Well, technically, I’ve ALWAYS been the mom of a gifted child (well, at least one and probably more), only now the school recognizes it too.
So much has happened since I last posted. So much. So entirely much.
I have a series of posts I intend to write, but I need to prioritize them. But first…back to the topic of this post.
We got a letter in the mail from the school district about a week ago. I opened it up (with a tiny bit of apprehension) and read
Your child has been selected for the 2011-2012 Merit fourth grade class. Merit is a part of the XXX School High Ability Program. Because the class is made up of homogeneously grouped, academically-able students, we believe that your child will have a unique opportunity for intellectual growth and challenge.
I’m officially the mother of a ‘recognized by the school system’ bona-fide GIFTED child. I mean, I already knew that, you know? Especially since mothers of other children would tell me how they worried about their own child’s progress in comparison to M’s (who was reading at a 6th-7th grade level in second grade) and talked to their teacher about their worries. But the teacher told them, “no, no, your child is NOT behind the class. You mustn’t at ALL compare your child to M. She’s an exception to the rule here”. It was nice to get feedback about M, but still, I had no real ‘proof”. Until now.
And I heard, all along, the “children who start out ahead often level out by third grade” (most of all from my own mother). Except those who don’t. Except those who keep an upward trajectory with the right encouragement and access to learning experiences.
But now I have actual bragging rights – NOT that I’m going to brag. Except this once. YAY! Go M! That’s right! You did it!
I’m relieved to know I’m not one of ‘those moms’ who thinks her child is gifted when she’s not.
Actually, I never was. On the contrary, I was one of those moms who thought her child was just smart, but perhaps/probably NOT gifted. I truly thought that maybe she wouldn’t get into the program, even though I knew about it since kindergarten and was assured by her teachers she stood a good chance (I mean, really, it partly depended on tests and if she had a bad test day, it wouldn’t matter much how she did otherwise). I know M wanted to be in the program from having talked with friends and seeing what the fourth graders do, but I played it down, worried she might be disappointed if she didn’t make it. Well, I really worried she might be devastated she didn’t get it. Perhaps I was worried just as much for my reactions as for her reactions too.
So now what does this mean for her? I don’t know. I have no illusions or expectations. I know gifted programs vary in scope, vary in depth and breadth across the country. Some so-called gifted programs aren’t really more than just dumping more homework on the kids, with the belief that more is better. But, I hope it’s a qualitatively different experience, not merely quantitatively more.
I do know a few things that they will do differently than the regular 4th grade classes. They will go to an opera and they will also perform in an opera for their school. They will also be working on changing the diet of a mouse. Other than that, I don’t know. I go to the merit/gifted program informational meeting on July 7th. I’ll find out more.
I have also heard a rumor that they will start a similar merit program in second grade in the fall. I have heard from two different sources – one from a person who works in the school, another from a woman who is close friends with a second grade teacher in the school, but I have no confirmation. As far as I know middle daughter K, who will be in second grade in the fall, had not brought home any information about it, may qualify for that program. I’m going to, in my usual rather low-key stance and make the assumption that the school won’t get their act together in time to get it in place this year. In which case we will do what we have always done…enrich the children’s experiences outside the classroom with field trips and reading and science experiments (which we have not done in some time but they have been going to science camp).
And well…I suppose now I am feeling a little bit justified in calling this blog “Raising Smart Girls” and having gifted resources at hand…even long before I had the official word. But, my philosophy about raising smart girls is going to pretty much stay the same. Low key, respectful support of my daughters’ interests, with a focus not on academic excellence (actually grades are quite low on my priorities), but on the focus on critical thinking and emotional support and raising well-rounded, compassionate children, and doing what I can to support a life-long love of learning and encourage them to develop and use their abilities in ways that suit their temperaments and desires.
In any case, my child is still the same child she was two weeks ago. It’s not my job to see that she (or my other daughters) gets into the best college in the future, but simply that she uses whatever abilities she has in ways she enjoys most and to pretty much stay the hell out of her way while she makes some decisions of her own.
More to come on my philosophy about that….