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#1 of 19 Old 08-30-2012, 07:34 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I have 2 boys in public school, grades 2 and 4.  I have posted in the past about my oldest son who was identified by his kindergarten teacher as being significant above her other students in terms of what he was ready to learn.  She pulled us in for a conference the first quarter of kindergarten and asked if we wanted to accelerate him to 1st grade.  Our feeling at the time was that it didn't really fix the issue - he is just a quick learner and would be the same whether it was kindergarten material or 1st grade material.  He had already bonded with his classmates and didn't want to move.  So we left him there and she did her very best, given the constraints of 25 other kids to teach, to try to challenge him.  His 1st grade teacher did the same and he seemed happy and all was okay, although I worried about the fact that he really never needed to try and what that would mean for the future.  The did some testing on him in Kindergarten, identified him as gifted, and made an exception for him to join the gifted program (which was minimal - only 1 hr a week) even though it was typically for 2nd graders and above.  So all in all I felt like the school was trying to do the best they could to meet his needs.  

 

Fast forward a few years.  My now 4th grader is finally feeling a little challenged this year (mostly I think by the volume of work more than the quality of it, but to him it feels appropriately challenging).  However, my 2nd grader is not nearly as content to go along with whatever the world brings to him.  He is much more of a competitive spirit - he wants to be challenged.  And he doesn't see the point in doing something that isn't challenging.  He also had the same Kindergarten and 1st grade teachers as my older son and they also did their best to find ways to challenge him.  We had several meetings with his 1st grade teacher, who was my husband's 1st grade teacher as well and so had decades of experience and was just really great at trying to juggle the needs of all the kids.  She allowed my son to be excused from classroom instructions if he started to feel really bored and they had a little agreement worked out that he could go into the hallway and read something of his own choosing.   My experience with his 2nd grade teacher (from my older son being in the class) is that she prefers to do most of her instruction in large group format and there just isn't the opportunity to individualize things.  I was not able to identify anything concrete that she did for my older son to challenge him so I don't see how things will be different with this kid, except that he isn't going to just go along with it.  Last year even despite the teacher's attempts he often acted out and didn't want to go to school.  He never got in trouble at school but he let us know at home that he hated it and didn't want to go.  So far this year he started off the year really happy and excited about the year but already last night there was a big tantrum over doing his homework (which was counting coins and something he knew how to do 2 years ago).  I feel for him.  Who wants to spend the bulk of their day doing busy work that they've mastered years before?  Honestly, he could probably learn in 15 minutes what he needs to know each day to keep up with the class. 

 

But what do I do about it?  The school has discontinued their gifted program.  No funding for it.  All of their resources are going in to making sure no child is left behind and so there are no resources to help the ones who could get ahead.  Homeschooling is not an option.  I have to work at least part-time and he's too young to be left home alone.   Private school would be a major challenge financially for us, and there are no private schools that we would consider near our home - it would involve a significant drive every day.  And that's assuming I could convince DH to even consider it, given his parent's career history.  Sending a kid to private school would be akin to Chelsea Clinton running for an office as a republican.   There are no charter or magnet schools in our district.  We have nothing.  No options.  Just send my kid off to spend 6 hrs a day essentially twiddling his thumbs and getting more and more resentful.

 

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#2 of 19 Old 08-31-2012, 12:20 AM
 
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I am going to beat A&A to it and suggest you bring up a grade skip - not a panacea, but better than nothing and it gets him out of elementary school faster and closer to middle school which may have better options for differentiation and subject acceleration. The school has been open to it before, so why not sound them out on it? Having an older brother, he may feel comfortable with older kids and even though he may have to leave friends behind, he sounds at risk of "checking out" for good.


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#3 of 19 Old 08-31-2012, 04:06 AM
 
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Tigerle made me laugh, yes, A&A will suggest a grade skip. It sounds worth exploring. Your kids are both old for grade, so it's not such a big issue with regards to peers.

How far into the school year are you? If it's been a few weeks, then reach out to the 2nd grade teacher for a check up on how your DS is doing and what her plans are for him this year. Make the conversation positive with a tone of teamwork where you support her goals.

What do your kids do outside of school? Are they in activities that challenge them mentally and physically? We've supplemented outside of school with music lessons, a second language, plenty of soccer, and scouting. They each stretch the kids in a way that school cannot. It doesn't fix the 6 hours in school, but it does give the brain a workout.

