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#1 of 26 Old 12-05-2011, 05:32 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I have been to our local public elementary’s orientation evening and it left me feeling really weird.

I was not sure whether to post this here or over in the Learning at School forum because I am not sure how much of my discomfort is about having been a presumably gifted parent (with a traumatic elementary school experience under my belt) and having a presumably gifted child (who’s already had his share of difficulties in preschool) and how much of it is about the attitude this principal’s displayed being really odd (I use the word “displayed” advisedly, I’m getting to that).

Whether it’s a cultural thing and it’s just me, having lived and gone to school in a number of places both at home and abroad before moving here where the biggest move most people have ever undergone in their lives is moving from the next village over (though both a friend who went and my DH who heard about it, neither of whom having lived abroad, but having at least left the area to go to university, were rather put off, too) or maybe a class thing (solid middle class area, but mainly the equivalent of associate’s degrees, hardly any 4 year degrees, let alone professionals, and most of those seem to choose private schools).

Maybe you can help me tease it apart – if this sounds disjointed, it’s because I am not sure what to think at all.  

 

The principal and their (only) male teacher introduced the concept of “school readiness”, lots of “socio-emotional” and “sensory” and “physical” bullet points on the list, I remember that the “cognitive” list, oddly, did not appear to have single point on it actually to do with cognitive ability, save for something about understanding quantities (this is grades 1 through 4). Lots of stress on being to able to keep track of your stuff (from the male teacher, with the principal insisting that some kids never get it anyway). On being able to tie shoelaces by fourth grade when kids grow out of velcro fastened sneakers so the teacher will actually get around to teaching gym class as opposed to having to tie 25 pairs of shoes. On having to do lots of colouring and cutting in order to build up hand strength for the writing demands by fourth grade, even those kids who hate it, though they say they have relented on this compared to what they used to demand. Lots of good and supportive stuff on their wrap-around care program for those parents who need it. So far so good.

 

Then they go into how parents were to trust the school to get all kids on the same page eventually. How there were not to compare “this other kid I know already knows nine letters and my kid’s class has covered only four.” How they were not to worry if they heard that another kid was going in being able to read two or three words “there’s always some kids who pick this up over the summer, but they won’t have an advantage over yours that doesn’t, they’ll all catch up within 6 weeks.” How they weren’t to be afraid of what their kid would have to learn in school – “it’s just minus and plus, times and shared by, okay, they should be reading alright, and be able to write some, though not with all correct spelling, but should have heard some of the rules – that’s all we do until fourth grade. That’s all you need for secondary school! You’re kid may not make every track, but really there’s nothing more than this!”

(DH, who is a secondary school teacher, when he had this relayed to him: “what do they consider themselves, some kind of pre-school?!?” The odd thing is that it is an outright lie – this particular school, having a fairly homogenuous intake, happens to have rather high standards and certainly does not stop at what she was pretending they stopped. Just some weird act to reassure overprotective parents? This is just one of the one thing on which I think I might be totally out of tune with most of my neighbourhood. Why wouldn't I want my kid to learn and be challenged?).

 

People asked about the new 1/2 split. The principal (who taught the first one for two years) professed herself really enthusiastic. Kids showing all kinds of growth and enthusiasm. 1st grade kids asking for 2nd grade stuff - “we give them just the easy stuff, of course, stuff 1st graders can do too”! 2nd grade kids being able to fill in gaps! So much energy released that she was quite glad she had a “normal” class again this year! On being questioned, by yours truly, what happened when those inquisitive first graders moved up into second grade, she confessed that, gosh, they still kept asking for more, so they they really had to think of additional stuff to give them “though not 3rd grade material, of course, nobody wants THAT!” Dear me, no, of course not. On my next question whether they “differentiate” in the other grades as well, not just in the splits “but of course we do! You can’t teach these days without differentiating! The times of sorting kids into open-and shut drawers are over!” Right. I didn’t dare ask for examples of what “differentiating” consisted for them.

 

Then I happened to want to know under what circumstances they’d consider a child for early entry. First reaction of the principal: “Personally, I’d never do it”. (As the principal of the public school he’s zoned for, she’s the one would have to approve it for DS, regardless of whether he goes to her school or ends up in private). Apparently, she was approached about it by the pre-school teachers for her own daughter, but refused on the grounds that “being born in January, she would have had to be evaluated by a school psychologist, and I would never have lived it down in the district.” Probably an astute assessment of the attitude in the district, but, as DH immediately said, “a deplorable attitude of hers to display towards school psychologists.” Wonder what she’d say if she heard that DS has been seen by a psychiatrist?

She then said that the first and foremost consideration for her would be that the child “really wants to go to school”. The male teacher then explained that they’d had one March-born child who had been entered early on the psych’s eval and you could really tell the difference in socio-emotional maturity, frustration tolerance etc. (“oh yes”, the principal chimed in “frustration tolerance, whew!”) but that that particular girl was so capable it was the right decision for her. The principal then concluded the discussion with reiterating how personally, she’d never do it, and “it’s really nice when things come real easy, you know?”

No, personally, I wouldn’t know, I actually only know what it was like to feel completely stifled not meeting a single academic challenge in elementary even after a grade skip. Only I do not know who to tell this IRL.

