Anyone's kids in a school with lots of other gifted kids? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 13 Old 08-06-2012, 07:31 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I live in a college town. Reportedly 30-35% of the kids in the schools here are gifted. The elementary schools have 4 levels of gifted education (a nurturing program for identifying kids who might be passed over, a regular gifted program for kids who score in the top 5% of the general pop, Highly Gifted for kids who score in the top 1-2%, and a self-contained program, LEAP, for kids who are performing at least 2 grade levels above across the board). 

 

My dd2 is going into 3rd grade next year and that is when they screen with the Naglieri Non-verbal for the regular gifted program. She was pretty bored last year in 2nd grade and I think she wasn't challenged enough, although she did not ace everything. There were a few math concepts she didn't get right away, but generally her math homework (one worksheet) took her about 2 minutes to complete. She's reading on, I dunno, a 5th grade level? Harry Potter whatever that would be. I'm pretty confident that she's in the gifted range, but probably not Highly Gifted nor suitable for the self-contained program. 

 

I'm a little anxious about the Naglieri because I don't know that she's ever seen anything like that before, but I am not one to push her, either. I looked at some examples online and we're not big puzzle people so I'm a little apprehensive that she won't know what to do with it, but at the same time I am not a hot-houser and the idea of coaching her for this test is kinda weird to me. I pretty much just follow her interests and help her when she needs a little help.

 

We were in a private school before switching to public school last year and the private school didn't give tests or have grades. It was pretty crunchy and project-based. She loved it, but for various reasons (not the least money) we're in public school now. She adapted okay last year, but wasn't challenged a lot and her teacher wasn't the most vibrant and engaging. She had quite a few troublemakers in the class, too.

 

So, we're excited about third grade and the potential for a better fit, but I am a bit apprehensive about the Naglieri (what if she doesn't do well?), and about the regular gifted program vs the HGE and the LEAP programs. I think later on, especially in high school, some of the perfectly average kids in our district can have problems with self-esteem because there are so many really smart kids. I'm a reluctant wave-maker. I will if I have to, but I don't relish the idea of being "that mom". In the schools I went to growing up dd2 would obviously be one of the smart kids, but here we're swimming in 'em!!

 

I don't really have a question so much, but just wondering if anyone else has a similar situation, or a similar school system and how that plays out for you?

 

---

 

BTW, we're trying a charter for our dd1 this coming year (6th grade) which is smaller and less stress because she has anxiety and I think a regular public middle school would just be too much for her. Add in the self-esteem and gifted issues and I'm just not confident about it for dd1 so we thought we'd try the charter since she got in the lottery and have regular middle school as a fall back. Since dd1 got in, dd2 will have a better chance to get in there when she's 6th grade also, so she will most likely have a choice of two tracks — the charter or public school (which actually I thought was an awesome middle school).


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#2 of 13 Old 08-06-2012, 07:58 PM
 
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Hi Beanma,  I had posted in the other forum thread that my son is going to an all gifted school. He only attended 3 weeks in the summer so I don't have much to post about the experience. I am hoping it goes ok this year.  I didn't know it was an all gifted school. I put him in it because I wanted a good enrichment program that focused on things other than run of the mill. I didn't feel like an hour a week of some sort of special something was anything to be happy about. I know I was concerned with his test results from the SAT 10 but he didn't fail it as such and I know he is very ahead. Somehow he just has testing issues.  So I'm hoping for a good year at this new school. 


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#3 of 13 Old 08-06-2012, 09:04 PM
 
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I don't have this situation with my son but I grew up in a public school system that had a separate special elementary school for gifted children. In other words, I was nothing special at my school because all the other kids were exceptionally bright too. There were benefits to this but also drawbacks. On the plus side I was more academically challenged and I learned more. We were given wonderful opportunities to learn in nontraditional ways although it was still very standard public school with grades and homework and whatnot. Being in a swarm of smart kids meant that I got used to feeling mediocre and that effected my self esteem. Overall I think it doesn't matter too much what program gifted kids go into so long as they learn the value of hard work and they develop positive self-images. That said, I'd prefer to put my kids in programs that emphasize individual learning at one's own pace because that's where I did my best work and felt the most confident.
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#4 of 13 Old 08-07-2012, 02:46 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for your replies, Aishamama and Marsupial-mom. I think I'm over-reacting a little bit, but I've got to have something to worry about nut.gif.