I totally understand the feeling of inadequacy. DS did get a skip, which was a bandaid, as he's now repeating math (they want him to adjust to the skip before reevaluating math) . I think he's well placed for the moment with regards to writing, but reading, math, and subjects like social studies and science could all continue to head upwards before he even notices. DD is young for grade and only has a radical subject acceleration. It's been an up and down experience where nothing has ever felt like it fits. I think finally in 5th grade she's well placed, but it's still early.
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#4 of 19 Old 08-31-2012, 08:39 AM
 
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I would go for a skip, too.  My son was offered a skip last year, but he essentially chickened out (that, plus the principal at the new school was a real dud for gifted kids), and he's back to his regular grade.  He is ALREADY (the first week) frustrated by the slow pace and lack of opportunity to learn.  I wish we would have forced him to skip because I'm afraid we have a long, long year ahead of us, even though he gets to take an accelerated online math class.  But that's the only accommodation that's going to happen. Fortunately, my son is in an HGT magnet school, so he is advanced already, but if he wasn't I would definitely be pushing a skip or two or three.  

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#5 of 19 Old 08-31-2012, 09:26 AM
 
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I read your post yesterday and wanted to recommend a grade skip, but as a parent who has never navigated the elementary school system I didn't really feel qualified to offer my opinion. That's still what I instinctively felt reading through the situation. No, it's not the whole answer, but nothing ever is. It may be one very useful part of the answer. The other parts may be things like extra-curricular activities that feed his desire for competitive challenge, subject acceleration, non-curricular enrichment at home, a healthy (skeptical) attitude to busywork, etc...

 

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#6 of 19 Old 08-31-2012, 02:27 PM - Thread Starter
 
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It seems to be the unanimous idea.  smile.gif

 

To be honest, the idea of grade skipping hadn't occured to me at all when I was mulling this over the past few days.  After reading the responses my first thought was "what a great idea!"  And then I remembered that we had discussed it with the 1st grade teacher last year and she strongly advised against it because the group of kids in DS2's grade at school are a particularly kind hearted, thoughtful group and apparently the current 3rd graders have the opposite reputation.  Of course I know dynamics change as different kids move in and out and they mature, so I don't know that this is still the case.  But as kindergarteners and 1st graders that group was quite a challenge apparently.  Sigh.  I don't want to have him to leave behind a great group of kids who value fairness and kindness to be thrown to the wolves....  greensad.gif

 

But its worth talking it over with DH and then with the 2nd and 3rd grade teachers.  Like was pointed out, at least it moves him more quickly to a level where there is more differentiation going on.  And I think there are enough things in the 3rd grade curriculum that are new to him that it would keep his interest.  And then the transition to 4th grade is notoriously a big jump in expectations, responsibility, etc. 

 

As for extracurriculars - he does competitive gymnastics so that really takes a lot of time but its great for him because it gives him a physical outlet which he badly needs, and meets his needs for being challenged both physically and mentally.  There is never a "good enough" in gymnastics.  There is always something you could do better, or the next skill to learn.  His coaches train in a very individual way so he's never having to wait for the other kids to catch up before he can move on to whatever he's ready for next.  So I think its a great outlet for him.  DS1 does karate and piano but DS2 doesn't have time for music right now due to gymnastics. 


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#7 of 19 Old 08-31-2012, 09:16 PM
 
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Well, one thing to remember is that early in the year it's all review, so you might remind him of that.

 

That said, we found second grade to be a bit of a catch up year and less than challenging. The teachers were mainly busy making sure everyone could read and do multi-digit addition and subtraction. Dd2 was especially frustrated with the reading because she was having to read easy reader type books for a few weeks while the teachers assessed everyone's ability. I was not particularly pro-active because it was our first year at our local public school. She got pretty fed up with having to read books like "Frog and Toad" when she was reading Harry Potter at home. The teacher had not taught 2nd grade before and I wish I had advocated a little more strongly for dd2, but this year's 3rd grade teacher seems much more in tune with kids with more gifted abilities. She has Harry Potter 5 (all 896 pages of it) in the classroom which is quite a jump up from the Fountas and Pinnell level M readers that topped out the classroom library last year.

