Any Australian Mums with kids in infants (K-2) on this forum?

Mandi - posted on 06/22/2009 ( 62 moms have responded )

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Hi, I was hoping to find some other Mums with gifted kids in infants school in Australia to share ideas with??

My daughter has just turned 5 and is in Kindergarten at school in NSW and I was hoping to be able to share some experiences.

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Jo - posted on 06/24/2009

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Hi, Mandi I have 4 kids, all bright, my eldest formally identified as Gifted - she was a challenge at her school, and was accelerated. At the moment I have a girl in grade 1 and a 4 year old about to start school next year. We are at a Lutheran School, and since my eldest has blazed a trail - it has been easier. Biggest tip, talk to the teacher, do research and provide them with information relevant to your child. If you have had her assessed - get the person who did the assessment to talk to your school. Just stay in touch and speak out because nobody else will for your little girl.
Great resources available through GERRIC - google it
I will stay in touch
Jo

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Mandi - posted on 05/16/2010

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Sounds like a good start Kylie - they will be taking his responses more seriously now they know he isn't just mucking around!

Those reports are so valuable and give us such insight into the way those little brains work. I'm glad the year is looking up for you but certainly seems a long road ahead to get him to behave as they would like him to in class - so hard when they think everything is boring.

All going pretty good here - her literacy teacher says she is doing well in class but waiting for her writing to catch up with her reading. She assured me that her writing is developmentally appropriate it only seems inadequate as she is so far ahead with the reading etc. I also have to encourage her to stop to listen to the instructions before madly starting on whatever the task is and to take the risk of answering questions in class even though she may be wrong! Plenty for us to work on.

We are going to go to a Gerric workshop again next holidays as she enjoyed the one we went to at Christmas time.
Will be interesting to see how our mid year reports go!

Kylie - posted on 05/15/2010

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Hi Mandi, things are looking much brighter for my son. His school has been very receptive to the report and trying already to implement changes to challenge and engage him. They are conscious that he is growing up in his sister's shadow so the male A.P. is including him in activities to raise his profile in the school. He is a great teacher so I am sooo happy that he is taking my son under his wing.

His report showed that his abstract reasoning skills are his strength and the way he views the world. The Psych advised that due to this he will find school quite boring as it is mainly concrete information rather than abstract. It is interesting though as his teachers now rather than just dismissing his answers as incorrect are questioning him further and realising his answers are correct but from an abstract perspective and they are questioning from a concrete position so that has been great for his confidence.

It was definitely worth the money to have him assessed. I am much more positive about the upcoming years now and while the psych advised that we are bound to have good and bad years at school depending on his situation, we now know what to do to try and keep him on the right path.

Mandi - posted on 04/15/2010

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Hi Kylie - sounds like more hard work ahead. So hard to get kids to realise that if they don't show effort in class that the teacher won't take them seriously. Perhaps role modelling that while playing a game he likes - how does he feel about it when you just muck around and don't do it properly cause you aren't interested.....

Would love to hear what the psychs suggest. Partial homeschooling sounds difficult to organise so I hope they can help fix their school experiences and adding some more out of school stuff to balance it.

Have a had a good break - Easter SHow was a huge hit! Tamika has spent most of this week with her nanna's as we have both had to work so I am sure she will come back spoilt rotten!

Not sure if I am ready to head back to school yet....

Kylie - posted on 04/12/2010

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Happy it's going well for your daughter Mandi. I actually had my son tested due to issues with his inability to concentrate and follow directions being raised yet again this year. His teachers are very experienced and lovely women (he has a job share situation) but were keeping him in the lowest teacher assisted group due to these issues. They acknowledged that ability wise he was much ahead but not able to work independently so instead of keeping them with him but giving him the harder work, he was made to do the lower level work and that was driving him crazy.

So we had him evaluated by the psychologists employed to test gifted children by the Catholic Education Office (as he is in a Catholic school I thought it made more sense to use the psychs they do and had these people very very highly recommended by others on a gifted forum in Aus). I do not have the full report yet but the psychologist sent through a quick summary of scores (it takes 4 weeks for the full report) and he tested on the 99th percentile. It is going to be an interesting meeting with the school in a couple of weeks when I have the full report.

After indirectly quizzing him on why there is such a discrepancy between his ability and achievement at school - he quite simply stated that what he did as part of the IQ test (he didn't call it that as I told him it was a test for us to find out what his learning style was and what would help in class most) was much more interesting than what they did in class. He then admitted that he probably doesn't really pay much attention in class because he finds the work boring - not that it is too easy (except this year of course) but just boring and so he does not apply himself.

I'm now trying to work out a way to explain to him that unless he applies himself he will not be given work commensurate with his ability. Although, my daughter always applies herself and is never challenged. For the first time ever I am seeing her disengage from her learning completely. She is at the absolute highest level for everything academically, in the G&T programme etc and it is still not enough. My son would not even have been nominated for testing for the G&T programme!

I am currently considering partial homeschooling, depending on how open the school is to it. I would homeschool them in the morning in maths and English and send them to school for everything else. I will wait for the full report and my follow up meeting with the psychologist before talking to the school.

Sorry for the rant. Hope you are having a good break.

Mandi - posted on 04/10/2010

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Well, first term is done! I hope it went well for all of you. We had a bumpy start with class changes due to school numbers - they folded the composite yr1/2 extension class that she had been put in after two weeks as they had to lose a class. She has been put into a regular Year 1 class and it is working nicely as 3 of the kids from her original class also went in and a few friends from last year being in there also helped!

The school runs graded literacy and numeracy classes for an hour each to begin the day and that is proving a great success. While there are still only the two of them on the most advanced reading level,(during the last week of term they both got put up to the next level which is the means they have finished all the levels expected of infants school and are onto the primary school reading) the rest of the literacy class is still full of the brightest, most able readers and they work at a pace that keeps them all happy.

