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#1 of 23 Old 06-23-2010, 11:07 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Most school districts are moving towards inclusive education models for children with exceptionalities. How do you as a parent of a gifted child (Or possibly a gifted person yourself), feel about this? Do you think differentiated instruction is enough? Do you feel it depends on how gifted the child is?

And if you have the time... what would your "dream" gifted program look like?
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#2 of 23 Old 06-23-2010, 11:28 PM
 
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Honestly? I think kids are kids are kids. IQ doesn't change that. I was fast-tracked through several skipped grades etc. and ended up at a major social disadvantage. I think inclusion education is appropriate on both ends of the IQ spectrum. Differentiating kids based on IQ or disability teaches children to segregate themselves based on those same standards. Just because I have a high IQ doesn't mean I'm better than or set apart from my peers, whether I'm a child or an adult. I really had a long road to overcome with a chip on my shoulder attitude that *I* was sooooo smart because *I* was skipped ahead, pulled out for 'HARD' classes, exempt from doing 'regular' work etc. When I became an adult it was a difficult concept for me to internalize, that other adults offered a wealth of information above and beyond mine that I could benefit from.

So I definitely am pro-inclusion

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#3 of 23 Old 06-23-2010, 11:51 PM
 
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I think it can work if the gifted child has a few peers (or at least one!) in the class and the teacher is very adept at differentiation. I would think that reading and math would all need to be done on several levels.
Everyone deserves a peer that 'gets' them, understands and appreciates their humor, and likes them for all that they are. Depending on the degree of giftedness, this can be difficult to find and even harder in an inclusive classroom.
If your child is highly gifted it is unlikely the teacher will be able to differentiate the academics sufficiently, although there are some really amazing ones who will manage.

A quote I recently heard and liked - if you find that you are the smartest one in the room - you need to find another room!
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#4 of 23 Old 06-24-2010, 02:13 AM
 
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Gifted kids can be as different from eachother as they are from average peers. There is no one answer to a happy, healthy, well-educated child and we do injustice to all when we try to say one method is the ultimate answer.

Personally, for our kids, the most beneficial accomodations were made in addition to a GATE program. Between the two kids, we've done grade acceleration, subject acceleration, in-class differentiation, compacted curriculum, foriegn language immersion, gifted clusters, full gifted classes, and gifted pull-outs. No ONE thing has been the answer. Both the kids are high on the gifted scale and have needed multiple accomodations. I'm just grateful to have been in a district that believes in flexibility and didn't rely on a gifted class alone being the a magic patch.

We know many gifted kids. Some have loved gifted-only classes. Some have loved homeschooling. Some have wanted a little accomodation in their high subject and happy to focus on leadership, arts, social interaction the rest of their school time. So sure, I think inclusion programs can work just as well as anything else depending on the personality of the child in it.

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#5 of 23 Old 06-24-2010, 02:49 AM
 
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In our area it seems that differentiation is the way it is handled until at least grade 5 or 6. I personally do not like the idea, mostly because I know that teachers are overworked already and that differentiation is a great idea but a lot of work to implement. My BIL is a teacher and scoffs at the idea of actually implementing it (but he is at the high school level, IDK if that matters).

It could be well done one year and poorly done the next, so it's a constant unknown.

I also wish for/long for a gifted school or program because I am projecting my own desires on my kids. I think that a school like that would have made a WORLD of difference to me at the primary level. I ended up at a good private high school which did make a big difference for me (in some ways it was still "easy," but ultimately I chose to stay instead of going on to college early because of the relationships I had). Would it really be the best for my kids? IDK.

In our local school, there are tons of split classes and it is pretty small. Most people around here are very happy with it and the teachers. I *think* it is a good school that really does try to meet all of its students where they have needs, but I don't like the uncertainty. It makes it pretty impossible to ask questions about how they might handle a gifted kid - well, it makes the answer one-worded and doesn't really tell me (someone whose kids are still little) what it really would look like on a day to day basis.

I am leaning towards homeschooling, so maybe I am just looking to be frustrated with the ambiguity of it, and if I were set on public schooling I might well see the pregnant possibility of it...