 

How many classes of 2nd graders are there at the school? Is it just the one teacher and the one class? If the 3rd graders are troublesome compared to the 2nd grade group it might not be worth it to do a grade skip. Maybe if you approach the teacher from a teamwork standpoint she will accept some resources and work on some ways to keep him engaged. Could he pick out some harder books in the library and maybe work in a supplemental math book if he finishes his other work? Just throwing out some ideas. It's hard to advocate for a year of twiddling thumbs, but last year dd2's class had a lot of troublemakers and she is really happy that this year there are a lot fewer "annoying" kids. (They seem to mostly be in the other 2nd grade traditional class.) We are really looking forward to an awesome year and it's all to do with both the kids in the class and the teacher.


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#8 of 19 Old 09-01-2012, 04:20 AM
 
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I agree with trying to skip.

 

I have two DD that are exactly a year younger than your DS (10/05) and they start 2nd grade next week. They did not skip- but rather we moved around and placed them straight from PreK to 1st due to changes in cut off ages. I can not imagine them going into 1st right now! Although, I do know with different areas that with red-shirting ages in grade can vary widely.

 

If your DS does mostly whole group instruction- I completely think that he will underwhelmed.

 

The note about the current group being kind is a good side note, is it possible to find another neighborhood school to skip to? You could avoid the peer group ahead of him and also get a fresh start now that the school year has started.

 

Otherwise, can your DS go up to 2nd for reading/writing/etc and then stay in his 1st grade for other subjects with the option to skip 2nd next fall?

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#9 of 19 Old 09-01-2012, 02:51 PM
 
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I'll add one more thing-- one of the negatives about a skip for my son was the group of kids he would be with.     His current grade-- the one he ended up staying in-- has very nice kids.  The older grade (he was with them last year in an unofficial skip) are actually quite intolerable.  The boys were very out of control and not kids my son liked at all. I think there's something to be said for being with a nice group of kids. 

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#10 of 19 Old 09-02-2012, 09:22 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm leaning today toward trying to make private school work for just this year.  My experience with DS1 is that, like was mentioned earlier, 2nd grade seems to be somewhat of a "catch up" year where the goal is to make sure everyone has the basics down.  For the kids who already have it down I didn't see much being added other than more difficulty to concepts that were already taught last year (i.e. harder 2 digit addition and subtraction).  I don't know that things would be different in a private school in terms of the core academics, but DS2's behavior is really atrocious lately.  He's smart-alecky and seems to think the world is all about what he wants.  He's been throwing temper tantrums when he's asked to help out around the house.  He has been telling elaborate stories and then later we find out none of it was true.  Tonight we were out to dinner with extended family and I went down to his end of the table to check on him and see if he wanted help cutting us his dinner and the attitude he gave me was that of a mouthy 15 yr old.  I'm getting very concerned about his behavior.  Like I said before, he never gets in trouble at school so maybe the issue is more one of ineffective parenting strategies.  But I'm thinking a school that has a stronger focus on giving back to the community/ the environment/ etc and also maybe more rigorous academics might be good for him.  I feel like nobody in his life has the bar set high enough for him.  DH says, and I agree, that we can start by raising the bar at home and also that his gymnastics coaches are the only ones who do have the bar high for him so we don't want to give that up even though I also think fatigue plays a role in the negative behavior.  He comes home from practice all revved up and can't fall asleep until late and then he's tired and grouchy the next day.  Maybe just expecting more from him at home will help.  But I'm feeling in my gut that things are just not going to go in the right direction for him with the current set up.

 

This after I was encouraged when Friday he said his teacher pulled him aside to ask him if he felt like things were starting out too easy this year.  I was hopeful that maybe she picked up on his frustration and was going to try to fix it.  Or maybe she's a Mothering.com reader.  winky.gif  Or maybe that was a story he told that didn't really happen. 

 

How concerned should I be about the story telling?  Is it just an outlet for a creative mind?  Or something more concerning?

 

Sorry I'm all over the place tonight.  Have I mentioned I'm really bothered by his behavior over the past few days?  greensad.gif


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#11 of 19 Old 09-02-2012, 10:07 PM
 
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Like I said before, he never gets in trouble at school so maybe the issue is more one of ineffective parenting strategies.  

 

Or, more likely, he's holding it all in at school, and letting the stress of an ill-fitting educational environment there hang out at home amongst those whom he knows will love him no matter what.

