Help! need to make a decision today!

Posted by: bronxmom

Help! need to make a decision today! - 06/25/09 06:43 AM

Hi, my DYS son (almost 7) has been going to a competitive gifted public school in NYC and it hasn't been working... he is not thriving academically and "hates" school... thinks he is stupid compared to the other kids... never has playdates... the mothers are strangely cliquely and I feel uncomfortable too. Plus there is a long commute, he spends an hour and a half in the car each day. He has some 2E stuff happening, like many of our kids, for example for most of this year he would not write anything... he has an advanced grasp of mathematical concepts but still counts on his fingers. He reads at probably a 9th grade level, so much of the year he spent reading in a corner and ignoring the teacher. I've been "this close" to homeschooling since November.

We have just been offered a spot at a very sweet, progressive neighborhood school we can walk to. I have a baby who could also go to this school, and I LOVE the idea of investing in my neighborhood this way, being part of a warm community, etc.

But the head of the school-- a very well-known educator who has started several great schools in NYC-- uttered the dreaded words when I asked if they could accommodate a gifted kid:
"all kids are gifted."

I need to register him-- and tell the other school-- TODAY if we are going to take the spot.


I am afraid he will feel that he "failed" at the gifted school.

I am afraid it was just a bad teacher this year, maybe if we stuck it out things would improve.
Posted by: BigBadWool

Re: Help! need to make a decision today! - 06/25/09 06:49 AM

Do they have different programs at the new school? If you are happy with them I say go for it. Otherwise, I don't know, the quote from the director is very telling.

I wouldn't send him back to the old school. Poor kid sounds miserable. Maybe put it on yourself and say you couldn't handle the drive anymore or something like that.
Posted by: delbows

Re: Help! need to make a decision today! - 06/25/09 07:00 AM

Hi Bronxmom!

Your ds is still so young. The choice to leave the gifted school would probably be very challenging to reverse. (Is the gifted school public?) Grades really donít matter until around 5th grade in many cases. Although his grades may improve at the regular school, he might actually learn more at the gifted school. Yet you donít want your child to become accustomed to earning mediocre grades.

What makes the neighborhood school so sweet and progressive (besides proximity and familiar faces)?
Posted by: bronxmom

Re: Help! need to make a decision today! - 06/25/09 08:01 AM

Thanks for chiming in, guys. I have to go to the school right now. I will ask some more questions about the curriculum.

Posted by: chris1234

Re: Help! need to make a decision today! - 06/28/09 04:20 PM

Hi Bronxmom, stumbled across this post did the meeting with the second school go?
Posted by: fangcyn

Re: Help! need to make a decision today! - 06/28/09 08:13 PM

Do you have to make a decision now? Can you register in both schools and think about it some more?

If you decide to go to your local public school and it doesn't work out, are you willing to homeschool him for a while?

Posted by: Val

Re: Help! need to make a decision today! - 06/28/09 11:37 PM

Hi BronxMom,

What happened? Did they extend your deadline?

FWIW at this point, be careful about the grass-is-greener effect. The other school might seem cuddlier, but if the principal says that all kids are gifted, your son might find himself spending the first couple months of the year adding simple numbers and reading simple passages.

It strikes me as odd that the local school didn't give you any or much time to make a decision. I'd be very wary of a principal espousing the everyone-is-gifted line. Can the DYS family counselors help?

On the other hand, if the other school is for gifted kids, why does your son end up sitting in a corner reading by himself? Why aren't they making accommodations for him? Given the population of NYC, the school should be familiar with HG kids.

What you described makes me wonder if the school *really* is a school for gifted kids, or if NYC uses a wider definition of the term (ie, do they pull from the top 10% of the population instead of the top 2%, and then use a lottery to pick from applicants meeting the cutoff?). In that case, the school might have a lot of bright kids but not as many IQ 130+/MG+ as would be expected.

Have you spoken to the principal and his teacher for next year (at both schools, but especially at the gifted school)? What can they do for your son?

Just my 2c.

Posted by: bronxmom

Re: Help! need to make a decision today! - 06/29/09 02:39 PM

Hey guys.
Well, the deed is done.
I had to make a decicion that day, and I made it: I switched him. It is not the local school, really, it's a progressive charter school with a limited number of spots, which is why they needed me to take the spot when offered, because others were waiting, and the school year was about to end and the registration had to be completed or something. To be fair to the new school, I've been telling them pretty much all year how much I wanted our family to go there (we really had a TERRIBLE year at the gifted school), so it was not unreasonable to expect me to be ready to make a decision when the opportunity arose.

