Wednesday, December 30, 2009


I've been investigating possible school options for next year. We may stay put. Or homeschool. Or we may get lucky and win the lottery making private school an option. I'm looking at them, in any case. We are lucky to have quite a few private school options in our area, including several specifically for gifted children. Unfortunately, most of them cost significantly more than sending my kid to the University of Illinois for a year. Admissions procedures for these schools vary, but are mostly a pretty straightforward, with some kind of cocktail of forms to fill out, recommendations to obtain, and test scores to submit. One school for gifted children, however, also requested a five-page, twenty question parent questionnaire. I was kind of intrigued by the questions, although I suspect answering them will send me back to that catatonic state I inhabited my senior year in high school. Some of the questions ask the parents to assess the child's schooling and list extracurricular activities. A few other questions:

• What kinds of building or artwork does your child do? Please describe your child's favorite building or art materials and the work that he or she creates.

• Does your child like to make up stories, plays, rhymes, or intentional puns? Please describe any ways in which your child has used language creatively.

• Please describe how your child adapts to the spatial environment. For instance, does your child give you directions on how to drive or walk to a familiar destination? Does he or she show an understanding of how to find his or her way around the neighborhood? In other familiar places?

• Does your child play a musical instrument? Or demonstrate musical, artistic or theatrical ability?

• With whom does your child share interests?

• What does your child like to do:
a) When playing or interacting with others (children or adults)?
b) When alone?

• How does your child react to new situations and people?

• Describe your child's verbal language (vocabulary, sentence structure, clarity, etc.)

• Describe your child's attention span. How does it vary in different situations?

• What are the things that you and your child enjoy doing together?

• How does your child respond to parental directions?

• Does your child show an awareness of concern for global issues? If yes, please give examples.

These are pretty interesting questions, but also, I think, a bit invasive. On the one hand, I think they'd get a pretty good idea of what AJ's about if I filled these out. And I like that they seem to be trying to get at a variety of ways of being gifted, although I'm not sure it will really accomplish what they are hoping. On the other hand, I'm not sure why some of these things are any of their business. If the public school asked us about some of these things, I might be inclined not to answer. As if that weren't enough, there is also a recommendation form that needs to be filled out by a current teacher. About half of this form asks the teacher to assess not the student but the parents, specifically whether the parents are clear-headed as to their child's abilities.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


Has it really been nearly a month since I've posted here? It's not for want of things to write about, only that the news on the gifted education front is depressing.

AJ, while having his snack today said, "I wish I could have challenge every day." He proceeded to tell me about the things they're doing in his challenge class, which meets once a week on Mondays. Next year he was supposed to get a second day. But it is not to be. Next year, there will be no gifted program. It was one of the first things on the chopping block.

"I wish you could too, AJ," I said. "But next year I don't think you'll have it at all.

"Aren't there gifted schools?"

"There are and they're great, but very, very expensive. I wish I could send you there."

And here we are. A kid who's dying to learn and a school system that appears to be failing him. This seems so wrong. Doesn't he have any rights? If a kid were learning disabled and his school couldn't accommodate his educational needs, he'd be sent elsewhere. Is that an option for AJ? Or is our only option homeschooling? I feel trapped here. I could ask for acceleration, but I think it would be an enormous fight and I'm not convinced it's the best thing for AJ, nor do I think it would really help all that much. I could homeschool, but that would be difficult for our family for a number of reasons and again, I'm not sure it's the best thing for AJ.

One more possibility that I've been afraid to think about is private school. I don't see how we can afford it on our own, but we might qualify for financial aid. Then again, we might not. But it's probably worth investigating. We have a number of schools to choose from, all in the 15-20K/year range. If we got rid of our health insurance, we could do it. But that doesn't quite seem like the way to go, does it?

Right now, all I've got are questions.