I need help in choosing a preschool

Posted by: jon's mom

I need help in choosing a preschool - 01/23/07 12:25 PM

My son is 2 yrs and 8 months. At 16 months old he patiently listened to a CPR class (he is normally hyperactive) and accurately performed CPR on the mannequin after the class. It was around that time too that he learned his letters, numbers 1-10, colors and shapes. Now, he is reading, spelling, doing simple addition, subtraction and multiplication (mostly thru memory). He can count up to 101, can count in multiples of 10, can count backwards from 10. He has an excellent memory and a very good sense of humor. He loves to be with other kids especially the older ones. He loves computer games, books, puzzles, paintings and music. He gets bored very easily and when he does, he tends to focus on letters and numbers which I think can be unhealthy. He has selective listening and will not follow directions unless it is of interest to him or there is a promise of something that is of interest to him. We live in Southern California and I am currently looking for a preschool for him. I don't know if I should choose one that will challenge him academically (I actually have very few choices with this type of school) or one that will help him with his development and his behavioral issues. I would appreciate any advise in this area.
Posted by: delbows

Re: I need help in choosing a preschool - 01/23/07 01:14 PM

This is another area where I have had quite a bit of experience. My kids attended pre-school part time. I started out with the belief that academic instruction was absolutely inappropriate for toddlers and pre-school aged children. Now, I believe it is very appropriate for gifted children WHO DEMONSTRATE A DESIRE to learn academics!

This might be accomplished with a flexible play based pre-school. In fact, if they are willing to let him work on academics during flex time that might be your best option.

Beware of pre-schools out there that cater to the egos of the parents rather then the needs of the children. I would run as fast as I could away from any (pre-school) program that has any type of “preparatory” feel to it! My children, then just four and two, attended one for approximately 6 weeks when we first relocated to this area. I overheard an MD (pediatrician no less) lament to the teacher every morning that his four year old just refused to “buckle down” to do his homework each night. I could go on and on…

Be a very critical consumer and be willing to change schools. Ask if there is a trial period before the contract terms are held.
Posted by: Grinity

Re: I need help in choosing a preschool - 01/23/07 01:34 PM

Can you find one with a multiage setting?

Is there a Montessori where he can go with the 4 year olds?

How does your son do on playdates with children of various ages? That will be important information for you when you evaluate the preschools.

It's not clear to me that your son HaS behavioral issues at this time, but you will have to be very careful in selecting group setting to avoid this happening. I wouldn't even bother looking at schools that insist on keeping him with his agemates. Have you read the Ruf book, Losing our Minds?

Best Wishes,
Posted by: jon's mom

Re: I need help in choosing a preschool - 01/23/07 04:37 PM

Thank you both. Hi Trinity. I have read Ruf's book. As I was reading it, I felt like she was describing my son. My son started watching TV at 2 months old. He would take pieces of paper, toys, etc. and form them into letters and numbers. He can spell words from just listening to how they sound. He makes purposeful sketches of things he has seen, they are certainly not masterpieces but they are fairly accurate. He can finish a 24 piece puzzle by himself and with some help he can do a 48 piece puzzle which is a little complicated. He is extremely funny and loves to laugh. He likes to play with other children but especially with older kids. He would introduce himself and the family to people and kids he is interested in. There is a Montessori school close to our place that would group children of different ages and different academic levels. The only problem is that they insists on him being fully potty trained which he is not. He loves learnig new thi
Posted by: willagayle

Re: I need help in choosing a preschool - 01/23/07 05:05 PM

Going to school might be a great motivator for potty training. Have you told him he can go to school there when he learns the potty?

Can you negotiate with the Montessori? IE if it is a part-time pre-school, can you hang out in another room just in case he needs a diaper change? When he is there seeing the other kids going potty, he might decide to learn it himself.

Another option is forming a "pre-school" coop. That worked very well for Mite when he was little. There were a bunch of us apartment dwelling moms, in a college town, all too educated to be hanging at home all day:^); so, we formed a coop that met twice a week. We took turns with activities and things could be pretty intense learning experiences.