Hope you all have had a good start to the year :)

Mandi - posted on 01/27/2010

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Hi Kylie - sounds like we all have a big year ahead. I hope your son gets the teacher he needs! The double standard sounds frustrating - I am going to find out about those levels you are talking about - I'm guessing it's the lexile numbers but ours are colour coded and I need to work out which number is which colour!
Good luck helping your son with the verbalising process - let us know if you come up with any good ways of doing it.
Excited to be heading back into it tomorrow - we are all going to have so much to say in the next few weeks!
Hope uni and kids and school all mesh together well for you this year.
I am going to get joined up to NSW G&T in the next few weeks and see what they offer to.
Hope we all get a smooth first week!
:)

Kylie - posted on 01/25/2010

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Hi Mandi, I actually just joined the NSW G&T this year and plan to attend some things (if I find time!!!). My daughter is hesitant to attend the Gerric workshops, which is a shame as I have had many people recommend them now.

I actually already have a slight concern about this school year. My daughter is heading into Year 4 and I recently had her undertake the assessments on SmartKiddies for Year 4 and she achieved a minimum of 99% on the exams (even on work she hadn't seen before). I am very aware of her linguistic ability and realised she had started to excel in math after her end of year report last year (received 1 of only 3 As given for her year) but until I actually sat with her, I had no idea how far she had progressed.

I'm going to just relax and see what her teacher is like and how open to acceleration she is. Her teacher last year was wonderful and told me it was obvious within the first few weeks how advanced she was but they also had a great rapport so I think that may have helped.

My son is my real worry. He is heading into Year 2 with 31 in his class. He tracks at an average C grade yet is able to grasp mathematical concepts at a much quicker rate than his sister. He is also advanced linguistically and finished Year 1 on Reading Level 28/29 and yet only received a B for reading (as this was ahead of his sister - due to her being capped at the start of Year 1 and not allowed to progress - and she received straight As I find this frustrating).

He keeps saying he is not as smart as his sister yet we know that he is but he is not a "model" student. He definitely has attention issues when he is bored or tired and finds it hard to concentrate and process information. I have asked my daughter's ex Year 2 teacher to have him this year and pray that she was successful in her request for him. She is a very visual teacher and not so strict in terms of making students demonstrate how they came to an answer. My son is very instinctive in his learning and finds verbalising the process/method he used very frustrating and almost impossible.

Sorry for the ramble but I needed to vent somewhere and I think my family are probably sick of listening to me talk about my children's educational issues and/or psychology (mind you I am loving Uni).

Mandi - posted on 01/14/2010

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Gerric workshop was great. They were well organised. Friendly teachers who were great with taking in the little ones who were a bit unsure. We will definitely go back to another one later in the year. Has anyone had feedback on the ones run by the NSW gifted assoc?

Mandi - posted on 01/05/2010

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Hi Kylie - love the sound of your plan for the year! I am not sure which parent I am going to be this year yet - they apparently will be in Yr 1 classes and then in graded groups for literacy and then for numeracy so I am very hopeful that this will be a great balance between mixed ability and streamed classes.

Off to a GERRIC workshop for Tamika next week - it sounds great. It is for 4-5 year olds and the one we picked is based around Dr Seuss and using those as a stepping board to creating their own rhymed stories. I think she is going to love it. We are going to stay in the city for a few days and have a holiday at the same time as the workshops are 9-12 in mornings - we are hoping to see Fantastic Mr Fox and perhaps Glebe markets, some shopping and the Powerhouse....

Will let you know how it went and look forward to hearing from you when school goes back about how the new classes are working out for the kids.

Kylie - posted on 01/04/2010

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Hi All. Hope Santa was good to you. Last year was certainly eventful for my family with illness affecting my mum and sister so I am praying for a quieter year in 2010. I have just joined the NSW G&T Association and am looking forward to getting to know some parents in the local area who are in the same position to share things with.

I plan to be very laid back in regard to schooling this year and not let things stress me at all. I did do better in 2009 and my children had a fabulous year so while I plan to assist my son more this year, I am also planning to just enjoy the ride. I am high on credit with him at the moment because I taught him how to play handball and how to throw a ball, raising his status at school (boys are so different to girls - lucky I was a tomboy!!!), so am hoping to cash in on that and see if he will actually let me show him some things academically this year. Not much but just a little grammar and some maths if he needs it.

Look forward to keeping in touch with you all.

Mandi - posted on 12/28/2009

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Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and that the kids are enjoying their new presents. Tamika got a fabulous cubby so hoping for lots of outdoor play now that the weather is improving!

Mandi - posted on 11/16/2009

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Hi Constance - my bookshop is on the Central COast - Umina. We have a facebook page - just use search box and type Book Bazaar.

Glad you are going to try school - it can really be wonderful for them if the school is supportive. We have been so lucky with both the admin and the teacher being excellent.

Keep us posted.

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Hi Mandi, thanks for your wonderful advice. What is your little bookstore? Can you post it here? Phew! Glad to be on a site where someone understands what it is like to have such a bright spark around and how to best nurture the talents and tame the tantrums! It sounds like you have had a lot of experience with schools already. I am a bit of a nervous Nelly because up until now, I always thought I would home-school my son but my son in his infinite wisdom is just itching to get to school so we are going respect his wishes and try one out!

Mandi - posted on 11/15/2009

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Hi Constance - check out the Usborne readers - huge range of graded readers which are great. Our local library also has lots of readers in separate boxes which we used alot before she started school - now a new reader comes home every day as part of their home reader program. We are also enjoying things like Belmont and the Dragon, lots of fairy stuff that probably isn't for you - but perhaps the Zac Power ones - they have the regular and then also the test drive range for those not up to the regular - aimed at 6-8 age bracket.

We enjoyed Reading Eggs too but like you have moved past it.

Good on you for trying to keep up with him and getting the right resources! Please keep in touch - hope your school experience starts well.

Happy to answer any book questions - I used to teach and now run a little indie bookstore!

Ask those questions at school - the more info you have the better.

