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    #8711 - 02/12/08 09:05 AM Re: I need help in choosing a preschool [Re: Kriston]
    st pauli girl Offline
    Member

    Registered: 01/29/08
    Posts: 1917
    Originally Posted By: Kriston

    Also, I'd argue that being one of the older kids in a mixed-age classroom is about the worst case scenario for an HG+ kid. So if you go this route, just know that your child may not be able to stay in that school the full 2 or 3 years of the program. A same-age program is better than being an HG+ 5yo in room full of ND 3yos!


    Kriston - Your comment made me wonder about whether a new Montessori program that will be starting in my small town in the fall (which I thought might solve all our problems) may not be right for DS4. We have suspected that our son is gifted since we read a newspaper article quoting dr. ruf's early signs of giftednes. We read her book Losing Our Minds, and since we're in her area, we are having DS4 tested with her next month. But before we get her recommendations, we were scouting around to see what was available. The new Montessori program will start with mostly 3 year olds this fall, with a few 4 year olds. Those kids will stay in the program through kindergarten, and new kids will start as 3 year olds in the following year(s). I thought that a Montessori would be great, because then DS4 could work at his own pace. Would it be a negative if most of the other kids were 3 year olds?

    We have DS4 in a wonderful preschool with agemates right now, but it's only 2 days/week for 3 hours. The teacher told us in the fall at conferences that someday we'd have to think about acceleration for DS4, so she's totally aware of the whole gifted kid deal. she has a 3 day preschool class (2 hours again) next year, which we were going to send DS4 to, but then i heard about the new montessori. So, we don't know what to do. We'll learn more from Dr. Ruf, but we have to sign up for a preschool before we meet with her.

    Incidentally, DS4 has been able to read early chapter books (like Frog and Toad) since about 3 1/2 (when he wants to - he prefers to be read to), and if you look at Ruf's estimates, we could answer yes to most of the level 3 and level 4 signs.

    [quick question re: abbreviations - i'm working on the assumption that DS4 means darling son - age 4 (rather than 4th child). Someone please correct me if i'm wrong! This is my first post anywhere.]

    thanks!

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    #8717 - 02/12/08 09:38 AM Re: I need help in choosing a preschool [Re: Dottie]
    incogneato Offline
    Member

    Registered: 10/25/07
    Posts: 2231
    Loc: up in my head.......
    My 2cents, a teacher that understands about gifted children and "gets" your child can go a really long way. I like to think, if it's not broke don't fix it. Personally, I probably wouldn't move my child to an unknown situation if his needs were being met at school. It sounds like he has a good teacher, but are his needs being met?

    Incog

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    #8720 - 02/12/08 09:57 AM Re: I need help in choosing a preschool [Re: Dottie]
    Kriston Offline
    Member

    Registered: 09/19/07
    Posts: 6145
    Loc: Midwest
    Hi! I'm sorry my comment threw you for a loop, but I guess it's better to worry now than second-guess your choice after it's already made, right?

    This is probably not going to be surprising advice, but I think that you have to talk to the teachers to figure out what to do. Having a teacher who truly sees your child and what he is able to do is of vital importance and is about 75% of the battle for appropriate education, in my limited experience. If the teachers in the new Montessori school "get" your son and really will allow him to work at his own (fast) pace, then it will probably be great. If not, then you're probably better off with your DS in the 3-day preschool with the teacher who understands him.

    Just be SURE that the Montessori program will REALLY allow him to move at his own pace! Some Montessori schools are great about this, while others pull the bait-and-switch, promising you the moon, but then not letting the child skip the "easy" stuff. If they require lockstep completion of one task (sometimes twice!) before they allow progression to the next, it will be a long year for your DS! (It was for mine!)

    So as far as the work level, I think the lockstep-ness of the school will matter more than what age the other kids are, since Montessori programs generally involve mostly independent work than traditional preschools anyway. *However*, since it can be tougher for a HG+ kid to make friends among younger ND (Normal Development) kids, that would be my one concern about the age issue. How is your DS doing with friendships among age-mates this year? Do you know if there are any other GT kids who will be in either preschool, or can you expect him to be the only GT kid? Will he be a young 4 or an old 4? Does he have interests that are like those of other kids his age, or are his interests really unusual for his age?