I'm amazed that he sketches already! And the CPR thing is JUST darling!!! That shows such a level of intensity all by itself!
Posted by: jon's mom

Re: I need help in choosing a preschool - 01/23/07 10:47 PM

Thanks Willa. Your idea of pre-school coop is very interesting. I will certainly look into it. Maybe the Montessori school would be willing for me or my husband to hang around for a while until he gets completely potty trained. Thanks again.
Posted by: willagayle

Re: I need help in choosing a preschool - 01/24/07 10:27 AM

Here's a link to a preschoolcoop example.

Posted by: MyAslan

Re: I need help in choosing a preschool - 02/06/07 09:49 PM

FINALLY someone who knows what im going through. My son is infatuated with letters and numbers, and I have thought it was unhealthy too. I want to put him in a school soon, but I am having a hard time finding ANY resources for kids who are beyond the preschool, kindergartern, first grade material. Do we enroll them in kindergarten, even though they have the bodies of a hyper toddler?
Posted by: Grinity

Re: I need help in choosing a preschool - 02/08/07 01:19 PM

LOL - sometimes you do enroll them in kindy, if you can find a school that will flex with you. Some schools are much less picky about behavior than others - what one school considers normal another school may see as a sign of a disorder!

Welcome MyAslan!
Posted by: jon's mom

Re: I need help in choosing a preschool - 02/09/07 11:22 PM

Hello MYAsian. It seems like whenever my son gets bored, he would focus on letters and numbers. He would make letters and numbers out of just about anything, pieces of paper, toys, belts, his fingers, anything. When I noticed this several months ago, I got concerned. I didn't think discouraging this completely is the answer so I taught him how to spell, add and subtract. I was surprised in how quickly he can pick up on things. He is now reading a few books, among other things. To keep him stimulated, my husband and I went to check out several schools. I was really disappointed. Our best choice is a Montessori school where he would be placed in a class with older children but even at that, academically, he is still well beyond. I am now leaning towards enrolling him in a school part time to develop his behavioral and social skills and homeschooling him the rest of the time for academics. I'm so happy to find someone who is going through the same things. This is our only child and we really don't know what is typical and what is not. I would love to hear more about you and your son.
Posted by: SpongeBob'sMom

Re: I need help in choosing a preschool - 01/04/08 12:15 AM

Hi Jon's Mom,

I LOVE LOVE LOVE my son's Montessori preschool in Orange County, CA. We are very sad that he will be aging out this summer and will need to attend first grade elsewhere. His teacher, a Ph.D., "got him" two years before I did! As a result, she has provided an exceptional educational environment for Sponge Bob to thrive. She is completely supportive and challenges him daily with individual lesson plans (she has him doing negative numbers, square roots, cubes etc). When he was invited to attend a homeschool hands-on science class for 3-6 graders during his regular school hours her reply was "Absolutely! Anything to keep him challenged." She even has him coming back to "teach" his peers as a way to reinforce his learning experience while nurturing his leadership skills. I am not sure if I am allowed to name the school but you can email me and I would be happy to pass on the information.
Posted by: Isa

Re: I need help in choosing a preschool - 01/06/08 08:43 AM

SpongeBob's Mom:

I am right now green with envy ...

DD goes to a Montessori as well but her nice and well meaning teacher is clueless...

oh well, let's hope next year (2008) will be better....

Posted by: Mia

Re: I need help in choosing a preschool - 01/09/08 02:08 AM

We were also very happy with ds's Montessori preschool (he was there when he was 4-5, the year before K). It was great, and much better than public K is!

I'm also waffling on the play-based versus academic preschool. If your ds is ready and interested in academics, there's no reason to hold him back. However, you really are going to run into problems finding a program willing to *really* accommodate a 3-year-old at his academic level, because normally developing children just do not need/want the kinds of things that highly gifted children need/want.

So if you can't find a program that will really work with him, play-based may be your best bet -- at least they won't be reteaching him things he already knows. I see this in my ds5's k class. They're teaching him phonics -- he's been reading quickly and well since he was 3! The phonics program is making him rethink his instinctual spellings (which are usually right), and it's just not a good thing. At your ds's age, the way he's learning is probably the best way for him, and any attempt to "reteach" him skills he already knows will likely be a step back. *That's* mainly why I'd be wary of academic preschools.

