Friday, September 14, 2007


While I was in the middle of a post about AJ in first grade, it occurred to me that I should probably fill you in on what this blog is likely to be about this year. For those who haven’t read my main blog spynotes at either its present or former locations, you might not have followed our every angst-ridden, self-imposed crisis as we try to figure out how to arrange the best possible education for our high-achieving kid.

We have a number of issues. First, AJ is an only child and he needs and craves normal social interaction with other kids. He doesn’t want to hang out with his boring and sometimes embarrassing parents for the rest of his life. So we were interested in putting AJ in a traditional school situation rather than home schooling or some other type of arrangement. Second, while AJ, a first grader, is reportedly reading at the level of a “very smart sixth grader,” and is also engaging with math and science tasks at an as yet undetermined level higher than his grade, we want to make sure AJ is kept interested and challenged at school. It is important to us that he continue to like and get something out of school. It is also important to us that we are not responsible for all of his education because, well, we have jobs to do to pay the bills. We are, however, more than willing to assist classroom teachers and do lots of enrichment projects at home. In fact, we love it.

After much soul-searching (and, perhaps more importantly, piggybank shaking) and exploration of multiple possibilities, including private schools, schools for the gifted, tutors, enrichment programs, and shipping him off for a stint at the International Space Station, we’ve decided to send AJ to the local public school while maintaining our civic right and duty to be a pain in the ass if necessary to get him what we think he needs.

As it happens, we haven’t had to do much injury to anyone’s posterior. The school has been remarkably enthusiastic about trying to help, from the principal to the classroom teacher. We are, however, working with some handicaps. For one, the school, like most public schools, has limited resources. Among the things it does not have is any kind of formal program for gifted kids before the third grade. After that point, high achieving kids are tracked into groups within classrooms and receive special programs once a week or so. But for the next two years, we’re making it up as we go along.

So my posts for this space are likely to be about, in one way or another, what it’s like to put a gifted kid in a public school.

We don’t really have a plan. We’re improvising as we go, as we’ve always done: responding to AJ’s questions by showing him the ways to find the answers. One of the things I’m finding liberating about AJ being in formal school is that I am free to follow his whims at home without the burden of having to stick to a curriculum.

I expect that my posts over the next few months will deal with activities with which we supplement AJ’s school work as well as information about how we’ve been working with AJ’s classroom teacher and his school in general. I hope that others will find our experiences helpful and I hope that, you, the readers, will share your experiences as well. We feel like we’re embarking on an adventure in a strange place without the luxury of compass or map. It’s exciting and a little big scary. And sometimes we could use some help. Or a snack. Or maybe a nap.

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