    For example, my son has always liked things with wheels, and that allowed him to "blend" pretty well with ND kids. Sure, he knew the correct name of every piece of construction equipment when other kids called everything a "digger," and he knew all the sponsors of every NASCAR when other kids didn't know what the number on the side of the car was yet, but that didn't matter so much as it would have if he had been obsessed with, say, the stock market. The wheels helped him to fit in. Dinosaurs and superheros would function much the same way.

    Does your son have interests that will help him to fit in? If not, then is he the sort of kid who will lead other kids to take an interest in his area of interest, even if it's unusual. Leadership qualities can also make it easier for an HG+ kid to be in an ND classroom, even with younger kids.

    It's clear to me that good *early* communication with the school is going to be your key, I think. (You have that with the teacher you have now, it sounds like, and you'll need to build it--fast!--with the new school if you choose to go that route.) They need to know what kind of kid they're getting and you need to get more than lip service that they're going to give your son what he needs.

    My one regret about our DS6's Montessori experience was that I didn't push harder to get the teachers to see him as he is. We lost basically half the year when he was 4, as they gave him only work that he could have done when he was 12-18 mos. old. Ugh. They finally caught up when DH joined forces with me to request work that were at DS's level. But it was silly that it took them so long to figure it out. I was too worried about being "that mom," but it was one case where I should have been.

    I feel like I'm babbling...Does any of this help you?
    _________________________
    Kriston
    Mom to DS13 and DS10

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    #8724 - 02/12/08 10:19 AM Re: I need help in choosing a preschool [Re: Kriston]
    st pauli girl Offline
    Member

    Registered: 01/29/08
    Posts: 1917
    thanks everyone for advice on the abbreviations. smile (I figured ND wasn't really North Dakota, and had something to do with normal, but I wasn't sure about the D.) smile

    Incogneato - I really love DS4's preschool teacher, but I like the idea of sending him away for longer periods of time! I know that is bad, but it gets sort of draining with just him and me all day. I think he is getting his needs met, but mostly at home.

    Kriston - thanks for all the advice. Since DS4 is our one and only, and he just turned 4 a few weeks ago, we're new to the whole school thing. I knew a little bit about montessori, but it helps to have someone who really knows explain about it in the context of a gifted child. I'll have to check into who to talk with at the montessori - it really just got approved last week, so there's not a whole lot of info yet.

    As for whether DS4 likes things the other kids do, I suppose somewhat. He likes building things with gears and magnablocks that they have at his preschool. At home he's into computer games we discovered at smart-kit.com, or electricity or chemistry experiments. He likes doing crafting things too. But he really doesn't like doing stuff that he already knows how to do and is bored with. Like he told me the other day when i checked the weather on a local tv station, and was going to turn it to a kids station when they started talking about differences as to how men and women think, "Don't change it mom. I just like learning stuff!"

    Thanks everyone for the quick replies. how cool this whole cyberworld is!

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    #8726 - 02/12/08 10:47 AM Re: I need help in choosing a preschool [Re: st pauli girl]
    Kriston Offline
    Member

    Registered: 09/19/07
    Posts: 6145
    Loc: Midwest
    Happy to help! smile

    Some good parenting advice comes from airplanes: "put the oxygen mask on yourself before you help a companion."

    That goes double for parenting an HG+ child!

    There's no shame in saying "I need a break." You have to take care of yourself if you want to have enough left to help your child.

    If it's more about your needing the time away and less about the social aspect for your child, then have you considered getting a babysitter/mother's helper? A good one is worth her weight in gold and can give you a much-needed break, even as she helps your DS pursue his interests. It can be a better arrangement for both you and your DS--especially in addition to a good-but-too-short preschool--than a long-but-not-right preschool would be. Find an older high school girl or a college student who can drive and she can even take your DS to museums or the park.

    Just a thought...
    _________________________
    Kriston
    Mom to DS13 and DS10

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    #8728 - 02/12/08 11:02 AM Re: I need help in choosing a preschool [Re: Kriston]
    incogneato Offline
    Member

    Registered: 10/25/07
    Posts: 2231
    Loc: up in my head.......
    "I think he is getting his needs met, but mostly at home."

    Aha, after you really think about it, sounds like his needs are not being met at school. To a gifted child, those intellectual needs are just as important as those social needs.

    You are talking to us, not the teacher, so don't worry about protecting teacher's feelings.

