Originally Posted by Shaki
This is a question for those of you with children in accelerated or gifted schools. My DD has just been accepted to a very academically demanding school. This is a public school that you test into, admission is purely score based. We live in an urban area with struggling public schools and getting into this particular school is one of the "holy grails" of our public schools and we are super fortunate to have been given a spot. However. I'm not a fan of the whole teaching to the test paradigm and this school both places a lot of value in and gets lots of accolades for it's high test scores, they give lots of homework, enter and win lots of contests--stuff like that. DD may thrive in this environment (if she doesn't we'll pull her out), so we've decided to give it a try. But there are some things I'm concerned about and would love any feedback from BTDT mamas.
My concern is that with such a rigorous day DD will be too tired after school to pursue other interests. On top of that with so much homework when will she have time to play and socialize with her friends? Basically if your DC is in a school like this what do you do to make sure that their whole selves are being developed? What do you do at home to balance out the pressured environment of the school?
My dd is in first grade, and she goes to a school just like this. She started at this school with full-day K. Yes, she was tired at the beginning, but I think it was more the transition to school in general than the homework. She went to day care full time, so the transition wasn't as big as if she had stayed home during preschool, but yes, she came home looking very tired. But after a month or two, she adjusted.
Her classmates seem to have plenty of time doing after school activities. A few do activities in the school building, such as daisy girl scouts or some sports that the school offers. A lot of other kids get picked up by their parents and whisked off to sports activities. I.e., swimming lessons, dance lessons, tae kwon do lessons.
Our family is different because we live 25 miles from the school in a different county, and because dd goes to after school daycare until dinner time. Unlike many families, who do all their activities in the weekdays after school in order to leave weekends free for family time, our family does our non-school activities during the weekend. However, our weekend activities involve the entire family doing the activity together, so our activities serve double duty. If it's a school night, there isn't time for us to do any after school activity, or we won't be able to go to bed early enough to get up for school the next morning. So dd has time for homework, and then it's time for bed. The homework is a lot more than other schools, but it is manageable.
Play and social life with classmates is a challenge. Most of the other kids take weekday after school classes with the other kids, but like I said, we don't. So I go out of my way to arrange weekend playdates and activities with the children that my dd likes to play with at school. The teacher distributes a directory for all of the children in the same grade, and although I am generally a shy person, I force myself to take the initiative and pick up the phone to introduce myself to parents that I don't know and propose one on one get-togethers. This helped encourage friendships between my dd and her classmates.
We decided to try it for a year. We learned to adjust, and we find that we wouldn't want it any other way. It's definitely worth it for our family.