 

I was just super involved at the private school year before last and got a little burnt out and just did not get as involved in the public school this past year. I know dd2 was pulled out some to work with one of the school's gifted educators for reading quite often and sometimes for math, but I never had a conversation with the gifted education teacher about her. I did conference with her regular teacher, but we didn't really talk about gifted issues, more just about her getting acclimated to public school.

 

This year the school is moving toward more of a project-based learning approach which dd2 is really excited about. And I know I can talk to some of the other parents about the gifted issues, but sometimes I just like to be a little bit more anonymous hence posting here at midnight! 

 

Would still love to hear from other parents who have kids in a school with lots of other gifties and how that has worked out for you.


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#5 of 13 Old 08-07-2012, 03:44 PM
 
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I've just moved my daughter to a new school district MS that has a STEM focus. Apparently half of the students are out of district and about 40% have been designated as gifted. Obviously, I don't have much experience to share yet, but I am optimistic about her upcoming year ; I'm hoping she will find more students, especially girls who are interested and excel in math and science. As I just had IQ testing for DD that showed her as HG and since she has always performed well academically, I thought being among a lot of other gifted kids would make her feel both accepted AND challenged.

I'll let you know more as the year progresses; DD starts school tomorrow!

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#6 of 13 Old 08-08-2012, 06:59 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi Oaksie, just read your other thread. Thanks for your response. I do think that the STEM school sounds like a good fit for your dd.

 

In our area, it's like Lake Wobegon and all the kids are above average winky.gif so our high school and middle schools apparently don't have much of a problem meeting the gifted kids' needs. In fact I've heard the high schools referred to as a having a reverse bell curve with few average students in the middle. I know the high schools can also be very competitive with kids taking extra classes over the summer to improve their rankings. I've heard parents of high schoolers in our area talking about it and it seems to be not uncommon. There's always some kid(s) in our area who ace the SAT. It's that kind of environment.

 

My dd1 (not the subject of this thread, but I'm hijacking my own thing here) is smart, probably gifted in some areas, possibly has some learning issues in other areas, but definitely has anxiety issues that complicate things and we just felt like the regular public schools would not "get" her with so many competitive traditionally gifted kids and so much traditional public school trappings, so we opted for a charter which is about 25 minutes away instead of 5 minutes away, but has an environmental and arts focus (two of her loves) and offers more of that integrated, project-based curriculum. It is not particularly academically rigorous, but I don't think dd1 needs that. I think it does offer kids the opportunity to explore a subject in depth, but w/o pressure. Dd1 doesn't do pressure well. 

 

I love the project-based approach and my kids do too. The elementary school DD2 goes to will be switching to more of a project-based approach (w/in a public school framework) this year and she is super excited about it. The private school the kids were in before this was project-based/constructivist and they really thrived. They both had some adjustment issues in public school this past year with the structure and a fair amount of work-sheets and that kind of thing. They did have some projects, though, and both were really much more involved and excited when they rolled around. I'm hopeful that the principal, who I like and who is super excited about project-based learning, can get all the teachers on board with it. I realize that some of the teachers may not be as excited as I am or as the principal is, but fingers crossed.

 

Dd2 was just bored with the 2nd grade work much of last year and was incensed that she had to read books that were below her level. They used that Fountas & Pinnell letter-based reading levels and she was reading well above the last level (M, I think) that they had in the classroom at the beginning of the year. By the end of the year they weren't making her read the "too easy" books any more and she was working more with the gifted educator, but at the first of the year she was pretty grumpy about having to read Level K books during the assessment period while she was reading Harry Potter at home. Part of it was the fact that she had to go through the red tape of reading the easy books so that the teacher could assess her level and coming from the private school she just wasn't used to that kind of bureaucracy. Another part of it was the teacher had not taught second grade before and hadn't been at that school before so there were some adjustments for her to make, too.

 

I am hopeful that dd2 can get the gifted services she needs (still a little worried about the Naglieri) and won't be bored this year. I don't think there's as much competition and pressure in elementary school as there can be in middle and especially high school in our area, but I think dd2 is much better equipped to cope with that than dd1 in either case. 

 

Oasksie, hope your dd has a great day!


