negotiating part time school - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 8 Old 02-23-2012, 06:24 AM - Thread Starter
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My daughter is currently in a full day Catholic School Kindergarten.  She tests at 3+ years ahead across the board and it is suggested that she is "highly gifted."  She also hates school and has been pretty miserable most of the year (although her teacher says she seems happy at school.)  We have dealt with this by taking days off here and there and having half days at least once a week.  She gets along well with the kids and doesn't dislike anything specifically, she just states that she is bored and misses me (her mom).  The teacher does enrich a little though not nearly enough to my liking.  Overall though we love the school.  We love the community and the fact that she would be with these kids through 8th grade.  I am meeting with the principal soon to discuss how this school will address her academic needs and what options they have for gifted students.  It is small so won't have a separate program but I am sure will attempt to differentiate where possible.  The school is responsive and flexible and very happy to meet parents requests overall.


I am thinking of requesting a half day program for her in 1st grade next year.  She could pursue her interests at home and possibly take an art, music or language class here and there.  I would like to have a tuition reduction but not sure they will be able to do that.   I am not able to homeschool full time or would other wise consider that.


Has anyone done anything like this or have any thoughts on the caveats or implications, socially, academically, and emotionally?  I worry that it might make her seem really different (though she already does really) or in some way that it could negatively affect her character or something, I don't know.  Also, any suggestions on how to position this to the school so they would be more likely to go for it?


Would love to hear some thoughts! 

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#2 of 8 Old 02-23-2012, 12:15 PM
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I can't help you with the negotiation end of things as our public school district has always been very open to part-time attendance. But I do have experience.


My eldest attended school part-time for 9th, 10th and 11th grades, my second child is attending part-time for 10th grade now, and my youngest (3rd-grader) has tried some part-time school this year. It has worked very well for my high schoolers. They've been able to take the courses they want at school, and have copious time to pursue their areas of strength outside of school. They've had flexibility for travel, music practicing, private coaching, out-of-town extra-curriculars, self-directed learning, volunteer work and part-time employment.


However, it has not worked out for us at the primary school level. Their learning tends to be cross-curricular, so that it is difficult to be absent part of the time and still be part of the rest of the curriculum. If my kid attends on Tuesday morning and does an fish-inspired art project with watercolors, that project is liable to be developed further during the language arts block that afternoon as kids write poems about spawning salmon to caption and mount their paintings, and used as part of the science unit portfolio on the life cycle of land-locked salmon. Even if we make an effort to get her there for all blocks of time devoted to certain subjects, there are those other-subject connections that she is left out of. Also, in the primary classrooms there is a real classroom culture that develops with the same kids and the same teacher being together all day, and socially my dd felt like even if she was there regularly she was still a bit like a visitor or guest. She's very socially capable and resilient, so she coped with it fine, inserting herself into the social dynamic with a fair bit of ease but she consistently commented on this feeling of constantly having to "join in " socially rather than just being part of the classroom. Because the learning she was experiencing there was not nearly at her level, she decided it was not nearly worth it to her to constantly make this effort and yet still feel different and "apart." We have the option to homeschool, so she is happier with that for now, even though she knows she would really enjoy academically appropriate schooling.  


So those are our experiences, for what they're worth.



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#3 of 8 Old 02-24-2012, 11:41 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks Miranda.  Those are exactly the sorts of considerations I am looking for!  I definitely don't want to make a decision that could end up making her feel like an outsider, so your input is really useful.


Anyone else BTDT?

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#4 of 8 Old 02-24-2012, 02:40 PM
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We have participated in one-day per week most weeks programs and that's been okay.  


My son attends a regular program school and they have been resisting this notion of attending part-time the whole way along. Largely for the reason described by Miranda.  I'm considering pitching it again as he's finding the full days tedious.  So, only the BTDT in the wanting to department :).

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#5 of 8 Old 02-25-2012, 02:08 PM
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Originally Posted by herenow2 View Post

Thanks Miranda.  Those are exactly the sorts of considerations I am looking for!  I definitely don't want to make a decision that could end up making her feel like an outsider, so your input is really useful.


Anyone else BTDT?

I haven't been there on the part-time thing, but I have been there on the private school thing. My kids were attending a private Montessori school that goes through 6th grade. I was very attached to the idea of a small private school and completely in love with the Montessori model. The community aspect of the school was very important to me.  DS1 was very unhappy there. He has a language based learning disability and is gifted, but a huge part of his problem with the school was being caused by his giftedness. He hit the ceiling on the classroom materials in his classroom (grades 1-3) and they had absolutely no idea how to differentiate for him. He was too immature to move to the upper classroom (grades 4-6) and he was bored out of his mind in the lower classroom. After a frustrating year, I threw up my hands and decided to move him. After looking around at our other private options, we decided to try the (huge) public school first, because it seemed to be at least as good as the private school options available to us. 


My sons love it! The oldest describes it as "paradise." He has a dedicated teacher who differentiates in class and the entire third grade team (there are 4 third grades classes) work to provide gifted grouping for the kids in their classes.  It's been an awesome experience for DS1. I had a lot of preconceived notions about small, private schools being better for my kids than a big public school, but my kids prefer the big school to the small one.  (We didn't really consider home schooling because it would drive both me and my husband nuts.)


Good luck. Every kid is different. You just have to keep trying stuff until something works. 

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#6 of 8 Old 02-27-2012, 06:42 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks.  This is all really helpful input.  I am going to look at the public school too to check out their options even though I don't like the idea of leaving our nice little community.  Glad to know it worked out so well for you, RiverTam.



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#7 of 8 Old 02-27-2012, 08:21 AM
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We are looking at a flexible schedule for next year as well.  It was suggested by the school, and I feel incredibly fortunate for that!  I think it has the potential to work out really well if the child in question can be fine with a less "standard" schedule.

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#8 of 8 Old 02-28-2012, 07:59 PM
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As to the tuition reduction, the school is probably counting on X amount of dollars of income/tuition.  IF they let you go to part-time and part time tuition, who is going to make up the difference in tuition?  Is there another student who is going to be the 2nd half of your day and 'income'.  

Also based on your state law your child may be required to be in 'school' for x amount of days/hours per year.  Is the school willing to work with you on documentation for that?  How are you going to make sure you child is not truant in the eyes of the law?

Thirdly some schools receive state/federal funding based on attendance. If your child moves to 'part time' how will that affect funding and will the school be willing to potentially lose money on the entire deal?

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