 

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#12 of 19 Old 09-02-2012, 10:19 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Or, more likely, he's holding it all in at school, and letting the stress of an ill-fitting educational environment there hang out at home amongst those whom he knows will love him no matter what.

 

Miranda

Maybe.  Its so hard to know.  We've been making excuses for him for awhile and probably letting things slide more than we should have because he has had some health issues that we blamed the behaviors on.  But I think we've corrected the health issues now.  The negative behavior ebbs and flows. 

 

I had called a local psychologist who is an expert in working with gifted kids.  I called in the spring of DS1's 2nd grad year because we were frustrated with some of his behaviors at that time.  I was told she had a waiting list of about a year, maybe a little more.  I've never heard back from them so I've been trying to call again to see if we are near the top of the list yet.  It would be so very nice to have a professional's opinion on this before I make a major change like switching schools.  But I'm afraid if I ever get ahold of them (I can't seem to find the office number but I have a few friends who think they have it somewhere looking for me) they will say they don't have us on the list.  It seems like we should have been called by now - that had to have been 18 months ago. 


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#13 of 19 Old 09-03-2012, 12:50 AM
 
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He sounds just like our DS! I have been extremely impatient with his behaviour the last few weeks. (Well, I am tired and grouchy with being hugely pregnant myself). Pre-school is out and we are waiting for formal school to start (first grade where I live) mid-September. I can tell part of it is idling wheels in his brain which I hope school is going to help with (we have picked a Catholic school with a strong emphasis both on community and achievement, a combination I also instinctively feel is just right, and he's being entered early, so hopefully that one will work out at least for a while). He may be picking up on my own issues with a high-risk pregnancy (DS2 will be born with special needs). But I do feel there is something else going on with these kids, and it's not our parenting. It appears to come in phases where all those things that used to work don't seem to work anymore. Then I check out my own attitude and sleep schedules and stimulation and diets and supplements, we start introducing new things into our life and improving others, and then suddenly things get better, we never know what really made the difference, and we have months of chugging smoothly along.

Then his sensory seeking behaviours start ramping up (currently, he's got a new mouth tick which involves blowing constantly on his fingers), he starts exploding about little things, tantruming and being downright adolescent about helping out around the house and I know we're in a new phase of having to adjust.

Not sure where I am going in this rambling post, but to tell you you are not alone and that I would look at basically everything in his life that could stand some tweaking. In your place, I think I'd start looking at his sleep schedule - he may need serious help in winding down at night so he feels better during the day. maybe a magnesium supplement, music, a hot bath, more elaborate bedtime rituals? Just a suggestion.


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#14 of 19 Old 09-03-2012, 07:44 PM - Thread Starter
 
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He sounds just like our DS! I have been extremely impatient with his behaviour the last few weeks. (Well, I am tired and grouchy with being hugely pregnant myself). Pre-school is out and we are waiting for formal school to start (first grade where I live) mid-September. I can tell part of it is idling wheels in his brain which I hope school is going to help with (we have picked a Catholic school with a strong emphasis both on community and achievement, a combination I also instinctively feel is just right, and he's being entered early, so hopefully that one will work out at least for a while). He may be picking up on my own issues with a high-risk pregnancy (DS2 will be born with special needs). But I do feel there is something else going on with these kids, and it's not our parenting. It appears to come in phases where all those things that used to work don't seem to work anymore. Then I check out my own attitude and sleep schedules and stimulation and diets and supplements, we start introducing new things into our life and improving others, and then suddenly things get better, we never know what really made the difference, and we have months of chugging smoothly along.

Then his sensory seeking behaviours start ramping up (currently, he's got a new mouth tick which involves blowing constantly on his fingers), he starts exploding about little things, tantruming and being downright adolescent about helping out around the house and I know we're in a new phase of having to adjust.

Not sure where I am going in this rambling post, but to tell you you are not alone and that I would look at basically everything in his life that could stand some tweaking. In your place, I think I'd start looking at his sleep schedule - he may need serious help in winding down at night so he feels better during the day. maybe a magnesium supplement, music, a hot bath, more elaborate bedtime rituals? Just a suggestion.