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#7 of 13 Old 08-08-2012, 08:06 AM
 
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wow beanmama i had no idea they have public schools that meet the gifted need so much. i am so impressed.

 

yes dd 'failed' the N too because she was not a puzzles person. however that worked in her favor. we only have one gifted class. in second grade the gifted teacher would not have been a good fit for dd. she was too traditional and towed the line. instead dd went to a second third grade split class. and met the teacher of her dreams. he retired the next year but they still email each other. dd is not an academic child. and he was highly academic. through all his fun he really pushed the kids and gave waaay more hw than other teachers. all these are huge negatives for dd - but for him she did it happily.

 

3rd grade she still didnt get into the gifted class because there was no opening. again worked in her favour. the teacher was terrible and dd loved her 3rd grade teacher so much that she cried when she heard teacher was going on medical leave. 

 

was she bored? yes. was she bored in 4th grade when finally at the last moment there was an opening in the gifted class? yes. why? she is a project based learner. she wants to know the why and how things work. she doesnt care to know the details of what the thing is. most of their hw in 4th were projects - but they were mostly academic pen on paper projects so she didnt care for them too much. however too she is a philosopher. a thinker. so her way of thinking is v. different and so really the school does not meet her needs.

 

oh and in 4th grade she refused to go to 5th grade math in the middle of the semester coz she loved her 4th grade math teacher so much. 

 

so i have chosen her middle school and high school v. carefully. the program will be a good fit for her if she gets in. it is a gifted program, but i didnt choose it for the gifted reason. i did it coz it matches dd's need to see its application IRL and all aspects of that focus. 

 

dd does have self esteem issues. but it comes from her physical size and quirkyness, not gifted issues. so our bedtime talks are absolutely essential for her emotional well being. 

 

i think dd is the kind who is going to shine in college but is going to just tolerate school work, unless she meets a teacher who makes them think outside the box. 


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#8 of 13 Old 08-08-2012, 12:58 PM
 
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I am slightly confused by your question, but I think we have a similar situation. Our school system has two levels of gifted programs- one for top 8%, one for top 1% on the CogAT, with achievement tests taken into consideration (you have to get top 5%) too. In my daughter's kindergarten class, 8 of the 22 kids qualified for the top 1% program. 2 went, 6 stayed, and now the school clusters the high performing kids in one class. My guess is a huge number of the rest of the kids got into the secondary, top 8% program, or would if they had tested. It's also project based, "expeditionary learning," and they loop so they have the same teacher and kids for 2 years at a time. It has worked out extremely well for my daughter, who qualifies for the top 1% program, but does not generally max out IQ tests, and is just not super intense, personality wise. My son's class was a little different-  I think only 2 or maybe 3 of the kids qualified for the top 1% program, just wasn't as academic a group, and he also is much further out there, tends to max out all the tests he takes, and is more motivated and vocally pissed off that he can't find square root/algebra work to do at school. So we are sending him to the self contained school(something like your LEAP, 2 grades ahead in all subjects, more depth), and he's getting a pull out math program on top of that- all public school system initiated, I should add. I did little to no advocating; it was all his teachers. We looked around at the private schools in the area when we started getting his test scores at the beginning of the year, and even worked with some of the gifted experts in the area. None of the privates(even the gifted focus ones) were as rigorous as the public school- I don't mean homework wise, I mean curriculum speed/depth-, and were generally made for moderately gifted kids and not really anyone else, plus they seem to have more bullying problems right now. And cost a million billion dollars.

 

I *think* your question is partly how will she do if she doesn't get into the most highly gifted program, and my answer is probably just great. In a school population like that, plenty of kids will be working at her level, and plenty of parents will opt not to send their kids to the highly gifted program even if they qualify. She'll have a peer group, and the teacher will be used to dealing with kids like her, because *most* kids there are like her. Sometimes I can see that throws parents off at our school- they come in guns blazing because they have read on a website that their kid's scores are 1 in a thousand and NO WAY DO YOU UNDERSTAND MY INCREDIBLY UNUSUAL CHILD, AND I WILL NOT LET YOU SCREW HIM UP WITH YOUR MERE MORTAL WAYS...and...scoring in the top 1% on the CogAT and reading achievement tests is about enough to get you into the second tier reading group. I do think being in populations like that means that the self contained programs are more intense, personality wise. It's a lot of wiggly, aggressively academically competitive little boys with glasses (uh, like my son). Not for everybody. But the good news is regular classrooms can and do accommodate a lot more. I do think it's tougher for kids on grade level kids, though.

