I have 2 boys in public school, grades 2 and 4. I have posted in the past about my oldest son who was identified by his kindergarten teacher as being significant above her other students in terms of what he was ready to learn. She pulled us in for a conference the first quarter of kindergarten and asked if we wanted to accelerate him to 1st grade. Our feeling at the time was that it didn't really fix the issue - he is just a quick learner and would be the same whether it was kindergarten material or 1st grade material. He had already bonded with his classmates and didn't want to move. So we left him there and she did her very best, given the constraints of 25 other kids to teach, to try to challenge him. His 1st grade teacher did the same and he seemed happy and all was okay, although I worried about the fact that he really never needed to try and what that would mean for the future. The did some testing on him in Kindergarten, identified him as gifted, and made an exception for him to join the gifted program (which was minimal - only 1 hr a week) even though it was typically for 2nd graders and above. So all in all I felt like the school was trying to do the best they could to meet his needs.
Fast forward a few years. My now 4th grader is finally feeling a little challenged this year (mostly I think by the volume of work more than the quality of it, but to him it feels appropriately challenging). However, my 2nd grader is not nearly as content to go along with whatever the world brings to him. He is much more of a competitive spirit - he wants to be challenged. And he doesn't see the point in doing something that isn't challenging. He also had the same Kindergarten and 1st grade teachers as my older son and they also did their best to find ways to challenge him. We had several meetings with his 1st grade teacher, who was my husband's 1st grade teacher as well and so had decades of experience and was just really great at trying to juggle the needs of all the kids. She allowed my son to be excused from classroom instructions if he started to feel really bored and they had a little agreement worked out that he could go into the hallway and read something of his own choosing. My experience with his 2nd grade teacher (from my older son being in the class) is that she prefers to do most of her instruction in large group format and there just isn't the opportunity to individualize things. I was not able to identify anything concrete that she did for my older son to challenge him so I don't see how things will be different with this kid, except that he isn't going to just go along with it. Last year even despite the teacher's attempts he often acted out and didn't want to go to school. He never got in trouble at school but he let us know at home that he hated it and didn't want to go. So far this year he started off the year really happy and excited about the year but already last night there was a big tantrum over doing his homework (which was counting coins and something he knew how to do 2 years ago). I feel for him. Who wants to spend the bulk of their day doing busy work that they've mastered years before? Honestly, he could probably learn in 15 minutes what he needs to know each day to keep up with the class.
But what do I do about it? The school has discontinued their gifted program. No funding for it. All of their resources are going in to making sure no child is left behind and so there are no resources to help the ones who could get ahead. Homeschooling is not an option. I have to work at least part-time and he's too young to be left home alone. Private school would be a major challenge financially for us, and there are no private schools that we would consider near our home - it would involve a significant drive every day. And that's assuming I could convince DH to even consider it, given his parent's career history. Sending a kid to private school would be akin to Chelsea Clinton running for an office as a republican. There are no charter or magnet schools in our district. We have nothing. No options. Just send my kid off to spend 6 hrs a day essentially twiddling his thumbs and getting more and more resentful.