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#1 of 47 Old 09-21-2010, 05:31 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I have two well behaved and quiet children who are probably in the moderately gifted range, a first grader and a third grader. We have never pushed them, just sent them to school and they never went to preschool. They are both about two years ahead in their reading levels and much better than that in math, understanding multiplication and negative numbers at the end of kindergarten. They are remarkably similar, both easily making top grades with minimal effort in a highly rated elementary school. After seeing the end of the year assessments, the school principle told me that my son, the third grader, is 'one of the smartest children in the school'.

So since I receive so many perfect scores on papers from my kids, I would assume that they would be put in the top group for math/reading/spelling in their classes, but that is what I'm completely shocked and confused about. They never make it into the top groups for differentiation based upon the teachers' arbitrary opinions. The most recent example involves my daughter who didn't even have to study for her spelling tests and made a perfect score of 105% and yet her teacher didn't choose her to get the slightly more difficult list. Now if I tell the teacher and push for my child to be more challenged I'm sure the teacher would gladly abide, but why do I always have to do this. Isn't it obvious that when a child is making perfect scores and not even trying that hard that they need more challenge? Are the teachers all waiting for parents to speak up and advocate for their child? Are my kids just too shy and easily overlooked? Maybe I'm just too idealistic, but I think in a school where differentiation is part of the curriculum the teachers need to be able to recognize ability without waiting for a parent to 'advocate' for their child. Are the kids with the pushy parents getting preferential treatment? Is it possible that there are that many other kids who are gifted as well? Last year my son told me that he was the smartest boy in the class and everyone knew it yet the teacher wouldn't choose him for the top group. I don't know what to make of any of this.
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#2 of 47 Old 09-21-2010, 06:16 PM
 
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but why do I always have to do this. Isn't it obvious that when a child is making perfect scores and not even trying that hard that they need more challenge? Are the teachers all waiting for parents to speak up and advocate for their child? Are my kids just too shy and easily overlooked? Maybe I'm just too idealistic, but I think in a school where differentiation is part of the curriculum the teachers need to be able to recognize ability without waiting for a parent to 'advocate' for their child. Are the kids with the pushy parents getting preferential treatment? Is it possible that there are that many other kids who are gifted as well? Last year my son told me that he was the smartest boy in the class and everyone knew it yet the teacher wouldn't choose him for the top group. I don't know what to make of any of this.
Because you are their parent. And it is your job.

I'm having trouble understanding what you want. You want your children to be challenged in school, but then criticize the parents who do that by calling them "pushy."

There is cake, and there is eating it.

It might be more helpful to look at the parent teacher relationship as a partnership, and not a competition to see who gets in the first, top,etc.

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#3 of 47 Old 09-21-2010, 06:21 PM
 
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You are also going by what your son says. Maybe he IS in the top group and he doesn't know it?

If you want your child to have a more challenging spelling list, ask. Not all parents want their kids to have MORE homework or more challenging words. My son gets 100% on all of his spelling tests. He doesn't want a more difficult list, he's happy where he's at. If he wanted more challenging words, I'd ask the teacher OR prepare a list myself for us to practice at home to do. If I thought my son needed to be challenged more in the classroom, I would speak to the teacher about it. It's not pushy. It's being an adovocate for your child. No one else is going to do it....it's my job as my child's parent.

Good luck!

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#4 of 47 Old 09-21-2010, 07:14 PM
 
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Teachers are many things but we aren't mind readers. If you have questions, make an appointment and talk with her.
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#5 of 47 Old 09-22-2010, 03:18 AM
 
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Another thing to think about is that the teacher has no way to know how much or how little effort into the work the teacher sees. As a parent, you can tell that your child doesn't have to put in that much work.

