Monday, July 13, 2009

Hello Mother, Hello Father

AJ started his 2-week session at a camp run by the Center for Gifted at National-Louis University (there's a link over there on the right). He did this camp last summer and loved it. We had been a little nervous about it last year, because our experience signing up and our phone communication with them before the camp started was a little confused and the first day was chaotic. But we soon learned that this program is fantastic where it really counts. The teachers are outstanding -- creative, exciting, interesting people, interested in the kids and what they do. And the communication between families and teachers is great. Each teacher sends home a parent letter on the first day of class introducing themselves and what they'll be doing in class. At the end of the session, they send home another letter, this time with a review of what was done and references for books, websites, etc. so you can help your child learn more about the things they've been doing in class after it's over. A couple of weeks after the last session, they send a report card -- no grades, but a paragraph or two written by each teacher about your child and how he or she did in the class. So not only did AJ have a great time in class, but I got some great ideas for more things to do with him at home.

This year, we knew the score and weren't surprised when we got two different sets of registration forms or when we got to the first day of camp and discovered all the classroom assignments had been changed. But whatever happened in AJ's classes today was definitely working right. He came out all excited and rattling off about things all the way home. I usually call this "switched on," because when AJ is somewhere where something challenges him mentally -- at his IQ test, for example, or at this camp, or any time he's around a kid with a brain that works like his-- he lights up, he talks a lot and is interested in everything. He's his best version of himself. He loved all his classes and he couldn't wait to come back the next day.

Each kid takes three classes per session. This is one of the things AJ likes: he gets to change classes like a big kid. He's taking art, science and math. The art class is taught by a woman who has spent time at an artists' colony that I've had friends attend. AJ thought she was very nice and that their projects would be cool, but that they didn't get to do much today. The science class was his favorite, although when he said that he also took pains to make sure that I knew he really liked them all. The science teacher won him over with dry ice experiments today. They tried dropping pieces of dry ice to find out what would happen to it (it crumbles). Then they put some in water (it dissolved). For homework, he had to come up with a hypothesis for what would happen to a hot metal object if it was put on dry ice. AJ is hoping it will melt, but I don't think he thinks it really will. His math teacher is his only repeat from last year. Last year's class was a math mystery class, where they broke into groups to solve a series of mathematical clues in order to figure out a larger mystery. This year's class sounds even better. It's focusing on geometry and they are studying geometric patterns in architecture, art and nature from a mathematical perspective. It sounds like there's going to be math, science and art involved. I wish I could sit in.

That was a common sentiment among the parents waiting outside the front doors of the school at the end of the morning session. I got into a conversation with two other women while we waited. It turned out we were all working on doctorates. Later it occurred to me that this was probably the only place in the area where random doctoral students were likely to run into each other. It was nice to talk to other who understand. I think we all need gifted camp.

1 comment:

FreshHell said...

Sounds very cool. I wish there was something similar to that where I live.