Going in circles

Posted by: RobotMom

Going in circles - 04/03/11 07:42 PM

We feel like we're spinning our wheels in terms of DD8 and her education. Because of job changes, we have moved a lot during her life, so she is now in her 3rd school in 3 yrs. Each time we were hopeful that we would be able to find someplace that would be able to keep up with her, or at least work with us to try. This year (gr 3) we got her into a gifted and talented magnet program. We were pretty excited at first, and as I mentioned in another post, that quickly turned to frustration with her teacher not seeing her as a kid who could do more than was being asked of her. (Think of the completely compliant and perfectionist child - does exactly what is asked of her perfectly, therefore "must be working hard to do so well, while not being overwhelmed" - their quote crazy ) The reality is that DD is bored to tears some days, and her teacher just doesn't get it.

So, DH and I have been trying to figure out what to do. DD is socially happy at school and got very anxious and nervous at the thought of yet another school change for next year. She would like to skip another grade and go directly into 5th grade next year so that "maybe I can actually learn some new stuff at school" (her words). The problem we see with that is that while there could be more things in gr 5 that she doesn't know already, the pace at which she would pick it up is still going to be so fast that there is still a real possibility that she will be bored there too.

I know that homeschooling will be a suggestion by many of you as a possible way out. We have been discussing it, and may go that way, but need to figure out some logistics to include DD3 in the mix as well. (Not to mention convince DH that he would do a wonderful job at it and have fun doing it too. wink )

I just feel like we have spent the last 3 years going in circles trying to get an appropriate placement for DD and am feeling pretty depressed about our inability to be successful. Not to mention the fact that the idea of starting this battle all over again when DD3 gets into school is another dark cloud looming in the future.

All we want is for her to have a reasonable amount of growth in an academic year. The problem is that the amount of growth that the school is looking for is based on a regular 3rd grader, not on an HG+ one who could really learn 2-3 school years' worth of knowledge in one if given the opportunity.

I know we are not the only ones with this problem, and will unfortunately not be the last, so please, any magic bullets, or helpful phrases we can use when we approach the school again about needs not being met would be great. (Or any really yummy brownie recipes to help with the blues could be helpful too wink
Posted by: Grinity

Re: Going in circles - 04/04/11 02:01 AM

Originally Posted By: Kerry
She would like to skip another grade and go directly into 5th grade next year so that "maybe I can actually learn some new stuff at school" (her words). The problem we see with that is that while there could be more things in gr 5 that she doesn't know already, the pace at which she would pick it up is still going to be so fast that there is still a real possibility that she will be bored there too.

Cut it out Kerry honey!
Step away from the 'Perfectionist Edge.' If you feel like you are going in circles, then you know that your 'strong brain' has shut off and you are in 'fight or flight mode.' It happens to everyone, and we who don't have safe local peers are the most vulnerable.

You won't know if it will work until you cross that bridge. A full skip will help 'for a while' no matter what, and if there is luck, you DD may find a friend or two in 5th grade who is able to work at her level, and a teacher who 'gets' her.

The closer the child is to the 95% mark in the classroom, the easier it is for the teacher to differentiate, and the more likely it is to find social/academic friends.

If not then she may need subject acceleration - which are hard if you have to go to the next building for middle school, but even then, can be accomplished the following year. This is a marathon, and every step in the right direction brings relief. At "HG+" we say: If she can even get 6 months of learning/fitting in in a school setting you get to be delighted!

There are disadvantages in sending the message that your DD is 'so vulnerable' that she has to have her fit 'just EXACTLY right.' Getting improvement is what you want to aim for. Some kids are that vulnerable, and so carry on, but if your child isn't, it's best not to nudge her in that direction.

Just Make sure:
1) That 5th grade at the new school is more advanced than this year at the Magnet.
2) That you have sat and observed the new classroom and new teacher before you commit
3) That you keep encouraging DH to afterschool - you can call it 'getting to know her as a learner' and making video to document and demonstrate to the schools the 'DD difference' - a picture paints 1000 words.
4) keeping strong emotional bonds so that you and DH are places where DD can go to recharge.

Kids can usually be accommodated with a combination of full and subject acceleration, especially if they are fairly hardy souls, without 2E issues, if you can find a school that is willing to be flexible.

Good luck with the job search!
Posted by: RobotMom

Re: Going in circles - 04/04/11 03:45 AM

Can you tell who she gets her perfectionist tendencies from blush?

I guess I was a bit unclear about the moving thing. we're not moving again this year (thank goodness), we had just thought about having DD change schools.

