My DS is 8 and 2e (gifted with Aspergers). He is in third grade in a small private school where the regular curriculum is accelerated by about a grade level. He is particularly strong in math. There are several other equally capable kids in the class and they provide enrichment through special challenges that the kids can do after their regular work is done.
We had a parent-teacher conference today and I asked about how this works going forward. DS seems perfectly happy, but he is not the sort of kid who will act out in any way if he is not being challenged. I am tempted to think that as he gets older, his needs will best be met by actually moving him ahead -- to do the curriculum for the kids in the next grade up. The teacher said that they found that this creates a scheduling challenge as the kids gets older, so they prefer to continue doing horizontal enrichment rather than moving kids ahead vertically.
I have no idea what the right thing to do here is. The issue is exacerbated with my DS because I want to keep him with his classmates as much as possible because of his social challenges. But I also, especially as he grows older and his deficits become more clear to him, want him to know that he also has amazing gifts that are being honored and nurtured.
If he's significantly gifted in math, he'll likely need both. The building blocks of mathematical learning are around us all the time, and the broader you build the first few levels of mathematical understanding, the easier it is to build upwards quickly. I have a newly-9-year-old 3rd grader who is unschooled. I've put most of my energy into enriching her math learning rather than accelerating it and yet the more enrichment she gets the more she accelerates herself despite getting no direct teaching. She currently has no actual core curriculum, and hasn't for most of this academic year, but she's continued to move forward into stuff at the 8th+ grade level without teaching or resources targeting that learning. A question she has about the difference between debit cards and credit cards turns her on to the whole issue of compound interest. An observation about poker hands leads her to invent her own method of probability trees.
So I'd tend to say that it's too bad if scheduling is a challenge for the school. They'll simply have to deal with it if and when the day comes when your ds is no longer excited by the math learning he's getting in the regular classroom.
Many/most schools seem to have accelerated math programs that kick in at about the 6th grade level, programs that compact the middle-school curriculum and get kids started on high school course work a year or two early. Will your ds attend a middle school that does this? If so, you may only have to struggle with scheduling issues for a year or two.
Mountain mama to one great kid and three great grown-ups
I've put most of my energy into enriching her math learning rather than accelerating it and yet the more enrichment she gets the more she accelerates herself despite getting no direct teaching. She currently has no actual core curriculum, and hasn't for most of this academic year, but she's continued to move forward into stuff at the 8th+ grade level without teaching or resources targeting that learning.
I think this is right. He is definitely working in his head on things I wasn't exposed to until late in middle school.
He will be in the same school through eighth grade and I suspect they will work with me to make things work for him as we move ahead. There are currently three sixth graders (out of 23) who are in this situation and they are their own class. I think DS's class has enough kids in this boat that this may be the solution for them, too.
Do you think now is the time to start pushing for acceleration or do you think I can wait until middle school or until DS shows signs that he is done with the grade-level work?
I readily admit I don't have experience weighing this issue, as my kids have been unschooled until 8th or 9th grades, whereupon they were just placed in the most appropriate high school course. But I think the two factors I would consider would be his general happiness in the classroom (if he's truly happy to do the work he's being given, I'd let well enough alone) and his curiosity and optimism concerning mathematics (if I saw him developing a poor attitude to math and losing interest in it, I'd tend to request more appropriate instruction in an attempt to fix that).
Mountain mama to one great kid and three great grown-ups
I wish I had an exact answer. Our situation was slightly different. Not knowing all of the details, my instinct is to do both actually, even if you have to do the advanced work at home. It might make school life very boring but it's going to be like that anyway if they don't give him higher level work at school. Let them also enrich and you can move ahead and enrich yourself too at home.
What does your son enjoy the most in this world? I'd probably take that and figure out a way to include all of the subjects including math into doing experiments, building, or whatever he can think of. Then keep taking those skills further and broadening the thinking and creativity spectrum. Make his life fun. I'm not saying it's not already but make it super fun =)
Mama to 3 boys ( 6, 4, 2 ) and one baby girl!
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