Public, private, or home school for my gifted kids?

Maisha - posted on 01/15/2009 ( 16 moms have responded )

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I'm at a crossroads right now. She started her kindergarten year at a small, private Christian school reading at 2nd grade level. She was tested and skipped to 1st grade, where she's the top reader and excels at math and science. She's also currently reading at a 4th grade level and comprehending at a 6th grade level. They individualize her curriculum to meet her academic needs. I LOVE this because many schools can't accommodate a gifted child in this way.



But she has friends at the local public elementary school and she's recently has been begging to go there instead. I'd decided that I preferred a private Christian education for her early on, but lately, she's been losing motivation and interest in school and makes comments like "I don't like school" (which is NOT like her---she LOVES learning). I'm wondering if she just needs a change of environment. She attended this Christian school since K4 and attended their daycare program onsite since she was 2 months old. I like the school, even though the resources may not be as expansive as a public school's due to their limited funds. Financially, they're pricing is also the most cost effective for such a top flight education. I don't want to pay 2x-3x's more at another private Christian school for an education that's lower quality to what she's getting now. (I've checked out local private schools and their curricula, and our current school beats them hands down...including student test results data). But I also want my daughter to have a say in her own education.



My dilemma is will public school meet her needs? Or will she be expected to slow down until the other kids catch up? I know when I enroll her in 2nd grade, there's no gifted program available in our district and she currently has mastered all 2nd grade skills in reading and most skills in math. Or do I keep her at the private Christian school that I like and watch her lose motivation (I've pretty much decided against doing this). Or do I homeschool her? Any suggestions?

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Katie - posted on 01/15/2009

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I'm homeschooling for many reasons (!) but one main reason was because my 9 yo son is very advanced and even in his great Christian private school he was restless having to stay at the class' pace. 



I would make an appointment to talk with the principal and teachers of the public school you're considering first - ask to see the type of curriculum she would be using, to sit in on a class period (to see how the kids interact and how the teacher manages the classroom) and that will give you a better idea of how your daughter might do.  Every public school is different and some have the ability to tailor curriculum to a certain extent to meet gifted children's needs.  Others don't. 



For us homeschooling has been a great way to challenge my son and move him at the pace he needs - for example we've been able to move through 2+ years of math because I can assess his progress & competency and then move on!  We've also been able to connect the kids with some local homeschoolers and they've been able to enjoy more one-on-one and small group time to really socialize (and not get in trouble for it!).  I'm sure there are some homeschoolers in your area that your daughter could befriend through co-ops.



I hope this has been helpful and I'll pray for you as you seek wisdom!



- Katie

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Caroline - posted on 04/14/2013

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I have the same problem, my son's teachers have trouble finding work that tests him. A friend of mine said about this good bording school in Florida, i went to speak to the princible, he was very helpful, so i think you should visit some local private schools because most good schools should have a G and T program that can start from kindergarten. Aston is very happy at his new school and is now rocketing ahead!

Rachelle - posted on 01/27/2009

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Some places DO have decent GT services that begin at kindergarten...(e.g., Fairfax County, VA) but most places it seems don't begin until 2nd or 3rd grade. YOu do need to be an advocate for your children regardless of their needs. And in my opinion, getting the appropriate education is much like getting the appropriate medical attention....you must ask, ask, ask, and educate yourself as much as possible on all matters pertaining to your child and their school. And if your school seems defensive....remember that people who have nothing to hide, hide nothing.

Natalie - posted on 01/27/2009

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Keep her where she is and begin discussing why she is unhappy. There will be struggles at any school but if they are meeting her needs academically then do not move her. I have a gifted 4th grader who attended private for k and one. We could not continue to afford it so we moved to public for second. The amount of advocation you have to do to meet the needs of your child will be a full time job if you do public school. They only understand parents who are in their face and constantly trying to get something out of the situation. If you sit back they will take advantage and NOT teach your child. There are laws that mandate that schools provide gifted education in public but getting that is seemingly not mandated. I was not an abrasive parent nor would I ever dare to second guess an educator but you must become someone else to survive and get your gifted kids needs met. It is a very sad, sick system... I have now done it in PA and CA so I am fairly certain it must be uniform country wide. We do have better differentiation and individuation here in CA at this NON Title One school who somehow skirts around "No Child Left Behind" or as I call it NO CHILD ALLOWED TO LEARN. There is great parent involvement and a GATE or "gifted" group of 15 percent of the school so they know how to work it somewhat. For any others reading this post... don't use public unless you absolutely can do nothing else.

Rachelle - posted on 01/27/2009

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ok....I had to make one more comment. I'm seeing a lot of talk about ups and downs of public schools and their individual experiences....which is good. Being a military family, as you can imagine, we've moved a lot and consequently have had the privilege AND misfortune to be in a variety of school situations. PLUS, as an educator...sped and gen ed......that has worked in California, Oregon, Iowa and Massachusettes....you really can't say a lot that's true for each place....ESPECIALLY with regard to gifted services. So moral of the story....whereever you are, be sure to really check what you have in your neighborhood before making any judgements.