You're right, we need to sit in on a couple of classes and talk to the teachers and see what they are like. Since DD has already had a grade skip and was very happy with it, I don't think this would be an issue from the social standpoint.

Thanks for talking me off the edge. It is hard when we haven't found a local support system. We are in a university town and I know there are others out there in a similar situation to us, we just need to find them. Hopefully now that we are coming up on our 2nd year here, we'll have more time to find a network here.
Posted by: Grinity

Re: Going in circles - 04/04/11 04:30 AM

So glad to hear that you aren't moving again! It does take time and energy - I'll bet this year will be the year that you have the basics settled enough to put some energy in to Advocacy.

Grinity's first rule: You gotta keep the lights on!

So give yourself credit for 'First things First' and then take the next step.

get into those classrooms and observe! Let someone know if you DD is 'in tears' on a regular basis.
Ask for accommodations for this year (at the very least you'll get movement in place for next year)

What year does the building change at your DD's current school?
Posted by: RobotMom

Re: Going in circles - 04/04/11 04:59 PM

The building change happens in grade 6, that is also the year that the gifted magnet program ends. Since her program is a magnet school, it is actually 15 - 20 miles out of the city in a nearby town, so any need to change schools during the day would not work - it takes about 1/2 an hour to get back into the city because of traffic.
There is 1 gifted middle school program, which I have heard mixed reviews about, but I'll look into that next year.
Posted by: Grinity

Re: Going in circles - 04/04/11 06:32 PM

Well Good luck - hopefully doing 5th next year will meet her needs for a while, and hopefully it will be a step in the right direction!

Posted by: RobotMom

Re: Going in circles - 05/11/11 08:29 PM

We are no longer going in circles - we have come to a complete stop. A skidding one in fact.

We had a conference with the school about a grade skip and they flat out said NO, not going to happen. They then went on with all of the typical excuses why it won't happen - social, she's already been skipped once, what will you do when you have a 10 yr old graduating high school, if what you say is the true and it is the rate she learns that is the problem, then 5th grade won't help either, socially she won't fit in, etc etc etc. mad

They also added in that it wouldn't be fair to the other kids because how would they feel having a "little kid" sitting in class with them, especially when they are already starting to go through puberty and she'll be so far behind developmentally.

I used all of my self-control to not jump up and down and rant at them, and according to DH I did quite well. They used the "we have the research to show you that another grade skip doesn't work socially or academically for gt kids, especially if the age differences are too great." To which I responded, "and I have newer data to show that for kids like DD a radical skip will work and is what she needs. And, if I have a 10 yr old graduating from high school, that will be my concern, not yours, at that point there are lots of options open to her and we'll explore them all, but right now our concern is getting her the appropriate education which allows her have a year's worth of growth for a year's worth of sitting in class. Since for her that would be radically different than most other students, we need to do something radical to see this happen."

The principal was at this meeting and after discussing this and the fact that DD read the Iliad this year and understood it and could discuss it with her teacher, and that gr 4 reading just would not be appropriate for her, the principal said: "Well, to be honest, we've never had a student like DD here and, no offense to the current teachers in the room, I just don't think we even have anyone in the school who could keep up with her, or even have the faintest idea of how to keep up with her or how to challenge her." crazy

Now, I am glad that they finally admitted that they don't know what to do, because that in and of itself is a huge step for them. The only other thing that came out of the meeting that was positive was that DH finally accepted that DD is "as smart and unique as I think she is". (He has always maintained that she is smart and gifted, but he has never really believed that she is so far ahead of her age and grade peers.)

The night before the conference I sat with DD and asked her really broad questions like "What do you do in school? If I were to follow you through school one day what would we actually be doing? What do you wish were different in this class or that class? How would you change this or that so that it was better for you?" I got some really great responses that I shared with the teachers and principal and I think that it was after they realized that it was really DD that wanted more challenging work they began to think about how they could help her and if they could help her.

She said things like:"I want to learn something new everyday, Why can't I go up to 4th or 5th grade for reading since they know I can do more than 3rd grade stuff, why can't we be required to know more in science instead of just a few minerals, for example, why not know all of them and where they come from and why they look like they do, in Spanish, why couldn't we learn ir and er verbs instead of just ar verbs - they have to be conjugated too? Why can't we read bigger books (bigger = more complex and challenging themes and plots)? Why can't they ask hard questions about the book rather than just simple little short answer questions? Why do we go so slowly through the material? If I only need to learn a little bit of a math chapter, why do I have to sit through all of it?"