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Hi everyone,
my son is about to turn five in Jan next year and it will be his first year at school. I am wondering if anyone has any suggestions for numeric/reading books before he starts? He is mad keen on reading and numbers and whilst he has been on reading eggs for a while, he is now dreadfully bored with it. And I am almost sure that it is because it is not stimulating enough for him and is slow going. It is almost like he prefers to learn in a moving/living type of environment. He has had a brief assessment with the private school that he is about to attend whereby they have tested his reading, writing and maths skills but they didn't really share much with me as to what levels he needs to be learning at. My educated guess is that he is learning about about the level of an 8 year old?.. Maybe I should ask the school what reading material they recommend? It is hard to know what to do because even though they are a small school that teaches in clusters, they offer the standard curriculum.

Mandi - posted on 11/12/2009

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Hi there!

I am going to send my daughter in January Kylie - and I am going to see the speaker they have on in the morning.

I am hoping for clusters for next year too - I sent a letter to the Principal asking about classes etc and also saying how much I appreciate all the things they have done this year - still waiting to hear back. My main question was about who the new GATS co-ordinator is, as the deputy who was responsible has been transferred to head office.



Went to P&C this week and principal came along to explain NAPLAN and the reports etc - feel very informed for someone whose child won't sit the test for a few years yet!



The coaching issue is always contentious but I agree that it is necessary to prepare kids for those tests - they need to know whay kind of questions and tricks they may find - can be done using the practice books we sell i nstore - doesn't have to be a coaching school - Mums and Dads can do it at home if they have some help and advice.



Can't believe the year is almost gone - scary!

Kylie - posted on 11/07/2009

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Hi Everyone
Great to hear the GERRIC course went well Mandi - I am hoping to attend their January one next year. I have bought a couple of really good books based on cluster grouping on a school wide basis and am now just trying to work out the right way of approaching the school. Amazing to think the school year is nearly over.

I am still deciding about the GERRIC course for my children as I am away in January. I met with a child psych recently re: my daughter which was really helpful. She pinpointed her personality with amazing accuracy and gave me some great tips re: learning style and school selections for High School. Supported my stance re: not providing extra curricular academic activities as it is not suitable for her type of learning. She is more the creative, artistic type who the child psych confirmed would find more academic work as a punishment. She did strongly suggest grade skipping but I am not comfortable with that as my daughter is very happy socially.

I am hoping that the school may be willing to look at cluster grouping grade wise rather than as they do at present which is only class wise. If they were able to group the 6 identified gifted kids together then that would allow for pre-testing at the commencement of each term and then the ability to work on project work while the class is doing tasks they have already mastered. They are still required to sit the same assessments but just not sit through all the instruction 8 times over!!!

Will post again soon. Hope everyone is well. Also Lisa how did your son go with O.C. I have heard so many parents say lately that their gifted child missed out due to "coached" children being better prepared and obtaining most of the positions. I have read recently that parents should look at coaching for academic testing as the same as coaching for sport - that is purely to assist them prepare - a different way of looking at it.

Mandi - posted on 10/20/2009

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Hi - sorry have been away so long - work has been crazy!

The parent course with GERRIC was great. Just having various things confirmed and feling a little more confortable with the tag - gifted is roughly top 10% so when I thought about the kids at school I could easily think of her in the top 10% of kids her age. They went through lots of things about learning styles, lots of talk on acceleration, clustering gifted kids etc as well as some of the common social and personal characteristics that can be a challenging.

It was so great to be meeting a pile of other parents - around 100! - that had kids of similar age and ability. Met two great women who both also had5/6 year olds.

Kylie - I am definitely enrolling Tamika in the small poppies course in January hols. The options look great - she has already picked out the ones she most wants to do - will fill in the forms this week. I think letting them spend 2 days working at an advanced pace with similar kids will be a great experience - she is keen on the human body, the Dr Seuss one, Where the wild things are and also pirates!

A lot of the weekend was aimed at getting us to be proactive supporters for our kids within the school system and looking at their special needs - as we would if our child was delayed - lets say, in the bottom 10%.

It was also interesting talking about how difficult it is to talk about our kids' abilities and talents - perfectly acceptable to talk about your great dancer or soccer player, but not the great reader or mathematician - that's boasting!

Hope the first week back is going well - iam trying to work out the wording for my letter to the school to enquire on class structures for next year. A lot of the talking was also about how important the school and how strongly you support it is - kids whose paretns denigrate their school or teachers have less trust in school and are less likely to form that bond with a special teacher that their research shows is most likely to be the single most infulential factor in their success in school! They recommended personal letters to teacher and exec staff about issues and ensuring that your kids never hear you badmouth the quality of staff - mine never would as the ex-teacher in me would never do it, but was great to hear it being spelled out - particularly as many parents there had struggled with their schools....

Am back on board so should be checking in every few days. Looking forward to hearing how you are both going.

Cheers

Mandi

Kylie - posted on 10/03/2009

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Hi Mandi, How did the GERRIC course go? Do you think their programmes would be valuable for the kids?

Also Lisa I did obtain further data on the Naplan results from my daughter's school which helped clarify a few things.

Hope everyone is doing well. I am taking a much needed break from my Uni assignment due on Tuesday!!!

Kylie - posted on 09/18/2009

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Can't wait to hear what you thought of GERRIC Mandi. I have looked into their courses each year but not enrolled my children. My daughter went to a G&T challenge day involving schools within their district and loved it, so I think she would be more receptive now and will look into their courses for the January school holidays.

Mandi - posted on 09/18/2009

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So glad you guys are both getting pleasing results - hope the kids feel very proud!

Off to GERRIC course in the morning. Hopefully i will be back next week with heaps of info!

Kylie - posted on 09/15/2009

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Worked it out Lisa - rang a girlfriend who is a teacher. I think I was just in shock that no students in NSW received marks for those first sections of the writing criteria (the part marked 0% for State correct), although my daughter did receive some with a 0% correct tag in her 'criteria which this student achieved column'? Assume that was because less than 1% achieved this? For those of us with children achieving beyond the top band it would be interesting to know what % achieved this and how far beyond the band they are achieving. Do you know if the schools have further data on this?