Nadine - posted on 01/24/2009

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i agree, you would benefit from having some form of teaching skills. i am a teacher and i still find it difficult sometimes, but then i have seen some moms who have no teaching background who do stellar work with their kids. i guess it depends on you as a person and your dedication to the task at hand. and let's face it, kids can be difficult, whether you are a trained proffesional or just a run of the mill mom!

Nadine - posted on 01/24/2009

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hi, i'm new to this community, so hi!



i have been homeschooling my two gifted kids for about 4 years now. the main reason is that the school( a very good school) called me in and told me that my kids are basically a disruption to the rest of the class due to the fact that they keep questioning the teachers at a level that the other kids find confusing. i have found it a very simple solution to our education dilema! but be warned that home schooling is not for everyone!  it takes over your life to the extent that you may have to decide between a carreer and homeschooling.



but if you see chance for it, go for it! I see facets of my kids that i don't think i would ever have seen had they gone to a normal school. oh, and you aren't a bad mom if you don't go for this option! lol! lots of moms have guilt feelings over not being a supermom and home schooling their kids...we're not supermoms... we're just alternative moms!

Rachelle - posted on 01/24/2009

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HI....I have some things in common with you. My son, also in Kinderg, started at 2nd grade level reading. The PUBLIC school he attends is NOT challenging him at all. When I tried to politely take on the issue (btw, they brag about differentiating instruction...hah!), they offered to move him up. But I don't want him to be the youngest....which means in the long run, he'll be at a disadvantage in sports and the last to drive....etc.... If he were a girl, I'd be even more concerned about the long run probs around being the youngest. ANYWAY, I am a former teacher and school psychologist...so I it wasn't too hard for me to supplement his instruction at home to keep him challenged. It seems to be working ok for now and I keep hearing that starting in 1st grade, the school does a much better job with diffferentiating and offering GT services/activites in and outside of the classroom. We are very fortunate to be at a resource rich school. And I do very much like our neighborhood kids/families. It's a nice area. Anyway, I think you should ask yourself a couple of questions....it seems you are assuming your daughter would actually be more motivated at the public school b/c she'd be with her preferred friends. Are you sure she'd not have the same problem after acclimating to the public school? Also, you might think about WHY she has loved learning so much before? If you know a little something about the laws of behavior, then you know that behavior that persists is that which is reinforced (rewarded) in some way. If she is not feeling motivated (rewarded) for learning where she is NOW, maybe you should be asking more about why. She was probably feeling very rewarded by you or whoever she was learning with before. Not that anyone needs to be blamed, to some degree, I think kids just kind of satiate to the thrill of learning. My kids too get very excited about learning when they are with me, but I get very excited for them and give them more praise than a kid probably gets in a big classroom. Plus, what kid doesn't want to please their parents. So maybe you could find a way for her to feel good about her learning again in her current school? Of course, I don't know all that much about your situation....I'm just surmising based my past experiences.



Unfortunately, you can't REALLY know if a school will meet the needs of your child until they are there. BUT maybe you could meet with the public school principal and see if they are willing to work with your situation. If they won't meet you with open arms, that'll tell you a lot right there. Often, they see us parents that need more for our high achieving kids as a big pain in the butt. They have enough trouble meeting the needs of the lower achieving group, which they MUST accomodate by law. The laws do not require them to accomodate the higher achievers.



About homeschooling... I don't think it's for everyone. I've seen some very bad examples of it. I've seen kids reenter public school in a mess...so my opinion is that if you homeschool, you should do so in a such a way that they could transiton back to public at some point in time if need be....even if it's college. That being said, I think you DO need some teaching skills. Telling is not teaching. So if you don't already have them...consider getting some training. And if you decide to take on homeschooling, the other woman is right about there being a lot of very good resources to assist you with homeschooling....including your public school.



Good Luck!

Megan - posted on 01/21/2009

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I guess my experience is different with Public schools - and I've been on the inside, too as a Sub teacher and a PTO parent!! True, my kids benefit from my involvement, but I think that should be mandatory as a parent - whether the school is public or private. I have been mostly happy with our schools. I think they work hard to address behavioral and academic problems.



And we do have gifted education in HS - my son is a freshman and he takes a class that is English an History combined. There are only 9 kids in the class - it is not just an AP class that anyone can work hard in, you had to be gifted according to the IQ test, etc. I think all of the kids in the class were in the gifted program in Elementary school and stuck with it (it's not a requirement to be in the gifted program just b/c you tested as gifted - parents have a say in it!) So, his courseload is heavier than most since his English and History are combined, he would have an empty class period that had to be filled. He is able to take a computer course as well as his art elective! 