Good luck! Your ds sounds like a riot -- love the CPR. smile
Posted by: josiejo

Re: I need help in choosing a preschool - 01/09/08 07:45 AM

I had to laugh jon's mom, your son sounds so much like mine! The obsession with letters/numbers, the skip counting before 3, etc. We've had my son in a daycare/preschool since he was 4 months old (half days until last summer, when I went back to work full time). They didn't really "accomodate" him in any other way than moving him up a little early to the next classroom (which, "academically" worked well, but his first months in the 4-5 class last winter, when he was barely 3.5 brought some social-interaction/behavior issues (including not being completely independent on the potty- argh! he knew how, but couldn't be bothered to stop what he was doing to go!) - esp because before the 5 year olds moved up to K, they dominated the room (especially the girls). Pretty much, you can't expect any academic accomodation in preschool - although a good teacher is a must. My son's teacher in the 2-3 class was fantastic, and really "got" my son. She went to a conference when the my son was about 3.5 and asked all the kids what little thing they wanted her to bring back from the conference for the room (new books, crayons, etc.). My son's response was "multiplication flash cards" (I've never had flash cards in the house!) - he'd learned about them because the preschool had color or shape flash cards. When she got back, she had a pile of stuff for the room, but gave my son the flash cards to keep. My husband thanked her, and then said something to the effect of "don't you want to keep them for the room?" She laughed and said, "Well, we, really aren't working on multiplication!". In the current room, there is still enforced "nap time" which is hard for my son, who hasn't napped since he was 2, but if he's good, after a short time, he's allowed to read, draw, etc. and the teachers have discovered that if they give him 1st and 2nd grade level math/reading worksheets and calendars to fill in, he's very happy and quiet.

There was a lot of switching of schools done in the transition from daycare to preschool by some of the other families that had been at the school since their kids were infants - for various reasons, some valid, some I think not so valid. In some ways it made us question our own feeling that we should keep him where he was, but he was so embedded in the community of the school and loved his teachers and seemed relatively happy, that we just decided to keep him there until he starts kindergarten in the fall.

So, advice, I suppose, is look for low turnover in a preschool, happy teachers who really care about the kids and are willing to see the kids as individuals. If your kid is really gifted, then the official classroom academics won't challenge him no matter what, but he can be engaged in a community and learn by asking the teachers all sorts of questions, and if they are good, they'll answer his questions about prime numbers and how to determine when Easter is each year.
Posted by: Wren

Re: I need help in choosing a preschool - 02/04/08 09:31 AM

I live in Manhattan and have a huge amount of experience reviewing preschools. First loved the academic ones. They like to put them by age. Not a good idea for a gifted kid. Our DD3 is in a Montessori with a 3-5 group and she can work on her own in the math area etc. Her teachers are great. Warning, not all teachers are equal. Make sure the teacher recognizes your child's potential and works with them.

No matter how good the academic preschool their curriculum is based on the moderate mean. Your child has already surpassed that. That is what we found on review. I did the 3 day method of potty training when DD was only 22 months. Just bite the bullet and do it for your child's education. It is worth it.

Posted by: Kriston

Re: I need help in choosing a preschool - 02/04/08 02:50 PM

Well, Wren...Boys are usually harder to potty-train than girls. It's not necessarily about "biting the bullet." It's just different for boys. Physical capability, maybe? Emotional maturity? I don't know, but I know that most boys take longer than most girls, and the average age for boys is 33 months, if memory serves me correctly, which is about 3 months later than for girls. Neither one of my boys was anywhere nearly ready for potty training before they were two!

Also, a *non-academic* age-based preschool can work quite nicely for an HG+ kid, depending upon their social skills. In fact, this would be near the top of my list of pre-Ks. It gives your child the chance to get some social experience with same-age kids without feeling like "the brain" because there's no school stuff, only play and exploration (which they also need!). Bonus points for a half-day program so that the child can pursue the academics on his/her own time.

