing his curiosity, showing what he can do, and taking risks when learning new things in school. We want him to know that itís okay to make mistakes, and to seek out opportunities to be challenged and engaged in learning.

    Given that these are our goals, school is not going well. Our 1st grader is generally well-behaved (except for some sitting still and maintaining appropriate body space issues) and well-liked (teachers report that he can play or work with any of his classmates), and has overcome some pretty extreme school refusal, but he adamantly does not want to go to school. He feels that he does not learn new things at school, and we see that he hasnít made much progress even in the area that he struggles (writing). He has started taking long bathroom breaks to avoid certain subjects. His report card reflects that either he is not demonstrating what he knows or the teacher is not assessing beyond where the class is in the curriculum.

    He attends a ďgoodĒ public school in MA, but receives no enrichment, extension or personalized instruction. (There is not much flexibility or resources in the school or classroom to provide these things.) He has some friends at school, but there isnít any particular child he feels very close to or wants to see outside of school. (He does have a best friend, but they donít go to the same school.)

    We recently had the opportunity for our child to take the WISC-V, and these are his results.
    Verbal Comprehension: 150 (SI: 19, VC: 18)
    Visual Spatial: 138 (BD: 19, VP: 14)
    Fluid Reasoning: 144 (MR: 18, FW: 17)
    Working Memory: 125 (DS: 13, PS: 16)
    Processing Speed: 129 (CD: 15, SS: 15)
    FSIQ: 149

    Other info:
    - He saw an occupational therapist for two years (ages 5-6) for help with sensory processing and ocular motor difficulties that impacted fine motor skills. (This was a wonderful, helpful experience.)
    - We really donít want to move from our general area due to work and proximity to family.
    - The psychologist who performed the assessment seemed very doubtful that we would be able to make public school work. ☹
    - There are financial considerations if we end up looking private school.

    I think we are at the point where we know need to make a change, and while I understand that broadly our options are making public school work, finding a better-fit private school, or trying homeschooling, Iím struggling to wrap my head around everything, and I could use some advice on the pros and cons of these or other optionsÖor even just the feasibility of making any of them work.

    Thank you!

    Top
    #246966 - 03/21/20 09:22 AM Re: Time to make a change, seeking general advice [Re: onemom13]
    Kai Offline
    Member

    Registered: 05/17/09
    Posts: 599
    If you want to make school (either public or private) work, you need to be very clear in your own mind about what it is you want your son to get out of it. And keep in mind that what parents want and what students ultimately decide they want can be two very different (and sometimes incompatibly different) things.

    If you're wanting an excellent academic fit, you may be able to get it through some sort of combination of acceleration, gifted services, and teachers who are able to offer appropriate differentiation though it's unlikely. But I am going to be honest--how well these things work can vary from year to year and even within the same year. They are heavily personality dependent--that is, good solutions for a particular student seem to come about when individuals are motivated to be flexible and creative and not because of programs or policies.

    If you decide to homeschool, you are in control of academics. This means that you can go as fast, as deep, and as difficult as you want. But I will warn you, with kids as bright as your son, homeschooling at their instructional level can be a wild ride and it will leave them extremely out of sync with age peers if they ever decide they want to go to school for social reasons. That said, I did this with my son in from age 5-10 and again from age 12-14 (see below) and would do it again in a heartbeat.

    If you're wanting a good social experience, you will need to consider where your son would fit into the school community best. Is it with intellectual peers? Is it with age peers? Somewhere in between? Unfortunately, even if you decide that intellectual peers would be best, there may be none, or very few, at your son's school, and accelerating an HG+ student into a classroom of average students may prove to be a mismatch. Regardless, if you decide to enroll him in school for the social piece, you will need to let the idea of perfect academics go or else you will go crazy. Ask me how I know.

    Our son, who is now 18, was homeschooled K-4, skipped 5th, did 6th at a tiny private school, skipped 7th, and did 8th at the same tiny private school. The skips did not provide increased intellectual challenge, though they did provide EF challenges. It's hard to say how the skips affected his social experience--he didn't really fit in at the school for reasons that I see now weren't related to his age.

    Anyway, he homeschooled for the next two years and then decided that he wanted to be "normal," so he enrolled at the local public high school in 9th grade with age peers. We were both very clear on the idea that he was doing this for purely social reasons, and anything good that came of it academically would be icing on the cake. Halfway through 10th, he had had enough, and so we withdrew him from the most "meaningless" of his classes to homeschool. We are lucky in this state to be able to use the public schools part time, and this is what we have been doing ever since. He gets his fix of hyperintellectual academics at home, and he gets to be with his friends every day too. At least he did up until last week when school was cancelled frown

    Top
    #246967 - 03/21/20 04:18 PM Re: Time to make a change, seeking general advice [Re: onemom13]
    aeh Offline
    Member