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#6 of 23 Old 06-24-2010, 08:12 AM
 
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I am not the parent of a gifted child (as far as we know) but was identified as gifted as a child. Here is my problem with the inclusion model for gifted kids. At least in the US, children with identified special needs or disabilities receive an IEP that requires specific accommodations in order to make the "regular" classroom work for them. However as far as I know (and certainly in MA where we live) there is nothing comparable for gifted children who are being "mainstreamed". I could see inclusion working for many gifted children if they had the same sorts of protections and recourse that children with disabilities and special needs have. However, without that, it is way too easy for a bright child who is not disruptive to fall between the cracks and not have their needs met.
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#7 of 23 Old 06-24-2010, 08:25 AM
 
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Originally Posted by CourtBChase View Post
At least in the US, children with identified special needs or disabilities receive an IEP that requires specific accommodations in order to make the "regular" classroom work for them. However as far as I know (and certainly in MA where we live) there is nothing comparable for gifted children who are being "mainstreamed".
It depends on the state. Some places do IEP for gifted kids.

As far as differentiation, I think it depends on how well it is done. Our school district as gifted pullout programs for k-8, readily provides differentiation, and once in a blue moon allows a child to skip a grade.

It works well, partly because of the attitude of the teachers/administration and partly because of money. Our average class size is 19, so it's just a lot easier for the teachers to meet the kids where they are then in a school were the average class size is 28.

but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#8 of 23 Old 06-24-2010, 09:01 AM
 
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I was hoping this thread would bring out somebody with a citation to the study that was done which suggested that gifted kids are the only kids who don't benefit from inclusion. I guess I'll have to find it myself.

I certainly know that in my experience, school was an awful experience until I made it to the congregated gifted program, both socially and educationally. Even in the congregated gifted program, those of us who were at the top of the bell curve without studying never learned how to learn.

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mother of Patrick (7/31/03), and Michael, William, and Jocelyn (4/27/07)
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#9 of 23 Old 06-24-2010, 09:24 AM
 
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My kids are in a private school with mixed age classes. My dd1's class last year was 3rd/4th/5th graders, although usually it's just 2 grades that are mixed. I think it's an amazing model and has really helped many kids in many different ways. My kids have certainly thrived there. By the very nature of model, each child has to be viewed individually and the teacher must meet them where they are. Here are some links if anyone is interested. These are just from my bookmarks and I haven't looked over them in a while so take that as a caveat:

http://www.ncrel.org/sdrs/areas/issu...rctn/in500.htm
http://www.kidsource.com/kidsource/c....group.pn.html
http://ceep.crc.uiuc.edu/eecearchive...5/lkmag95.html

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#10 of 23 Old 06-24-2010, 10:10 AM
 
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I feel that DD would thrive in a gifted-only class; however, I would be just fine with in-class differentiation if it was done well. I would far prefer differentiation to skipping for DD.

grateful mother to DD, 1/04, and DS, 2/08

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#11 of 23 Old 06-24-2010, 10:12 AM
 
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I was hoping this thread would bring out somebody with a citation to the study that was done which suggested that gifted kids are the only kids who don't benefit from inclusion. I guess I'll have to find it myself.
I saw an article about it many years ago, but I haven't been able to find it. I wonder why too, because it seems like the sort of thing that would be cited frequently, the way the report, A Nation Deceived, is when acceleration is raised.

I found the following articles that discuss the issues, but are unfortunately light on citing studies:

Article on differentiation

Article on Ability Grouping

Article on Ability Grouping vs. Tracking

I also found this article on meta-analysis of ability grouping research, but it's not the one I recall. It does state:

The Michigan analysts concluded that the strongest
benefits from grouping were found in programs in which there was a great deal of adjustment of curriculum for highly talented learners. The Hopkins meta-analysts did not find any strong positive effects of grouping, but they also did not examine grouping programs designed for highly talented students.

A careful re-analysis of findings from all the studies included in the two sets of meta- analyses confirmed that higher aptitude students usually benefit academically from ability grouping.
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#12 of 23 Old 06-24-2010, 10:17 AM
 
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I think it can work if the gifted child has a few peers (or at least one!) in the class and the teacher is very adept at differentiation.
I agree. I think a wide degree of differentiation is difficult for the teacher unless they have a lot a support and appropriate resources from the school.

What we observed in our school was that they did "differentiation", but only to a certain degree. A child one grade level above or below could be pretty easily accommodated. But more than that was really outside the range of what the teacher had the time and resources to accommodate.

