I got the "pushy parent" treatment! Preschool/gifted issues... - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 5 Old 05-13-2004, 11:41 AM - Thread Starter
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Okay, so I've been saying how we really love our preschool. In terms of being AP-friendly, it's cool.

But we have reason to suspect our 3 year old ds is gifted. He hasn't been fully assessed, though he has had an IQ test. He's not in the profoundly gifted range, but he's definitely gifted. That along with some other issues we have kinda clinches it in my mind. Although his classmates are nice children, he isn't friends with any of them and is pretty bored, I am afraid.

So given that, dh and I went in to talk to the director, to see if there was anything we could do to help alleviate the situation for next year. The director was quite clear that the school does not (will not) do anything special for gifted children.

I'm just feeling really annoyed by the whole conversation. For one thing, she gave us the whole talk about how at 3 years old, scores are unstable, etc. (Insinuation: Your child isn't really gifted, you're just pushy parents.) Talked about how she did her dissertation work on gifted kids and worked in the famous Duke University Talent Identification Program (Insinuation: I know a lot more about gifted kids than you do.) Talked about how at age 3, they really need social skills and not to worry about academic stuff until later (Insinuation: Again, you're just pushy parents and need to chill out.)

At that point, ds wandered over and saw she had some candy on her desk in a little jar. He took the jar and went over to her and held it up, basically asking nonverbally if he could have one. Although she knew very well what he was asking, she then started playing this little power trip game, where she said, "Yes? Can I help you with something?" She basically kept pretending she didn't know what he wanted, and she wouldn't help him until he asked for it verbally. It was such a stupid game and it really made me angry! She then used this as a example, saying that this was exactly what she was talking about, socially immature behavior. It was such a set-up, though. Besides, we weren't talking to her because we think ds is socially sophisticated -- it's the intellectual challenge he needs. Yes, he acted like a 3 year old -- well, he IS one! Besides, what the heck was her little game really showing anyway? That she wanted him to ask for the candy verbally, and he didn't want to conform to that? I don't like people who play power games like that with kids to begin with, and then to use that as an example of how "socially immature" he is... it's just stupid. Stupid and aggravating. Not to mention showing ignorance about the asynchronous development that is so characteristic of many gifted children.

One of the interesting things that came out during this conversation is that for all the work she did with gifted children, etc... her own daughter is not gifted, and in fact is not at the top of her class. Both dh and I picked up on this fact, because it seems like maybe this director has a chip on her shoulder?

I dunno... the conversation did not go well in my opinion. Now I am hesitant to bring up any issues with ANY school. But I think I have to, to ensure my son gets what he needs. If ds had a learning disability, I wouldn't just sit back and let the schools determine what he did and didn't need. I would be his advocate. Same here. Now I see why there is so much on gifted websites about advocacy for your child.

When (if) the school issue comes up for your child, will you lead with the fact that they are gifted? I feel like my Catholic rearing is raising its ugly head, making me feel guilty for having a gifted kid.

Thanks for listening!

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#2 of 5 Old 05-14-2004, 12:44 PM
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With DD I realized quickly that no preschool (other than a specifically catered gifted program and we did not want to test that young and were not into it anyway) would actually be intellectually challenging for DD. So, we went with the preschool that had the *least* of that as possible--- basically a playgroup--- and hoped for the best. It worked out well for several months, but eventually DD's sense of fairness (and well developed social rules) won over and we have homeschooled since.

Good luck,



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#3 of 5 Old 05-14-2004, 01:34 PM
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It sounds like you may need to take a closer look at what you're hoping to get out of a preschool for your ds. Most preschools I've had any experience with only use one basic set of "curriculum" with all children. It usually isn't until gradeschool that they split the children into smaller groups for certain subjects that better fit their "level" of intellect. Unless you're willing to have your child further tested and try to get him into a program that is geared toward "gifted" children you're probably not going to find a preschool that wants to do seperate activities for different children. In my mind the primary goal of preschool is to teach children how to function in a group and to teach them the social skills to prepare for a school setting (unless you're planning to homeschool). Otherwise preschool is usually singing and dancing, painting and playing at the water table and I'm not sure why that would be un-stimulating to any child whether they know their ABC's or not.

If your son is gifted (and it sounds like he is) then I think you need to fill in the blank in the following statement and be prepared to find a preschool that can accomodate your request. In order to challenge my son I need a preschool that will _________________.

Please don't take any of my rhetoric as if I'm challenging your assessments or trying to argue with you what preschool is about. I'm only trying to get another perspective on the table and give you some ideas of how to address what you want to do.
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#4 of 5 Old 05-14-2004, 09:17 PM - Thread Starter
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I am going to use your suggestion, Mama J Rock. It will help me clarify my goals.

I think preschools tend to fall into one of two camps; 1) "academic" where they do science and nature projects, ABCs, 123s, etc. and 2) "social" where the kids mostly just freely play with other kids and toys and maybe sing some songs.

Our current school is definitely more on the social side. But therein lies the paradox of giftedness. He isn't making friends with any of his classmates because there is such a communication barrier. And I think he feels different, although he hasn't said so specifically. So if our main reason for sending him to this school was to get his social needs met, it isn't working too well.

There is absolutely no formal kind of academics in his class. They don't even do a "letter of the week" or anything like that. So... he isn't getting any intellectual challenge, either, not even just sitting around doing silly worksheets.

I think what I had been hoping for was him being able to split his time between an older class that had more "academics" built into the curriculum, and his chronological age mates for some playing time. But the director was very firm about how they use chronological age as a strict guideline for where each child is placed. So that is that! :

I'm giving serious thought to some of the Montessori schools in our area. Seems like the mixed age group thing plus the free choice of "intellectual" activities might be closer to what we are looking for. I have to say I was impressed by what I saw -- at both schools, I saw 5 year olds doing multiplication (and doing it happily)!
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#5 of 5 Old 05-14-2004, 11:03 PM
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Originally Posted by AlohaDeb
When (if) the school issue comes up for your child, will you lead with the fact that they are gifted? I feel like my Catholic rearing is raising its ugly head, making me feel guilty for having a gifted kid.
My DS is 3 1/2 and in preschool. Going into it, I knew he was probably "a bit ahead of the other children" academically, but I didn't realize HOW far ahead. The director of the school (also the lead teacher) has been *wonderful* with helping DS. Most days she (or one of the other two teachers) has to pull out a more advanced project for DS than they usually do with the nursery class becuase he's getting bored, restless and disruptive when they're working on the really basic "academic" part of the day. Most of the class time is spent on more hands-on and active stuff, so it's a short portion of the time. She's told me she's never had a student "as gifted" as my DS (the 1st time I'd even considered the term "gifted" for DS), so she's been really using my ideas for activities for DS (based on what he does at home) as well as ideas from a child behavior specialist that is at the school once a month (they're going for an advanced accreditation for the school). He surprises them on a regular basis with his mechanical and academic tendencies and his creativity.

But they are attuned to the fact that he's not advanced in other areas, especially socialization (only child with little interaction with peers before entering school). They have been immensely patient with him in teaching sharing, appropriate reactions to social situations, etc. They have also been helping me help DS dealing with my divorce from his father.

I sent DS to school mainly for the socialization aspect of it. I have been fortunate to have found a place where the teachers are willing to foster his intellect as well, even if it means extra work for them.
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