    Registered: 04/26/14
    Posts: 3606
    OP, your state does not have a (meaningful) gifted mandate, so I wouldn't expect too much from GT programming. OTOH, MA does have excellent access to resources outside of the schools themselves, of which more in a moment

    There are a number of well-known high-achieving prep schools, which might suit your DC at a later age, pending EF skills, but which would be even more likely to be helpful if he were a little lower LOG. To my knowledge, there are two more-or-lesss GT privates, which run about a grade level ahead--not enough to truly meet your DC's instructional needs for the long term, but maybe an option short term. If you can find a tiny private that fits your family's values, sometimes you can talk them into some flexibility (we did that for several years, with a pathway with some similarities to Kai's DC, prior to homeschooling #1--early entered to 1st, skipped 4th on a school change to a different tiny private, additionally SSA in math and English in 5th and 6th, exited to homeschooling after 7th).

    MA also generally allows homeschoolers to use the instructional and extracurricular resources of their LEAs (public schools), technically at the discretion of the district, but in practice usually everything up to just short of all core classes (this last to avoid parents enrolling their children as "homeschoolers" who attend school all day but are exempted from state mandated standardized testing). So your DC could attend just, say, gym, music, art, computers, as a homeschooler (as long as you can transport), and do all academics at home (we did this with DC#2 at the second tiny private).

    MA, like many other states, allows for dual enrollment at all public CCs and most public 4Y universities for public, private, and homeschooled students, with the permission of the school admin (or the homeschool approval letter of the LEA).

    To that point, MA also has surprisingly little regulation of homeschooling, requiring only a letter of intent to the superintendent or designee of your LEA. Some districts may request additional information about your educational plan and student's yearly progress.

    In addition, MA has two virtual charter schools, one of which uses K-12 paper curricula, and the other of which uses Connections Academy online curricula. Some limited flexibility in placement is allowed, and, of course, both are self-paced, so you could always race through the assigned curriculum at whatever pace suits your DC, and then spend the rest of the time exploring fun, interesting topics.

    Outside of school (of any description)-based programming, MA, of course, has many historical, cultural, and artistic opportunities, which you could use for deep and authentic multidisciplinary learning. Also, a rich pool of highly-skilled professionals in many domains, which you might be able to tap into at some point for a mentor.

    More info:
    http://mhla.org/


    Edited by aeh (03/21/20 08:27 PM)
    Edit Reason: clarity

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    #246968 - 03/21/20 07:07 PM Re: Time to make a change, seeking general advice [Re: onemom13]
    pinewood1 Offline
    Junior Member

    Registered: 01/25/19
    Posts: 31
    In my opinion, K-8 for HG+ kids is largely about surviving (and hopefully learning EF and social skills), and 9-12 is about credentialing. If you can provide that for him, while providing opportunities for life to be worthwhile in other ways, you're probably doing fine.

    Top
    #246969 - 03/21/20 08:07 PM Re: Time to make a change, seeking general advice [Re: onemom13]
    MumOfThree Offline
    Member

    Registered: 04/07/11
    Posts: 1610
    Loc: Australia
    onemom13 I am not in the USA so can offer you no practical advice about our area. I want to suggest that you read Miraca Gross's book Exceptional Children. Not just her articles, but the whole book. I was aware of this book 8-10yrs ago and told myself that it didn't really apply to our family and that is not where I needed to put my efforts. I really regret that now. There is so much i have read, so much that has been valuable. I really, really wish that I had read this much sooner. The two page summary I have written from the book, and our resulting semi-action plan will not necessarily be what someone else might take from their own reading given we all have different circumstances. But there are some profoundly important insights in her writing that I think I would have had trouble taking as deeply into my thinking if it were "just an article on the internet". And the level of certainty it gave me that we must stick to our guns on what evidence supports and not be swayed unless someone is able to provide compelling counter evidence.

    Top
    #246981 - 03/23/20 05:06 AM Re: Time to make a change, seeking general advice [Re: onemom13]
    onemom13 Offline
    Junior Member

    Registered: 09/26/17
    Posts: 11
    Thank you all for your thoughtful responses.

    Kai, what we want from school (a socially, emotionally and academically engaging experience for all children!) and what we can reasonably expect from school is the heart of what we've been struggling with for a while. Whatever step we take next, clearly defining our goals together as a family will be important. Thank you for sharing your experience and for your probing questions. I don't know the answers yet, so we have some thinking to do.

    aeh, I think you've summarized the situation in MA perfectly. There are wonderfully enriching opportunities outside of school, and if the school day weren't so long, I wouldn't want to raise a child anywhere else! We love living in an area where a curious family can never be bored. On the other hand, we live in a district that has actively eliminated its enrichment for gifted students, and in general believes that all students succeed in heterogeneously grouped classrooms, full stop. I don't, in theory, disagree with this, except that our experience has left our child disengaged and feeling negative about school - and he's only 7! It's really important that this does not become normal for him.