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#13 of 23 Old 06-24-2010, 10:17 AM
 
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Oh, and I'm coming back to answer the OP when I have a little more time!
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#14 of 23 Old 06-24-2010, 10:19 AM
 
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We don't have a G&T program for elem., so my experience is with inclusion. I like the idea as an idea. The practical reality is that differentiation only works if it is a solid program, done with as much consistency as anything else that's mandated. I didn't see that this year.
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#15 of 23 Old 06-24-2010, 02:56 PM
 
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Honestly? If a school we were looking at for DD only promised in class differentiation, we wouldn't send her (unless it was our ONLY option and homeschooling was illegal). Then again, we're not going to be looking for a traditional school for DD (especially one with age segregation, which I'm pretty against in general).

We're going to try either to find a Montessori school or free school, possibly homeschooling (rather unschooling). I'm a strong believer in child-led education and multi-age classrooms. I've seen first hand the difference in DD's learning from playing with her older cousins vs. playing with friends her own age. With her older cousin (one specially who is 5 years older than her). She can play for hours with her but when it comes to friends her own age they play for like 5 minutes and then DD is running off to do something else. It goes both ways, and I could tell that her old cousin was learning patience but also having fun being the one that "knows" more and teaching too.

Just from DH's own experience and mine too. In class differentiation is more of a pipe dream than a reality. I was technically in a gifted pull-out where they were supposed to have a tutor for me to learn algebra in elementary school... yeah, the tutor never showed up so instead they gave me a calculator to play with . Plus, I then had to make up all the homework that I missed and some of my teachers had some clear resentment issues towards gifted kids. Sure I had good teachers some years but the bad ones made my life miserable for that year. The in class differentiation consisted of extra math worksheets and making me memorize a longer poem for a class play. Nothing that was particularly challenging or interesting. It only got better once I got to middle school/high school where they started doing subject acceleration and there were a number of AP classes available. Ironically, then I got much better grades, and was much more engaged in school... go figure.

So... I guess I'm REALLY biased, I'll admit that upfront. But, no, unless it was a really unusual situation, I wouldn't send my daughter to a school that just promised in class differentiation. But then again, I wouldn't want to send my daughter to a typical public school either, on philosophical grounds, regardless of giftedness or not.
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#16 of 23 Old 06-24-2010, 04:57 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Theoretica View Post
Just because I have a high IQ doesn't mean I'm better than or set apart from my peers, whether I'm a child or an adult. I really had a long road to overcome with a chip on my shoulder attitude that *I* was sooooo smart because *I* was skipped ahead, pulled out for 'HARD' classes, exempt from doing 'regular' work etc. When I became an adult it was a difficult concept for me to internalize, that other adults offered a wealth of information above and beyond mine that I could benefit from.
I agree this attitude is problematic, but I don't connect it with being grade skipped. I've seen very little of this attitude among kids who have been radically accelerated. Instead it seems it seems to bring out a more humble grounded attitude. However, I'm sure many of us can think of people we know who were not grade skipped and did not receive gifted programming who developed an attitude similar to what you described. Perhaps it is even easier to get this attitude when you are never challenged and don't spend time with intellectual peers.
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#17 of 23 Old 06-24-2010, 05:22 PM
 
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There has been similar thread recently where lots of people chimed in on, including myself, so rather than just repeating myself, I'll try to link it:

http://mothering.com/discussions/sho...oto=nextoldest

editd to add that I agree with everything mom2ponygirl said, only I'd go as far as saying that one peer isn't enough, every child deserves a group.

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Differentiating kids based on IQ or disability teaches children to segregate themselves based on those same standards. Just because I have a high IQ doesn't mean I'm better than or set apart from my peers, whether I'm a child or an adult. I really had a long road to overcome with a chip on my shoulder attitude that *I* was sooooo smart because *I* was skipped ahead, pulled out for 'HARD' classes, exempt from doing 'regular' work etc.
Theoretica, do you mean to say that you are even against differentiating work for gifted kids? What on earth would have been accomplished if they'd made you do "regular" work all through your schooling? If you're homeschooling, do your own children do "regular" work, ie what would be considered grade level work? I am really confused as to what kind of "inclusion" you are advocating for.

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#18 of 23 Old 06-24-2010, 05:54 PM
 
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My bias is obvious in the fact that my son is in a full time gifted program.

His K year he was in the classroom of a wonderful teacher. She was a former special ed. teacher and she had a real gift for differentiating for her special ed. students. She tried very had to differentiate effectively for my son. However, it took all year for her to even come somewhere kinda close to finding the appropriate level in reading. She just didn't have the time or resources to figure out what his top or his optimal reading level was. She enjoyed working on more advanced materials with my son. She found solutions that kept him engaged even if the didn't challenge him (she had him reading non-fiction so even if the reading wasn't education the facts in the books were interesting). She tried to accommodate different ability levels in math as well, but was really not successful in getting to the level of difficulties that a child several years ahead in math needed either.

