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    #9085 - 02/17/08 11:16 PM Just starting out...please help
    therah Offline
    Junior Member

    Registered: 02/17/08
    Posts: 16
    I know this will be long-winded, but I'll try to get to the point. This is my first time participating in a gifted discussion board. I've spent the past two hours reading postings and trying to learn from all of you. (by the way what is DYS?)
    I have a gifted daughter who just turned 4. She's seen a psych. in my area each year since age 2 after I noticed some very advanced behaviors. She's tested at gifted each time and will be tested again this spring. The psych. suggested at age 2 that I place her in a preschool with 3-year-olds.

    I quickly found out that it's against state law. Being a teacher myself, I decided to check out a Montessori school - I like the philosophy and she can learn at her own pace. This worked out great the first year. We moved last fall and, as luck would have it, there is a Montessori school nearby. I checked out the preschool room, talked to the teacher and assistant for an hour and decided to place her there. The teacher and I have something in common - we both have 2 children with the younger being gifted and the older more typically developing. I thought this was a great situation because we'd probably be considering early placement into Kindergarten this fall. Both teachers seemed open to this concept. My daughter had a good year.

    At her first teacher conference in the fall, her teachers said, "she chooses materials from all subject areas on her own, uses them correctly, catches on quickly, puts things away, plays alone, plays with others, follows directions, and we never have to discipline her." (I was a bit shocked at the last part!) I mentioned again that we were considering early K entrance. They responded by saying that she would be fine academically, but they thought it might be a long day for her. I said I understood what they meant but we're talking about 10 months from now - we should revisit the subject in the spring. Since then I've spoken to other teachers and administrators at the school who don't even know my child and they all seem to have the "children shouldn't be pushed" attitude.

    Please know I would never think of pushing my children! She is flying away on her own.
    Her spring conference was last week. The teachers expressed the same opinions - my daughter should spend another year in preschool. This time they said she is not ready academically for their particular program and used different forms of the word "push" several times in our conversation. At this point, I'm sick of people insinuating that I want to "push" my child into anything! I mentioned that my daughter told me she's not allowed to use certain materials in the classroom because they are only for the K students and she must have been mistaken. They said she was telling the truth and she would need to develop certain other skills first.

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but I was under the impression that Maria Montessori's philosophy was a constructivist approach. How can my daughter construct meaning on a higher level when she's being denied the opportunity to use the materials! I'm very disappointed and lost. I liked these teachers and thought they would be more supportive of my daughters needs. I'm sure that I could speak to the director and maybe get them to allow her to go into the K classroom next year, but I don't want her to be in an environment where she might not feel welcome. I left the meeting and cried and then became very angry. I began to question myself and my own opinion. I really want to do what I think is best for my daughter, she only gets one shot at growing up. I tried to look it from another perspective, but picturing her entering K in 1 and 1/2 years seems absurd to me! She is so ready now.

    I'm left with limited options: I can try to get her into the public school where my other daughter attends, but she misses the deadline for early entrance by 5 days - I'd have to convince the principal; I can check out the local Catholic school's policy on early entrance (I've toured the school and it's pretty good); or I can send her back to the Montessori school to preschool again or cause a stink and try to get her into the K program there against the teachers' wills. I'm so disappointed because the Montessori program was a perfect fit for her personality, she needs order and the freedom to explore. Sorry this is so long - please let me know from your experiences what has and has not worked. I don't know what to do next.

    #9088 - 02/18/08 03:04 AM Re: Just starting out...please help [Re: therah]
    Grinity Offline

    Registered: 12/13/05
    Posts: 7207
    Loc: Connecticut
    Good Morning Thera!

    First the easy one. DYS is an abbreviation for the Davidson Young Scholar's Program. Look to the Left of this area, and you will see some links. You can get to the info on DYS starting from the link on the left side of this page that says "Davidson Database."

    Second, gifted children have a 'different normal development track, not mearly a 'speeded up normal track.' This can run a kid into problems with Montessori school teachers who have a very clear and linear picture of 'how children develop,' as they tend to believe that certian skills and behaviors MUST preced others. Be glad that youve been able to get this far without running into this common difficulty. It is not you or your child's fault.