I would have liked to keep him enrolled in both schools for a while, until I was sure of my decision, but I was specifically told that I needed to tell his currently school that he was leaving... my giving up our spot will make somebody very very happy indeed, so ethically it is not right to hold both spots.

But as soon as I registered him at the new school and informed the old school of what I'd done, I panicked and decided I'd make a terrible mistake... spent a day feeling really sick... then came out on the other side, feeling I'd made the right decision after all. (I spent four hours on Friday in a playground watching him interact with his classmates from the gifted school and it was just... I don't know how to describe it... a mess. My son is just really really intense...)

The gifted school looked at probably the top 3% on the OLSAT test, then hand-picked the kids at an on-site assessment (the process has changed now and become a lottery of kids scoring in the top 1%) we're probably talking about a fair share of HG+ kids, but they don't seem to know what to do with my kid, he was not inspired or engaged, and it wasn't working-- academically or socially. Also, there was a weird atmosphere among the parents. I don't know if it was a class things, or what, but the place did not seem to match our values, somehow.

Anyway, it's a complicated situation, but what I feel now is this: relief and renewed optimism that I'll now be better able to follow my instincts as a parent, which I used to do quiet well.

I feel like this ambition when it came to schools for him-- which for me started with the "top-tier" preschool and continued with a failed attempt to get him into Dalton or Collegiate or Trinity or whatever-- was somehow profoundly at odds with my core values as a person-- though it may have come from a genuine grasp of how unusual he is.

So I'm going to try a school where I feel more comfortable, where we don't spend two hours daily in the car, where I have to believe they'll notice that he reads and thinks like an adult but gets too excited at recess... and if it doesn't work, then we will have tried everything, and I'll have my husband's support in homeschooling!

Sorry for the long rambling post... it's been an emotional few days.
Posted by: Cathy A

Re: Help! need to make a decision today! - 06/29/09 02:47 PM

Hugs to you! It does sound like a difficult decision, but it makes sense to try something new when the current situation is not working.
Posted by: Tiz

Re: Help! need to make a decision today! - 06/29/09 03:56 PM

Been rushed off my feet but just wanted to post quickly to send a hug your way! You are a fantastic mom and trying to do the best for your son - keep your belief in yourself strong and don't be hard on yourself smile

I am pleased that you are starting to feel better now that the decision is made and like you say, if it doesn't work, homeschooling is an option for you (and you will have the added bonus of your husband's support).

There is also plenty of support to be had around here...

Posted by: bronxmom

Re: Help! need to make a decision today! - 06/29/09 06:39 PM

Thanks for your kind thoughts!
Posted by: Katelyn'sM om

Re: Help! need to make a decision today! - 06/29/09 09:10 PM


I just stumbled on your post and my reply is more to send an internet hug to you. It sounds like you have really thought about your situation and made a sensible choice. I hope it all works out for you and especially your son.
Posted by: Dazed&Confuzed

Re: Help! need to make a decision today! - 06/30/09 07:39 AM

It sounds like you have found peace w/ your decision and that it is the best one given the info at hand! I look forward to hearing about how it goes. And if HSing ends up being the only option, you have lots of support here!

Posted by: minniemarx

Re: Help! need to make a decision today! - 06/30/09 07:46 PM

Hi, bronxmom--

Sounds like a good choice to me--I remember your posts from earlier this year, and it certainly sounded as though he needed something to change. And having two hours a day back again out of the car will be blissful, I suspect!

I hope you and your family have a really happy and peaceful summer together--y'all deserve a bit of a rest, I'd say.

Posted by: bronxmom

Re: Help! need to make a decision today! - 07/15/09 01:36 PM

Ugh, I just got an email from the coordinator at the gifted school... it seems I still have the option of keeping him there.

Now I have to make the decision again, so let me throw it out there one more time:

What is better for an "underachieving" HG+ (DYS) kid--

a) a much-coveted gifted school where he has not really thrived or been inspired, where there is an emphasis on his two areas of weakness (writing and math) which has caused him to consider himself stupid, where we don't really feel accepted socially, and which is a difficult commute. (Though many of these problems COULD have been a bad teacher match... it could improve.)

b) a small, new, progressive charter school very near our house whose principal will not really discuss the curriculum with me and who visibly shuddered when I said the word "gifted." Though I can't help but feel that this school will immediately notice my son's many unusual qualities and, if they are good educators (which they seem to be) will then understand that here we have a truly gifted kid... (Here in NYC every child is "gifted" so I can somewhat understand her distaste for the word.) However, he is already L-A-Z-Y, and if things are too easy for him, will it set him up for a lifetime of easiness? (He is starting 2nd great and has already done a second grade curriculum at the other school and is reading stuff like Harry Potter and Tolkien.)