Lisa - posted on 09/14/2009

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That's a fantastic result Kylie.

I don't have my copy with me and I know I struggled with the interpretation of the report as well. I will come back and try to make sense tomorrow when I have the report in front of me. Sorry for making you wait.

Kylie - posted on 09/14/2009

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I have her results and after an initial shock from reading the report wrong, she did really well - above Band 6 for the 4 language sections (including spelling) and top of Band 5 for numeracy (made some simple errors here but we knew at the time she had some basic gaps in her knowledge in money and time). So all in all very happy.

Lisa, I am struggling with interpreting the writing report though - is the State % correct their score or the state score and if it's the state score then where is their individual score? Can you help?

Kylie - posted on 09/14/2009

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I completely agree re: cramming. A few friends are teachers and they are really worried about being made to "teach to the test" rather than the curriculum - I truly hope this never happens. Mind you I think schools should be held accountable if a large percentage of students are not meeting the minimum benchmarks but again this needs to be addressed through teaching the curriculum not tutoring towards better test results. It will be interesting to see school performances compared to others later in the year and what the Government does to assist schools who are performing below national standards.

Our school also uses the test in relation to the average and to identify areas that the whole school would improve from closer focus on ie. one year a particular grade did quite poorly numerically and so greater focus was applied to that area in future curriculum planning. N.B. Thought I should clarify, the school did not hold a parent information night for Naplan, it was our Grade 3 introduction parent info. night where they just addressed the issue.

And I so agree that no single test should be the determining factor in any academic area - we all have our 'off' days (more so lately for myself!).

Lisa - posted on 09/14/2009

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Thanks girls. It's my understanding that the school does use the Naplan results, but more for where the school average sits in relation to the national average than for individual placements etc. I think individual needs on both ends of the scale are determined more by the classroom teachers.

Our school also does not put a lot of emphasis on the execution of the Naplan testing. We do not have information nights, no overt preparation for the students ... my kids see it as just another lot of tests. Personally I like this approach. A test should be used as a measure of what a child truly knows, not what they can "cram" in a few short days. Low key testing seems to provide a more balanced reflection of what the child really knows.

We're not up to high school applications yet but Damian's OC Placement application accepted Naplan results in support of the student's abilities and eligibility for the class. I think that realistically the Naplan results can be beneficial for applications etc, but I don't think they're the be all and end all, if that makes sense. At least up here in the mountains, the focus seems to be on overall academic performance and achievement, not on one or two set tests.

Kylie - posted on 09/14/2009

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That's great for Tahani. I haven't received my daughter's yet as she is ill with a throat infection. I'm not expecting great results though as she missed the prep work due to illness and also their school does not put any real emphasis on the tests ie. at the parent information night the Head Teacher told us it was not worth the paper it was written on!

We were a bit concerned about this as many parents also had older children that had just gone through the high school application process, where Naplan results were considered as part of their portfolio. It seemed to be mainly up to the parents to prepare their own children but unfortunately I was in hospital with my youngest at that stage and my husband is not really the teaching type so I'm just hoping for the best.

Lisa, are you aware of how much emphasis your school places on Naplan? I'm sure other schools are different and it is important. Our school likes to really down play things so to not stress the children but this is not always a good thing.

Mandi, I believe some schools do use the Naplan not just for identification of students requiring extra assistance but those who require further extension.

Will post back when I have her results.

Mandi - posted on 09/14/2009

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Congratulations to Tahani! They can be so hard on themselves or insanely over confident - makes it hard for us poor Mum's to have any real idea how they are going! Does the school use those results when looking at classes etc or is just for the Govt benchmarking of progress of all students? We are a long way from those kind of things yet, so just curious as to whether they are used by the school - hopefully at the least to offer remedial help to kids at the other end of the spectrum!

Lisa - posted on 09/14/2009

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Hi Lisa, welcome to the thread! I haven't checked out NSW GATC either, so I think I should do so .. thanks.

Have you got your Naplan results back yet Kylie? We got ours today and I was pretty pleased with Tahani. She scored band 6 or off the charts on everything ... but of course she was so sure she had bombed out that I had to go over it with her for about half an hour until she finally smiled and accepted some well deserved praise! I think your idea about putting the value on the journey rather than the destination is one we might need to explore here.

Mandi - posted on 09/11/2009

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Hi - thanks for joining and thanks for the info on NSW GATC - can't believe I'd never heard of it! I have just had a look through their stuff - looks great - hopefully that and more is what i will be finding out at GERRIC next weekend.

Kylie - posted on 09/10/2009

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Welcome to the thread Lisa. The more information we can share the better. My daughter's school did offer G&T in Infants but have since changed to only Primary in terms of pullout programs. My 8 year old daughter in Year 3 just brought home the program for her G&T project for the rest of this term and next and truthfully - I would be challenged. She is excited, yet apprehensive at the work ahead.

My 6 year old son is in Year 1 and is actually having a tremendous year with his teacher who is also G&T trained, and extending my son well beyond anything my daughter experienced at that age. It is amazing what a difference an informed and dedicated teacher can make.

I do keep meaning to join the NSWAGTC and will make an enquiry asap.

Lisa - posted on 09/10/2009

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Hi Mandi and everyone,

I'm so glad you posted Mandi.

My son has just turned 6 and is currently in kindy. Our local public school has a GAT program for Primary but nothing official for Infants. Luckily they run reading and maths groups across the infant years and my son is in the top year 2 group for reading (great for this year but I'm not sure what's going to happen next year). His kindy teacher has introduced a 'science table' in the classroom for Jack and all the kids are having fun with it (His kindy teacher has had some additional GAT training and she is finally being able to use it in kindy - she never thought she would have to). The school is very supportive but I'm not sure they are going to be able to cater for Jack through the rest of his Infant years.