I will say that quieter children tend to be overlooked more. It's true for gifted things, it's true for learning disabilities. It took me until 3rd grade to get differentiation for ds. Actually, in 1st grade I don't think he needed it. In 2nd he had a little for math, and an excellent reading teacher. But by the end of 2nd, his reading was far beyond what they were doing in class, and I could tell that his teacher had no clue that he was reading Charlie and Chocolate Factory at home while other kids were reading Junie B. Jones.

Dd, on the other hand, got differentiation within 2 weeks of starting 1st grade. She's much more outgoing. When I approached her teacher about her reading group (I wasn't sure how she would have done on the assessments, since didn't go to this school in K), I mentioned casually that dd was reading chapter books. "Oh, we know," she said. "M has told us." (Probably repeatedly .)

And kids don't always know what the top groups were. And sometimes they switch. When ds was in 1st, Ms. S. had the top reading group. So, I was very disheartened when I found out that dd (now in 1st) hadn't gotten Ms. S. I thought that they hadn't figured out how well she could read. So, I asked her teacher (Ms. J.) which group she placed into. It turns out they switched teachers and Ms. J (who dd got) was the one teaching the highest.

By all means, ask the teacher how those decisions were made. Explain to the teacher that your child finds things easy. I didn't specifically ask for differentiation. I told the teacher that dd was reading 2nd-3rd grade chapter books with ease (I suspect her instructional level is about 4th grade), that dd was expressing frustration because she was bored, and that she thrived on challenge. Dd got differentiation in reading and math.

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#6 of 47 Old 09-22-2010, 09:54 AM
 
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Originally Posted by connieculkins View Post
Maybe I'm just too idealistic, but I think in a school where differentiation is part of the curriculum the teachers need to be able to recognize ability without waiting for a parent to 'advocate' for their child. Are the kids with the pushy parents getting preferential treatment?
I see this completely differently than you do. I think that communicating with the teacher about what is going on, what she sees in the classroom, and what we see at home is just part of being a parent with a kid in school.

It's not a gifted issue, and it isn't pushy. It's just communicating.

but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#7 of 47 Old 09-22-2010, 11:55 AM
 
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Sometimes the "top" groups aren't what you think they are and one shouldn't assume they'd be the best fit for the gifted child. My eldest, for example, is very high up the gifted scale and she actually prefers to be in the high-achiever classes than the gifted ones. The high-achievers tend to be focused, independant and share her desire for perfection in their work. She often finds the gifted classes too scattered, intrusive and frustrating. Even in high school where she's being offered highly gifted classes for the first time, she gets annoyed with her peers and would rather do the same work in a high-achiever class. DS, who is pretty equal to her on the gifted scale LOVES any chance he gets to work with other gifted children. The classes are right up his alley and are in line with how he thinks and learns. It could be the teacher doesn't see the "top" group a good fit for your children personality wise.

I agree with PP that the teacher may not know how much effort they are putting in their work. They may not be showing what they actually know or how fast they process information. Does the teacher pre-test in class? It could be that your DD isn't passing the tests on pre-test day but doing well on the final tests being sent home. She may not have to study outside of school. What they do INSIDE school may be enough for her. In the teacher's eyes though, she missed the words on Monday and knew them on Friday making the spelling level appropriate. Often with spelling, how a teacher views needing differentiation is less about how your child does on tests and more about the vocabulary your child uses in speech and on paper. If they are using advanced vocab it's more clear that they need high level work.

I understand that in a perfect world, we could all send our kids to school and every teacher would instantly know exactly what each child needed and provide it. Unfortuately, that's just not possible. Yes, in a group of 20 kids, the ones that are asking for more, actively proving they need more, have parents with open communication are the ones going to get what they need. You really have to see school as a collaboration with the teacher not something for them to handle on their own. It's just natural to focus on the obviously struggling whether they are behind or advanced. A child that is doing well, is interactive and happy, well, they are low priority.

This is a good time to start teaching your children to be proactive in their education. Encourage them to speak up for themselves! I did this with my kids and I've really had to do very little in terms of advocating for them over the years.