I would agree with you, Wren, that highly academic pre-K programs can work well for HG+ kids *if* the child is in the *low* end of the mixed age range and *if* they are allowed to skip the "baby stuff." Many Montessori programs--even mixed age classrooms--do NOT allow this skipping, so shop wisely. We thought we found one, but they pulled a bait-and-switch on us, and DS was bored silly for the first half of the year because he wasn't interested in the work they allowed him to do. It was too easy for him, and he just wouldn't do it. It wasn't until the mid-year conference that we saw how serious the problem was, and then we had to jump up and down to get them to let him past the easy stuff. It was very frustrating for us (we still call the dumb hoops you've already mastered but have to get through "sound boxes" in honor of the Montessori experience we had!), so please be SURE you're getting what they promise you!

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!
Posted by: Wren

Re: I need help in choosing a preschool - 02/04/08 04:37 PM

I hear all that you say. We did the non academic route at 2, for play and socialization, but I didn't care for it for the long route and the director was very anti-gifted. My experience.

And even at the Montessori we are at, they have 5 classrooms of the 3-5 year group, and I hired a consultant that knew the school and got the best teachers. They are amazing with DD3. Since she has a Sept birthday, she will never be the oldest. Next year might be a little difficult, but then why I started the thread in another area about extracurricular activities and music lessons.

And her teachers are very eager to keep challenging her with the tools. The math area has great tools to keep going for quite a while.

Posted by: bianc850a

Re: I need help in choosing a preschool - 02/04/08 08:12 PM

Hi Spongebob'smom,

How is your application to Mirman going?
Posted by: Grinity

Re: I need help in choosing a preschool - 02/05/08 03:01 AM

I like the idea of 1/2 day non-academic programs for HG+ for all but the few folks who have acess to an academic program that is flexible to met their needs, but not without some caution - even talking and playing can be an issue when children are grouped strickly by age and have wildly differing abilities, depending on the child's personality. BTDT. Still it's better than endless "This is an A" in circle time.

Posted by: SpongeBob'sMom

Re: I need help in choosing a preschool - 02/05/08 04:32 AM

Hi Bianca,

The application is in and DS is scheduled for a half day visit on the 13th. Wish me luck. Our school options are dwindling down. We decided against Pegasus because during the meeting they kept emphasising that at this age it is more important to focus on socialization particularly since they work one grade ahead. They are adamant about the kids staying grouped by age even though DS is working 3+ grades above and pointed out that they have never once allowed a child to skip a grade. They do not allow subject acceleration either. Oh well, not a good fit for us. The search continues......
Posted by: Wren

Re: I need help in choosing a preschool - 02/05/08 06:45 AM

Good luck with the search. I want to emphasize another thing, look at the community. The community at the non academic 2s program we did was very laid back, parents didn't want academics.

The Montessori school we are in has a community of parents that are professors at Columbia and NYU, many foreigners (so many kids are staying in the class when 6 since they are going back to Sweden or Holland and they don't want to start K here.)

Last year one third of the kids, going on to K, scored 97th percentile or above on the SB. So you have a smart kid environment. Talk to other parents that go there and get a feel. Because I found that last year, because DD had such strong verbal skills, the teachers said the other kids sat around and listened to her, she bossed kids around, formed cliques. She doesn't have that kind of advantage at the Montessori, as older kids will tell her that they won't play with her sometimes and she is learning valuable lessons.


Posted by: bianc850a

Re: I need help in choosing a preschool - 02/05/08 11:08 AM

Hi Spongebob's mom,

Hope your kid has a good time on his visit. Everyone is really nice so he should have a good morning.
Posted by: Laxmi

Re: I need help in choosing a preschool - 02/05/08 07:00 PM

Can anybody help me choose a pre k for my 2 years(in Feb) old gifted child?He's very good in counting and he concentrates intensely.
Posted by: Grinity

Re: I need help in choosing a preschool - 02/05/08 07:04 PM

We can try, Laxmi!

