If you’re interested in the whole story, please see Part 1 before you read this 🙂
Toward the end of Kindergarten, when I saw that we had a real challenge on our hands, I went into full Mom-will-fix-it mode. Although I rarely, if ever, said “Gifted” to other people, I had come to the conclusion that he was somewhere on that spectrum.
I researched all about Gifted kids and Gifted programs. After many hours of research, I found that these kids can show marked improvement in many areas (including social and emotional) if a few things can change for them. From the research, I narrowed it down to 3 criteria I felt were most important for Buddy: 1) He needed to be challenged intellectually, 2) he needed to meet with and know other kids that were similar to him, 3) and he needed to have teachers who understood him.
I got so excited when I found out that many school districts had a Gifted and Talented program where these kids are pulled from their own neighborhood school to attend with other kids that are like them and they are taught by G/T certified teachers. These programs meet each of the 3 criteria I had set for finding a fit for Buddy.
Our district doesn’t have a G/T program.
Once I found that out, I looked everywhere for options: We looked into homeschooling, virtual schooling, charter schools, hybrid schools, you name it–we looked into it. I decided I just could not do homeschooling or virtual schooling. Now here comes a line of this post I’m completely embarrassed by–I had OTHER plans for my life: I was waiting for all of my kids to someday be in full-day school so I could FINALLY have a clean house and some time for myself. I know that sounds pretty bad. . but it really was the way I felt. So, we looked into charters and decided to apply to any that leveled kids by math and reading. We thought that perhaps other Gifted kids might be there because they needed something different as well. In the meantime, waiting for the next enrollment for charters to come around, we needed to do first grade in the public school.
**sidenote I didn’t know where else to fit in: To be honest, I have one MAJOR issue with other options than the neighborhood public school–I want my kids to go to school with the kids they go to church with. I had that growing up, and I loved it. I never want my kids to feel like “outsiders” at church. . .So, throughout this journey, I have really hoped public school would end up working out somehow for us.***
The Gifted and Talented program in our district is basically this: The district will give funds to schools who come up with their OWN individual Gifted and Talented program–a meager amount, but still, some.
Between Buddy’s Kindergarten and first grade year, a brand new elementary school was built, and we were put in the boundaries of that new school. I guess I had annoyed the principal enough about Buddy that he asked me to serve on the Gifted and Talented committee as the parent representative. We were going to create a G/T program for the new school, and then get funding from the district for it. I WAS THRILLED. Maybe this public schooling was actually going to work out for us, and maybe, I’ll be able to not only help my son, but help other Gifted kids at the same time.
First grade began. Buddy’s teacher was amazing with him. She watched him for signs of over stimulation and anxiety, and helped him cope; she allowed him to bring home 2nd grade homework; she gave him 2nd grade spelling words; she even worked it out so he could attend 2nd grade math. I found out that another mother was meeting with the highest readers across the 1st grade twice a week to read books at their level–I offered to come in once a week and do the same thing. It was great.
Then we found out about the bullying.
My sweet son was an obvious target–glasses, small for his age, and
preferring to do math workbooks on his own at recess instead of playing with other kids. It was a group of 3rd graders that bullied him. I was heartbroken, and it fueled my desire to figure out something different–something that would allow him to make friends so he wouldn’t be on his own and such a target, something that would challenge him during the school day so he wouldn’t feel the need to challenge himself during recess.
I worked with the G/T committee for most of the year, and I thought near the end we were making headway towards a great program. I had sent each member several studies, and I had shown them several models and what was working in other schools. To my incredible disappointment, the proposal we ended up sending the district had none of what I had suggested. I was confused and very frustrated. I called the principal and asked him what had happened. After several minutes of discussion back and forth and many tears on my end, he told me, “Amy, we are never going to be a Gifted school, if that’s what you were hoping for.”
I was numb. I had worked so hard and I felt it was for nothing.
Shortly after this happened, we found out we had been accepted to one of the charter schools. We were THRILLED. But not for long.
Long-story-made-short on the charter, it was probably the most disorganized “organization” I’ve run into–we just couldn’t send our kids there. We went back to the public school for 2nd grade determining that we had done what we could, and we would just make the best of it by trying to find excellent teachers.
Buddy had (well, has) another amazing teacher. She was prepared to send him to 3rd grade math, but he decided against it (the schedule would have required he missed library time with the 2nd graders), she gave him some critical thinking math worksheets along with the regular homework, and the entire 2nd grade team decided together
to pull out the top 3 readers (across the grade) to meet once a week with a teacher and read at their level. All of this was wonderful. On top of this, he had made a really good friend who introduced him to other friends, so he was never alone at recess. We thought that maybe it was going to work out after all.
Then, in January (just a few months ago), my sweet boy came to me timidly and said, “Do you think we could do school at home next year?”
I didn’t know what to make of it. I had convinced myself that things were going well for him (after all, overtime, his over sensitivities had mellowed a bit and he had figured out ways to handle them). But, apparently not. Having a friend and being challenged in a few ways wasn’t enough for him. After several conversations, we realized he was very serious about this. He was bored, frustrated, and wanted something different.
We were back at square one.
Final segment, Part 3, to come 🙂
In the meantime, if you think you might know a Gifted child, check out these links. I hope any other kids with these same struggles can get identified so they can get the best help they can.
Comparison between “Bright” and “Gifted”: http://www.tag-tenn.org/comparison.html
Gifted Traits: http://giftedkids.about.com/od/gifted101/a/giftedtraits.htm
Overexcitabilities (super sensitivities) in the Gifted: http://giftedkids.about.com/od/gifted101/a/overexcite.htm