Monday, May 5, 2008

Summertime and the Livin' ain't easy

Well, I just bit the bullet and signed AJ up for testing at N0rthw3stern's C3nt3r for T@l3nt D3v3lopm3nt. I am very ambivalent, and I'm not sure I can exactly explain why. It's one of the top programs for gifted kids in the country. I think it's partly that I don't want to quantify AJ. As long as there are numbers, there is no reason to think that he can't do anything at all. It's not that I think that the numbers will be low or even lower than expected, although it's certainly a possibility, depending on whether AJ feels like doing the test. It's just that it seems to put a defining box around him that I'm not so anxious to do. I'm hoping that I'll feel differently when I see the testing process in action. I remember doing this kind of testing over and over again as a child, each of the many times I changed schools. My IQ is exceptionally well documented, although my mother would never tell me what it was, for, I think, the same reason I'm averse to testing in the first place.

The reason I finally caved is that the CTD has some fantastic sounding programs, particularly in math and science, and I just haven't been able to find anything else like it. And although I'm not entirely sure we can swing the programs financially or logistically (the place is more than an hour away), I feel like I owe it to AJ to try. I keep reminding myself that expensive enrichment programs are still significantly less than private school tuition. Still, I'd like to avoid cannibalizing AJ's paltry college fund.

Summer sends me into a panic every year. I feel so much pressure to give him the best I can and we are not able to do as much as we would like. It's ten weeks of poverty and nerves. Even AJ's not looking forward to it. Every morning, he mournfully asks me what day it is, because in his head he can keep a countdown to the last day of school on June 2 but he can never remember what day it is (he gets that latter part from me). To AJ, it's 10 weeks without worksheets and daily visits with all his friends.

But the battle plans are being drawn. The folders full of colorful brochures are littering the kitchen counter. The calendar I printed out is covered with pencil marks and post it notes. Hopefully we will achieve some kind of balance of necessary child care, intellectual challenge, fun and games and financial stability. But it will be an immense challenge.

9 comments:

FreshHell said...

Dusty is also mourning the end of the school year, "There are only 27 days left of school! What am I going to do! You need to buy me one of those workbooks! Get me a second grade one. No, a third grade one. Something with multiplication in it." I'm sure the testing will be fine. Don't worry too much about it. Maybe those enrichment classes will be exactly what he needs. Even if you end up living in a box under an overpass.

thelass said...

For what it's worth, I think you're doing the right thing for AJ. I think I've said this before, but I think gifted kids need at least as much parental advocation as do those kids who lag developmentally. If not more.

harriet said...

Thanks for weighing in, guys. Freshhell, I think it's too bad AJ and Dusty can't spend the summer together. And thanks for the vote of confidence, Lass. AJ made me feel better about it too. When I showed him the brochure this afternoon, he started jumping up and down when he saw a class for rising second graders called "Multiplication and Fractions," yelling "That's me! That's me!"

Freshhell said...

Dusty's also into fractions - it helps that they're covering it in school right now. She got a tiny fraction lesson when we were cooking brownies this weekend. She read the instructions to me as I dumped stuff in the bowl. I said, "Well it calls for 1/2 c of oil but I'm going to do 1/2 oil and 1/2 applesauce, so what's half of a half?" "I don't know." "Sure you do." And I drew a circle. "Show me two halves." She drew a line down the middle. "OKay, and if you do this," I drew an intersecting line dividing it into 4 sections, "You have what?" "Four. Four quarters." So 1/4 c oil and 1/4 of a cup applesauce makes 1/2 c of goo, right?" "Right." I just hope she doesn't need much help with algebra. And, I agree. It is too bad they can't spend the summer together.

lemming said...

Do it. Really. Even if you elect not to do the program, the information you get from the tests will be well well worth it and useful.

Jeanne said...

Test results are almost always useful while a kid is still in the public school system, and usually you don't HAVE to do anything anyone tells you based on those results, so why not do it? I'm trying to imagine a kid who likes school and is sad when it's over. My kids have been counting down the days until summer vacation for the past 6 weeks. One of the reasons we let Walker skip third grade is that he hated going to first and third grade so much he started inventing sicknesses and other reasons to skip (he had a great second grade teacher who challenged him). Anyway, for summer, have you looked at the mathmania series by Highlights?

readersguide said...

Also, if it's anything like the testing my kids have had, it's amazing how many different ways there are to be smart. I found it fascinating. Plus, of course, there are things besides pure smartness that factor in -- one of my kids has significant dyslexia, but is also smart, but it's her persistence that's also really key. I don't know how complicated the testing will be, but the whole topic of studying how brains work is really interesting. (So you can think about that, and not worry about AJ!)

harriet said...

I'm glad to hear so many positive things about testing. I'm still getting information on this particular battery of tests. As I understand it, it's not a straight-up IQ test, or a complete cognitive evaluation but a series of smaller tests (it sounds to me like this is what is usually done for kids under grade 3, but I'm not sure) chosen to evaluate students for admission to the program. There are three standard tests involved (Ravens Colored Progressive Matrices test, Peabody Individual Achievement Test-Revised, and the Goodenough Draw A Person Test. They also evaluate for social skills, concentration, cooperation, ability to separate from the parents, and ability to hold a conversation with a grownup, although how they evaluate all that exactly, I'm not sure.

readersguide said...

"ability to hold a conversation with a grownup" !!!