What are your choices, your options, his needs?
How is he with agemates at playdates?
Do you have an 'scare stories' in the near family regarding giftedness? If so, what are they?
Do tell! ((offering up a virtual chair and virtual mug of prefered beverage))

Posted by: Laxmi

Re: I need help in choosing a preschool - 02/05/08 07:38 PM

Hi Grinity,

Thanls for the msg.He loves books.I actually gets bored when he makes me read his books for 2-3 hrs.I've noticed that he likes playing with screws,unscrewing and fitting it again when he was 9 months.He used to open and close bottles and says the correct word for each alphabet(depending on his mood).

We speak to him in our language and he doesn't know English.But one day I went to a supermarket and the lady in the desk asked me whether he speaks n then he asked her "How do you do".Both of us were shocked.Someone might have asked him at some point of time.I don't know.I am scared.

We do have a history of giftedness in my family.My father and his brother are gifted and I used to hear 'scare stories ' as u say smile from my granny.they both have Phds and have published lots of papers in science(engineering).

He plays nicely with kids like him(till now we've found only one like him).When we go to his doc's place,he'll explain the postbox(they have a replica) to other kids,but they won't understand his language.Otherwise he just watches other kids playing and smiles at me.We went to a party and he tried to tell the other kids about his visit to the zoo and they were not interested and he was bored.Then he got friendly with older people and started speaking to them.I don't know if u got any information from all this.I am shocked to hear everybody telling me that he is gifted.

After our CA visit,he made a replica of the Goldengate Bridge with his building blocks and showed us.He still remembers the ladybug in his granny's mobile and how to use the mobile to see it.He imagines stories about the lion in the zoo and the way the tiger had its lunch.I am confused and scared.Please help.

Thanks and regards,
Posted by: Grinity

Re: I need help in choosing a preschool - 02/06/08 02:43 AM

I can totally understand your feelings of fear and confusion. This children can be very 'high energy' and can seem to demand a high level of parental involvement, almost as if they have special needs. I hope I can help.

One might think that it's logical that a child who is super smart go to school as early as possible, but the truth is just the opposite: the farther a child is from the expected developmental path, the longer you should hesitate over sending him to school. The exception is that some children do well starting Kindergarden a year early.

Of course, I don't know if anyone can say "for sure" if a child is gifted at this young age, but your discription tells me that it is a strong possibility. If this is your situation, you have to be ready to take on more responsibility than any other parent you currently know. You have to be parent, expert, and teacher, working with others as an equal or leader for the next 15 years. If you haven't already taken on a role of this kind in other areas of your life - Welcome to leadership! You can do it!
Part of being brave is to feel scared the whole time, yes?

During this stage, I would reccomend reading a few books, and proceding with caution as far as leaving him in group care. Imagine, if you can, how a preschool teacher with 4 children in their charge might react to his 'demands' that she read to him for 2-3 hours. She might start to resent him and treat him as though there was something wrong with him. He may be sensitive to feel that this is true, and start to learn to act like the other children while keeping the sense of shame about who he is. Or he may start to become frustrated to spend so many hours alone facing a group of 'babies' who he is clearly expected to be like, and feel like an angry alien.

BTW - have you tried reading 'Chapter books' with complicated stories to him? Or is it book aimed at preschoolers? Of course follow his lead, but you may want to introduce a few of your childhood favorites to see how he reacts.

You say he gets along with a kid who is 'like him' - does that child go to preschool? If so, how is that going? It's really important for you to know how he would feel being left with 'agemates' who are normally developing. Try to set up a playdate or two with children who speak his language who are following a more normal developmental path. Is there a community of your-language speakers near where you live? Try to observe how he interacts.

In the meanwhile, go to this link and print out the checklist to see how your child is developing:And another Dr. Ruf link to help you estimate your child's level of giftedness. The checklists start about halfway down the page.

I reccomend your read "Genius Denied" "Losing our Minds, gifted children left behing" "Re-forming Gifted Education" "Nation Decieved" (If you are going to order them from Amazon.com, go to the Hoagies Website first, ok?) Go to the library and read everything they have about "Gifted" but be ready to take what you read with a 'grain of salt' as what applys to most gifted children may not work for an unusually gifted child.