I will post more later but I just wanted to make sure you are all members of your state Gifted Associations (eg NSW Association for Gifted and Talented Children)? NSWAGTC runs workshops during the school holidays (Merrylands) and occassionally during the term at various locations. They have good website links, a great library and bookstore and will answer any questions you might have (well they will try). A place called Sound Success runs workshops during the term (Saturdays) at Yarrawarrah (Kylie is wonderful and also does workshops for parents and teachers and can help you if you are having problems communicating with your school) The Australian Gifted Support Centre runs workshops during school holidays at Lindfield and Marayong. They also have other workshops throughout the term at various locations - we will be attending the next Stepping Stones workshop (Social Skills Workshop for gifted and talented kids) being run in Term 4 (I think it''s at Crows Nest). Jack's social skills are a big issue in the classroom.

I found some great worksheets at www.popet.com.au that you pay for and they email to you (ages 3 - 8). Jack hates writing and will sometimes complete one but his sister can't get enough of them (just turned 4).

If you have a pre-reader child the Starfall website is a great FREE 'Learn to Read' site (www.starfall.com). I think this is where Jack learnt to read in about 2 months - or it at least gave him the rules, etc to be confident enough to actually tell us that he could read.

My children are a gorgeous mystery and my mind is often in a spin trying to understand it all. Wondering if I'm doing enough, hoping that they'll be ok...

It will be great to share experiences with other Aussie mums & dads.

Mandi - posted on 09/08/2009

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Hi girls.

Congrats on starting the study Kylie!

Sounds like the second half of the year is getting off to a good start for all of our kids. Luckily with Tamika being in Kinder I haven't had to worry about those tests yet. She had her first assignment - public speaking! They had to deliver a 1 min speech. She was reluctant to start with but then got into it. We practised and she had palm cards too! I was going to attach it but doesn't look like you can add to here - we taped it so could send via facebook to her grandparents - she was so proud - she thought I should send a copy to Sunrise! LOL.



I am off to the Gerric parent workshop not this weekend but next so will let you know what sort of resources they give us. I keep changing my mind about whether she is gifted or a bright kid and I am hoping they may have ideas on that and also on the longitudinal studies on the impact selective schools have to help with decisions for later on.

Hope the test results come back favourable.

P.S - Tamika's speech on her favourite place - the answer is her bedroom!

Kylie - posted on 09/07/2009

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Pleased to hear all is going well Lisa. My daughter was the same with preparing for Naplan - she missed the week leading up to it when all the prep at school was happening due to family illness so I had her complete a couple at home and well it will be interesting to see her results in the next couple of weeks. She sat the UNSW Computer and Spelling tests and thought she did quite well on the computer to receive a "participation" and argue that she had not provided the answers specified and then to feel she had done terribly on the spelling one, only to receive a "distinction". I have put this down to when she really knows her subject she is harder on herself than when she doesn't know, ie. she was able to tell me at the end of the spelling comp every word she had spelt incorrectly and provide the correct spelling in hindsight. I think taking the focus off the results is a good idea and if we can raise our children to do their best and then leave the rest to God or the Universe (my daughter's topic for her speech) then they will learn to value the "journey" and not the "destination". I will make my exit on that philosophical note and go and pick up the kids.

N.B. I "bit the bullet" and have started studying psych and am loving it!!!

Lisa - posted on 09/07/2009

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Hi girls, sorry I haven't been around much lately. Lots of family illnesses and surgeries to contend with. It sounds like things are going well for you guys, which is great to hear. I know that for me it always makes me feel a whole lot more confident when my children's teachers are pro-active and responsive to my children's needs as it takes the pressure off me to be overseeing what is going on with them at school.

Damian sat the OC exam a few weeks ago. He was doing dismally in the practice tests at home so I stopped them and decided to just let it happen on the day of the exam. Damian came out of the exam in a really positive frame of mind. He said he finished each of the two test parts in half the allotted time and when he revised his answers he was happy with them all. He also said that the exam was much easier than the practice tests we did at home! So either he bombed out totally or he blitzed it .. and we'll have to wait till November to find out which. Meanwhile we're just trying not to think or talk about it as I don't want to put any pressure on him.

Kylie, in terms of treading the line between motivation and pushing, I am still struggling with this. Damian often "deliberately fails" at something if he doesn't really want to do it. He tells me that he knows he is good enough, and doesn't need to prove it to anyone. I guess that's a great attitude to a point, as long as it's not actually interfering with his progress. Tahani is the opposite. She is currently trying out for the school chess team (I didn't know until she'd already had 3 matches) and the worry about it keeps her awake at night! Even though I tell her that it's awesome that a 9 year old girl can play chess, she still worries that she's not good enough. So I guess the only thing I can say is that perhaps focussing on teaching our children to self motivate rather than trying to motivate them is more where we should be headed?

Kylie - posted on 09/07/2009

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Hi All Just noticed that we hadn't posted for a while and was wondering how this term is progressing for everyone. Lisa, did you decide to have your son sit the O.C. exam and if so has he done so yet - hope all has worked out well. Mandi, hope your daughter is continuing to flourish at school. I have noticed a huge increase in the complexity of my son's work which is wonderful and my daughter just had a confidence boost in winning the inaugural public speaking competition for her grade -she is presenting at assembly tomorrow. She also received a distinction in the UNSW Spelling Comp which was wonderful. Mind you she withdrew from the English one, which was a grave disappointment to her teacher but I did not want to force her to do something that she did not want to do. I am finding it very difficult to tread the line in terms of motivation and pushing - any ideas on this?

Kylie - posted on 08/06/2009

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My handwriting is also not the neatest and both my children struggled with it, yet now my daughter is 8 she is regarded as one of the neatest, hoping this happens with my son. I remember my son's Kindy teacher writing in his communication book that he had forgotten spaces between his words - I actually had a bit of a laugh that it was so important that it needed to be noted in the book. Anyway now in Year 1 spaces are not a problem, neatness maybe. Also both my children struggled with writing large amounts yet could dictate pages of text. I eventually put this down to their hands could not keep up with their thought process. By the end of Year 1 my daughter was writing a page of text and by the end of Year 2 anywhere from 2-3 full A4 pages, so it does get better. My 2 are also 2 of the youngest in their year and it is funny to note that in my daughter's year the majority of academically advanced children are the youngest ones.