Or could be possibly benefit from being the big fish in a small pond?

So what do you think? The frying pan? Or the fire?

Mitigating factor: we have another child who could go to the charter school if big brother goes, but will likely be black-listed if we pull out now. Frankly I am not getting will-need-gifted-school vibes from the baby.

Posted by: Cathy A

Re: Help! need to make a decision today! - 07/15/09 03:41 PM

I don't know! I'm facing a similar decision, although our current school has less to recommend it and I have less information about the charter school than you do about yours. I have decided to keep my son in his current school and get more information about the charter school during the school year. It may be more difficult to transfer later though. I may miss an opportunity, but it just seems too risky to me.
Posted by: melmichigan

Re: Help! need to make a decision today! - 07/15/09 03:46 PM

Reading your post sounds like you have made a decision and are looking for affirmation? Go with your gut, you already have your answer. Best wishes.
Posted by: bronxmom

Re: Help! need to make a decision today! - 07/15/09 04:10 PM

Melissa, which decision does it seem like I've made???
Posted by: bronxmom

Re: Help! need to make a decision today! - 07/15/09 04:27 PM

Yeah, I know...
I guess my initial decision to move him, and try something new, was the best one. I just wish I could try him one more year and his current school, then move him. Not an option unfortunately.
Posted by: BKD

Re: Help! need to make a decision today! - 07/15/09 07:03 PM

Oh I feel for you - we've just been going through this ourselves. For me most of the problem is that I've done so much reading that I have a reasonable idea now of what I'd like in a school - but it doesn't seem to exist. The semester started on Tuesday morning, and we only decided that morning that we wouldn't move the boys. So we've turned down a school that supports acceleration but has no places currently in the grade we want, and have stayed at a school that has multi-age classes but doesn't support acceleration. Fortunately DS6 has been mellow over the holidays, so he thought our indecision was quite funny.

Bloody, bloody beaurocratic departments. All I want is a school that will teach my children to learn and think. If I though this was a difficult thing to arrange then I might be less angry and frustrated.
Posted by: LMom

Re: Help! need to make a decision today! - 07/15/09 08:01 PM

Bronxmom, is it possible to talk to DS next year teacher in both of the schools? Could you arrange phone conference between your DYS family consultant and the director of the charter school?

Good luck with whatever decision you make
Posted by: melmichigan

Re: Help! need to make a decision today! - 07/15/09 08:07 PM

Sorry, I read it as you wanting to send him to the smaller local school but second guessing yourself, like we all do. That just seemed to be the way it sounded, IMO. But it is only my opinion and hard when it is only type, many things can be missed. Good luck with your decisions, you know your son best.
Posted by: Val

Re: Help! need to make a decision today! - 07/15/09 09:37 PM

It sounds like the principal of the gifted school may be reaching out a bit. Have you had an honest talk with him, including suggestions for solutions?

Posted by: bronxmom

Re: Help! need to make a decision today! - 07/20/09 12:55 PM

Hi all,
I just want to thank you for your help on this-- especially the people who sent me private messages-- very very helpful! I have been really busy and unable to answer but have really appreciated all the input.

This board is really amazingly supportive.

I have decided to stick with my decision to move him, which will either be better, worse, or-- as someone said-- more of the same.

Anyway thanks to all. It was easier to give up the spot at the gifted school-- which really was NOT working-- knowing that this network is here.... his giftedness is not going away, in fact I will now have to take more responsibility for it.

Posted by: Kriston

Re: Help! need to make a decision today! - 07/20/09 08:17 PM

I'm glad you've made a decision. Sometimes the deciding is the worst part, I think. Once the choice is made, you can deal with what *is* instead of with all the what-ifs and then decide if it's working or not. But the not-knowing is painful!

I hope this is a great solution ! smile Keep us updated, please.
Posted by: Dazed&Confuzed

Re: Help! need to make a decision today! - 07/21/09 05:42 AM

Good luck!!!! Yes, keep us updated. I'll keep fingers crossed for you and him!