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.


FreshHell said...

Clear-headed about your child's abilities, huh? Jeez. I'd be tempted to just draw a raised middle finger on that application and move on.

Private schools can often offer significant financial aid because most people can't afford them. And homeschooling's good if you still plan to stay home. It doesn't work as well if you are looking for a job (and eventually get one). So, while it's an option now, will be in a year from now? Or, is it a moot point if the job you get requires a move to a hopefully better school district? I'm sure you've pondered that already.

Is it possible to talk to the G&T teacher about these schools? I wonder if she/he has an opinion about them. I don't know what that would get you but if she's familiar with them, perhaps there's one that would be better for AJ over another one.

Harriet said...

That's not my favorite school, and not just for its application procedures. It's also got a lousy campus and it's the most expensive (close to $17K). My two favorite schools are both prep schools, rather than schools specifically for gifted children. I do plan to talk to the G&T teacher, although I also want to talk about what we can do next year within the school if the program is cut. I realize her job is on the line (although she's finishing up her admin degree, so I think she knew the writing was on the wall before this), so she may be biased. But I do need to have a conversation with her and soon.

Hugh said...

Had to get the Ds evaluated for application to private school and that part of the screening process included their APGAR scores. This did surprise us.

One of many reasons why we liked our school so much is that much of the application process involved the teachers meeting the kids and observing how they handled themselves, explored the world, asked questions, helped each other, etc.


Harriet said...

APGAR scores? Seriously? I wouldn't even know where to find that information.