My daughter's interview went well too and the teachers this term are now going to provide extension work in the form of projects that the advanced students are able to select from a matrix. When they are finished their work they will be able to work on their selected project: researching, writing etc. I am so happy with this idea, it is something I have been hoping would be implemented for ages as my daughter, like myself, is very research oriented.

Mandi - posted on 08/06/2009

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So glad Kylie! Sounds like things are going to be looking up!

I saw my teacher too - she showed me the differentiated program and where she will be offering extension tasks to T and the other little girl and also gave me areas to work on - her handwriting is woeful! I know she is only 5 but she isn't leaving gaps between words - her partner in class writes beautifully and is catching fast on the reading so she is quite inspired to practice her writing to get as good as Sammy! (who the teacher was at pains to tell me is quite a bit older - I think she saw my face when I saw the difference in their handwriting :) If she takes after my handwriting it will always be messy, but at least I leave gaps and write more than two sentences!



Hope the rest of the term goes well!

Kylie - posted on 08/05/2009

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Hope the first couple of weeks back have been good for everyone. I had my son's parent/teacher interview this week and was so impressed. All the things I had been worried about in terms of the teacher not recognising his abilities and his little idiosyncrasies were unfounded. Whilst being very happy that she plans on challenging and extending him this term, I was more impressed that she knew 1) that he needed it as when he wasn’t challenged he “zoned out” (which his teacher last year accredited more to possible ADHD than boredom), 2) that he thrives on competition when confident and 3) that praise = confidence where he is concerned, so she would work on that before pushing him.

It has actually amazed me how good I felt just knowing that she actually had really taken the time to get to know him and to think about how to motivate him to achieve to his potential.

I am now so looking forward to the rest of the year!!!!

Lisa - posted on 07/23/2009

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Good luck with your questions back at school. I know I'll be going back with more than a few myself now!

Mandi - posted on 07/23/2009

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Hi Kylie - hope you get to go back to the psych study at some point - sounds like an area you are passionate about and our kids need that! I don't know that our school usually tests kinders - the counsellor was really enthusiastic once he started and ran heaps of tests - I think she may be a novelty case and once he started he wanted to see more of what she could do! I will look up that one you mentioned and see if it is part of what she did but it doesn't sound familiar - they did a NEALE - looks at reading age and also WISC III from memory but I know there was a 3rd one - such a time consuming thing - prob 4 hours in testing - over a few weeks and then a 4 page report he prepared - it's no wonder they don't do them often!

P.S - funny what you said about telling kids it's just for fun - Tamika was told that too as they worried about pressuring her but for her it just meant she relaxed and enjoyed the chatting and activities with the counsellor. Our kids are all so different!



Lisa - oh so many things for us to learn! It's very interesting the different ways kids get into those classes - I wonder if other people are put out that their kids aren't in the class? I think what they are doing is great - we need to trust that the teachers have a fair idea of who to recommend for those type of classes.



THey have already raised the idea of OC classes in theschool and also the selective school for 5-6 (she has only been at school for 2 terms!) and then highschool - it will be interesting to see how you go negotiating that issue. I hope the school can give you plenty of info - I know I will need to see some really clear advantages of shifting schools - what their program is, how many classes of GATS kids they have at the feeder school for the selective high school etc etc... You know there are books you can get to do practice versions of those tests? We get lots of parents coming in to buy the books for those tests - not very expensive, but take the unfamiliarity and nervousness about the type of tests that he will sit.



So great having others to chat to without worrying about coming off as a show off parent - these worries are different to the ones I share with mums at the school gate!

Back to school Tuesday and many questions to follow up on - thanks girl :)

Lisa - posted on 07/22/2009

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Hi girls. It seems that I'm way behind you guys as far as knowing what testing has been done and how our GATC curriculum is set. As I think I mentioned earlier, when Damian & Tahani were placed in the class I had no idea it was a GATC class at all! I think our school's low key approach to the issue is possibly a little too low key at times! Perhaps you're right Mandy as to why GATC is not mentioned on our school website.

Damian & Tahani were chosen for the class in it's pilot year. From what I have ascertained they were selected based on their academic achievement and overall progress in their mainstream classes the year before. Dominic was a little different. When he started Kindergarten the other two had already spent a year in the GATC program and so I guess he was pretty much "flagged" to be watched from the start. The first two weeks of Kinder at our school are mainly observations on the kids at during that period I was approached about whether I would allow him entry to the program in his Kinder year - it was the first time our school had considered giving placement to Kinder kids. The teachers told me they felt he would need it for the stimulation as he was already very advanced in comparison to the other Kinder kids. So really I think his entry was gained through observation and perhaps a little bit of expectation as opposed to formal testing.

I know that our kids undergo ongoing GATC testing throughout the year but I've never been told (or thought to ask) exactly where the tests come from or any real detail about them. I know that they are used in determining placements for the next year along with other standard classroom testing and work throughout the year. I do know that the tests are marked blind by the GATC co-ordinator so as to avoid any possible "favouritism" or expectations on any particular student. The only test results I've ever actually seen are Damian's National Literacy and Numeracy tests for Year 3 last year, in which he scored band 6 or above in every criteria. I guess it's time for me to start getting more involved and learning more about what's going on, but like you both I do get concerned about being labelled as a pushy parent and that does make it hard to know where to start and how much to ask.

Having said that, I think that this forum is already showing me that I have a lot to learn and a responsibility to my children to learn it.

I will definitely follow up with our GATC co-ordinator at the start of the new term and see if I can get some more information for you on what sort of program the school is using. I do know that in it's pilot year our program was carefully monitored and assessed by DET before being approved to continue as an ongoing part of the school's classes, and that the monitoring continues.