 

For a long time I thought these scores should be renormed, but now I wonder if we could see a map of the US with scores overlaid in different districts if we'd see that there are huge regional clustering effects. I don't think my daughter would be very good at the Naglieri either. Visual spatial stuff is not her (or my) thing. They used to use that here, but threw it out because it skewed so far male- 60% or something. Now they use the CogAT/WISC and MAP/Woodcock Johnson. If the LEAP program seems like a perfect fit, and she doesn't get in, can you appeal privately?

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#9 of 13 Old 08-08-2012, 03:59 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by hempmama View Post

I *think* your question is partly how will she do if she doesn't get into the most highly gifted program...

 

I'm sorry I was probably pretty all over the place, but that's not at all what my question was at all. I did say (I thought pretty clearly) that "I'm pretty confident that she's in the gifted range, but probably not Highly Gifted nor suitable for the self-contained program."

 

My question is more if you have or have had a kid in a school with lots of other gifties how does that work out for you? I think my child is moderately gifted (not HG or PG) and I worry some about her having a little trouble in an environment with a lot of competitive gifties, many of whom are probably more academically advanced than she is. In another public school environment she would shine more as a big fish in a little pond, to mix my metaphors, but here in this district, there are so many smart kids that sometimes more moderately smart and average kids have self-esteem issues when they compare themselves to the exceptionally gifted kids, especially later on in high school.

 

I would also like to hear anyone's experiences with the Naglieri.


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#10 of 13 Old 08-11-2012, 09:30 PM
 
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beanma, I went to gifted schools all the way from elementary to high school. And even in College, the program I was in was a pretty hard program to get into.

 

In elementary, I was probably in the company of moderately - highly gifted students and that was fine. It was elementary after all. It really wasn't that big of a deal.

 

High school was a bigger deal. I went to a high school in my country that was heavily patterned after Bronx High School of Science. It was really more or less the upper 1% of students in the whole country. There, I was definitely small fish in the big pond. I had self esteem issues because I did not know how to deal with not being the best (as I was in elementary), which to my mother and eventually to me, was considered a failure. I did not adjust very quickly to that which didn't make my high school life the happiest.

 

By the time I went to College, I became ok with other people being "better" than me. It didn't really affect my work ethic or my desire to do my best but I stopped comparing myself to others because of how frustrating it became. Note though that I do not blame my high school for this. I just don't think my mother really prepared me for this possibility because it was always about how smart and gifted  I was in elementary that when it wasn't as obvious in high school (because of my very awesome peers), it was hard for me to accept. I did not know failure (or rather not being the best) prior to being in high school. I think I was shortchanged on that one earlier on.

 

The thing I am most thankful about being in gifted schools is that it provided me an opportunity to really better myself. Just by mere exposure to extremely smart people made me learn so much. I owe so much of my critical thinking ability from my being with my own peers so to speak. It is just so comfortable being able to relate to people of the same wavelength.

 

The down side of that is that as an adult, I really find it hard to empathize and relate to people whose brain functions differently because I was so used to being with peers of the same ability.

 

However, I don't think I would have it any other way for me. Being with other gifted students is a truly enriching experience. As far as self-esteem issues, I think the problem I had is that I think my mother thought that because I was highly gifted, I therefore could never fail or at least she thought I could learn how not to fail when what she really should have been pushing for is how to bounce back if and WHEN I failed. If you have your daughter's back and you give her lots of support during more challenging times, she will be very secure within herself and her abilities. She has to know that if she faces difficulties and/or underperforms, that it's going to be ok and that she can start again and try again.

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#11 of 13 Old 08-12-2012, 06:05 AM - Thread Starter
 
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The thing I am most thankful about being in gifted schools is that it provided me an opportunity to really better myself. Just by mere exposure to extremely smart people made me learn so much. I owe so much of my critical thinking ability from my being with my own peers so to speak. It is just so comfortable being able to relate to people of the same wavelength.

 

The down side of that is that as an adult, I really find it hard to empathize and relate to people whose brain functions differently because I was so used to being with peers of the same ability.