 

I will need to take DS in to be seen by her so she will, or will not, approve early entry. I feel like asking her “were you actually serious?” I feel like asking her “ if a kid and the parents happen to be okay with the kid being given out-of grade material, would you still insist nobody wants that?” I feel like asking her “have you ever encountered a kid who was doing advanced stuff that not every other kid caught up with within 6 weeks and what, if anything, did you do about it?” I feel like I cannot ask any of these things without being put into the open-and-shut drawer THAT MOM and making an enemy right away. And no, while you can ask for the child to be put into the 1/2  split, they won’t guarantee it and it’s like 1 place out of 4.

Is there anything I can do to make me feel this school, which is just round the block, would be a good option for DS?


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#2 of 26 Old 12-05-2011, 09:49 AM
 
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Parents of gifted children never hear what we want in these sorts of meetings... we just don't. Entering K parents are a really intense bunch these days all incredibly worried about whether their child is ready. If the school goes too far on the academic emphasis, you end up like our district where people red-shirt their developmentally on-target children in droves. I remember sitting through our first orientation and another parent asked about "advanced" kids. The teacher did a quick 15 second vague answer hinting at differentiation and then spent a good 10 minutes assuring the rest of the parents that it wasn't normal and their children would be successful even if they started school not yet able to read. We ended up having this same teacher and she recognized DD as advanced within 2 minutes of walking in the class, immediately tried several ways to accommodate including subject acceleration and was actually instrumental in DD moving to 1st grade after Winter Break even though it hadn't been done in the district in decades. So, as turned off by this teacher at orientation, she was the right K teacher for DD.

 

Group meetings are not the place to discuss gifted children. The staff really has to be careful because in this parenting culture, people can be pretty desperate for their kids to be "better" in some way. The vast majority of people who consider their preschooler "advanced" are those with kids who can write their first AND last name, count past 20 or read a few super high-frequency words like "stop." Yes, that child is bright and who knows, may very well be gifted BUT, those aren't skills you send a child to kindergarten early with. You aren't going to get any REAL answers about your own child until you sit down with them privately and they understand exactly the sort of "advanced" you are talking about. Personally, I'd just wipe out what you heard at orientation and set-up a meeting with the principal privately to discuss the matter.

 

I do understand the emphasis on not comparing children. Those early grades, there is a very wide range of normal and there are skills that are just waiting for that developmental "click" to take place which is very child specific. It IS true that by 4th grade, there is some "evening out." Now, before you scream at me, really read to what I'm saying. The kids who started K advanced because they went to 3 years of academic preschool don't retain that "edge" because by 4th grade, the kids who entered with little academic experience have caught up.... they learned the material a little later but much faster because their brains were developmentally ready for it. Gifted kids don't "even out" but they are "less outwardly different" at that age. The difference between a 3rd grade level reader and a child who doesn't know their alphabet is extreme. In 4th grade, all the kids are reading novels and because of age and interest... the gifted child who reads at adult levels may still enjoy and choose the same sort of books their peers choose. They can get the same writing assignments... the gifted child may just write more and with unusual observation or depth. SO, long way of saying, I sort of understand what they are saying.

 

Believe it or not, tying shoelaces by 4th grade is a real issue these days! Shoes for the 3 to 8 often don't have ties and kids don't learn it. I aided in my DD's 4th grade class and while most kids understood how to do it, there were many (my own included) that had so little practice that they couldn't tie their shoes tightly enough to stay! It's a forgotten skill sometimes.

 

Sorry, I wrote a book. Basically, I wouldn't put too much stock in what you heard. These meetings are for the average population... not for those above or below the norm. Set-up a meeting and you'll get a better picture of what is going on.


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#3 of 26 Old 12-05-2011, 10:40 AM
 
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i agree. Set up a meeting and lay some stuff out there. I personally wouldn't use the terms "advanced" or "gifted." I would go in with the plan of laying out the specific skills you have observed and then asking them to please administer any placement tests as early as they can for your child.

 

Our school kind of poo-poo-ed us at registration, and even in the meeting we requested over the summer.

 

but, by the 3rd day of school, they recognized what we were talking about, and made adjustments accordingly. (including rearranging the gifted teacher's schedule so that she is working with a kindergarten group, even though "kindergartners don't get services from the gifted specialist" in our district. Amusing/interesting that it is happening at the school with the highest concentration of low-income, minority students, and not at one of the elementary schools with a high concentration of upper middle class families employed by the university as academics).

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#4 of 26 Old 12-05-2011, 02:45 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Sorry, I wrote a book. Basically, I wouldn't put too much stock in what you heard. These meetings are for the average population... not for those above or below the norm. Set-up a meeting and you'll get a better picture of what is going on.



Thank you for writing a book! I wrote one too, after all.

It is reassuring to read that this kind of talk is par for the course. Of course I am not mad enough to discuss giftedness in a public meeting, I just, dunno, kinda expected maybe an acknowledgement that yes, children are different and we try to meet every child's need or something. In a way, I got that after specifically asking about differentiation, but that was after the principal had gone out of her way to assure that no child would ever be given out-of-level work, not even in a split classroom. not so much vagueness but these odd emphases on what they did NOT hold with. Interesting thought about maybe wanting to curb rampant redshirting. I know that last year's fourth grade had 11 redshirted kids out of 21 and the young-for-grade kids were really struggling because the teacher taught to their needs rather than to grade level standards. Apparently at some point this woman must have redshirted any kid for the asking just to avoind problems with the parents and now may have realized that there were new problems created (she has to agree, after all, on the grounds that due to some deficit the child's not ready - its not the parent's free decision, she could actually tell parents "I see no deficit whatsoever, your child will be fine" and the kid would have to go. Takes guts, of course). I also thought her attitude towards the school psychologist was really unprofessional and dissing that one (presumably gifted) child's emotional maturity uncalled for. She certainly displayed a very decisive and un-vague negative attitude towards early entry, even though this is not supposed to be a big deal at all (after all there is a specific grace period for three months after cutoff where there is no eval necessary, just the principal's agreement.