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#8 of 47 Old 09-22-2010, 03:54 PM - Thread Starter
 
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So I inquired a bit more at the school about how the kids get chosen for differentiation and it's all based on 'parent' recommendation pretty much. So you can call this 'communication' or a 'partnership' or whatever buzzword is currently in vogue, but the fact of the matter is that you have to be pretty pushy to get this extra challenge for your kids. The spots fill up quickly and then the teachers are very reluctant to add kids after that.
A few of the moms I know personally who get their kids in these differentiated groups are very type A (unlike me) and are at the school very frequently complaining and going to the principle/vice-principle when they don't get exactly what they want. I think the teachers are afraid of these people. I talk to the teachers, but I'm more polite and never demanding. I guess I assumed that a teacher would know that a child wasn't being challenged if all their work was nearly flawless. I know that's what I would assume if I were a teacher.
My kids are very apathetic these days, don't like school and I'm sure they would thrive with more challenge, but I'm going to have to be a little more intimidating in order to get them this. I know for a fact after talking to the other moms that their kids need much more help at home to understand the material. I don't want my kids to have more work, just work that is more mentally stimulating, but maybe that's too much to ask from a public school.
My kids have always told me that school is easy or that the other kids don't seem to understand much or talk like babies, but I have always told them they they are never to say any of that at school because people will think they are bragging. Maybe I should have just let them brag like most kids do.
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#9 of 47 Old 09-22-2010, 04:52 PM
 
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My kids have always told me that school is easy or that the other kids don't seem to understand much or talk like babies, but I have always told them they they are never to say any of that at school because people will think they are bragging. Maybe I should have just let them brag like most kids do.
I certainly wouldn't encourage my kids to talk like that in or out of school and they haven't needed to to get accomodations. I don't encourage them to compare themselves to other kids either. I think it's a waste to be so upset with other parents who advocate for their kids. They are doing what they feel is right. If your perspective is truely accurate, well, then you need to start advocating for your kids. Personally, every teacher we've encountered has come to US about possible accomodations for our kids first. Still, I don't begrudge those that need to do a little more foot work for their kids.

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#10 of 47 Old 09-22-2010, 04:55 PM
 
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How do you have any idea whether the other parents are being pushy, demanding and intimidating when they ask the teacher for more challenge for their kids? Do you really think the other kids got differentiation because they bragged? Unless you were there in the room when the differentiation was discussed I don't think you can make any judgement about it. I've had several meetings with our school's principal and VP this year but in fact they've all been at their request, not mine. I hate to think that there might be parents who think I'm being pushy and intimidating the school officials into creating accommodations for my kids, when in fact all the impetus has come from the school's end, none at all from me.

I would suggest that before you try be "a little more intimidating" with the teachers you simply try meeting with them, communicating, discussing your kids' needs, and asking what the school could do in terms of differentiation to help. I don't see how pushiness needs to come into it.

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#11 of 47 Old 09-22-2010, 05:55 PM
 
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If you want something, you should open your mouth and ask for it.

If you don't ask for it, the school and/or teacher has no reason to believe that you're not perfectly happy with the way things currently are.

You call it "pushy." I call it "healthy" and "assertive."
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#12 of 47 Old 09-22-2010, 08:07 PM
 
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Sometime you have to be the one to do the work. You seem aggravated with the school but haven't discussed any of this with their teachers.

Though ds' K teacher did bring up the gifted program first (ds had behavior problems and it was never followed up on), he is at a new school this year and "I" filled out the parent nomination form two weeks before the teacher nomination came home from his teacher. Though we did discuss ds' abilities with his 1st grade teacher (in the context of his ADHD/Asperger's) she just seems to be really motivated to individualize instruction.

Though a lot of attention is paid towards those students who perform above grade level, it seems that gifted students often not "targeted" because they meet grade level standards.

If you don't feel that the school is meeting their needs then schedule a conference with the teacher.

I'm not a "type A" and I have to push myself to advocate for ds.