I am also aware that our school is working closely with one of our local high schools in regards to our GATC program to ensure that there is a sound plan in place to transition these children into high school in a way which does not hold them back or see them repeating work which is old news to them. I think that's an important consideration when we allow our children to have the sort of accelerated education which a GATC class provides. These kids are being offered a fantastic opportunity in their early education but it all means nothing if the process is not continued throughout their senior school years.

Like you Mandy, I am hesitant to consider a change of schools for my children because I think their peer groups and their stability in their environment are very important to their overall development. However our school has recommended that Damian take the OC placement tests this year as they feel that moving him to our local OC school for year 5&6 will actually provide him with even more enrichment than our own GATC class. He's naturally scared about the prospect and if he gains a placement I suspect we'll go through a lot of heartache in trying to decide whether to have him make the move. I don't think there is a right or wrong answer, but I really would like to see him make the most of every opportunity which is offered to him.

Kylie, I'm in the same position as far as not having a clue how my kids compare to other students - unless I have the odd occasion to chat directly with the teachers in an informal manner and try to glean some useful information that way. They don't like to make comparisons and I can understand why, but that does make it hard. I do know that in year 3 my daughter is apparently outdoing some of her year 6 classmates on some levels, and that Damian's teacher has already admitted to the fact that she is struggling to keep him stimulated! But there are far more questions than answers for me at this stage.

"I just love that I have somewhere to vent, where I will not be judged." ... Couldn't have said it better!

Kylie - posted on 07/22/2009

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Hi Mandi, they used the Raven and I know it is supposedly a culturally unbiased test that tests fluid IQ but from what I have read and based on discussions with the Child Psych I spoke to it completely misses linguistically gifted students unless the verbal test that accompanies it is used and it most definitely isn't at my childrens school (in saying that though the AP told me that herself, so the school is aware that it targets children that are gifted in a select area and that linguistically gifted children will be missed). The child psych also advised that it is actually only 1 of I think 8 key areas tested under an individualised IQ test, so I don't really understand why they use it without additional supplementary information. Mind you, the only gifted program available for which the test is used, is a 1 hr per week, 10 week science based program that from my understanding was not overly beneficial or challenging to the students involved. My daughter's teacher actually asked if I would consider having her retested by the new G&T coordinator as she could not understand how my daughter was not in the program in comparison to others in the class who were (another long story that I will not go into except to say you should never tell a gifted child that anything is "just for fun", particularly when there is more enjoyable work waiting for them in the classroom).

I find it impossible as a parent to actually know how our kids compare to other students or even how they really cope with the curriculum. I declined have her retake the test as I believe my daughter was actually challenged more in class than those that were taken out last year but would like to assist the school in developing a more appropriate and comprehensive program (if I ever get up the nerve to approach them!!).

I was actually enrolled to study psych this semester but due to a change in family circumstances have deferred for now. I would love to be an educational psych as I truly feel there is still alot of ignorance in the education field in regards to giftedness and some learning difficulties. My neighbours are both teachers and their daughter was having learning issues at school and it was only through a chat over the fence in which I mentioned I thought she may have auditory processing issues that they finally received a diagnosis. The school had tested her hearing 6 times and yet no one thought to look into auditory processing issues - I find that very concerning. Also my children have issues with their working memory (only became apparent through testing by the AP and a private speech therapist) but the school believed that because my daughter's results were still in the 80% it was not an issue and yet the child psych advised that as it was over a standard deviation lower than all the other results (98%) that it was most definitely an issue and should actually be classified as a learning difficulty. I find it can all become overwhelming and so bury my head in the sand for a while and then come up for air again and consider approaching the school and think of ways I can assist and well then either chicken out or become distracted and bury my head again (juvenile I know!).

Sorry for rambling, I just love that I have somewhere to vent, where I will not be judged.

Mandi - posted on 07/22/2009

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Hi Kylie - it all sounds fabulous doesn't it! Do you know the name of the test used at your school? I don't know what ours is using but I will try to find out next week - I would assume it should be a mix of tests and teacher recomendations, but I know that is a very difficult line to tread - parents are a pretty scary lot when it comes to defending their kids and sometimes you need to be able to bring it back to test scores to avoid allegations of being unfair, favouritism etc - particularly when admission to the GATS classes is obviously something we all want for OUR kids.



Changing schools is an extreme thing to do to our kids - I know I would be hesitant to do it but I know that if I felt that they weren't offering Tamika what I felt she needed I would be thinking about it. I run a bookshop and talk to lots of Mums - and it is mostly Mums who have kids in smaller religious schools that have mentioned the same thing as you - no longer have GATS classes funded. Have you spoken to your P&C about it? Difficult I know as it is only a small group of kids to be catered for. Other than that I guess my take would be looking at your local public school - it is mandated by the DEpt of Ed that all schools provide GATS resources if they are required - although that probably means another set of testing.....



Hope your transition back to school next week is enjoyable - my daughter has been with Nanna the last few days and I am looking forward to having her back home tomorrow - although I have enjoyed my days off!

Mandi - posted on 07/22/2009

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Hi Lisa - that program sounds awesome. Our school is apparently running a good 3-6 GATS class but I haven't found out much about that as it is a few years away! THe K-2 is the one I am interested in - having 6year olds doing those kind of independet assignments sounds great! I looked at your schools website - looks lovely but it was very interesting that excellence in sports, debating, etc are all featured but nothing about the GATS - I wonder if that is deliberate to not draw too much attention to it. THe classes at our school in Umina Beach are in demand and the enrolment for the school is sort after so I wonder if it a similar situation there!



I would love to know more of the program when school goes back if they are happy to say if they follow a certain type of program - I will be copying your post to take to our GATS co-ordinator - I think they will be interested in hearing what other public schols are doing in the infants years - although I would assume the Education Dept may help with ideas and linking of schools.... You never know with a large system like education - I was a secondary teacher and it is surprising how much info you get flooded with, but then discover all these other things you had no idea about!

