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    Joined: Oct 2014
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    Lepa Offline OP
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    I posted on the general discussion board looking for leads to good public school districts/cities so I apologize for posting more than once if you have already seen that post. Iím writing here for more specific perspective. We live in San Francisco and our kids are in private school. We are considering relocating to another city where we can afford to buy a house and sending our kids to public school.

    I am very nervous about switching from a small, intimate private school to a public school and would like to hear from parents who have made the switch (either way). My older son is currently in first grade. His school is project based with an emphasis on STEAM. Kids spend much of their time being creative and problem solving, doing engineering challenges, making art and tinkering. In first grade, they spend time every day doing hands on science and they are designing and conducting experiments and keeping lab notebooks. My son is obsessed with science, building and math and he loves his school.

    While the school is lovely, however, Iím not completely sure itís meeting my sonís needs. While the student population is very bright (a large percentage of parents have Phds and are scientists, engineers and doctors) it seems that my son still doesnít seem to have many peers. His teachers have noted that his conceptual understanding in science and math is beyond his peers and he sometimes seems disengaged and bored. Heís in first grade but reading multiple grade levels ahead. Nobody else is reading at such a high level so my son reports that he just sits and reads alone while other kids meet in groups. My son is also quirky and has had a hard time with handwriting (heís doing well now). His processing speed when he took the WPPSI at four was average (but more than forty points lower than his VCI) and he seems dreamy and needs scaffolding to organize thoughts when writing. We donít quite know if he has a genuine issue and will turn out to be 2E or if he is bored and starting to check out. His teacher has said that he is ďbrilliantĒ and she designs extra math challenges for him but my son often dawdles when doing the easier projects required to show that he understands basic concepts and never gets to the exciting, more challenging work. Iíve encouraged his teacher to skip the easy stuff and let him go straight to the more challenging work but I donít think that is happening. We tried to get the school to agree to an acceleration for math for this year and during an evaluation (while still in k) they found that he already knew most of the material covered in first grade but needed practice with organization, writing and speed. I assumed he would get this practice in the context of more challenging work but that doesnít seem to have happened because he still needs practice with organization, writing and speed!

    My son is also a nerdy kid who is obsessed with science and is uninterested in playing with the other boys, who like to play spy or Star Wars. I wonder if he would be better off in a public school program that doesnít have the bells and whistles but where he is surrounded by intellectual peers and might find another nerdy book who he has more in common with? I struggle with weighing the benefits of a small program where my son gets so much attention and is happy with a less flexible public school where he might have more peers and more opportunities to work at his level. If he does turn out to be 2e, which setting is likely to be better for him?

    Iíd love any perspective or leads anybody can provide. Thank you!

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    We're doing the opposite next year, transitioning from a public gifted program to a private school that has a reputation for being challenging.

    The single most positive thing about public school for us is that the kids have true peers, geeky and gifted kids who come up with awesome crazy ideas together. Even in a GT program though, there are only about 5-10 kids per grade level that are truly GT. They manage to find each other. smile

    The public system is cumbersome. The quality of education depends entirely on the teacher from year to year. Our school is unwilling to accelerate. One of my DS got a 98 on the end of year exam they gave for math in September and the school still refused to accelerate him, even after my various pleas, because he didn't get 100. They have been willing to give him some pullout support (but he still has to do the basic curriculum work) and he does have two little friends in his class who are equally interested in math. So they're making an attempt, just not going as far as I would like.

    We are trying private, only because we are hoping that the individual attention will make a difference. I am concerned that lack of true peers may be a problem, but am hopeful that there will be at least as many as in their public school, and I'm confident that they will find their tribe. Your son is still quite young. Mine were in about 3rd grade when they started to make their own firm friends, beyond just the sons and daughters of our grown up friends.

    There are no easy answers and there is no perfect school. It sounds like you are on top of it, and know your son well. This is what will make the difference for him in the long run, rather than any specific choice you make.

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    I'm familiar with finding nothing close to an academic/intellectual peer in
    - a top-rated public school district,
    - a popular nationwide online program,
    - an expensive, exclusive regional private/independent school, or
    - local summer programs.