I understand the "evening out" by 3rd grade argument and had been expecting it (even if it doesn't work for gifted kids the way it works for kids who have been to academic preschools, which BTW don't exist here). I just hadn't heard it reduced to 6 weeks!

And yes, I totally get the shoelaces thing, my nephew never learned until he was 11 and by 4th grade it was a real issue. I suppose that one IS a big deal. I'll start training DS so we can go into the meeting telling her "and he can tie his laces, you know!"

 

We MUST have the meeting with her to get early entry (I am just holding out on scheduling it until pre-school conferences which start in January, which is when we get the pre-school teachers opinion about how he is holding up in the K pull-out classes. Without their support, it's going to be really hard, so I'm kinda counting on them - I like pretending that I am just acting on the professionals' recommendation...).

I just have this real hard time now goin in with an open mind!


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#5 of 26 Old 12-05-2011, 02:56 PM - Thread Starter
 
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i agree. Set up a meeting and lay some stuff out there. I personally wouldn't use the terms "advanced" or "gifted." I would go in with the plan of laying out the specific skills you have observed and then asking them to please administer any placement tests as early as they can for your child.

 

Our school kind of poo-poo-ed us at registration, and even in the meeting we requested over the summer.

 

but, by the 3rd day of school, they recognized what we were talking about, and made adjustments accordingly. (including rearranging the gifted teacher's schedule so that she is working with a kindergarten group, even though "kindergartners don't get services from the gifted specialist" in our district. Amusing/interesting that it is happening at the school with the highest concentration of low-income, minority students, and not at one of the elementary schools with a high concentration of upper middle class families employed by the university as academics).


Yes; i am planning to not ever use the G word at all if I can avoid it. Just mention the maths and science he is driving us crazy with. And hopefully the preschool teachers' recommendation. there are no gifted services anyway for elementary schools at all, just acceleration (early entry or the very rare grade skip).

I'd be very surprised if they had any standardized placement tests. They will have a "play-at-school" day in late March or early April where they observe the kids in the classroom adn maybe ask kids to come back in for a closer look. For a child entering early, they will have the child one-on-one but in the end it's just the principal's opinion.

 

So how do you deal with the poo-pooing if it's happening to your face? You are a teacher yourself, which may make it easier for you to deal, but I was poo-pooed to my face right through elementary school, in the face of all the evidence, and it just makes me see red to this day.

 

ETA maybe I should just send DH...


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I HAD to know how to tie my own shoes prior to being able to enter kindy (public)-years ago. I remember having to demonstrate this to my soon to be teacher at the walk thru (she also had been my father's teacher). age 5


 

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I HAD to know how to tie my own shoes prior to being able to enter kindy (public)-years ago. I remember having to demonstrate this to my soon to be teacher at the walk thru (she also had been my father's teacher). age 5

 

Wow, that would be an odd reason to be denied a free public education.

 

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#8 of 26 Old 12-05-2011, 04:50 PM
 
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we smiled, and said, "well then, we trust you will be able to meet his needs if you have already seen lots of kids like this" with just enough of a trailing to let them know that we were still pretty skeptical. but, we constantly reminded ourselves that it wasn't about *us* being proved right. It was about our son getting the support and services he needs, so in reality, we should hope that the school is correct that his learning profile will be no big deal.

 

the kindergarten teacher who kind of poo-poo-ed initially told us at conferences last month that in her 28 years of teaching, she has never seen a kindergartner who was as fluent a reader as our son is, and that she's never seen comprehension like his. 

 

in all honesty, it was the description of his math skills that made them realize we might be on to something. So many kids enter school as prodigious readers, but not that many have self-taught themselves multiplication, division and fractions.

 

the thing to remember is that a lot of people are really crazy about the G&T program. In our school system, the gifted teacher doesn't work with kindergartners, ever. Until this year, when they rearranged her schedule to work with DS in math. She sent a little note home prior to back to school night outlining her schedule (including the small group of kindergartners) and inviting parents to stop by and meet her. She emailed me and asked me to stop by. When I arrived in her room, the parents of older children looked at me, and actually asked, "Why are you here? your kid is only in kindergarten!" and, then, while I smiled politely and waited my turn, about 15 kindergarten parents came through because they just knew their kid was one of the ones she was working with.

 

Once you observe that type of thing firsthand, and see the pressure some parents put on their children, that you begin to understand why the schools downplay it and poo-poo parents who are convinced their kid is brilliant.

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Wow, that would be an odd reason to be denied a free public education.

 

years ago you had to show a different set of readiness skills - 35 in a class room with no aids, you had to button and unbutton or zip you coat as well- no one was their to help out

 

also years ago special needs (of any sort) were not meet in the public schools


 

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Thank you for writing a book! I wrote one too, after all.