    Unfortunately our district explicitly does not allow part-time public school enrollment, so that will not be an option for us. But you've given us a lot of other options to think over.

    pinewood1, thank you for this perspective, and MumOfThree, thank you for the book recommendation.


    I think right now, we're going to take advantage of the current school closures to feel out which homeschooling resources might work for us (in the short term). If the schools open up again this year, we'll try to have a conversation with his school about what flexibility they can create to make school a more positive experience. If they remain rigid, then maybe he won't go back this year.

    I will also start doing research into small private schools that might have more flexibility than our public school.

    Looking back at some things our child has said to us over the past few years, we should have known this day was coming, but itís been hard to let go of the idea of walking to our neighborhood public school each day.

    *************
    "School takes away all of my great ideas." (In pre-K frown )

    Me: "My goal for you to is to be healthy, happy and kind, and a good member of your classroom community." Child, seriously: "To be happy, I need to do more science."

    "Itís difficult when no one shares your interests."

    "Let's talk about what we would do if we were president..." "take down the border wall," "stop using fossil fuels," "create more national parks," etc. and "give people who have been practicing math for years, harder math problems, and people who still need practice, easier math problems at school."
    *************

    Thank you again. I really appreciate all of your thoughts.


    Lastly, while we always suspected our child processed things differently than his peers (particularly around language, reading, and ability to focus), we didn't expect him to be quite so gifted. If there are any specific resources you would recommend to help us understand how to best support him, please send them our way! Thank you!

    Top
    #246983 - 03/23/20 10:14 AM Re: Time to make a change, seeking general advice [Re: onemom13]
    aeh Offline
    Member

    Registered: 04/26/14
    Posts: 3606
    onemom,

    I've worked in public schools nearly all my adult life, and, sadly, seen this happen more than once, especially in high-achieving districts. There can be an attitude that "all of our students are bright/gifted", therefore nothing special needs to be done (e.g., the NAEP data found that certain districts in MA outperform the national average by as much as three grade levels), or, conversely, that parents asking for more challenge for their children are just pushy parents pressuring hothoused students in over their heads. Districts in the latter case truly feel that they are protecting children from overly demanding parents.

    But more importantly, that you are thoughtfully asking and considering these questions says that you've got this. You will, as we all have (and will again), make decisions only to unmake them shortly thereafter, but you are sensitive and attentive to your child's needs and feelings, which is a protective factor like few others.

    You might also enjoy this article I found from a few years back:
    https://www.bostonmagazine.com/news/2015/08/25/homeschooling-in-boston/

    Some examples of community homeschool resources:
    https://www.mfa.org/programs/community-programs/home-school-programs
    https://www.historicnewengland.org/school-youth/for-homeschool-families/

    Some curriculum guides from BPS:
    https://www.bostonpublicschools.org/Page/7347

    Whether you homeschool, private, public or some combination, the frameworks can help reassure you that your DC is making progress in all of the standard subjects.


    Edited by aeh (03/24/20 09:18 AM)
    Edit Reason: omitted the end of my sentence!

    Top
    #246984 - 03/23/20 09:57 PM Re: Time to make a change, seeking general advice [Re: onemom13]
    MumOfThree Offline
    Member

    Registered: 04/07/11
    Posts: 1610
    Loc: Australia
    Originally Posted By: onemom13
    *************
    "School takes away all of my great ideas." (In pre-K frown )

    Me: "My goal for you to is to be healthy, happy and kind, and a good member of your classroom community." Child, seriously: "To be happy, I need to do more science."

    "Itís difficult when no one shares your interests."

    "Let's talk about what we would do if we were president..." "take down the border wall," "stop using fossil fuels," "create more national parks," etc. and "give people who have been practicing math for years, harder math problems, and people who still need practice, easier math problems at school."
    *************

    Thank you again. I really appreciate all of your thoughts.


    Lastly, while we always suspected our child processed things differently than his peers (particularly around language, reading, and ability to focus), we didn't expect him to be quite so gifted. If there are any specific resources you would recommend to help us understand how to best support him, please send them our way! Thank you!


    I don't want to harp, but actually I am going to. I deeply regret not reading Miraca Gross's book 8 years ago, or at least 5 years ago. We didn't think our child was *quite so gifted* either and a lot of damage has been done... Please have a read. Maybe the current crisis means you have some time on your hands? I must also add that it's an incredibly readable book.

    Top
    #247004 - 03/30/20 04:03 AM Re: Time to make a change, seeking general advice [Re: onemom13]
    onemom13 Offline
    Junior Member

    Registered: 09/26/17
    Posts: 11
    Thank you all again. It looks like we have some thinking and *reading* to do smile

    I hope you and your loved ones are all safe and healthy!

    Top


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