Thanks for the reminder, Tigerle.  The system is so complex that it can take some time to try to figure out what's causing things to be off.  After reading your post and doing some thinking I realized how much is in chaos right now.  The boys room is being painted/ carpeted/ etc so everyone is crashed out in DD's room.  DS2 is sleeping on a matress on the floor.  No one can find anything because its all in shambles.  DH and I spend all of our free time trying to get the room finished so the kids have been having way too much independent free time (read screen time).  Things are just off all around.  That could explain a lot of the behavioral stuff.  Although a lot of it has been going on even before that, just not to the degree as it has the past few weeks. 

 

I am really concerned about the story telling.  I just asked him how things are going with something he told me a few weeks ago and today he says he made that whole thing up.  I don't even know what to believe of anything he says.  And the fact that I can't tell he's completely making it up really upsets me. 


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#15 of 19 Old 09-11-2012, 01:03 AM
 
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Specifically regarding in-class accommodation, I found that by far the best thing for us was simply to say, "Can I send some math in this week for DS to do if he has some down time?" I had initially worried about her feeling like I was overstepping, but I think it was just useful to have one thing taken off her plate. If your teacher is OK, there are so many fantastic resources for interesting and challenging work. The forums for Well-Trained Mind have an afterschooling board and an accelerated learner board that both might be useful. But, off-hand, math books like Math Without Words, Historical Connections in Mathematics, Math the Human Endeavor, all the great math readers like Phantom Tollbooth and Cat in Numberland. Interesting workbooks like Excavating English, Code Breakers, so many wonderful history books....

 

I also think there's something to be said for a good-hearted peer group, especially if the single year of acceleration isn't enough to offer challenging work anyway.

 

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#16 of 19 Old 09-11-2012, 01:08 AM
 
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Oh, and some schools of thought put 7yo as one of the big transitional milestone years--developmentally lots going on, and thereby trickier to navigate. Not to discount other issues, but to suggest that filter in addition.

 

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#17 of 19 Old 09-11-2012, 01:04 PM
 
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My 7 year old DS was identified as gifted and ADHD over the summer, but just wanted to join in to say he is also talking like a sullen teenager this past month. I attributed it to the fact that we had slacked off over the summer in terms of doing a lot of the things that seem to help his particular needs--a social skills group, OT, karate. Also he's been reading all the wimpy kid books and I don't know if he's modelling some of that behavior. Of course the beginning of the school year must be stressful... anyway just glad I'm not the only one. He's always been intense but it's the disparaging tone of voice that is new and seems very unpleasantly teenage.
 


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#18 of 19 Old 09-14-2012, 07:10 PM
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I am going to beat A&A to it and suggest you bring up a grade skip

 

LOL.  I am quite the broken record on it.  

 

 

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#19 of 19 Old 09-19-2012, 05:44 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My 7 year old DS was identified as gifted and ADHD over the summer, but just wanted to join in to say he is also talking like a sullen teenager this past month. I attributed it to the fact that we had slacked off over the summer in terms of doing a lot of the things that seem to help his particular needs--a social skills group, OT, karate. Also he's been reading all the wimpy kid books and I don't know if he's modelling some of that behavior. Of course the beginning of the school year must be stressful... anyway just glad I'm not the only one. He's always been intense but it's the disparaging tone of voice that is new and seems very unpleasantly teenage.
 

Interesting... I had considered implecating the Wimpy Kid books in our search for something to blame it on too. 

 

We got an appointment with local expert in gifted psychology but its not for 6 more weeks.  Better than nothing - we've been on the waiting list for over a year and a half and I thought maybe we were forgotten so I'm thankful for an appointment at least. 

 

Any thoughts on the making up of stories?  How much should I be concerned about this?  Today he told me he's been sneaking glutenous snacks because it makes his body feel better.  He has silent CD so he's never had any noticable reaction to gluten, positive or negative, in the past.  I don't know whether he's just trying to convince me he doesn't need to be GF anymore, or if his body does in fact feel some sort of difference when he eats gluten and he likes the feeling.  And I actually can't figure out when or where he would be getting ahold of these glutenous snacks.  Our house isn't strictly GF - the rest of us eat gluten.  But the things he is saying he is eating I have never seen any evidence of (wrappers in the trash, dirty dishes, etc).   I'm skeptical about the whole story.  But if he is telling the truth then we have another issue with trying to get him to buy in to the importance of the diet.  I don't know which direction to take with the conversation because I have no idea what part is true and what isn't.


Laurie Busy mama to Boo (10/02) DeeDa (10/04) and Belly (10/07) TS 45X
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