It is reassuring to read that this kind of talk is par for the course. Of course I am not mad enough to discuss giftedness in a public meeting, I just, dunno, kinda expected maybe an acknowledgement that yes, children are different and we try to meet every child's need or something. In a way, I got that after specifically asking about differentiation, but that was after the principal had gone out of her way to assure that no child would ever be given out-of-level work, not even in a split classroom. not so much vagueness but these odd emphases on what they did NOT hold with. Interesting thought about maybe wanting to curb rampant redshirting. I know that last year's fourth grade had 11 redshirted kids out of 21 and the young-for-grade kids were really struggling because the teacher taught to their needs rather than to grade level standards. Apparently at some point this woman must have redshirted any kid for the asking just to avoind problems with the parents and now may have realized that there were new problems created (she has to agree, after all, on the grounds that due to some deficit the child's not ready - its not the parent's free decision, she could actually tell parents "I see no deficit whatsoever, your child will be fine" and the kid would have to go. Takes guts, of course). I also thought her attitude towards the school psychologist was really unprofessional and dissing that one (presumably gifted) child's emotional maturity uncalled for. She certainly displayed a very decisive and un-vague negative attitude towards early entry, even though this is not supposed to be a big deal at all (after all there is a specific grace period for three months after cutoff where there is no eval necessary, just the 



If they have classes half full of red-shirted kids then I actually understand them saying things like "no one wants 2nd graders having 3rd grade work." We are in a similar district and heavy redshirting practices have royally screwed the system. Classes are filled with kids who are advanced because they are old... NOT because they are gifted learners. There is a big push from these parents in 2nd and 3rd grade for these older kids to have higher grade work s and be included in GATE programs but they aren't gifted. They need as much teaching and repetition as a regular older grade student unlike a gifted learner who can often progress with a little instruction and little repetition (and thus, a little easier to differentiate in a regular class.) It's a mess and so telling parents in a general meeting that the school doesn't do it is telling these parents to think twice about red- shirting. 

 

The principal may very well be a tool but I'd try hard to not let your own experiences color your reactions too much. Yes, learn from them but remember that times are different and kids have more rights in the classroom than they used to. The relationship between school administration and parent has changed. Your child has YOU and so will always have someone in their corner where you may not have. I know it's hard. I have my own school baggage and it is hard to not let those experiences rule my interactions with the school but it's better to go in clear headed and ready to work the system as positively as possible. Reality is, what they SAY is nothing. It's what they ultimetly DO that is what is important. Remember, they don't even know your child. From our experience, once admins actually met and worked with our children, they were willing to put all their preconceived notions of what gifted children need out the window.

 

One last thing... why are you looking at early enrollment? Does your child need care during the day? I'm asking because if it's an option, you may find he'd be better off staying home next fall and then perhaps moving straight into 1st grade in 2013.

 


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#11 of 26 Old 12-05-2011, 07:27 PM
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It keeps going.  I went to a "Family Math Night" at my dd's school last month where roughly half the presentation was intended to reassure parents that children who don't take algebra in 7th grade can still go to Ivy League colleges.  As a teacher, when I present my courses at "AP/Honors Nights" I have to make sure I sell the plain-old non-AP/non-Honors classes too, to try to cut down on the numbers of under-prepared (and, more significantly, under-motivated) students who wind up in AP/Honors classes because their parents assume that those classes are where all the real education happens.  Of the parents I talk to on those nights, I counsel roughly half of them to put their kids in the regular courses because they don't yet have the skills they need for the higher level.  

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If I remember correctly, you're in Germany, right? From what I know of German culture (which, I fully admit is a lot less than you do living there), there's a pretty different mentality that the professional "classes" take toward people who don't have a university education. I know that university system is changing, but old attitudes die hard. My first thought in reading your account is "That principal is talking down to those parents!" As for expectations I've had parents (even university professors) tell me that they were told not to teach their children anything before school lest they teach it wrong. I don't know if that attitude is still prevalent or not, but I suspect it is. "Red-shirting" is pretty common in some communities as well, not for the same reasons US parents do, but because of the attitude that "after you start school, childhood is over." I can well imagine a whole bunch of really bored 7 year olds demanding more.

 

And then, as others have said, I think they were speaking to the helicopter parents. Let's face it, all parents compare our kids to other people's kids. Some of us just hide it better. I remember the pang I had when one of our friend's kids was tested for TAG in 1st grade and our son was not. Ds was eventually deemed TAG for reading, and I think it's a very appropriate categorization. He's not gifted in math, just above average.

 

I'd try to be as factual as possible in talking to the teacher. DESCRIBE for her what your son is doing, don't interpret for her. Bring her examples of books he's reading. If you have anything that he's written or created that can show how he works. If he's strong in math, it's harder to show, but if you can bring in anything, that would be good. Let her draw her own inferences. And then start checking out your options.

 


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Quote:

Originally Posted by serenbat View Post

I HAD to know how to tie my own shoes prior to being able to enter kindy (public)-years ago. I remember having to demonstrate this to my soon to be teacher at the walk thru (she also had been my father's teacher). age 5

 

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Wow, that would be an odd reason to be denied a free public education.

 

Miranda


Okay, these are the stories I heard:


A friend from the neighbourhood (so this is a about this very principal) told me the story about wanting to enter her son early, on the strong recommendation of the preschool teachers (this was 7 years back or so when the cutoff was 6/30, with almost half of summer-born kids entered early, so not an outlandish request at all at the time). The two 1st grade classes were at capacity so by entering yet another kid they might have had to open a third classroom. They found some semi-official school readiness list that among other things (yes, tying your shoes is on that list, too) a child has to be able to catch and throw a ball. So they threw a ball at that poor kid, they kid  fumbled it and was denied early entry. As he would have to spend four years in that school, my friend decided not to pursue the matter. She told me she regrets it to this day since the kid was never properly challenged in all of those four years and she can see the ramifications to this day.