    Do you have any idea what LOG (level of gifted) your child is? LOG is a sort of new idea that although the group of gifted children is quite varied, that there are SOME meaningful distinctions between the majority of gifted kids, who score around the 98% and the more rare gifted kids, who just plain score above what the tests can measure.

    Free Advice: Is your older daughter tested also? If not, I highly reccomend it - there are quite a lot of under the radar gifted kids in this world - many of them are girls.

    Question: Will the montessori school allow your DD to attend K next year, but leave earlier all or some days/week? If your little girl is on the high side of LOG, don't worry about the year after that, just worry about the immediate future, mostly.

    Yes - it is so unfair that we parents get blamed with pushing. See if you can arrange the Director to take her home for an overnight - HA! You deserve to be supported in trying to met your child's special educational needs, not blamed. You may have to stand up for yourself and say so, and let them know that you don't expect this kind of treatment. In a nice, but confident way, of course. If you have a husband or brother that can come in and be your mouthpiece - bring them in to say it for you.

    BTW - be sure to look at the materials that the school doesn't feel she is using properly, and have the teachers show you what they are looking for and how they know when a child is ready. Like wise, spend a day with the Kindy students and see what they do, as well as some direct classroom observation in the public school K.

    I'm so glad you didn't rush. It's really hard to do this alone, and now you don't need to. YOu have us! These difficult situation require you to be long winded and give lots of details so we can give meaningful advice, yes?

    Love and More Love,

    #9100 - 02/18/08 07:07 AM Re: Just starting out...please help [Re: Grinity]
    Kriston Offline

    Registered: 09/19/07
    Posts: 6145
    Loc: Midwest
    We had a similar sort of problem with a Montessori school our PG son attended. You are not alone there. The problem isn't you or your daughter! <reassuring pat on the back>

    It's quite common for GT kids to be in a room with perfectly acceptable, advanced opportunities, but not to be allowed access to them. I call it the "bait and switch" of Montessori, and it happened to us. Some schools are great about seeing a child for where they are and letting them progress from there, others...not so much. In my experience (as well as from what others have said), we pretty much all agree that the teacher matters much more then the school philosophy, and Montessori in general seems to be no better than any other preschool style. Some are great, some are lousy. It all comes down to the teacher.

    The "pushing" comment is so frustrating! We ALL hear you! frown A common comment from adminstrators is "When do they get to be kids?" Well, they are getting to be kids--just the kind of kids they are! People who don't know these highly GT children just don't understand that this is who they are, and we're not pushy stage moms. We're not pushing them, we're just trying to keep up!

    I would keep pursuing K if I were you, given what you've said about your DD. If you need to change schools to get the skip, then I think you should. I'm not sure how academic K is in your area--here, it isn't academic at all. But a pre-K grade skip is one of the easiest for a kid to slip into, and it is one of the easiest to reverse if it doesn't suit the child for some reason. It may not really matter very much now, but the skip now could help her down the road, even if K still isn't much of a challenge for her. If you get her in, just be prepared to enrich her intellectual life at home. If she's HG+, she probably still won't get enough intellectual stimulation at school.

    But if early-entrance to K doesn't pan out, you might consider a non-academic half-day preschool for a year. Then enrich your child's time at home so that she's getting what she needs academically from you instead of at school. Preschool can be a time for her to get some social needs met and to play. That's what we did with our son, and it worked quite well for us.

    This isn't ideal, but it's much less painful for a child to go this route than to sit through learning letters AGAIN at a highly academic classroom when she's reading books. I think most highly academic preschools are just boring as all get out to these HG+ kids, unless the teacher really sees what she's dealing with and is willing to differentiate the academic work. It happens--and that teacher is worth her weight in gold if you find her--but it's not easy to find.

    If there's anything we can do, let us know. We've all been there! We're happy to help! smile

    #9105 - 02/18/08 07:30 AM Re: Just starting out...please help [Re: Kriston]
    LMom Offline

    Registered: 12/14/07
    Posts: 902
    Welcome. I feel for you, I have 2 gifted kids (3 and 5) in Montessori right now and I know where you are coming from.