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#13 of 47 Old 09-22-2010, 10:27 PM
 
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Interesting. I teach high school. This week and last I have been conferencing with parents of really bright students about differentiation. Most parents are pleased that we, as teachers, see a need for opportunities for higher-level thinking for their children; but I also have parents who do NOT wish for their children to receive anything except the work done in the regular classes because their children are stretched thin with science fair, robotics competition, etc. I had one mom tell me she did not want her child tested for the gifted program because his plate was full with everything else. Fair enough.

Now, as a parent of gifted children, I will say that I have had to be a pretty strong advocate for them -- they are well-behaved, they do not get into trouble, and I think it's easy for them to be overlooked. Being at the school frequently and knowing what's going on in the classroom doesn't mean you are being pushy; it sounds as if you are reluctant to be labeled as such. Most of the time my children have had teachers who welcome my input; just as we only get part of the picture at home, so too teachers only get an incomplete view of the child's abilities at school. By coming together we can paint with broader strokes and add more details. I never think of my kids' teacher in terms of some "us v. them" battle -- but rather that we are in partnership to do what is most beneficial for my children.

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#14 of 47 Old 09-22-2010, 10:36 PM
 
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How do you have any idea whether the other parents are being pushy, demanding and intimidating when they ask the teacher for more challenge for their kids?
agreed. I'm not a pushy parent, and I'm pretty the much the opposite of a type A personality. Both my kids had differentiation in public school.

I talk to the teachers

I also really listen to them. They see my kids differently than I do because they see them compared to peers without me around, which is just different.

It's very odd to me that you don't see a middle ground between not saying anything and being intimidating. There is a HUGE middle ground of communicating and working together.

but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#15 of 47 Old 09-23-2010, 12:24 AM
 
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Are the teachers all waiting for parents to speak up and advocate for their child? Are my kids just too shy and easily overlooked? Maybe I'm just too idealistic, but I think in a school where differentiation is part of the curriculum the teachers need to be able to recognize ability without waiting for a parent to 'advocate' for their child. Are the kids with the pushy parents getting preferential treatment? Is it possible that there are that many other kids who are gifted as well? Last year my son told me that he was the smartest boy in the class and everyone knew it yet the teacher wouldn't choose him for the top group. I don't know what to make of any of this.
I sort of get where you are coming from...I think. It is unfair to kids as a whole that parents have to advocate for children in order to get their educational needs met. There will always be parents who do not want to advocate -and it hardly seems fair my child gets needed differentiation because I asked while other kids with similar issue but less proactive parents do not get what they require.

That being said....this is the way of the world. Squeaky wheels do get the grease. You are their mum - if they need differentiation - ask for it.
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#16 of 47 Old 09-23-2010, 11:23 AM
 
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Maybe "pushy" needs to be defined. From my perspective, a "pushy" parent is one gunning for opportunities and accomodations that their child doesn't need nor qualifies for. They are literally "pushing" their child forward into material they aren't developmentally nor intellectually ready for. Simply having a conversation or brainstorming session with a teacher about a child who has accelerated development and isn't fitting into the curriculum for whatever reason isn't "pushing" it's communicating that childs needs.

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#17 of 47 Old 09-23-2010, 12:30 PM
 
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I'm sympathetic to what I take to be your underlying concern here: that you have to push for your kids and thus be seen as obnoxious, a braggart, etc.

I think it's a tiny bit insensitive of the parents posting in response to you not to answer at the level of this concern. It is unfortunate that some of us have to advocate on behalf of our advanced, quiet, teacher-pleasing students, to make sure they are challenged. And yes, it is unfair that the school rewards parents who make a lot of noise rather than looking at the students individually and assessing their needs. Some parents are just more extroverted and have a greater sense of entitlement, so they don't mind being seen as pushy or overwhelming the teacher with requests. Also, there are regional differences. Assertiveness means one thing in the South and another thing entirely in the North. The definition of giftedness itself varies from state to state. Here in Texas, "leadership ability" is a main criterion for placement in GTA programs. I take that to mean that a poised, outgoing kid has a better chance of placement. How does that make any sense? Many gifted kids are highly sensitive and at risk for underachievement, yet the cards are stacking in such a way as to overlook those kids. One also has to factor in such things as teacher resentment and anti-intellectualism in the school system. Sensitive kids (and parents) can be put off by comments designed to intimidate or put them in their place.