 

DD's preschool teacher told me that her son's school's principal (different school, same district) must have worked off the same list - in his case, it was item "must be able to jump off a chair" on that list that was the problem (IIRC this was about regular entry). Only her son couldn't because he was wearing ankle orthoses! When the principal wanted to make an issue about it, she blew up in his face asking "since when are you having the kids jump up and down chairs while you teach them the three R`s?" In her case, the principal gave in.

 

i'm telling you, I've looked up the list and have had DS practice both the jumping and the catching since (he's got trouble with the last one - until he was three, he wouldn't even touch a ball because he had a phobia about them...).


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we smiled, and said, "well then, we trust you will be able to meet his needs if you have already seen lots of kids like this" with just enough of a trailing to let them know that we were still pretty skeptical. but, we constantly reminded ourselves that it wasn't about *us* being proved right. It was about our son getting the support and services he needs, so in reality, we should hope that the school is correct that his learning profile will be no big deal.


Ah, I get it. So it wasn't the concept of giftedness in general or the need for differentiation that it might entail, or your idea of your son's individual level of giftedness that they really had an issue with, but your idea that they mightn't be able to meet his needs because of it. I suppose the "once we'll see it we believe it" approach has merits. I am glad that they appear to have stepped up to the plate quite admirably!

 

It's more the "it doesn't matter at all because it's all about social maturity and social learning and tying your shoes and graphomotor skills" vibe that I got that bothers me.
 

 


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The principal may very well be a tool but I'd try hard to not let your own experiences color your reactions too much. Yes, learn from them but remember that times are different and kids have more rights in the classroom than they used to. The relationship between school administration and parent has changed. Your child has YOU and so will always have someone in their corner where you may not have. I know it's hard. I have my own school baggage and it is hard to not let those experiences rule my interactions with the school but it's better to go in clear headed and ready to work the system as positively as possible. Reality is, what they SAY is nothing. It's what they ultimetly DO that is what is important. Remember, they don't even know your child. From our experience, once admins actually met and worked with our children, they were willing to put all their preconceived notions of what gifted children need out the window.

 

One last thing... why are you looking at early enrollment? Does your child need care during the day? I'm asking because if it's an option, you may find he'd be better off staying home next fall and then perhaps moving straight into 1st grade in 2013.

 



I think I need to go to counseling before having my kids start school! they don't deserve having such a traumatized nutcase advocating for them. wild.gif

Did seeing your kids have positive experiences help you overcome your own baggage? So far, I've been (mostly) pleasantly surprised by my child's preschool teachers and it has been helpful for me, too. In the preschool's case though I felt an immediate connection with the headteacher who I could tell had an incredibly open mind, a wealth of experience and the readiness to let go of (most, let's not get greedy) pre-conceived notions which has helped me trust that my child might be able to deal with the rest of the staff who does not demonstrate these qualities (in theory, she's his classroom teacher too and he loves her, but she spends more time doing admin in the office than the classroom. I shall try to draw her out on the subject of the elementary principal, after all she should know her really well as they have to work closely together, because I do trust her opinion in most matters).

 

On the subject of K or 1st grade:

he's a kindergartner now. Formal school starts in 1st grade only, and K is a pull-out program in pre-school. He was entered on the recommendation of the preschool teachers, which is merely informal and is not binding upon elementary schools (in fact, schools are sometimes quite unhappy because parents and children expect it to be and may insist on early entry into 1st even though the school is against). So it's either 1st grade now, young for grade (he's only born about 2 weeks past the cutoff or 1st grade next year, old for grade). I do not think that he (nor the school iykwim) would be good candidates for a grade skip, so this is it as far as acceleration goes.


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If I remember correctly, you're in Germany, right? From what I know of German culture (which, I fully admit is a lot less than you do living there), there's a pretty different mentality that the professional "classes" take toward people who don't have a university education. I know that university system is changing, but old attitudes die hard. My first thought in reading your account is "That principal is talking down to those parents!" As for expectations I've had parents (even university professors) tell me that they were told not to teach their children anything before school lest they teach it wrong. I don't know if that attitude is still prevalent or not, but I suspect it is. "Red-shirting" is pretty common in some communities as well, not for the same reasons US parents do, but because of the attitude that "after you start school, childhood is over." I can well imagine a whole bunch of really bored 7 year olds demanding more.

 

And then, as others have said, I think they were speaking to the helicopter parents. Let's face it, all parents compare our kids to other people's kids. Some of us just hide it better. I remember the pang I had when one of our friend's kids was tested for TAG in 1st grade and our son was not. Ds was eventually deemed TAG for reading, and I think it's a very appropriate categorization. He's not gifted in math, just above average.

 

I'd try to be as factual as possible in talking to the teacher. DESCRIBE for her what your son is doing, don't interpret for her. Bring her examples of books he's reading. If you have anything that he's written or created that can show how he works. If he's strong in math, it's harder to show, but if you can bring in anything, that would be good. Let her draw her own inferences. And then start checking out your options.