I also reccomend reading whatever looks interesting from this site - try searching 'toddlers' and 'preschoolers'

Another website that is very full of information is http://www.hoagiesgifted.org/gifted_101.htm, I reccomend a cyber-visit to the mothership of gifted info.

The identification process info is here:

There is a lot of information to absorb, and folks don't agree with each other all the time - that's ok, if frustrating. It's terrific that your eyes are open so early in the game. I was still 'not seeing' my son's needs at age 6, after he had been in daycare since 7 weeks of age, and public school for Kindy and 1st grade. Whenever there were hints, I just got embarrassed and felt blamed, but there weren't many hints. I thought that schools would recognise giftedness, and 'take care of it' - they are in the business to teach - but that didn't work in our case.

You don't mention if you have to work, if you are expecting another baby and desperate for some 'me' time, aren't expecting another baby and desperate for some 'me' time (humor intended) if there are schools that teach in your language, if your want to send him to school to learn english, if you want him in school so that the 'education professionals' can give him what he needs - or I should just ask "What got you started on the idea that he should be in some kind of school right now?

Please say more!
((More virutal comforting guestures - what would they be in your culture?))
Love and More Love,

Posted by: bianc850a

Re: I need help in choosing a preschool - 02/06/08 03:53 AM

Hi Laxmi,

I completely agree with Grinity. The best thing you can do for your boy is to NOT send him to school/daycare yet.

Children at that age, regardless of their level of giftedness, learn everything that is important to learn at that age from their mom/dad.

I am the mother of a PG child who "refused" to attend even Kindergarden. She is now in second grade with a two grade acceleration in math. There is nothing you child can learn at school at that age that you cannot teach him better. Just read a lot. Hug a lot and play a lot. At that age they need the hurrays that only a parent can give.

By keeping them close, they grow up feeling loved, cherished and important. I can promise you that no academic learning is worth feeling "abandoned" by the most important person in his life. Follow his lead...
Posted by: Laxmi

Re: I need help in choosing a preschool - 02/06/08 09:04 PM


Thank u so much.I never knew that at this age they'll be able to understand chapter books.I used to read to him books like Dr.Suess's,then feet are not for kicking etc.I sure will try the former.

Hey Grinity,I do share with u about the embarassment u had to face as that happened with me also many times.And people used to make fun of him telling that he doesn't play with the other kids.He loves throwing the ball and the building blocks.He tries to tell them stories.His friend doesn't go to any school.Even they are in a dilemma.Both of them(the kids) speak different languages.But they'll speak to each other for more than an hour and they'll understand each other so well.Even his friend doesn't play with other kids.

My kid doesn't like to go to the day care centre.As i am planning to work,I wanted to put him in a daycare for a few hours daily and he wants to come back to me always.Then he'll come to me with a pen and paper and will tell me to write his abcd.

I went thru the links that u sent me.We,my husband and myself are in the discussion stage. smile Now, when we try to co-ordinate things,we do really think there is something special with him from the beginning.My best friend is telling me that it is all because I used to sing classical music religiously everyday during my pregnancy. smile

I don't know.But u guys r really doing a wonderful job by giving me support.Once again thank u soooo much.Let me go thru all the stuff and u know what,we are so scared about whether we'll be able to nurture him properly.I got the idea about sending him to school cos everybody in this apartment,his age are going to school the coming year.Now we've to seriously think about it.Right?

I really would like to hear your experiences with your kids as I am just a confused small kid in this matter!


Posted by: Laxmi

Re: I need help in choosing a preschool - 02/07/08 01:36 PM

Hi Grinity & Bianca,

After going thru all these stuff,we feel like we've just discovered that he has some kind of disease.I feel so overwhelmed and tensed.Its like I lost my sleep.Before,whatever he did was ordinary to us.But now we notice whatever he's doing.He can draw a circle,can identify some alphabets and numbers,counts till 50,n then goes on 51,52 n after 59 he'll stop n look at me.

The lady in the daycare told me that when she showed pictures of different kinds of fishes to him and the other kids,for them,all were fishes and he named them as whale,shark,starfish and jelly fish.We had been to the aquarium 2 weeks back and I'd showed him all the fishes except the whale.I hope that is normal.