That said, everyone here is right when they say that parental involvement and advocacy are necessary, regardless of whether it is fair or not. I hate advocating for my daughter. The teacher is sweet and well-intentioned and great in the classroom. I don't want to bother her. But my daughter needs differentiation in reading, and she won't get it unless I go in and push for it, EVEN THOUGH she tests three grade levels ahead, and EVEN THOUGH the teacher is supportive.

It's frustrating. There is a tendency to feel unheard and isolated in this. The whole public school system seems designed sometimes to take smart kids and destroy their love of learning. That's too cynical, I realize. But still.
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#18 of 47 Old 09-23-2010, 12:43 PM
 
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I'm sympathetic to what I take to be your underlying concern here: that you have to push for your kids and thus be seen as obnoxious, a braggart, etc.

I think it's a tiny bit insensitive of the parents posting in response to you not to answer at the level of this concern.
I think almost all the "insensitive" respondents did their best to reassure the OP that holding a conversation about your child's needs does not need to involve being obnoxious, pushy or a braggart. That's it's part and parcel of being a parent to have open lines of communication with the teacher.

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#19 of 47 Old 09-23-2010, 01:18 PM
 
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My kids are very apathetic these days, don't like school and I'm sure they would thrive with more challenge, but I'm going to have to be a little more intimidating in order to get them this.
Pushy means:

1. offensively assertive or forceful
2. aggressively or ruthlessly ambitious

You don't want to be pushy, which I agree with. I've never been pushy with *any* teacher. But I do not hesitate to email them before school starts, call, and communicate my child's needs.

What if your child had asthma, would you consider it pushy to inform the teacher? Think of it as any other life threatening condition. A young child who is apathetic about school would break my heart.

Now I am not a parent who "fits in" with most of the other parents at school, for various reasons, and I sense that there is a lot about the culture of your school that you don't like, and that you don't exactly fit in. But that doesn't stop me from being on the PTA, contacting the principal and teacher. I have to make myself do these things, because it helps my children. Sometimes you have to rock the boat.

My kids aren't wall flowers *at all.* They stick out, and I'm sure other parents have all kinds of theories and judgments about my kids and my parenting. But honestly, I don't care. I can't live my life trying to appear a certain way to other people. Life is just too short.

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#20 of 47 Old 09-23-2010, 01:22 PM
 
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I think it's a tiny bit insensitive of the parents posting in response to you not to answer at the level of this concern.
I think it's a tiny bit insensitive to label parents "pushy" because they're willing to ask for what their kids need.
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#21 of 47 Old 09-23-2010, 01:35 PM
 
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I'm sympathetic to what I take to be your underlying concern here: that you have to push for your kids and thus be seen as obnoxious, a braggart, etc.

I think it's a tiny bit insensitive of the parents posting in response to you not to answer at the level of this concern. It is unfortunate that some of us have to advocate on behalf of our advanced, quiet, teacher-pleasing students, to make sure they are challenged.
It seems passive-aggressive to me, to be honest. Even the way you have stated this here. You want what other parents want-- an adequate education for your child-- but then you are alluding that these parents are "obnoxious, braggarts."

I don't mean to be insensitive, I just don't want to wallow in this attitude.

Yes, it is sad that you have to ask for more reading for your polite child. But the other side of the coin is sitting through IEP meetings, having labels such as "emotionally disturbed" tossed out, going to therapists outside of school to prove to the school that there is nothing clinically wrong with your child--they are just different and yes gifted means more then high-achieving in a lot of situations--, appearing like your child has some serious mental/emotional problem that you are either causing or ignoring because you kids *does not* act like that outside of school, and so you don't know what is going on. That sometimes gifted kids are emotionally intense, and you don't need to give them medication or send them home from school. They just need appropriate learning environments.