 


Yes, that's an astute observation - she was talking down to the parents. I think that was one of the things that struck me as so odd though I couldn't quite put my finger on it - the arrogance behind all that approachability and down-to-earth-ness. Doesn't make her more simpatico but I think I can gauge better now where she is coming from.

The prohibition against teaching kids anything before school is as strong as it ever was. I have a running commentary in my head as I answer DS' incessant questions "is this teaching? I'll be like so in the doghouse with my kid's first grade teacher if I can't credibly deny that I've been teaching!". After all, teaching is something only a certified teacher can do - an elementary principal would have no qualms what soever about takling down to university professors even. What would they know about teaching first graders?

It's going to be hard to describe what my son is doing - interestingly, he isn't reading! It's all about science and math. Reading fluently would make things easier I think, because it's such a milestone for elementary school teachers. I asked him casually yesterday to read the captions in one of his science books because I had actually no clue as to what he could do (thinking all the while "o my god is this "working ahead"?) and he can sound words out as long as they are all caps but quickly lost interest and asked me to go on reading to him about the differences between magmatic and metamorphous rocks.

He can show his stuff, though, but I think it may take time for teachers. We went to the bazaar at the local Montessori school where he took part in a once weekly K program last year and the K teacher asked me to enrol him for this year, too (we haven't so far because we had so much on our plates this year) because "we so enjoyed having him! He was so inquisitive!" Her colleague was the first one to ever utter the G word about him. It 's just hard to get it across in a one-hour meeting.


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given all you said - you have very little choice- right? ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

 

sorry, does not sound good for you or him

 

 


 

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given all you said - you have very little choice- right? ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

 

sorry, does not sound good for you or him

 

 



Sorry, I don't understand your post at all. Why are you yelling?

headscratch.gif

We have no choice about seeing her for approving early entry in the first place but may have choices for private school for actual enrolment (Catholic or Montessori) but haven't found out yet whether they'd consider early entry - after all they'd have to consent, too. I'm pretty sure about the Montessori but that's the one that would be hardest to organize for our family even though it might be the right choice for DS...


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I wasn't yelling! (?)

 

I felt bad for you. 


 

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I think I need to go to counseling before having my kids start school! they don't deserve having such a traumatized nutcase advocating for them. wild.gif

Did seeing your kids have positive experiences help you overcome your own baggage? 

 

Honestly, seeing my kids have great experiences at school was wonderful.  My 1st dd's K teacher was so awesome, I couldn't believe I had seriously considered homeschooling.  Her first grade teacher was terrible, 2nds was great, 3rd just ok.  I pulled her out mid 3rd and left her enrolled in the gifted program (pull out 1 day/week).  Our gifted program was fantastic too.  

 

However, I think it is a different world than when we went to school.  My mom was VERY active in our school and she was a great advocate for us.  The school, in response, gave her materials/supplies and allowed my sister to get a new teacher mid-year.  Now, because so many moms come in with a list of demands, I think we are often categorized as "That Mom" and disregarded.  Our school does not allow requests or much of anything.  Even with my mom being an involved advocate, I have a ton of baggage from school.  It is hard to separate my baggage from what is really going on.  However, right now my youngest is attending K while I homeschool the other two.  I think that she is the most gifted of my kids.  She is more univerally gifted for sure.  For a long list of reasons, I decided to send her to K.  I am not hoping for anything academically challenging--I just hope for her to meet kids that live close to us and for the school to not ruin her love of learning.  So far, so good with that.  I like the teacher, but I don't "love" the teacher.  But, it is going well.  However, at conference, the teacher made a POINT of telling me that she isn't the smartest in class!  I honestly don't know where this came from.  I didn't ask for more challenging material, I didn't ask if she was ahead/behind/or in the middle.  I didn't suggest that she should be in first.  I don't think she should be in first!  With her being my third (following a gifted 1st and a potentially 2e 2nd dd who struggles with dyslexia) my perspective and priorities have really shifted.  But it really grinds on me that the teacher should feel the need to tell me that my kid "isn't the smartest". 

 

I don't know.  I guess I would say "no". . . the positive experiences are nice, but they haven't helped me overcome my own baggage in the least.  

 

Amy
 

 


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I think I need to go to counseling before having my kids start school! they don't deserve having such a traumatized nutcase advocating for them. wild.gif

Did seeing your kids have positive experiences help you overcome your own baggage? So far, I've been (mostly) pleasantly surprised by my child's preschool teachers and it has been helpful for me, too. In the preschool's case though I felt an immediate connection with the headteacher who I could tell had an incredibly open mind, a wealth of experience and the readiness to let go of (most, let's not get greedy) pre-conceived notions which has helped me trust that my child might be able to deal with the rest of the staff who does not demonstrate these qualities (in theory, she's his classroom teacher too and he loves her, but she spends more time doing admin in the office than the classroom. I shall try to draw her out on the subject of the elementary principal, after all she should know her really well as they have to work closely together, because I do trust her opinion in most matters).

 

On the subject of K or 1st grade:

he's a kindergartner now. Formal school starts in 1st grade only, and K is a pull-out program in pre-school. He was entered on the recommendation of the preschool teachers, which is merely informal and is not binding upon elementary schools (in fact, schools are sometimes quite unhappy because parents and children expect it to be and may insist on early entry into 1st even though the school is against). So it's either 1st grade now, young for grade (he's only born about 2 weeks past the cutoff or 1st grade next year, old for grade). I do not think that he (nor the school iykwim) would be good candidates for a grade skip, so this is it as far as acceleration goes.