But honestly, she didn't have the time or resources to differentiate the curriculum to the degree he really needed. Plus she had several Special Ed. students at the other end of the spectrum that she was also trying to differentiate for. At the end of the day if a choose came down to spending more time trying to accommodate the students who were behind or my son who was ahead it was a clear choice (and to a certain degree I feel rightly so). And as someone else mentioned she had the legal framework to accommodate the students that were significantly behind with an IEP as well as the legal requirement to do so. Not to mention a whole team to help her meet those students needs. That was not something that the kids who were ahead had. Therefore it was much less likely that the kids who were ahead would get significant differentiation.

This was with a teacher who was skilled at differentiation and enjoyed differentiation. Imagine a teacher who is resentful of the accommodation she has to make for a student who is ahead, one who just isn't good at differentiation, or one who just has no desire to differentiate.

He ended the year frustrated by how little he learned. I also saw the beginnings of some underachieving/perfectionist tendencies from it.

We moved on to a full-time gifted program where in class differentiation is still necessary. But there is a more effective framework for ability grouping within the classroom and a higher probability of finding students at similar levels.

Mom to DS 4/24/03 and DD 4/17/06
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#19 of 23 Old 06-24-2010, 06:12 PM
 
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Do you think differentiated instruction is enough?
I think "differentiated instruction" is a pretty broad term. There are lots of instructional approaches and methods that could be called "differentiated instruction". Some are great value for gifted students and others not. Generally, giving out extra worksheets (i.e. more of the same) to the students who finish the regular assignment in 5 minutes instead of 30 minutes is pretty useless. Providing a mentor who exposes the student to enriching activities is pretty useful.

There are probably good examples of differentiated instruction in the regular classroom. Quite honestly, I haven't seen many, but my dc have been in congregated classrooms for much of their schooling.

As others have discussed, finding peers is important. It's a huge benefit of full-time gifted programs and very difficult to replicate in other educational settings.

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Do you feel it depends on how gifted the child is?
I suspect that profoundly gifted students will struggle to find appropriate educational opportunities in most formal school settings, including typical congregated gifted classrooms. They are as different from the moderately and highly gifted as those students are from "regular" students. I think the profoundly gifted will respond the least to differentiated programs in the regular classroom. I also think it would be very hard to offer a differentiated program that meets their needs. These students will likely respond best to some combination of gifted classes, homeschooling, radical acceleration, virtual schooling, and early college entrance.

Personality and emotional development are important variables too, not just extent of giftedness, for integrating into a regular classroom. Children differ in their ability to delay gratification, their patience and resilience, and similar qualities that make some children better able to tolerate less than ideal environments.


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And if you have the time... what would your "dream" gifted program look like?
Well, it would probably look a lot like my dream school for any child. I too would borrow a lot of Montessori elements, if not the entire method, lol!

Multi-age classrooms and self-directed learning make acceleration a less pressing issue. If a classroom includes children from a flexible age-range of 3 or so years, they will be able to work up or down several levels with little extra effort on the part of the teacher. If acceleration is warranted, then it's easier to manage what would otherwise be a 3 or more year grade skip by simply moving a child into the next multi-age classroom. So I would start with those elements.

I'd add in lots of experiential learning, problem-based learning, and individual and team projects that develop research and critical thinking skills. I'd use a cross-disciplinary approach, so that academics aren't segregated into single subject areas.

I'd create bridges to the community to foster mentors in the school and learning/work opportunities outside, including co-op work/study programs and volunteer/service programs. I think this is especially important in the middle school and high school years.

Most importantly, there would be daily music/art/physical activity instruction/opportunities.

There's probably a lot more I could write, but I hope that gives you a picture.
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#20 of 23 Old 06-25-2010, 01:46 AM
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Based on my own experiences as a schoolchild (my mother chose to keep me out of the GATE program that was held at another school), I think inclusion can be problematic. I was always in the highest reading group but still had already read all the books we were studying. I remember sitting so bored in class as we all took turns reading aloud. I would finish the book the day the teacher handed them out, then wait a month as the class worked through them. I was given extra books to read... when the teacher finally noticed I had already read the book, which was rare. Mostly I fended for myself. Looking back, I have to wonder what might have been if I had been given a little more structure, some tips on where to go next. I'm glad I had the freedom to just read, but in the classroom setting I was more likely to sit around rereading books I'd loved. (Ah yes, and my favorite: they didn't even have books at my reading level until I went into 7th grade; I was at college level for years in elementary school, but couldn't check out books I was interested in. When I hit junior high and discovered they carried "adult" books, I practically lived in the library.)