So when a parent says, "oh, it is so hard, I have to ask the teacher for extra work for my child," I just want to say gird up thy loins! Sure, if wishes were horses we all would ride. But you have a choice--you can either partner with the teacher to see that your child's needs are met, or you can not.

Because being really, truly, pushy, obnoxious, etc. is *not* going to get your child what they need. But communicating your child's needs, partnering with the teacher and school, yes, that may get your child what they need.

I don't want to be insensitive, but rather light a fire under the OP. Don't accept apathy. Please, don't accept it!

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#22 of 47 Old 09-23-2010, 01:44 PM
 
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Maybe "pushy" needs to be defined. From my perspective, a "pushy" parent is one gunning for opportunities and accomodations that their child doesn't need nor qualifies for.
agreed. I also think that pushy parents are ones who don't listen to what the teacher or staff have to say. They go in with both guns loaded, ready for a fight. They assume confrontation.

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#23 of 47 Old 09-23-2010, 01:51 PM
 
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I think parent of gifted kids are often accused of being pushy - which might have "pushed" some posters buttons.

If we can put the concept of "pushy" aside I don't think what the OP is saying is entirely wrong.

I have a neighbour child - non gifted - who is struggling with the work. Her parents should advocate for her, but do not, and she is falling through the cracks IMNSHO. The school has bigger issues - so is dropping the ball on this as well.

Now if this were my child, there is no way I would allow this to happen. This child is sufferring because her parents and school are not stepping up to ball. It is not fair.

Alas, there is a lot of unfairness in the world. Part of your job is to do the best you can by your kids, do not fail to advocate because you annoyed with the system.
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#24 of 47 Old 09-23-2010, 02:08 PM
 
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Originally Posted by carmel23 View Post

So when a parent says, "oh, it is so hard, I have to ask the teacher for extra work for my child," I just want to say gird up thy loins! Sure, if wishes were horses we all would ride. But you have a choice--you can either partner with the teacher to see that your child's needs are met, or you can not.

Because being really, truly, pushy, obnoxious, etc. is *not* going to get your child what they need. But communicating your child's needs, partnering with the teacher and school, yes, that may get your child what they need.

I don't want to be insensitive, but rather light a fire under the OP. Don't accept apathy. Please, don't accept it!


Bolding mine.

I had an IEP meeting for my DD yesterday. It went really well. While we certainly held the meeting for my DD, I was struck as I left that going through this process may help more than my DD. The learning specialist had been researching gifted children (this is a board with very, very few identified children ) and seemed to be genuinely excited to help meet the needs of gifted students. Communicating your childs needs may be good for the class/school as a whole.

Part of asking for differentiation affects more than just your child. It is not a selfish or a "look at me" move.

Edited to add: I just read your update. If there really is some sort of pushy/competitive get your child into the top tier ASAP thing going on - that is not good. If your kids are genuinely gifted, they probably are not losing out much by not being in the top tier, anyway. If a top tier serves 25% of the population it is still not enough for most gifted kids. Ex: most kids have mice on their spelling list, top tier has mouse, but your kid can spell magnesium.
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#25 of 47 Old 09-23-2010, 02:22 PM
 
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I totally agree with the others regarding what is a pushy parents!!!

but this really bothers me-

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So I inquired a bit more at the school about how the kids get chosen for differentiation and it's all based on 'parent' recommendation pretty much.
---REALLY? that is a bit odd--if you can't or won't talk to the teacher I would address this with the VP or head principle -- it's just disturbing that "parents" recommends and they are put in-WOW!! doesn't fly at most schools that way

I really wouldn't wait either- I would have moved a long time ago on this but as you get more into the year I can see that the school may not wish to make another move.

as all have said, you need to step up and be a parent in your child's best interest and not keep sitting back

how has this not come up during the parent/teacher meetings in the past?