You aren't a nutcase. It's totally natural to be want save your child your own heartaches. Believe me, I still freak out internally at every transition but I've learned not to "borrow trouble" and let the kids have their own experiences. They haven't ALL been good. We just pulled DS 11 out of a program he loved because of bully issues that just couldn't be controlled (not for lack of trying on every part except the actual bullies and their parents.) We have decided to pull DD 14 out of her current high school end of the year... lovely interest based classmates but she is hungry for intellectual depth and discussion that no teacher or student seems willing or able to give her. However, because the kids experiences overall with school have been so positive and because to date, it's always been clear that the adults around them listen and take action, these issues are only unfortunate... not scarring. My kids still love school. They know they have a voice and that anything can be fixed one way or another. 

 

We have dealt with tools before. DS had a principal that was just an idiot when it came to gifted education. He was condescending and totally ignorant. However, the staff was smarter. The parents were active, involved and vocal. Everyone worked around him and in 2 years, he was quietly removed from the district.

 

If your DS isn't given early enrollment this year, anyway he could just skip to 2nd next year? Those cut-offs can be frustrating. In our area, he'd make the cut by more than a month.

 


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I wasn't yelling! (?)

 

I felt bad for you. 



Ah I get it - you were groaning, right? Thank you for your sympathy! I felt like groaning several times during that evening, and I am afraid I'll groan a lot more while puting my kids through school. Sorry for not getting it in the first place.redface.gif


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However, at conference, the teacher made a POINT of telling me that she isn't the smartest in class!  I honestly don't know where this came from.  I didn't ask for more challenging material, I didn't ask if she was ahead/behind/or in the middle.  I didn't suggest that she should be in first.  I don't think she should be in first!  With her being my third (following a gifted 1st and a potentially 2e 2nd dd who struggles with dyslexia) my perspective and priorities have really shifted.  But it really grinds on me that the teacher should feel the need to tell me that my kid "isn't the smartest". 

 

I don't know.  I guess I would say "no". . . the positive experiences are nice, but they haven't helped me overcome my own baggage in the least.  

 

Amy
 

 



Yeah, I bet that was quite a deja vu-feeling! the reflexive need to put gifted kids down with no other provocation than that they exist rearing its ugly head again, wasn't it? No wonder you feel your baggage isn't going away, with those subtle reminders time and again...

As long as that teacher appears to only feel the need to be annoying towards That Mom and not your child, I guess you have no choice but to suck it up, smile and nod...and if you had needed it, there is your confirmation that yes, she must be the smartest kid in class and by a long shot. Funny how it doesn't seem to occur to them that the thing we'd really crave to hear would be something like "there are a couple of kids just like her in class and it is just wonderful to see how they inspire one another!"

I'm rooting for your daughters from over here...

 


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You aren't a nutcase. It's totally natural to be want save your child your own heartaches. Believe me, I still freak out internally at every transition but I've learned not to "borrow trouble" and let the kids have their own experiences. They haven't ALL been good. We just pulled DS 11 out of a program he loved because of bully issues that just couldn't be controlled (not for lack of trying on every part except the actual bullies and their parents.) We have decided to pull DD 14 out of her current high school end of the year... lovely interest based classmates but she is hungry for intellectual depth and discussion that no teacher or student seems willing or able to give her. However, because the kids experiences overall with school have been so positive and because to date, it's always been clear that the adults around them listen and take action, these issues are only unfortunate... not scarring. My kids still love school. They know they have a voice and that anything can be fixed one way or another. 

 

We have dealt with tools before. DS had a principal that was just an idiot when it came to gifted education. He was condescending and totally ignorant. However, the staff was smarter. The parents were active, involved and vocal. Everyone worked around him and in 2 years, he was quietly removed from the district.

 

If your DS isn't given early enrollment this year, anyway he could just skip to 2nd next year? Those cut-offs can be frustrating. In our area, he'd make the cut by more than a month.

 



I am sorry to hear about your kids' experience. On loves the program and is being bullied out by the classmates and the other loves the classmates but is underwhelmed by the program...what an irony and what a mess. It is great that your kids are by now strong and resilient enough to not have this destroy their feeling of self-worth and their love of school.

I tend to think that as long as we can get through elementary alright, by middle school (5th grade) we can all deal. Of course, coloured by my own life experience again. But they are just so vulnerable between 5 and 10!

 

There is no enrolment directly into 2nd. Crystal clear state policy. Enrolment exclusively into 1st, with a mid-year grade skip directly into 2nd the earliest possible form of acceleration. It's the scenario I want to avoid at all cost (the foremost reason probably being that this very form of grade skip, while a breeze academically, was such a disaster for me socially). However, even if I did not have that baggage (baggage? We're talking about a whole cargo hold here!) I do not think DS would be a good candidate for a grade skip, he's just way quirkier than I ever was. At least I was a perfect high achiever. And I bet he'd be like the first kid ever in the history of the whole school and so on and so forth...I just have the experience that if the teachers aren't behind it wholeheartedly (and how could they, if it's such an outrageous thing to do) it won't work out well.

