Last year at this time, we were preparing to meet with AJ's teacher. We'd arranged a meeting for the morning after the class posting by going through our school principal who set it up without telling us with whom we were meeting. The district gifted coordinator came too. And while I think AJ's class was not ideal for him, I think that meeting made what could have been a dreadful year into a passable one.
This year, we did not request a meeting. Why, when we felt that last year's meeting was so important, did we skip this step? There are several reasons. One is that we have a much bigger paper trail on AJ now than we did then, including detailed IQ scores that clearly place him upwards of the 99th percentile. Numbers speak louder than words in getting action in public institutions. The second reason, though, is that we're venturing into new territory: a formal gifted program.
I did check in with the gifted coordinator last week to make sure we didn't need to be meeting this time and she agreed that the best approach this time was to let AJ and his teacher (whoever it turns out to be) get to know each other first. She also told me that AJ will be pulled out of class, most likely on Monday afternoons, for 2-3 hours, half for reading, half for math.
I'm still trying to get a sense of how the gifted program works. It is curricular, meaning that it's replacing classroom work, not adding to it. My sense is that the reading part is not all that different from previous years, but that AJ's reading group will be overseen by the gifted teacher rather than the classroom teacher. Math is the area with which I've been most frustrated. I feel AJ lost ground last year because of a lack of systematization with his substitute work. I hope this new system will be better.
AJ's greatest interest is who will be in class with him. After last spring's testing fiasco, we know that only one kid tested into the program in the normal way and, because this kid happens to be one of AJ's best friends, we know who that is and that he will be in class with AJ. What we don't know is whether there are other kids who, like AJ, got in some other way. I think this friend of AJ's will be a good companion for him in class. He is less of an outside-the-box thinker than AJ, but he is more mature and disciplined and academically driven, something for which AJ could use a model. I suspect their strengths will play nicely off each other in class.
Also on the table for fall is the new possibility of taking classes through the Center for Talent Development at Northwestern University. When we had AJ tested for their programs in first grade, we ended up deciding we couldn't handle the commute. But this year, they've added a new location for some of their programs, one that is only a half hour from here. Their classes are expensive and I'm not sure we'll qualify for financial aid, but they also sound awesome. You can read about their offerings here.
How are you getting ready for school?