Our son is 4 years old (5 in January) and we've been told from several sources that he's gifted. He's due to start school in September and I'm worried he's going to be bored and become disruptive. We are wondering if he'd thrive better in a private education, or how best to approach his teacher without looking pushy - because sometimes he gets shy and if someone else asks him to read, it's like he doesn't want them to know how good he is - if that makes sense. I sometimes exhibit that trait too, where I'll avoid a certain word in conversation because I don't want people to think I'm being a smart arse. (I'm not gifted btw, that was just an example).
A few examples of his abilities which lead people to comment that he's gifted.......
1. Reading - he's reading and comprehending Oxford Reading Tree stage 9 books. He's also reading other non fiction books, science books etc An example which we'll touch on later is his anatomy interest - asked what the coccyx was on a skeleton chart, he said coccygeal region - I asked how he knew that because I'd only ever called it coccyx and he said he'd read it in his anatomy book!
2. Science - he loves anything to do with science and has a wonderful attention span (in fact he always has, as a toddler he would listed to story after story) he watched a full episode of the human body on TV, then proceeded to tell my wife about how macrophages protect the lungs from pathogens - his level of this detail was incredible in this description. With the exception of the skull bones, he's memorized every bone in the body, with correct medical names, again in fine detail, not just phalanges for finger bones, but proximal, intermediate or distal too. We recently went on holiday and whilst all the other children in restaurants were pacified with ipads or other games, he sat reading a DK junior illustrated science dictionary. He's fascinated by white blood cells and wound healing.
3 Times Tables - he likes to learn these and with little error he can receipt 1's, 2's, 3's and some of his 4 times table. He has a chart in his bedroom and will barter for and extra bedtime story by offering to read a times table for me ;-)
4 Sports - he's recently started playing hockey at a local club, last week they asked how old he was and were surprised (because he's tall) that he wasn't 6 or 7 - specifically commenting on his ability to follow instruction being unusual for his age.
Someone has suggested making a sort of video compilation of his ability to show to school - do you think this would be a good idea?
Thanks if anyone can offer any advice.
Typically, there's a getting-acquainted and adjustment period when a child starts school. In kindergarten there's typically a fairly wide range of ability and achievement among the students. Teachers will observe and evaluate and make their own assessments for the first couple of weeks before they can adjust the curriculum for the class and individual students. For the students, there's a lot of adjustment to a group learning environment that has little to do with actual academics. It might be more helpful to let that happen for the first few weeks and see how your son is doing.
If you can, I'd get to know the teacher. If the school and the teacher encourage parent volunteers in the classroom, I'd take advantage of the opportunity to see what's happening in the classroom. You'll get a fair idea of what he does, how he acts, and what his classmates are like.
After a few weeks, if you find that he's hiding his light under a bushel or you get the feeling that there's an issue with behaviour related to boredom or distraction, you can meet with the teacher. That's when it might be appropriate to bring in stuff he does at home - a portfolio with a list of books he reads, any writing he does, the kind of puzzles and games he enjoys etc.
There are also some subtle ways to demonstrate what he's doing outside of school. Eg. since he's reading already, you could send him to school with a favourite book for show-and-tell.
A good kindergarten will still be very experiential and playful, and will build good executive function skills, which many gifted (and honestly, special needs) kids struggle with. Hopefully, the kindergarten won't be academic, which means it will be great for kids of all abilities. The concern will come when they start doing academic work and your son becomes bored. For us, that started in first grade. Kindergarten was great.
For starters... what school are you talking? With a January birthday, I'm assuming you're talking preschool but maybe you are not in the states.
Personally, we chose totally part-time play-based preschools for our kids. There were some academic options within the class but no requirement on the kids to ever go to those stations. They did a lot of story telling, learning songs, sensory activities, outdoor play, nature/science, imagination play, ect. Both absolutely loved preschool despite being advanced in academic skills. We didn't give those teachers a heads up at all and there were no problems.
We didn't go to the school with the kids abilities prior to kindergarten either. Teachers often feel more invested in they "discover" your child on their own. They had DD figured out within minutes of first walking into her K classroom. DS, it took longer because he seriously just wanted to play and was not forthcoming about his abilities. He was 4 and we decided since he was having a blast, he could "come out" in his own time... and he did near the end of kindergarten. He's had tons of accommodations since, when he actually wanted them.
Private vs. Public? Well, that all depends. Personally, my kids have done really well in public schooling and we were not at all impressed with the many private schools we interviewed and toured. Yes, they had some great perks and programs but they were also very inflexible. They generally felt their program was advanced enough for any child and really didn't buy that my kids were already working at higher levels than what they were offering. You can force the hand of a public school a little more (not that I ever had to) because they are, by law, required to educate your child. Private schools can stick their ground and say "no, this should work and if it doesn't, you can leave." Of course, that's not to say there aren't flexible private schools in the world. Just not what we've personally seen. When you visit them, really ask about flexibility.
I know it's nerve-wracking but I wouldn't assume there will be issues. Have a good and realistic idea of what you and your child want for their first year of school. For us, we just wanted the kids to feel like they belonged and were cared for. For DD, that meant a grade skip and tons of academic accommodation right off the bat. For DS, that meant just letting him zip through the bare minimum academic work and play at the lego station most of his days. They are now 15 and 11 doing spectacularly with a positive opinion of school and a love of learning.