I am hoping to find somebody to speak to about their experiences with very early school years, particularly with the Vancouver School Board (is possible). My dd is in grade one and is significantly further ahead academically than her peers, although no formal assessment has been made. There was some funding for a pull-out program for her and a few other kindies and grade ones last year, but so far there has been nothing this year. Her teacher is trying to challenge her, but only in spelling and my dd is already beginning to become a bit cynical about the lack of intellectual challenge. This is the part that concerns me most - she's lost all wonder and amazement that she used to have. We are in an area with a high percentage of ESL students, so I try to remind her that most of the other kids had to learn a whole other language upon starting school and that lots of them will catch up to her soon. She likes to do math and creative writing (which she can't seem to get enough of), so we do a lot of that at home and she is also drawn to science, so I try to give her interesting things to do outside of school hours, but I really worry about what her bright little brain will get up to during the day if not kept busy. I also feel strongly that her leisure time should predominately be spent playing. My dh and I are going in to speak to her teacher soon but I'm not entirely sure how to approach the issue. My dh taught high school for years, so has a better understanding about IEPs (Individualized Education Plan) and so forth. There are only about 70 kids in her whole school, so I don't even know what sort of resources could be made available for her.
I'm not in Vancouver SD (I'm in SD#10, Arrow Lakes, way to the east of you) but I do have experience with gifted kids in a small school. Our school has 90 kids K-12. What I've seen is that while the school is very unlikely to be able to roll out some full-fledged gifted program for kids like mine, they have been amazing at meeting their individual needs with hardly any administrative headaches or red tape. Even without formal identification my kids have been offered grade acceleration, additional subject acceleration, independent study options, part-time homeschooling, the opportunity to work part-time during school hours, time off for travel, time off for music activities, dual credit and waived pre-requisites. Also, in such a small school all the teachers get to know all the kids to an extent, so there's much less transition time in the fall while the new teacher gets to know all the new kids and their individual abilities and needs.
I would think you're still at the level of dealing with your dd's teacher, and the resources and philosophy of your particular school. This tends to be very specific to the school, depending upon the will, creativity and mindset of the teacher, principal and support staff and, for lack of a better term, the "culture" of your particular school. Our school here, for instance, is very outside-the-box, to-heck-with-rules, let's-just-do-what-works-for-the-kid, while a similar sized school on the other side of the same district is much more about establishing guidelines and policies.
I will say that at the primary level our school has found it much more difficult to differentiate the curriculum than at the secondary level. They tend to teach the younger kids in cross-curricular themes, making it difficult to do subject-specific academic acceleration. My Grade 3 kid is homeschooled for this reason. Once she's able to be placed in Grade 8, the scheduling is more along the lines of "math at 9 a.m., French at 9:40" and it's easy to accelerate gifted kids.
You come across as a very sensible and level-headed parent with your priorities in the right place. I would ask for the chance to meet with the teacher, and perhaps also with the principal and any relevant teaching aids to discuss meeting your child's needs more thoroughly. If you don't use the word "bored," and present your concerns in much the way you did in your post above, I would bet they'll hear you and won't get defensive. Make it clear that you'd love to help improve things for your daughter if they have any suggestions for things you could send along to school with her or do at home with her.
And a reassurance about after-school enrichment. Keep it child-led, discovery-oriented, playful, creative, social and/or exploratory and I don't think you'll need to worry about her getting burnt out or missing out on necessary down-time. Just make sure that whatever enrichment you're doing with her looks and feels as little as possible like school.
Mountain mama to two great kids and two great grown-ups
Miranda, thank you so much for your perspective. I am pleased to hear that your school has been creative and responsive in meeting the needs of your kids. It sounds like they have a lot of support on all fronts. I have a feeling our school will respond well, but I am hesitant to become "that" parent. I just want to make sure that her educational path (whatever direction it takes) is rewarding and exciting for her. I already see her getting a bit cocky and I want to nip that in the bud - we often talk about how everybody learns at their own pace and has their own interests and skills.
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