That said, there were times when the teachers did wonderful things, like letting me type up the huge stories I wrote in class and even, in high school, put on a performance with a few other really advanced kids, of a related one act.

As a teacher myself, I am unimpressed by the differentiation I see in the schools around here. There's more and more focus on getting more kids to the top levels on the state tests, and while high school honors and AP classes are challenging, depending on the teacher it becomes more about how good a student one can be rather than how far learning goes. And there is NO guarantee of accomodations for advanced students. I know some teachers will respond well to requests but even the best have to worry much more about IEPs' legal requirements than a gifted kid. I have heard plenty of teachers and admins complain about pushy parents, too.

It's all part of why we're homeschooling. This way, DD can have the freedom to pursue her interests, can have instruction tailored just for her, and can engage authentically with the many others HSing in our circle in community projects, etc.
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#21 of 23 Old 06-25-2010, 09:09 AM
 
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I was hoping this thread would bring out somebody with a citation to the study that was done which suggested that gifted kids are the only kids who don't benefit from inclusion. I guess I'll have to find it myself.
Students w/disabilities have done well.
http://www.hoagiesgifted.org/eric/faq/i-long.html

Gifted students, not so much.
http://www.davidsongifted.org/db/Articles_id_10131.aspx


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I think "differentiated instruction" is a pretty broad term. There are lots of instructional approaches and methods that could be called "differentiated instruction". Some are great value for gifted students and others not. Generally, giving out extra worksheets (i.e. more of the same) to the students who finish the regular assignment in 5 minutes instead of 30 minutes is pretty useless. Providing a mentor who exposes the student to enriching activities is pretty useful.

There are probably good examples of differentiated instruction in the regular classroom. Quite honestly, I haven't seen many, but my dc have been in congregated classrooms for much of their schooling.

As a former public school teacher of gifted kids, I can tell you that inclusion does not support gifted learning. The vast majority of teachers have no idea how to differentiate (although they throw the term around); generally, as mentioned above, "differentiation" means more work, go read a book or be a teacher's helper (go make copies and have free rein in the hall to run errands). I don't know that gifted kids should be isolated completely, but academically, especially in areas in which they are gifted, they need to be with other gifted students. There is a lot more research, but I don't have it on this computer; I taught teachers in a gifted endorsement program, and we did a lot of reading on successful models.

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#22 of 23 Old 06-25-2010, 09:23 AM
 
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Thank you for posting those articles. Great reading. And I agree with much of the rest of your post.
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#23 of 23 Old 06-25-2010, 01:04 PM
 
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Well, it would probably look a lot like my dream school for any child. I too would borrow a lot of Montessori elements, if not the entire method, lol!

Multi-age classrooms and self-directed learning make acceleration a less pressing issue. If a classroom includes children from a flexible age-range of 3 or so years, they will be able to work up or down several levels with little extra effort on the part of the teacher.

[...]

I'd add in lots of experiential learning, problem-based learning, and individual and team projects that develop research and critical thinking skills. I'd use a cross-disciplinary approach, so that academics aren't segregated into single subject areas.

I'd create bridges to the community to foster mentors in the school and learning/work opportunities outside, including co-op work/study programs and volunteer/service programs. I think this is especially important in the middle school and high school years.

Most importantly, there would be daily music/art/physical activity instruction/opportunities.

There's probably a lot more I could write, but I hope that gives you a picture.
ITA. this is the sort of stuff we were looking for when looking at schools for DS. He is going to be going to a gifted school... but that was not what we started out looking for. Instead, I think b/c this school is small, private, new, and serves high-performing kids, they are able to be more relaxed and creative in their pedagogical approach. I hope its as good as it seemed anyway! None of these things seem important specifically or only for gifted kids. If school was like this, maybe only the PG would need special services...

ITA w/ physmom on the different styles of play when doing cross-age. Its been a great benefit to my son to be around older AND younger kids. Its so neat to see him take on that caregiving role with his younger friends as he gets older. And now that he's an older brother too. One thing I had a hard time finding (and gave up on) was anything mixed-age outside montessori. DS has been in a mixed-age Waldorf kindy for 2 years and its been great. That said, there are no formal academics at all (what I wanted for his age!) so differentiation in that sense isn't an issue.

dissertating mom to three

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