    While there was never a lack of social opportunities, invitations, or parties to attend, there was not the hoped-for comfort and closeness with these school friends due to intellectual and interest differences.

    Closer academic/intellectual peers were found in college. Until age 15, best friends were gifted family and extended family members.

    Why might a gifted child not find academic/intellectual peers before college?
    - Levels of giftedness. There are fewer profoundly gifted kids, and more moderately gifted kids.
    - Schools do not tend to match the program to the child, instead they tend to match the child to the program. For example, a school may have determined that "gifted math" will be math taught 1 year ahead, and may have identified students to fill that program. A gifted outlier, performing math 3 or 4 years ahead, does not "fit" into that program.
    - Rather than group the gifted kids together, schools may divide the gifted kids among classrooms and describe this practice as "being fair to the teachers."

    - A school may be involved in a research study which dictates the distribution of children in the control group and the experimental group.
    - Where there are sufficient number of gifted outliers, schools may intentionally keep these kids apart, giving any of the following rationale:
    -- concern that other kids might feel bad
    -- fear of "competition" amongst the profoundly gifted
    -- if placed together, these kids may soar and create excellence gaps as compared with rest of the kids in the classroom
    -- it is "beyond the school's purview" to assist kids in finding academic/intellectual peers
    -- cannot place similar-level children together due to "child privacy"... kids will know who else is at their level
    -- it would be "elitist" to group these children together
    -- some families are large donors to school fundraisers, building campaigns, foundations, etc, and may be offended if they learn there is a top group of students and their child is not in it; Donations may decrease.

    sick

    Your experience may be different, especially if your child's "quirks" are diagnosed as a learning disability, as this unlocks special education support, remediation, and accommodations in a public school. Some 2e children, parents of 2e children, and school systems bond over the second exceptionality.

    You may wish to read the roundup on Advocacy, including school fit, and choosing a school.

    If a school indicates that having true peers is a superfluous request and an unrealistic expectation... here is information in favor of grouping students by readiness and ability:
    - the type of learning experience described clearly and in detail in this post, which links to a report from 1997, titled What it Means to Teach Gifted Learners Well, by Carol Ann Tomlinson, Ed.D., University of Virginia. Addresses teaching at a student's ability level... grouping with peers of similar readiness and ability is implied.
    - http://www.casenex.com/casenet/pages/virtualLibrary/gridlock/groupmyths.html (archived on the WayBack Machine https://web.archive.org/web/20210511071601/http://www.casenex.com/casenet/pages/virtualLibrary/gridlock/groupmyths.html),
    - web search on Gentry Total School Cluster Grouping TSCG,(one current link is: http://nrcgt.uconn.edu/newsletters/spring964/)
    - http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.3102/0034654316675417.
    Unfortunately, the buzzword "cluster grouping" may be used (mis-used) to mean one or more gifted kids within a particular classroom, somewhat isolated, not necessarily being taught at a higher level but rather being treated as somewhat auto-didactic (often due to schools buying into the myth that because they are gifted, they will be fine on their own).

    Ultimately, students need both:
    - an appropriate challenge
    - academic/intellectual peers

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    DD16 is graduating from a big public school this month (~1600 students). She transitioned from a small private K-5 school (~50 students) following 5th grade. As per usual, the answer to your question is "it depends."

    In our case the large public school was open to acceleration options and had been accomodating for other gifted kids already in the system. Also, the small private school - knowing most of their kids were going into the public school after 5th grade - tried hard to instill confidence, independence, and the ability to self-advocate into the students.

    In our case (and with the benefit of hindsight/confirmation bias), the transition from small private to large public worked out great. Sure, it wasn't all smooth sailing, but all-in-all, we're glad we switched to the larger school system where there were more kids like our DD and where there were ample opportunities to try out new academic interests.

    Research the new district(s) - try to find one that will work with you and your children (these districts do exist!). In transitioning from private to public, we met with couple of different districts and open enrolled to a neighboring district because if just felt like the right place for her.

    Best of luck,
    --S.F.


    For gifted children, doing nothing is the wrong choice.

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