 

DH went to the Montessori school's orientation evening and while he said there was a lot of good stuff, he was a bit bothered by the way they talked about some kids "being through with the elementary school material in three years, other kids taking five years" and making it sound as if a grade skip into 5th grade in state college prep school after three years of lower el in Montessori were the only option (to align classes with state school transitions, lower el in this school is grades 1 through 4 and upper el grades 5 and 6, with the upper el classroom offered only as vocational track, not college prep track and thus completely unsuitable for advanced kids), as opposed to the advanced kids simply being given 5th grade material. I suppose it might be a good option if I were happy with leaving him in his current play-based preschool but while it was okay for him until now, what's on offer has run its course, he wants to learn!

 

I just want DS be happy and busy and keep his love of learning somewhere for four years like other kids, and in order to have him not stand out too much I think he ought te be on the young side rather than the old! It shouldn't be so hard to get that across, should it?


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Yeah, I bet that was quite a deja vu-feeling! the reflexive need to put gifted kids down with no other provocation than that they exist rearing its ugly head again, wasn't it? No wonder you feel your baggage isn't going away, with those subtle reminders time and again...

As long as that teacher appears to only feel the need to be annoying towards That Mom and not your child, I guess you have no choice but to suck it up, smile and nod...and if you had needed it, there is your confirmation that yes, she must be the smartest kid in class and by a long shot. Funny how it doesn't seem to occur to them that the thing we'd really crave to hear would be something like "there are a couple of kids just like her in class and it is just wonderful to see how they inspire one another!"

I'm rooting for your daughters from over here...

 


Thanks Tigerle,

It was terrible to be honest.  The first grade teacher had said it (with attitude) when I was requesting my oldest to be tested for the gifted program.  So, that time I thought it was in response to me--I was hoping the gifted program would give her the stimulation she needed.  It felt like they wanted to say she didn't need more stimulation because there are others who are smarter.  But this time, I didn't even bring it up.  And, yeah from my own childhood I had to fight to get what I needed too.  So, I guess that connects us to the old baggage.  :-)

 

 

 


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I've been on a bit of an updating roll and I figured I'd like to share some more information on this conundrum...I've come to realize now I really like to process my thoughts writing here, and maybe someone has something interesting to say! :)

 

We've had the Big School Entry Conference with the pre-school teachers who teach the K pull-out (and have also been DS' classroom teachers for the past 2-and-a- bit years).

While they did start out with the socio-emotional weaknesses they see (low frustration tolerance, low impulse control) it appears mainly they wanted to see just how much we were aware of these and whether we were doing anything about them at home - which we assured them we were, had been and were going to be. While they wanted to make sure we were aware they said, they also unreservedly recommended early entry. The reasons being that they were only apparent during free play and other social situations, hardly ever ever during the K pull-out or other structured activities, that they didn't feel that this was going to change magically by waiting another year, and that he could work on those in school as well as in pre-school. To which I added that school being the more structured place, he might even feel more comfortable, and that being disengaged for lack of challenge, as he would surely be if he were entered a year later, wasn't a good place to work on frustration tolerance. (we all of us delicately skirted around the issue of cognitive abilities. Good grief, why would those matter?).

 

They also added that they had observed that while he integrated himself seamlessly with the K kids during pull-out and was very much a respected part of the group, he liked to play with the boys about a year younger than him, and had nothing whatsoever to do with the boys that would actually be his grade level (ie those less than a year younger than him, as he's just past the cutoff), which they felt wouldn't bode well for his social integration if he were grouped with them, staying for another year in that pre-school classroom. I do feel that this somewhat reflects his asynchronous development with the advanced cognitive abilities and the somewhat delayed socio-emotional development. Or really play abilities - he can seem very mature with adults, if the low frustration tolerance and low impulse control don't get in his way. He does talk alot about playing with construction toys with the older K boys now (when I asked whether the younger boys he does not like playing with ever join in, he scoffed "not they! They only ever make baby stuff! Like they put a few wheels on a plate and pretend it's a car. We build rockets!" Right.

 

They would not comment on the elementary schools or their principals, insisting they hadn't a clue and never heard back from parents. Right. I suppose they have their reasons keeping their mouths shut. I mentioned the principals' heartfelt stand against early entry (one of the preschool teachers had been there after all) and teh other admitted that yes, that incident would make her wary, too. Though it had been their experience that as long as it fit in with classroom numbers, the principal would do whatever parents asked, red-shirt or enter, child ready or no, and if it it didn't, the parent wouldn't stand a chance.

 

And my PT, who is a bit of gossip central in our village, and has put two children through the school, exploded on being asked: "don't ask me!I can't be objecitve! I hate the woman!" On being gently prodded: "She's arrogant, condescending, that down-to-earth approachability is a total act, she will tell you anything to your face she thinks you wants to hear but never follow through, has scared off any teacher who was ever worth anything, has put one in the loony bin, that male one is the last one worth his salt and i know he is waiting for a particular opportunity to open up at another school, has ruined my kids and has ruined standards for everyone else! No wonder everyone is trying to put their child in the Catholic school" Right. Waiting to hear from that school ourselves. DH has admitted he is not comfortable with Montessori because he did not like the way they (and everyone else there) appeared to consider themselves a kind of special ed option at the open house he went to. I am not ready to write it off yet but of course DH has to be on board.

 

Oh, and did I say I wish he were reading, because that is a much easiere milestone to present to a principal than math abilities? He has picked it up over Christmas. Be careful what you wish for, I have had to tell myself, because he is now beginning to put words together in newspaper headlines and wanting to know about people dying on cruise ships, and sex offenders wearing ankle locks...

 

 

 

 

 


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