 

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#26 of 47 Old 09-23-2010, 02:56 PM
 
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Some of you are not reading my post very carefully. There is nothing "passive-aggressive" about what I wrote. I simply stated the truth, that when you advocate for your child, no matter how tactfully, and no matter how deservedly, there are certain other parents and administrators and educators who will deem you a pain in the butt. So if you are not by nature an assertive person, you may feel anxious making the effort. And you may wonder, as the OP does, why your child is not getting the benefit of differentiation when other children are without feeling comfortable finding out the answers. And you may resent the school system and make generalizations about its methods, even if this is not productive.

This is supposed to be a forum for supporting the parental anxiety that results when we contemplate how best to educate our gifted children. But when the OP expressed this anxiety, a bunch of posters reprimanded her without looking at the underlying anxieties, which I think is insensitive.

Of course, it's possible that I projected my anxieties. But I nowhere said that parents are "pushy" when they advocate. I am addressing a general cultural perception and not my own opinion of parental involvement. Sorry if that was unclear.
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#27 of 47 Old 09-23-2010, 02:58 PM
 
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I think you have a valid concern, OP, but you put people off with your language.

Culturally, there's a lot of hostility out there towards intellectualism and especially towards my-child-is-more-specialism. Really, it just about kills me to have to go in and advocate for my kid. I think if she had a learning or physical disability, it would be different, but I feel like a self-satisfied pushy chump saying "DD is bored and this work is too easy," especially since the school has not always been positive or reponsive. It IS hard, especially when people all around you (in my case) are saying "Oh, who cares...she's 6...let it go."

In an ideal world, yes, every child's needs would be noticed and met without parents needing to advocate. I totally agree.

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

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#28 of 47 Old 09-23-2010, 03:00 PM
 
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Originally Posted by connieculkins View Post
talk to the teachers, but I'm more polite and never demanding. I guess I assumed that a teacher would know that a child wasn't being challenged if all their work was nearly flawless. I know that's what I would assume if I were a teacher.
I'd like to challenge your assumptions about teaching a bit. Perhaps understanding how teachers can see things will help you. A teacher can't assume because the work is flawless, the child isn't being challenged. They can't see the effort being put in. I can assure you as an educator that there are students I teach whose work is flawless because they memorized the rules without understanding them or spent 3 times as much time on it as the student sitting next to them. If it takes a student three times as long to complete the task, they are probably quite challenged. How can I tell that student from the ones who get it quickly and easily? Without talking to the student (or parent, I teach college, so I don't talk to the parents), I cannot tell.

In addition, sometimes students who make mistakes reveal, in their mistakes, a sophistication of thinking that I couldn't uncover if they were flawless. It's clear from the mistakes (I'm sorry, I can't come up with any examples right now) that they understand the concepts and are trying to apply them to new and different situations. That sort of student is, in my opinion, much brighter than the student who can rotely apply the concepts.

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Originally Posted by connieculkins View Post
My kids are very apathetic these days, don't like school and I'm sure they would thrive with more challenge, but I'm going to have to be a little more intimidating in order to get them this.
A thought and a question: If your children are apathetic and checking out, it's time to get in there and advocate for them. This is a huge problem, IMO.

Question: Why is advocating for your child being 'intimidating'? This is what I said about dd to her teacher: "I'm concerned because dd is expressing frustration at being bored at school. I'm staring to see some of it in her behaviors at home. Unlike her brother (this teacher had had her brother before), dd thrives on being challenged, and will rise to meet the challenges. How do you think that we can address this?"

My conversation with ds' teacher last year went "I'm concerned because ds is getting frustrated any time he has to work to do something. I'm also concerned because the books he's bringing home from school are far below what I know he can read. At home, he's been reading... (I listed a few examples) But my real concern is the lack of challenge. Ds seems to think that if he has to spend more than 5 minutes on his homework, it's too hard. I need him to learn that it's OK to work on something and that being challenged doesn't mean he can't do it. How can we help him and challenge him?"

