My son is in a charter school gifted program where he meets once a week for enrichment. Is that enough? I feel like I’m failing my child. He has been reading since he could talk. I don’t feel like he is progressing. Kindergarten is boring for him. He is continuously talking and getting in trouble. He gets so attached to people I hate to keep moving him around. He talks about friends he had years ago and he is 5.
Your son sounds just like mine at that age, so I understand what you are talking about. What kind of charter school does your son go to?
What kind of enrichment does your son get? It doesn’t really matter since even if it’s great enrichment, once a week isn’t enough. Your child’s brain doesn’t slow down for 4 days of the week and speed up on the one day for enrichment. That’s true even if the enrichment lasts for the whole day.
If the kids were just playing in kindergarten, that one day *might* be enough, but these days, schools are trying to teach kids more and more. That teaching is geared toward the typical kindergartener – and if your son was reading since he could talk, he is definitely not a typical kindergartener.
Here is an article that explains what to look for in a good gifted program.
Take a look at what it says. You’ll see enrichment, but you’ll also see that that alone is not enough. It’s really hard to make decisions for our children. We have so much to consider – like friendships.
I can tell you from my experience that the biggest mistake I made was in not pushing to have my son start school at first grade. I had to put him in a private school as it was because he missed the cut-off date by 28 days. Like your son, my son had been reading since he could talk. The school wanted him to wait until he was six to start kindergarten. That was crazy. I got around that by putting him in a private school, but as I said, I should have pushed for him starting in first. That first mistake was compounded by other mistakes.
Like you, I hated to move my son to another school, but I did after two years because he wasn’t learning anything and he was becoming angry. My second mistake was in not putting him in the right school the second time. My third mistake was in not pulling him out of that school.
I’m not telling you that you should put your son in a different school And I’m not saying you should keep him in the school he’s in right now. I am telling you that once a week enrichment is not enough. You can talk to his teacher or the principal about acceleration. He may need to skip to 2nd grade next year.
Ask what the end goals are for first grade. There are always grade level expectations. If your son is already reading, he clearly doesn’t need reading instruction provided in first grade. Think about whether you think your son can reach the other goals by the end of the summer. Perhaps the school authorities would be willing to test your son before the school year begins to see if he has reached the minimum goals.
This is really tricky because there are deadlines for enrollment. You’ll need to ask about that, too. Their response to what you ask will tell you a lot about what they think about gifted kids (and you don’t need or want to use the word “gifted”). If they tell you that kids need to be with age mates because they need to learn to socialize, look for another school. They will never understand your son.
With all that said, I will also say that acceleration is not right for every child. Some children aren’t mature enough emotionally or socially to skip a grade. Just remember, though, that you know your son best, certainly better than school officials know him.
Just take note of how the school people respond to your questions. Their willingness – or lack thereof – to work with you and your son will tell you a lot, regardless of whether you want to try for acceleration. If they aren’t willing, look for another school. Be sure to talk to the principal of any school you are considering. Ask about how they accommodate individual student needs and learning styles. Ask specially about children who learn material quickly.
I wish I had a fast, easy answer for you, but if your child is bored and getting in trouble now, it’s not going to get any better. One day a week for enrichment is not going to quench his thirst for knowledge and challenge.