I hope u guys had similar experiences.What did u do?I feel so free talking to u as u guys understand me very well.

Thanks and regards,
Posted by: Grinity

Re: I need help in choosing a preschool - 02/07/08 02:16 PM

It is as if he has a diesase in a way, because you might have to delay going back to work to care for a child with 'special needs' or search extra hard for a babysitter who would bond and really take the time to see him for who he is. If you really need to get out, perhaps you could work something out with the other Mom and take turns?

Is it normal to know the names of fish having just turned 2 years old? It Is Not Normal for most children, and It Is Normal for him, although many 'experts' will tell you otherwise. You will also feel guilty for all that singing, but I am here to tell you that 'they come out the way they come out' and you aren't to blame.

I sent DS to daycare from 7 weeks, although I tried not to work full days until 3 years. I felt that I wasn't really normal, although I couldn't finger exactly what was wrong with me, I knew it was something, so I felt that by putting him in daycare, I was giving him a chance to be 'normal.' Plus we needed the money to stay in our house. I find this very sad to talk about, because did my son's daycare experience help him be normal? Of course not, it only convinsed him that there was something dreadfully wrong with most children! Still working on that end of things...


It is awful observing your child so closely, but that will pass, and you will go back to remembering that he is normal, for him.
Posted by: st pauli girl

Re: I need help in choosing a preschool - 02/12/08 09:05 AM

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.]

Posted by: incogneato

Re: I need help in choosing a preschool - 02/12/08 09:38 AM

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?

Posted by: Kriston

Re: I need help in choosing a preschool - 02/12/08 09:57 AM

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?
Posted by: st pauli girl

Re: I need help in choosing a preschool - 02/12/08 10:19 AM

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!
Posted by: Kriston

Re: I need help in choosing a preschool - 02/12/08 10:47 AM

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...
Posted by: incogneato

Re: I need help in choosing a preschool - 02/12/08 11:02 AM

"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.

Posted by: Wren

Re: I need help in choosing a preschool - 02/12/08 11:17 AM

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.

Posted by: kcab

Re: I need help in choosing a preschool - 02/12/08 11:32 AM

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).
Posted by: Kriston

Re: I need help in choosing a preschool - 02/12/08 11:40 AM

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.
Posted by: st pauli girl

Re: I need help in choosing a preschool - 02/12/08 08:50 PM

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.
Posted by: incogneato

Re: I need help in choosing a preschool - 02/13/08 05:50 AM

Yes, it is interesting how some kids have such extreme intellectual needs from such an early age.
I've found the more you provide, the faster they go, the more they want and the happier they are.
You are ahead of me in that I didn't have any idea how different the girls were at an early age. I thought all kids were like them.
I think I really started to realize something was up was when second DD was in 4yo preschool. While first DD was just as miserable, she was quiet. DD5 is more the "I'm mad as h@$ll and I'm not gonna take it anymore!" type.
Posted by: st pauli girl

Re: I need help in choosing a preschool - 02/13/08 06:41 AM

I guess I noticed that DS4 was different as an infant in early childhood (parent/baby) classes. I noticed that I stopped saying all the developmental things that he could do when I found out none of the other kids were doing those things yet, and I didn't want to sound like I was bragging. I never thought he was "gifted" until I happened across the article listing Dr. Ruf's early signs of giftedness. Then I read her book and started worrying.

I think my husband still isn't convinced that DS4 is different, but he has no contact with other kids. I guess we'll find out next month!

I think personality must go a long way in identification and in choosing what education will work for these kids. It probably helps to have a defiant kid, I would guess, because maybe the teachers will be more willing to find a solution if the kid is disruptive (versus the kid who's willing to go along). I'm not sure what my DS will be, but at home he is definitely the defiant type!
Posted by: st pauli girl

Re: I need help in choosing a preschool - 02/13/08 06:42 AM

i just realized i've been calling my son DD in some of the posts. I'm not used to these abbreviations! oops. DS, DS, DS. there.
Posted by: LMom

Re: I need help in choosing a preschool - 02/13/08 11:13 AM

Let me add my 2 cents about Montessori. Both of my sons (3 and 5) are gifted, DS5 quite a lot, we will see where DS3 is, but he started reading at 2. They are both in the same 3-6 classroom.