Kylie - posted on 07/22/2009

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Honestly Lisa, the more I read the more I want to move!!! I look forward to hearing more about the program your school uses too. Also, do you know how your children were chosen ie. a specific test, teacher observation etc? I am really interested in what measures other schools use to identify students for G&T programs. Our school uses 1 test that is considered quite outdated by most in the G&T community and as advised by a child psych qualified in gifted is really best suited to identifying engineering type intelligences only so it is a very narrow form of identification and I would love to be able to offer a more appropriate and relevant identification tool for them to use.

Lisa - posted on 07/22/2009

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Thanks Mandy! I am so glad I found this forum, and once school holidays are over and I have a little more free time I suspect I'll be very excited about what I discover on these boards. This seems like a wonderful place.

Now to try and answer your question: our school has a GATC co-ordinator and runs two classes which, as I understand it, follow a very different program to the mainstream classes, although of course the core learning requirements are still met. We have a K/1/2 class and a 3/4/5/6 class. These classes include a lot of extension work and have a very open approach to letting children work at their own pace. There is a lot of focus on research and assignments to build on the children's love of learning and need for stimulation rather than what I consider to be the mainstream class "rote learning" style.

To give you an example of the focus of these classes: this year is the International Year of the Natural Fibre. The two GATC classes have combined for the entire first semester to study natural fibres. They have constructed weaving looms in class and produced their own weavings. They were set a term-long assignment on the natural fibre of their choice which included a full oral presentation to the combined classes at it's conclusion. It was amazing to see my six year old son spend several months researching his chosen fibre Qiviut and build a massive presentation board complete with photographs and delightfully written text. What was particularly inspiring was that in completing his research he fell in love with the prehistoric Musk Ox and by extension has developed an insatiable interest in Alaska! To me, any learning environment which can produce such intense self satisfaction and fulfillment in a six year old gets my backing 100%!

It is hard to find a balance and not be seen as "that" parent and I guess I'm so lucky that my school provides the program it does and seems to put a lot of value on the same things that I do in providing the opportunities for my children to be the best that they can be in a way which still allows them to be children. But I can't imagine how difficult it would be for me if we did not have these classes available. I don't ever want to be seen as making out that my children are any more "special" than anyone else's, but by the same token I don't want their abilities to stagnate because they are "different" and cannot be catered for.

It sounds like your school is being wonderfully responsive to Tamika's needs and having her working on her own program is likely to be a great step forward for her in terms of her own self satisfaction. I will see what more I can find out from our school in regards to the program they are following if that is of any help to you. I'm not sure if they have anything on our school website but perhaps you might like to take a look there. We're at Hazelbrook Public School in the Blue Mountains.

Lisa - posted on 07/22/2009

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Thanks Mandy! I am so glad I found this forum, and once school holidays are over and I have a little more free time I suspect I'll be very excited about what I discover on these boards. This seems like a wonderful place.

Now to try and answer your question: our school has a GATC co-ordinator and runs two classes which, as I understand it, follow a very different program to the mainstream classes, although of course the core learning requirements are still met. We have a K/1/2 class and a 3/4/5/6 class. These classes include a lot of extension work and have a very open approach to letting children work at their own pace. There is a lot of focus on research and assignments to build on the children's love of learning and need for stimulation rather than what I consider to be the mainstream class "rote learning" style.

To give you an example of the focus of these classes: this year is the International Year of the Natural Fibre. The two GATC classes have combined for the entire first semester to study natural fibres. They have constructed weaving looms in class and produced their own weavings. They were set a term-long assignment on the natural fibre of their choice which included a full oral presentation to the combined classes at it's conclusion. It was amazing to see my six year old son spend several months researching his chosen fibre Qiviut and build a massive presentation board complete with photographs and delightfully written text. What was particularly inspiring was that in completing his research he fell in love with the prehistoric Musk Ox and by extension has developed an insatiable interest in Alaska! To me, any learning environment which can produce such intense self satisfaction and fulfillment in a six year old gets my backing 100%!

It is hard to find a balance and not be seen as "that" parent and I guess I'm so lucky that my school provides the program it does and seems to put a lot of value on the same things that I do in providing the opportunities for my children to be the best that they can be in a way which still allows them to be children. But I can't imagine how difficult it would be for me if we did not have these classes available. I don't ever want to be seen as making out that my children are any more "special" than anyone else's, but by the same token I don't want their abilities to stagnate because they are "different" and cannot be catered for.

It sounds like your school is being wonderfully responsive to Tamika's needs and having her working on her own program is likely to be a great step forward for her in terms of her own self satisfaction. I will see what more I can find out from our school in regards to the program they are following if that is of any help to you. I'm not sure if they have anything on our school website but perhaps you might like to take a look there. We're at Hazelbrook Public School in the Blue Mountains.

Mandi - posted on 07/20/2009

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So nice to have you on board Kylie and Lisa - such different kids and different schooling experiences - exactly what I was hoping for from these forums! With my daughter having only just finished the 1st two terms of Kindergarten it is great to hear the experience of others.



Lisa - is it a spectific program run by the school that is offering so many wonderful options, or is it just part of their GATS classes? I have a meeting with my daughters teacher when school goes back so that she can show me the new differentiated program she has in mind for Tamika for the coming term - the DP sent her off to an inservice in Week 10 and she has lots of great ideas apparently which is very exciting as they start working on ideas for infants kids! If your school is running a certain style of class I'd love to know what it is to recommend it to my school.



It's a tricky line to walk - trying not to be "that" parent!

Kylie - posted on 07/19/2009

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I'm in Sydney Lisa so there are a lot of options, although I have just given up work to pursue study so private schooling is not an option at present. I am very hesitant to move them as they are happy emotionally at the school they are attending and neither are actually open to the idea of moving, although my son would love to be homeschooled and so probably would my daughter. I would actually consider homeschooling but my husband is quite anti the idea and the socialite within me agrees with him to a degree. I suppose I will just try and extend them to the degree they are interested at home for the rest of the year and see how we go.

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