    First of all the pushy comment. I got it a lot at the beginning even though they themselves told me he was gifted within a few days. It went as far as "He is learning only to please you." Yeah right. I mentioned that if I could get every child as far as DS5 is then perhaps I could open my own school and be quite popular wink The truth is I can't, it's not me, it's him. I think that did the trick. The test scores definitely ended this attitude.

    I posted about our Montessori experience in this post (scroll down a little bit)
    *** Link no longer working ***

    Montessori can be awful linear. It's an A, then B, then C, .... They do teach every single child individually, but they are way too rigid. Like I said it's not a problem for my older one, but it's a problem for my younger one.

    I must say though that Montessori worked much better than public K would for DS5. He is doing long division and calculating area there. LA is a different story, I seriously doubt they know what reading level my kids are.

    I don't know what the best thing to do would be in your case. I would probably spell it out and say that you will keep your daughter there only if they advance her to K. I would also contact the psychologist and had her/him write a letter that it's in DD's best interest to start K now. Do you also do achievement testing? That could make a big difference. The school (both Montessori and public) may understand it better than IQ scores.

    Could you do half day K? That's what DS5 does now. He doesn't want to go f/t and it's one of the reasons why we will most likely homeschool him next year.

    #9107 - 02/18/08 07:33 AM Re: Just starting out...please help [Re: LMom]
    Kriston Offline

    Registered: 09/19/07
    Posts: 6145
    Loc: Midwest
    Half-day anything is better than full-day, I think. Even half-day preschool is probably better than full-day K, unless the K teacher really gets how GT your DD is. I agree, LMom.

    Edited by Kriston (02/18/08 07:42 AM)
    Edit Reason: Though if you're teaching, half-day might not work for you...I just thought of that. Sorry!

    #9114 - 02/18/08 08:26 AM Re: Just starting out...please help [Re: Kriston]
    Grinity Offline

    Registered: 12/13/05
    Posts: 7207
    Loc: Connecticut
    BTW - I wanted to say before - Do not sign on the dotted line and commit before the school agrees to let her do K next year, full or part time. Consentrate on the 'recieving' teacher, and what he or she is like in the classroom. That will be the key, even if everyone else at the school thinks you are a kook. Amazing how quickly folks are willing to take credit for good moves, no matter how they tried to block them at the time!

    There is a nice book, the Iowa Acceleration Scale Manual, which explains the various test and ideas, for around 30$.
    What have you been reading about gifted?

    Best Wishes,
    Coaching available, at

    #9121 - 02/18/08 09:30 AM Re: Just starting out...please help [Re: Grinity]
    crisc Offline

    Registered: 12/12/07
    Posts: 485
    Loc: New England

    I can echo some of the same statements as everyone else. My son (who just turned 5) has been attending a Montessori program since October. After having him tested last fall we moved him from a play based preschool to this program hoping for the best. I think that it has helped on his emotional outbursts and silly timeouts that he was having at the preschool for talking too much. I also think it that the program has presented my son with many challenges. Mostly in the LA since my son has only began reading in the past year. In math, my son is very bored with the manipulatives and whenever they try to do an activity such as large number multiplication with the bank manipulatives my son gets frustrated because "The teacher make it so confusing by making me use the bank". He is much better at mental math and abstract math--the teachers insist that he must use the manipulatives to "fill in the gaps".

    We found that our school is not very flexible with the K (extended day program). They must be 5 by September 30th to be included. My son is in the in the Pre-K 4's group but doing work above the K group. The school wants him to attend K there next year but I am currently working with our public school on a skip to 1st which his current teachers do not support. The reasoning---"He will be bored no matter what year he starts 1st, he'd even be bored in math if he started in 3rd grade, why rush him?" I think the $10,000+ could be better spent on enrichment if he were to enter 1st in September.

    As far as challenging work--my son has had to beg the teachers to do various work that is not available to the Pre-K kids. He is now doing the leveled readers. They also try and have his research a little deeper into the themes. For example this month is reptiles and amphibians--my son has access to animal cards with facts on them and he has a research project to identify various plastic reptiles using the cards. I like that they are trying but I am not sure I can expect this kind of work for the next 1.5 years.

    Sorry that got so long--hopefully some of my experience will help you.

