Sunday, December 12, 2010

Having a Gifted Son - The Downside

No one feels sorry for a parent who has a gifted child. Usually, people say "well, that is a good problem to have." When you want to talk about your gifted child it feels like bragging and I am sure it comes off as bragging, but it is worrying. Are we doing enough for our child? Do we really have to pay 20k a year for the rest of his life to make sure he gets a proper education. It is weird that there are no parents that I can turn to with gifted children, probably since most of them just go to private school. This is Marin after all.

Then I am wondering whether he is gifted, or just advanced in comparison to the curriculum. Maybe the curriculum is just too slow. Do you know what I mean? If he were in a different school district, different state, or different country, would he just be normal? 

Before my son started school, random strangers would come up to me and tell me their tales of how pubic schools in Marin were not good enough for their kids and that they had to go to private schools. It was weird that I would get this unsolicited advice. I always thought it didn't make sense to pay 20k a year for elementary school or middle school. We could supplement whatever the schools couldn't.

Our son was always bright, but when he got into Kindergarten, we started noticing that he was picking up things easily. He was placed in an advanced reading class and as soon as he was told the phonics rules, he was off running. Math came easily to him and we were able to challenge him with harder addition and multiplication problems with carrying.

Now he is in First Grade and he reads beyond his comprehension because he knows how to decode. We along with his teacher are trying to get him to work on comprehension. He does several times more work than his peers, but he is still not challenged. He reads manuals for the video games he plays an hour a week, if that. He loves reading, chess, and playing all kinds of games. He also is a jock. He plays baseball, soccer, basketball, swims, and is committed to tae kwon do where he is almost a red belt. We want him to be a well rounded kid. Fortunately, he has this ability to adjust and play with almost everyone as he is very easy going.

The problem is that since they have a wide spectrum of learning abilities, the school has to break information in manageable pieces so everyone has time to learn concepts, when our son can absorb more information. In First Grade, he has a perfect report card and perfect score on his First Grade math test. First Grade math is below what he used to do in his spare time in Kindergarten. I work in his classroom and I do see the difference, but try to downplay it because there is nothing we can do about him being so ahead. Two separate parents have said we should have him in a gifted school. Again, do we really have to spend 20k a year for the rest of his life to get an education? Will paying for private school just put him with smart, rich kids who may exclude him because he is not rich? Paying for private school means we would not be able to see our son as much as he likes, because we would both have to work full-time.

We could promote him, but then that is one less year we will have him around us. Most of his friends are younger than him, it would be a social adjustment. Plus, it would thrust him faster to all the mindless testing that wouldn't tell anything about him. We have no idea whether Second Grade would challenge him either.

There is always homeschooling, but part of school is the relationships and interactions with peers. Homeschooling robs him of that even though you can go to homeschooling socials. My other concern is that the majority of parents would home school for different reasons than I would be.

What is missing is having peers that challenge him and having material that engages him and finds the outer limits of his capability. We have no idea how to do this. There are plenty of services for kids who are struggling, but nothing for kids who excel. This totally sucks.

Paris in Winter

The Eiffel Tower has been shut down because of the snow and subfreezing temperatures. Children are playing in the snow around it. If only I can be there now in my Parisian apartment looking out through my dining room window to the Eiffel Tower across the street with snow flakes falling. All I would want to do is to dress up in layers of warm clothes, boots, and warm gloves and go out into the Wintery Paris that is so beautiful.

From my winter experience in Boston, my body is of the type that acclimates to extreme colds quickly so I could wear jeans and a sweater while it is snowing. Paris in whites and grays has the beauty of an old photograph except you would see shocks of color -- like a black and white dress with a flame red petticoat. I imagine that I could always duck into a cafe and sit by the window as a sip coffee. There would be soft, aromatic cheese and hot crispy baguette with my creamy coffee. A door would open letting in a rush of arctic air into the warm cafe, and I would ache for a fireplace fire in the library of my apartment.

20101208-_MG_1037, originally uploaded by AkiraleShiba.
I found this photo over at Parisian Adventures which has beautiful pictures of Paris in the snow.

Henri Riviere, La Tour en construction,
vue de Trocadero,
pl. 3 from the book
Les Trente-Six Vues de la Tour Eiffel, 1902.
Color lithograph © 2010 ARS, New York / ADAGP, Paris

Till January 9th, 2011, The Legion of Honor in San Francisco will have an exhibit which includes this little print. The exhibit is called, The Japanese Print in the Era of Impressionism at the Legion of Honor. This particular print is by Henri Riviere which shows the Eiffle Tower in the snow as viewed from the Trocadero, where my dream apartment is located.  The exhibit is described as an introduction to the "development of the Japanese print over two centuries (1700–1900) and reveals its profound influence on Western art during the era of Impressionism." I will be taking my mother-in-law to this as she loves everything Japanese.