The school works much better for DS5 one since he is so clearly out of their regular PreK-K curriculum that they have to adapt to him, but since they have never before taken anybody that far they don't have any protocols to follow and let him lead at least a little bit. It took them a while to realize where he was (reason #1 why we had him tested), but it took them only a few days to figure out that he was gifted ("We never had a child like this."). The school goes till 6th grade and they got LA material from the higher grades, but even that was started on a low end and I don't think he is where he could be. I know very little about what he does there in LA, don't let me start on that. In math he finally started learning new things in January. He did get a good practice in November and December when he was slightly behind of what he could do at home. Socially the place doesn't work too well. He seems to be finally happy there, but he doesn't have close friends there. They are probably too young for him.

Now my younger one. He is 3 and the teacher try to handle him the same way like a ND child, who is perhaps 4 or 5. They have a sequence of things which needs to be done before he can move on. Let me give you an example, he cannot do additions till he learns to write his numbers properly! That was followed by "He is only 3, none of the 3 year olds can write." Doh. He has actually learned to write some numbers and letters, but like they said he is only 3. What's the rush? Give him number cards or let him circle the right answer, but to make him do just simple counting because he cannot write is stupid. Give him some toys instead. He does have a workbook for LA, one of the few kids there (the rest of them are in K), but I don't know how much he can do with it since again he cannot write the letters well enough. They just don't get the part that his brain and his hands are not in sych. I heard a lot about fine motor skills when it came to DS5 too. He doesn't have any problems with fine motor skills (he actually writes really well now), but his 5 year old hands are no match to his academic skills.

I don't think the teachers know on which level either one of my kids read. The school has lots of other classes (music, French, ...) and those are really nice. There are things to love about the school, but there are things which make me want to scream.

My take on the whole thing - No academics is better than wrong academics. DS5 was in a play based preschool for 2 years and he was happy there. The teacher there got him to the point of talking about grade skips and early college. He had to sit through the letter of the week but he didn't mind it at all, the rest was art, music and fun. As long as we can get the logistic work out, that's where DS3 will go next year.

I thought I did DS3 favor by sending him to Montessori, but what he needs is to play with other kids. He can get all the academics his heart desires at home.

DS5 and next year is a post for itself. I'll get to it one of these days.
Posted by: st pauli girl

Re: I need help in choosing a preschool - 02/14/08 07:18 AM

Originally Posted By: LMom
My take on the whole thing - No academics is better than wrong academics.

Thank you for this. Looking at everyone's info on Montessori, and thinking about how my DS4 would be one of a few 4 year olds in a new class with mostly 3 year olds, makes me think it might not be such a great fit. If he continues with his current preschool, he would be with 4-5 year olds. He would get some pre-k stuff but since the teacher knows him, I'm sure she would give him stuff he'd like to do too. I'll still look into the Montessori, but it's sounding less like the dream class i'd hoped for!
Posted by: Wren

Re: I need help in choosing a preschool - 02/14/08 05:03 PM

At the Montessori that DD3 goes to all the kids use counting tools at the same time they practice writing their numbers. So I do not know why the difference. DD3 worked the number board through 100 and beyond, gets the base ten, works through an understanding of 1000s. And her scribbles really don't resemble numbers yet.

Her teachers talk about all kinds of subjects, like vertebrates and invertebrates, the solar system. They do voting projects.

It always comes down to teachers, but at least Montessori should have the materials to push the curriculum. At an academic school they will talk about "A" this week and the number 1. Next week, "B" and the number 2. These are the top academic preschools in NY for 3s.

They go to special children "concerts" at Carnegie Hall. They are in the studio and discuss a few instruments and structure of music. And other interesting field trips. DD3 is thriving, though some of the older kids told her that she was too young to read and then refused for a little while. They don't seem to bother her when she is in the math area ahead.