I agree with Joanne that you need to think about the long term implications, but I'm wondering if your current school is really the right one if your daughter seems so unhappy. Maybe it's not just the friends issue - I would talk with her teacher and make sure there are not problems with other students in the class teasing or bullying, make sure she is not bored, make sure something is not frustrating her! A child can be gifted in one subject and not in others!



Good luck with your decision!

Jonanne - posted on 01/21/2009

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My daughter is in 2nd grade. We changed schools between 1st and 2nd grades because her school wasn't meeting her needs as a gifted student. She was extremely upset about it, leaving her friends and a familiar environment. I questioned myself about it, but my husband and I felt strongly this was the best thing for her, and as her parents, it is our job to look our for her best interest long term. As it turns out, she has responded really well to the change and has finally admitted she likes the new school (after 6 months). My point is, do what is best for your child long term, not just to make her happy right now. If you feel her best education is from the Christian school, leave her there and help her connect with her friends outside of school. Try homeschooling if you feel up to the challenge, but don't put her in public school just so she can be with her friends, unless that public school is committed to the education of gifted children. I am a public school teacher and I agree with the post above from Missy Bell. We are fortunate enough to have a high quality elementary school that for right now is meeting our daughter's needs.

Missy - posted on 01/21/2009

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As an ex-public school teacher (taught six years and then decided to stay home with my kids), my experience has been that gifted programs begin around second grade, though it sometimes varies with different systems. In middle school/high school, there is no gifted program. The child has an IEP stating he or she is gifted but the teachers don't do a thing about it, nor are they required to. The elementary has a pull out program where the gifted kids have enrichment time together while the rest of the class is doing other things. My opinion is different than many of those above, because I would never dream of sending my child to the public school after being on the teacher/observer side. I went to public school myself, and didn't come out badly at all, and most kids come out fine, but that is not due to the system, but to the supportive parents at home. I would strongly recommend private or homeschooling period. Homeschooling is tough on parents, but really good for kids, especially gifted ones, because they can get the enrichment they need. And to the above, the real world works much more like homeschooling - you must motivate your learning yourself - no one will make you push forward. You do have to compete for jobs, but when you are at your job, you don't have to deal with fights breaking out in the hallways, boys grabbing girl's butts (without some serious repercussions), etc. Just some things to think about.

Megan - posted on 01/20/2009

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My daughter couldn't  start the gifted program at our public school until second grade, and those first two years were a challenge. I love the social aspect of public school, and the fact that she had to learn to occupy herself when the rest of the class wasn't where she was. I think it has given her a much better sense of empathy, and patience! She needs to learn that not everyone progresses at the same pace.  I understand the desire to homeschool. It crossed my mind more than once. I loved the idea that we could work at her pace in her timing. But that's not the way the rest of the world works. Not everyone will cater to her for the rest of her life. I think that's important for her to learn now! So there's my two cents worth! Hope it helps!

Megan - posted on 01/19/2009

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I couldn't imagine homeschooling my kids - I think they are smarter than I am and I would have to work really hard at keeping them motivated! They are also very social kids and school gives them that outlet - sounds like your daughter is also very social. If you were to homeschool her, you would need to join forces with other homeschooling moms and make sure her social needs are being met!



Private vs Public - typically I feel that public elementary (K-8) schools have more to offer in terms of gifted programs. High School is different b/c kinds in private schools tend to be in a college prep direction and AP courses are offered everywhere. If my HS Freshman has nothing left to take when he's a senior, he can start taking classes at the local Community College to keep him busy!



I'm surprised that you say there is no gifted program available. Is it just that they start it at a later age? My son started in the gifted program in 1st grade even though it is typically not offered until 3rd. I would make a appt to talk to the principal at your local elem school and see what options they have to offer you. Your daughter will not have to slow down - teachers have LOVED having my kids in their classes! And I think they've done a pretty good job of challenging them! And I live in a pretty small district - around 120 kids per grade level.

Deborah - posted on 01/15/2009

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Correct me if I am wrong but it sounds like you are saying if it were not for her longing to be with her friends she would probably be fine in her private school? That the private school really works with the individual child and what they need and not necessarily by age grouping. So her motivation decrease is linked to her wanting to be with her friends. If this is the case and you are sure you are taking her out of the school then how can homeschooling take care of the reason she wants to leave which is to be with her friends. This is what is confusing me and I am sure you have more information that would clarify this. So I am going to assume for now that she wants to be with her friends and they are in the public school system.

So now on to the questions. Not all public schools are bad and you might be lucky and have one of those schools, but you do have a high chance that you will run into obstacles and will have an uphill battle which might include expectations of her slowing down. I don't know what state you are in so I can't tell you what criteria there is for your state. The best thing is to take a portfolio to the school of her work she is doing at the private school and talk to the school and see where they stand. If you do get the famous cliche comments than know you will have an uphill battle but still not impossible.

But given her age and how much you like the private school I would really weigh everything. If you do keep her in the private school is there not ways to ensure she sees her friends on weekends and after school? Also do you think the slow down on her part is a phase and she might get over it?

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