My 7 year old daughter is gifted and goes to a public elementary school. We have met with her teacher several times to see if she could give her more challenging work to keep her engaged and have gotten nowhere. We don’t want the same thing to happen next year. So my question is; do we have any rights to “special education” services since she is on an extreme end of the spectrum? Anyone have any advice on where to start researching our rights and how to deal with the school administration?
coloradomama writes: I have walked in your shoes! I had the same problems with teachers not being able to address my daughters learning level. When my Daughter was in first grade the teacher was so freaked out about how far ahead she was that she sent my daughter to the media center for 3 hours all by herself for self study. Mind you that did not last long! That is when I went to the principal and asked if I could get my child tested officially by the school and honestly they said that GT students aren't officially identified until they are finished with third grade. But I kept after them. I then turned to the GT district specialist for help and they actually had classes for parents on how to be your child's educational advocate which I thought was more than ironic. Once the hard test scores showed that she was actually GT the school had to devise an individual learning plan (ILP) which is often what is given to "special Education" kids. Actually I found that the parents at both ends of the learning spectrum have very similar wants and desires for their child's education but the kicker for GT kids is that there is not funding for their programs so schools but them on the back burner and basically say they pass the state exams so who cares. Our state now is getting wiser and is now measuring the students growth rate from year to year which is shinning more light on the gifted kids that use to be just shoe ins for the schools high test scores. I can't tell you what an impact this new measurement will be on the GT kids! All in all the way I survived was to keep after the teachers. Some teachers do an excellent job especially those teachers that were gifted kids themselves. Others and I have to say most of my daughters teachers were completely clueless how to teach their students at different learning levels. Ask your school if they have a plan for GT kids. If not As the District. The other thing is don't let the learning stop at the school. GT kids are giant sponges and they require longer learning times than a regular school day offers. Take your child on learning adventures. My daughter would get hooked on one topic and just had to learn everything about it. Do hamper that learning spirit because the school can't handle GT students. Make sure the love of learning is not dampened by the lake of school resources. Sometimes I had to just say school is more for the social interaction and home is where the learning really takes off.
LHW writes: As a parent of two gifted kids, here's my advice. Before your school will be required to provide special services for your child, she needs to be "identified." Different districts do this different ways, but it will probably involve at least one standardized test. Many schools do not do this on a regular basis until kids are in 3rd grade or so, for various reasons. If you haven't already gone through this process, you should request that your child be identified. You will need to push a little if you are told that she is too young. Your district should have a director of GT services and/or parent advocate for GT families. In our state, once the child is ID'd, then the teacher must complete an "Advanced Learning Plan," with the parent and child's input, to be updated annually. This is a start, but you will need to learn how to effetively advocate on your child's behalf. Get in touch with your state's chapter of the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) or the national. They do some great workshops/conferences on the topic of advocacy for your child. Good luck, and don't get discouraged. My two children have both had good experiences with both classroom teachers and the GT teachers, although some experiences have been better than others. I do believe that GT kids can get an appropriate education in a public school setting, in a regular classroom, as long as parents and teachers communicate and work together.
Ms. Mac writes: One alternative is Independent Advanced Mastery. This is offered to all children so that when a child has mastered a concept or ability level, he/she is able to independently move ahead. The child stays with his/her peer group so that socialization does not include labeling and limiting students. Students under this program have completed all math through 6th grade by the end of their 2nd grade year. Because schools are bureaucratic in design and socialistic in implementation, the student that does not conform to the pre-determined time line is either stifled or left behind. " I AM" (Independent Advanced Mastery) is an alternative program. that requires little adjustment and cost to the institution but high opportunity to all individuals.
Since it is difficult to change a multi-faceted bureaucracy, it is easier for the child and the parent to move to a private institution where flexibility is higher. If that is not an option, ask the teacher if you, as the parent along with your child, can receive credit for independent studies. Teachers have allowed extra point book reports or research projects over the years. So the concept is not new. But if you want your child to obtain full credit, there are correspondence courses from certified institutions which by law your school has to give credit for any work done.
Ask your school for training for the teachers, parents and students in "Brain Training" which addresses efficiency at all levels.
Please feel free to contact me if you want further information.
My contact information can be found at www.fortword.com.
padmaja writes: There are some international Talent exams conducted by private and Government agencies conducted through schools. Science Olympiad and cyber olympiads are conducted from grade1. You can enroll her in this and let her prepare. Rank will also be given accordingly and school will gradually accept it. if your school does not have such facility she can down load it through on line and submit it through schools
atrampfbrown writes: My seven-year-old son is gifted/talented in reading, science, and math. He's in second grade and has a wonderful teacher who really works with the other second grade teachers--they switch him between three teachers depending upon what unit they are doing, so he is in a faster-paced learning environment. They have to keep up with him, which is hard. They send him to a "gifted/talented" teacher in the school, who can't do anything with him either!!! He's reading at the fourth-grade level, less than halfway through the school year. We do a lot of stuff ourselves with him, including doing extra science and reading. Maybe ask the teacher for an overview of the goals they want them to reach. We did that with his teacher and she sent a whole bunch of things for us to keep up with him. Ask the principal what the goals for the year are or even the superintendent if the teacher can't give them to you and then try to incorporate things to enhance learning at her pace. We do that with my son and it really helps!!!
Lsmith writes: Yes parents need to be advocates for their children. Especially in a school system that does not prioritize gifted education or gifted students. It saddens me to read how difficult teachers can make it for a child to learn at his appropriate level. Irpt takes some work on the teachers part but it is possible. Not only do the parents need to become educated as to how to assist their child but I strongly feel the teachers need to as well. One size does not fit all and as soon as teachers stop teaching to the average in the class the better for all. I here the term differentiation. That I feel is key. The district needs to provide professional development courses for teachers so they can improve in the area of gifted education. My district provides very limited resources for teachers to improve their practice so they can help gifted children but as parent we need to be strong advocates because our childrens educational needs also need to be met. It truly takes a village to raise a child. So we need to not give up and question and seek solutions to help all gifted students because thy matter too.