    Edited by crisc (02/18/08 09:30 AM)
    Edit Reason: grammer

    #9129 - 02/18/08 11:21 AM Re: Just starting out...please help [Re: therah]
    kickball Offline

    Registered: 02/17/08
    Posts: 258

    Personally, I think sadly, the best advice I can give you as you start out... watch who you talk to. You are concerned and will want to talk about it to friends and neighbors. It can be a conversation stopped. In hindsight, I wish I hadn't talked to anyone not personally tied to GT and just claimed my kid was going to a religious school instead of a gifted one.... wow, Allie McBeal would say "bygones". Good luck. Love to know how the district address the few day miss of the early entrance... we are 19 days from the cut-off (for early entrance consideration). but we are going to make a play because I really want half-day if we go so early.

    #9136 - 02/18/08 02:16 PM Re: Just starting out...please help [Re: kickball]
    Giftdgrlsmom Offline
    New Member

    Registered: 02/18/08
    Posts: 1
    Just wanted to chime in with our Montessori experience as well, and as others have said, it depends quite a bit on how the guide and director interpret the Montessori philosophy. Ours was an AMI certified school, supposedly the "best" in terms of certification. Her primary years went well, and she was allowed to skip K and go to Lower El. Then, they changed guides and directors. Her newly-minted Montessori guide was reluctant to let her go to Upper El after three years (the three-year cycle), believing she should stay with her age-mates. Also, she was not allowed to do any projects or outings with the third-year students, nor use the upper level materials (although she asked).

    In short, she began to get bored, frustrated, and restless. We realized we needed to make alternate plans for her anyway, since her Montessori only went up to 6th grade, and her testing showed reading and comprehension skills in the 8th - 12th grade level by that time. So, we transferred her to another private school that allowed her to advance to 4th grade (what would have been Upper El.), and she had no problems academically. Now, some of the subtle bullying that went on is another story. She's now at a gifted school, and is doing well.

    I guess the point of this long reply is to trust your instincts with your child. We have heard such wonderful stories from other parents whose gifted children thrived in a Montessori environment, and so we didn't take her frustration as seriously as we should have, I think.


    #9159 - 02/18/08 11:30 PM Re: Just starting out...please help [Re: Giftdgrlsmom]
    therah Offline
    Junior Member

    Registered: 02/17/08
    Posts: 16
    WOW! Thank you all so much for the responses! I don't feel so alone anymore. You gave me so much info. I don't know where to start.

    Grinity - I'm not sure of LOG. I would have to dig up testing records. IQ score was around 138 last year and the psychologist (Dr.Sylvia Rimm) said we'll probably get a more accurate score as she gets older as she had just turned 3 at the time. I just know that she started speaking in complete sentences (articles and all) at 14 months old, uses extremely sophisticated vocab., has an incredible memory and expresses complex and unusual thoughts. I remember Christmas when she was 23 months old. Her older cousin, 9 at the time, received a large set of "Magnetix" as a gift. She sat on the floor and played with them for over an hour without so much as looking up. She was in her own world. Words cannot describe that type of intensity at such a young age.

    As for having my other daughter tested; that was one of the first things Dr. Rimm said. Her IQ is just slightly above avg. Personally, I think she's gifted artistically. She's extremely creative and moody (almost a tortured soul) at age 5. She loves to sculpt, paint, dance, sing and create all of the time - so much so that she's behind academically and has to see a reading specialist in her K class 5 days a week. She wants desperately to read, but lacks the attention it takes to learn. She's a very deep thinker and a wonderful little ball of creativity. (I call her my little McGiver - give her a paper clip and some string and she'll make anything you need out of it!) Her talents hold little to no value at school and probably in our society in general. She doesn't see herself as I do, however and is already telling me she was "born wrong", she's dumb, etc. no matter how much her dad and I cherish and adore everything about her. Having a little sister who corrects her speech and is surpassing her academically doesn't help matters. I'll be taking her to see Dr. Rimm again and addressing all of the above as well.

