flea: (Default)
I guess the only thing worse than no choices is having choices, right?

I went to the open house at the school very close to our house. This fall they will definitely have the Gifted Academy there (3rd-6th) and a neighborhood school Kindergarten. It sounds quite unlikely that they'll offer first grade this fall, as there had been a rumor going around about. That could only maybe happen if they have, say, 35 Kindergarteners sign up, and they could open a second K and make it K-1 if they got 10 1st graders. So this school is unlikely to be a choice for Dillo until fall 2013.

The Gifted Academy, on the other hand, sounds pretty good. The school manager spoke and ran the meeting, and I was impressed by her - she was frank and transparent about uncertainties (it's unclear how things will progress with the neighborhood school because a lot depends on how many people actually enroll). Next year the Gifted Academy will have 2 3rd and 4th classes, and 1 each of 5th and 6th. This means there is still room in 4th, and she implied when I spoke to her personally that there will be for some time to come, so we don't need to sign up immediately. She says the school is diverse ethnically, religiously, and geographically - it currently draws from 25 neighborhood districts in the city, and next year she expects it to draw from 35. The work is project-based. When I spoke to her one on one, I asked what sort of student the school was for - was it for the Hermione Granger types, or the wicked smart but more disorganized and more creative thinker types? She said there were both kinds of kids at the school and suggested I go over and talk to a current parent who has a 3rd grader plus 2 other kids at our current school.

So I did, and was really heartened by what this parent had to say. I re-used my Hermione Granger analogy (that was the kind of gifted kid I was) ad she totally got it, and she said her son was not that type, but he was thriving at Gifted, and they teach to the kids' learning styles. She obviously likes our current school - her other 2 kids are happy there, and she'll be president of the PTA next year - but it was good to hear someone else say that the very traditional pedagogy there is not right for every kid, even every smart kid. (I have been feeling guilty about being unhappy with one of the best schools in the city.)

We're getting Casper's Georgia gifted testing scores faxed over to our current school, and hopefully they will let us see them (they wouldn't fax them to us directly; ah, bureaucracy.) They do Ohio testing April 21, so if Casper's scores won't get her in, we can consider that, if we want to go forward.

I'd still like to go look at the Montessori public school our neighbors go to, and the School for Creative and Performing Arts downtown. Now that my job is, for the moment, over, I hope to have the flexibility to actually go to the schools, although the Open House season for them is basically over, and we might not be able to get spaces for fall 2012. But if one or both of them screams perfection, we might stick with the current school and plan a transfer in fall 2013 for Casper. We might, after everything, stick with the current school anyway. You remember what I said about the paradox of choice?

Dillo, I dunno. He is excelling academically at the current school, and while he isn't Hermione Granger in personality, he does have a really straightforward sort of high intelligence, unlike Casper. Everything academic so far comes easily to him. He hates change, which is an argument for keeping him in the current school. On the other hand, he did really well at his Montessori preschool, and the Montessori elementary might be a good fit. And as far as social atmosphere, the current school's traditionalism does extend to gender roles, and I think that's unhealthy for Dillo. His fundamental nature is beta, but the past 2 years of school social environment seem to have made him act out a lot and his primary emotional reaction to anything is anger. I'd like to see him in a gentler social environment. (In good news, there's a "feeling class" at school that's been started - by external researchers from a local college - about teaching emotional awareness and social skills to K-1 kids, and we got Dillo into it, and it's pretty damned awesome. I hope it helps him.)
flea: (Default)
1. Casper lately has a tendency to wind up in freakouts sometimes over fairly routine issues (i.e. when reprimanded for stealing life savers from the cabinet and stashing them under her bed). The freakouts consist of saying, "I know, I know, I'm the stupidest!" and placing herself in time out in her room. Sometimes there is also screaming. The reaction can go on for a long time; this weekend nearly two hours after the initial issue she was still incredibly touchy and just barely able to cooperate in us going out together.

Needless to say we have NEVER told her she is stupid; we do say things like, "that was a bad choice," "you're not listening," "it's not right to steal candy," etc. - we try to criticize an action, and not a person.

Ideas what this might be about? Often her reaction is strongest when we catch her doing things she knows are not allowed, and is probably feeling a little guilty about. We have a neighbor who is a school pyschologist and has 5 and 3 year olds and knows Casper. Do you think it's worth asking her for some input? mr. flea is worried we are too hard on her, while I worry we aren't hard enough - it's so hard to step outside and see objectively.

2. School is out for the summer a week from tomorrow! A neighborhood woman, a retired English professor, does some volunteer tutoring at Casper's school. Casper likes her a lot - she is the grandmother of Casper's old day care playmates from Durham - although we haven't seen as much of her this year as I'd meant to. She taught the twins (her granddaughters) to read the summer they turned 5. Casper has not yet had the reading switch come on as people say it does, and remains extremely reluctant to cooperate with any reading practice at home (we have not been pushing, just reading to her). Would it be appropriate to suggest to our neighbor that she and Casper meet once a week for a "reading playdate"? We could offer to pay her or offer to trade yard work, dog-sitting, or other minor domestic help. Am I being a ridiculously pushy yuppie mother to want Casper to continue reading practice over the 10-week break from school? My hope is that this would be a pleasurable thing for her, since she likes the neighbor and actively asks for playdates with her.

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