After telling them 3 times that we were there representing Wendy and her wishes, not our own agenda, they agreed to continue to try and challenge her by getting her into analyzing poetry and asking her more in-depth questions. Unfortunately, we were not too happy with the results of the conference. DH will be calling them back tomorrow to follow up on a few things that they were supposed to be clarifying for us, but we are not hopeful for any real changes. DD is disappointed that she can't go into gr 5, she's not looking forward to going into 4th grade because it will be "another long boring year where I don't learn anything."

So, we are now looking into our options. We are seriously considering homeschooling, either completely or partially crazy . We are considering a radical acceleration with the partial homeschooling into gr 6 at the school I teach at, because I think she'd really like the Science and English curricula and teachers, and I think that the level would be closer to where she's at. DH is a bit freaked out eek by the idea, but he is on board, which is good because he would be the one doing it.

Sorry this is so long and rambling, I'm super tired.
Posted by: La Texican

Re: Going in circles - 05/11/11 09:39 PM

Glad to hear you're all on the same page. wink
Posted by: kimck

Re: Going in circles - 05/12/11 07:05 AM

Sorry you didn't get what you wanted. But I am glad the school admitted they don't know how to handle your child. The biggest favor our first grade teacher ever did for us is tell me our school was really not a good fit nor would it work for our child. We are now homeschooling and it has been a great fit for us. Good luck with whatever your next move is!
Posted by: Edwin

Re: Going in circles - 05/12/11 09:19 AM

I don't know if this helps, but if we stopped with what the school agreed to, or the principal, or the person in charge of elementary school instruction, or the person in charge of special programs, or the gate keeper for the district superintendent, we would not have gotten as far as we did. It was the district superintendent that helped us out. Note if that didn't work I was already speaking with 2 of the school board members. On a side note itís still not the best fit, but it is better then having DS 8 in 3rd grade.
Posted by: st pauli girl

Re: Going in circles - 05/12/11 09:57 AM

Kerry - I'm sorry things didn't go so well. Before we actually got a grade skip for DS, we were also given a whole bunch of reasons why the school wouldn't do that. We had success with having the school fill out an IAS form, and I can't remember if you already did that with this school and the first skip? It gives them an objective way to monitor whether a skip would be appropriate or not.

We also argued that the differentiation would be so much easier with the skip, and it was, though not perfect. (We have had 3 schools in 2 years, so we can sort of relate to the moves.) Is your DD in DYS? The family consultants can help with ideas for what to do for your DD. Also, there is s free service for educator's here, where they can join e-lists or get access to documents explaining how to help HG kids: http://www.davidsongifted.org/edguild/

I think you gave wonderful responses to their arguments. It's hard to speak clearly when people are saying things that don't make sense. But at least they admitted that they don't get your kid; this is your opportunity to help teach them, and hopefully they will respond.

I agree with Edwin - keep trying. We would have been in a similar boat, likely asking for a second skip, if an opening in a school for HG kids hadn't come up midyear (45 miles away). Good luck!
Posted by: Nautigal

Re: Going in circles - 05/12/11 04:34 PM

Ha! If you have a kid who could graduate from high school by age 10, shouldn't that tell them that it won't do her any good to refuse to let her out of 3rd grade? smile
Posted by: RobotMom

Re: Going in circles - 05/12/11 07:53 PM

Originally Posted By: Nautigal
Ha! If you have a kid who could graduate from high school by age 10, shouldn't that tell them that it won't do her any good to refuse to let her out of 3rd grade? smile

You know, I think that was the thing that got to me the most - they didn't seem to get that what they were saying was contradicting what they had said a minute before.

Edwin, we are looking at going on to the next step higher at the school, but the state just passed a huge budget cut and ALL of the teachers at the school in grades 4 and 5 have been given pink slips and the school doesn't know if they will be allowed to even hire them back, so we're now not even sure about the future of the entire program. crazy

We have done an IAS before, but not with this school, so if we find out that there will still be a program next year then we'll have one ready for them to look at.

This may really end up to be the time that we finally give up the last of our gifted denial and accept that homeschooling is the best option for DD. (Boy have we hung on to that for a long time now. blush )

We applied to DYS when DD was 6, but her WISC IV score was just under the cut off, and since the tester had never tested gt kids before, and she hit the ceiling in a bunch of sub-tests we know the results are not very accurate. So, we are looking into getting her retested before the end of the school year. Then we'll see where things are and if we can re-apply.

We are looking into other schools in the area for flexibility and a better fit, we actually were already sort of looking because it hasn't been a great fit from the start, but you know - a somewhat of a fit is better than the bad fit we had before, so we've lived with it.