    Anyway, back to my little one. The K programs at Montessori, public and Catholic schools are all full day. As far as concentrating on the receiving teacher, they are the K teachers. They do 3 year groupings at Montessori. The first half of the day is pre-K3's, pre-K4's and K's. Afternoons are just the K students. She'll be in the same room with the same teachers whether she does pre-K4 or K, but they won't allow her to participate in the K materials. My husband would not make a good mouthpiece - he's a smart guy, but leaves most of the education decisions to me. Although he's been commenting for months to me about how he doesn't think she's being challenged enough. When he speaks to professionals he either comes off as a pushover or angry, there is no in between.

    One of the materials they did mention was the large number chains. They deal with place value in larger #s. They told me she would only count to 9 when asked, then she went to 40s & 50s. I said she counts much higher than that (she was counting to 16 two years ago.) and she probably didn't feel like counting at the time. They said she told them she didn't want to count anymore and that's one of the reasons she's not ready - she doesn't like to be pushed (I hate that word!) They said she may develop a negative attitude towards learning if we try to push her. By the way, she uses shells, pennies, etc. to make her own large number chains at home that sprawl across 2 rooms. Your suggestion to ask them what they are looking for and how to know when she's ready is a good idea. If I decide to try to "push" them into letting her start K I'll ask that. As for observing during the school day, it's tough b/c I'm teaching during that time. My 5 year old is in the pub. K class and I'm very happy with her teacher and pretty satisfied with the school. It only goes K-2. I've heard great things about the K teacher at the Catholic school, she's somewhat of a legend around here. There were a lot of toys in her classroom, however, which concerns me.

    I've only read things I've found online about gifted children, and Dr. Rimm's book. To be honest this is the best site I've seen so far. I may have an opportunity next year to work in a "twice exceptional" program that is being started in the district I work for. I teach special ed., and each classroom will be staffed with a gifted and a sp. ed. teacher. If I get into the program, I hope to learn from the gifted teachers and maybe become licensed in gifted.

    Kriston - I totally agree, the teacher can make all the difference no matter what the program! The public K program here is pretty academics focused. The principal is well-informed and sharp.
    You're right, I should be doing more to enrich her education at home. I do have tough time constraints and I also have the dilemma of making my older daughter feel worse about her abilities if she sees how far her sister is learning. My husband works nights so I'm with them alone every night. I don't think she'd be bored in K. She's not as advanced as yours. She doesn't know all letter sounds yet, but she's learning them very quickly. I think she'll be reading by the end of the year. She had many books memorized at age 18-24 months (long, non-rhyming books with dialog). She would recite them word for word while I was driving.

    Lmom - I will be making an apt. tomorrow to get Dr.Rimm's opinion about early entrance and will have her write a letter. That's a great idea. I know they did the WPPSI, the other test had scores for "verbal" and "performance" (math). The score ratings ended with 16 and above being "highly superior" - she scored 17 in both areas. They did not test for the coding section because of her age. As for part versus full time - she wants to attend full time already. My husband is at home during the day, but he is so tired from working nights that I suspect she sits in front of the TV until I'm home and he leaves.

    crisc - WOW! Your son sounds incredibly smart! I just want to say as a teacher that, even though it may not be right, you may want to try to encourage him to do the math the way the teacher wants it AND his own way. It may make his life a little easier as he gets older. I get that he understands the concepts, but he may run into teachers who penalize for not "showing work", etc. I'm not saying I agree with it, it's just reality.

    kickball - Thanks for reminding me to breathe - very helpful! You also made me think of another option. I toured a nearby charter school that is for gifted kids a few months ago. I wasn't in love with it, but maybe I should go look at it again. I just thought the building was too old and rundown, it was in a bad neighborhood and I wasn't overly impressed with the K teacher. I think I need to go observe during the school day. The public school only offers acceleration - no pullouts. They can move ahead in materials as quickly as they'd like, but it's the same curriculum as the rest of the school. They do have some special projects and field trips once they get into about the 3rd grade. Thanks for the tip on "Genius Denied" I'd been thinking about ordering that one. I'll keep you posted on the "late, early entrance" thing with the pub. school.

    Celia - you mentioned your daughter's in a gifted school... how does it differ from Montessori and public schools?

    Again, thanks for all your advice, I feel like I have some direction. I need to take a day off work and observe some K classes for starters. I'll keep you all posted.

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