 

However, I don't think I would have it any other way for me. Being with other gifted students is a truly enriching experience. As far as self-esteem issues, I think the problem I had is that I think my mother thought that because I was highly gifted, I therefore could never fail or at least she thought I could learn how not to fail when what she really should have been pushing for is how to bounce back if and WHEN I failed. If you have your daughter's back and you give her lots of support during more challenging times, she will be very secure within herself and her abilities. She has to know that if she faces difficulties and/or underperforms, that it's going to be ok and that she can start again and try again.

 

Thanks grumpybear. That's good to hear. Our situation is a little different because it's not an exclusively gifted school. There are still plenty of average-performing or low-performing kids. It's just that the top 5% (kids who score 95% or better) is really more like the top 33% here in our district and within that 33% there are many HG and PG kids, too. 

 

I think it will be positive for her. I'm a little apprehensive still about the Naglieri, but I think I will show her some examples (if I can find any decent ones online) closer to the time for the test just so she knows what it's all about since we're not big puzzle people and she hasn't done a test like that before at all.


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#12 of 13 Old 08-12-2012, 07:49 AM
 
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My kids are split with their experiences with large groups of gifted kids.

 

My DD 15 has never meshed in a gifted program. She was in a cluster in elementary, she had a 2 period gifted social studies/English course all through middle school and then her 1st two years of high school, she was on the highly gifted track in a school where about 50 percent of the general population qualified as gifted (it was also an audition based performing arts magnet.) She found all these options greatly frustrating... too much pointless arguing as opposed to invigorating debate, difficult personalities and they still moved too slow through the material. She MUCH preferred the high-achiever classes where some kids were also gifted BUT all were more focused, motivated and moved faster through the material. Now, this isn't to say she doesn't enjoy being with other gifted kids... she just doesn't always enjoy learning with them. 

 

Now DS 11 thoroughly enjoyed his gifted pull-out in elementary (3 times a week.) The majority of his class was gifted (more than half) but only those without behavioral issues were allowed to participate in the pull-out (which I know plenty here will disagree with but since DS was bullied quite badly by these gifted but nasty kids, I was personally quite happy that they were removed from the program. They simply could not accomplish ANYTHING with this particular group of boys involved.) He is in the gifted block in middle school and he really enjoys that too. He is a high-achiever but not the perfectionist that DD is. He just wants to do well on the material handed... he doesn't obsess over the material that might be in the book but is not covered. He enjoys the tangents that mean "less work accomplished" in a day. He doesn't care that the gifted classes are moving slower than the high-achiever classes. The behavioral issues still drive him batty but he's a little better at tuning them out than DD was. He's just a different person.

 

Both my kids took a non-verbal ability test in elementary (similar though not the same one your kids are taking.) In general, on these sorts of tests, you can trust a high score for gifted qualification but a kid who scores lower shouldn't be discounted if they are showing other signs of giftedness. Kids who are globally gifted or more on the visual/spatial side do well. Kids whose gifts are more isolated to the verbal side can end up with non-qualifying scores (though can turn around and easily test gifted on other, more verbal ability tests.) I wouldn't stress it. Your child will likely do great. If she doesn't, you might look into alternative testing if the school will accept it.


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#13 of 13 Old 08-12-2012, 09:21 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks, Whatsnext!

 

Dd2 has been a pretty easy kid—bright, fairly compliant (but with a strong sense of self), pretty social— while dd1 has been pretty challenging and intense since birth, so I've just assumed that dd2 would do well w/o as much parental involvement, which really has been true so far, but I don't want to drop the ball for her. Dd1 is very bright, too, but just needs a lot more from us (intense, anxiety issues, etc).

 

I kind of stepped back from being involved as much when we made the switch to public school. The private school had a lot of communication issues that I was involved in trying, ultimately unsuccessfully, to rectify and I just needed a break, plus I was dealing with elder-care issues (moving my mom up to our area). Our public school system certainly does not need any help with larger communication issues (some individual teachers may need help, but the school calls us in English and Spanish and emails us and sends letters home).

 

I think I will be more involved this year in school and ready to advocate more strongly for both kids. I do think dd2 will thrive with some more challenging work.

 

thanks for all the feedback.


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