    Time to get real as old Dr. Phil likes to say smile

    Sounds like you are on to a good plan. Testing, investigating options for school. It can be a daunting and fun process!
    Good luck and this forum is a great sounding board. Hope it helps you.

    Incog

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    #8731 - 02/12/08 11:17 AM Re: I need help in choosing a preschool [Re: incogneato]
    Wren Offline
    Member

    Registered: 01/14/08
    Posts: 1600
    My suggestion, is the school an accredited Montessori? Many use the name and say Montessori method, but are not accredited.

    DD3 is in the bottom 15% of age in her 3-5 year old class. Next year she will be at about 70%. So there will still be half a dozen kids older. Some not much older, but a a few will be a year older as some spend kindergarten there. It is not that she doesn't like to be the older "leader" but the novelty of hanging with younger children wears off quickly. And also, she likes to "work" (their name for their projects) with a peer who thinks like she does. Her best friend, a little girl about the same size, DD3 is a little small, and same energy, is generally not a child she "works" with at school. They will play in the gym together during gross motor period.

    Check out if they are as serious about using these terms. Then they will probably have the right Montessori materials that your son can push his math skills and puzzle skills.

    If they are just starting out, you probably can't meet the teachers. If you come in with a skill book of what your son can do, they should be able to accomodate. If they are real Montessori.

    Ren

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    #8732 - 02/12/08 11:32 AM Re: I need help in choosing a preschool [Re: incogneato]
    kcab Offline
    Member

    Registered: 10/02/07
    Posts: 1603
    Loc: Sparta, apparently
    My kids had almost *exactly* the setup you describe, st. pauli, and it worked well for us. Actually - preschool and K (continued at preschool) have been much better than later school experiences for my DD10. (DS5 is in K now.)

    In my case, I chose the schools because I loved them and loved the teachers. In order to work part-time, I also had a babysitter. The schools have been non-academic, though there are certain skills covered in K especially, but that's meant that they were flexible enough for my kids. Also, the school my daughter was in had a great, optional, afternoon program. Sometimes we signed her up for two or three afternoons a week, when the topics were of interest.

    Anyway, I'd base my decision on the teacher(s).
    _________________________
    kcab

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    #8733 - 02/12/08 11:40 AM Re: I need help in choosing a preschool [Re: kcab]
    Kriston Offline
    Member

    Registered: 09/19/07
    Posts: 6145
    Loc: Midwest
    Even an accredited Montessori can require that a child complete each task in lockstep with the program before allowing them to move on to the next task. Ours was accredited and did require it, at least until we really pushed hard midway through the school year to skip the stuff that our DS had already mastered. It was not a pleasant situation.

    It doesn't matter if the advanced materials are in the room if the child doesn't get to use them!

    I'm with kcab and Incogneato that the teachers are what really matter. If they get it, it's smooth sailing, regardless of the program. If not, it will be an uphill slog.
    _________________________
    Kriston
    Mom to DS13 and DS10

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    #8750 - 02/12/08 08:50 PM Re: I need help in choosing a preschool [Re: Kriston]
    st pauli girl Offline
    Member

    Registered: 01/29/08
    Posts: 1917
    Wow - thanks so much everyone. These are all great suggestions and comments. Lots to think about.

    Incogneato - I guess I didn't think that all DD4's needs would be met at his preschool, considering that it's just 3 hours/twice a week. But I guess I never would have expected to have to worry about his intellectual needs this early either! That's probably why i'm kind of freaking out about what "real" school is going to be like for DD4. Especially since he has a January birthday, which means if he starts school when he's supposed to (K at age 5), he'll be one of the older kids. I really want a school to be a place of learning, and I can't imagine it being so if he continues progressing the way he has been. The few comments i've had from teachers in the district are along the lines of "don't worry, my kids were early readers too, and they were fine." But i'm starting to rant now...

    Wren - I'm pretty sure the school will be an accredited Montessori. They are getting a teacher from a Montessori training school for the first year while some of the school district's teachers will be training there for the next years. But now that I read the comments from everyone, i'll have to make sure the program will be flexible.

    I'm feeling more comfortable with our current preschool teacher. It sounds like it's not that easy to find someone who "gets" your gifted kid. The idea of getting a babysitter sounds good too. We've been lucky to have grandma available, but she is less so now (which is why i need the breaks!) smile

    You've all given me plenty to think about in the beginning of the search for appropriate education. Thank you.

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