Is that intimidating? Pushy? I was direct, but very very polite. I didn't tell them how to do their job, I merely stated my concern and asked for their help in solving it. I find that approach works really really well. If you engage the teachers in helping to solve a common problem, they are often willing to help.

Now, it's entirely possible that the school that you're in (from your description, I'm imagining a East Coast suburban school in a rich district with lots of professional parents) that my little spiels would have done no good. If that's the case, then you need to:
-List the behaviors you see with your children concerning school work that demonstrate that they get it
-List the behaviors (including things they've said) that concern you (apathy)
-State clearly that you want help in resolving the behaviors that concern you and that you think that differentiation is the solution.
-If they push back and say "but that class is full...." simply restate: My kids need differentiation because the work they're doing now is too easy. It's beginning to negatively affect how they view school. How can we get them there? If you can't help me, who else can you point me to?

Many others have made the great point that you do need to advocate for your child. In a perfect world, we'd have classes of 15 students per one and the teacher would have time to really get to know each of the students and tailor the curriculum to them. But like world peace, that seems to be a long way off in the public school system.

In the meantime, it's up to us to advocate for our children, even when it's hard to do so. I'm an educator, and I don't like to do it. I understand that. But think of it this way: your kids need you to demonstrate that you are interested in their schooling and that you're willing to go to bat for them. Parental involvement at school is one of the big predictors of student success. (Note I didn't say 'achievement', I said success, there's a difference.)

I'm also wondering if this is really the right school for your family. I hear a lot of resentment and anger toward the other parents at this school. Is there another schooling option for your kids that would meet your family values better?

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#29 of 47 Old 09-23-2010, 04:39 PM
 
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In addition, sometimes students who make mistakes reveal, in their mistakes, a sophistication of thinking that I couldn't uncover if they were flawless. It's clear from the mistakes (I'm sorry, I can't come up with any examples right now) that they understand the concepts and are trying to apply them to new and different situations. That sort of student is, in my opinion, much brighter than the student who can rotely apply the concepts.
This is sort of off topic but I totally agree. I was helping out a 5th grade teacher a few years back and she shared how interesting it was that certain questions were routinely missed by gifted kids and how she loved reading their answers every year (and the lively debate that would follow when she passed the tests back.) They would over think, assume more complexity than was there, jump to connections that weren't exactly incorrect but not the appropriate answer to the current level of study, ect. These were questions that were rarely missed by her average students.

Married mom of two, DD 17 and DS 13.
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#30 of 47 Old 09-24-2010, 09:51 AM
 
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As parents, we know are our children better than a teacher ever will (although teachers often get to see a side of our kids that we don't). As a parent, I advocate for my child, but that is very different from being "pushy". I have regular conversations with the teacher in person or by email. We discuss behavior, challenges, and areas where DS excels. Learning in school is a partnership in various combinations: teacher-student, teacher-parent, and parent-student. You seemed to have forgotten the 2nd one.

DS was a reluctant reader and wasn't testing well in K or early 1st. But I knew from my observations he was on the verge of a break through. So I discussed it with the teacher and she made the decision with my agreement to bump him up a reading group to see if that would jump start him. It did! His reading took off like a rocket. But without us having a conversation about it, things would probably not have changed. I also listen to my DS and when he says something is too hard or too easy, I challenge him to think about ways he might ask the teacher for an adjustment to what he is doing. That way he gets involved in the conversation and learns to advocate for himself.

So open up a conversation. A good way to do that is to volunteer in the classroom. Teachers always need an extra set of hands and then you can get to know the teacher better without feeling like you are just charging in and demanding something for your children.

Kris wife to Stew and mom to Joey 8/03 who cares for , 2 frogs and a worm
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