Home > ADHD & Gifted, Princess, School, Wild Child > Update: Tyler & Halle’s New School

Update: Tyler & Halle’s New School

Tyler and Halle started at their new school on Monday. Halle was placed in the Multi-Age Group (MAG); the group consists of children in 1st, 2nd & 3rd grade who work with four teachers for those three years. The kids are grouped by ability rather than by age or grade, so you can imagine I was very excited about this option. Her homeroom teacher is Mrs. P, and she had a reading evaluation her first day and was placed in the highest first grade reading group with Mrs. G. Her reading and math homework is picking up where she left off at the end of kinder, so the weeks she spent writing the letter O at the charter school didn’t cause her to fall behind. She seems to be settling in very nicely. There was a MAG Family Potluck at school tonight and she followed along with the songs the class performed pretty well for only having four days to learn them! She was assigned two study buddies (Tara and Mo) the first day of school to kinda show her around and keep her from getting lost (the building is kinda circular); Mo’s father stopped me to introduce himself and say that Mo’s been talking about Halle non-stop ever since Monday. I’m her mama so of course I think she’s special, but she is so shy sometimes that it always surprises me to hear her described as if she’s the Pied Piper.

I had been a little nervous about Tyler’s classroom placement; the Kyrene district offers gifted services to students who score in the 97th percentile on an achievement/IQ test; while Halle qualifies with a test score in the 98th percentile, Tyler’s highest score is ‘only’ about the 95th. I had talked with the school’s gifted coordinator about how strictly they adhere to that criteria. I said that if Tyler is challenged in the regular classroom, great, but if not, would the school take into consideration that Tyler has ADHD, a condition protected by the IDEA, and provide gifted services even if he didn’t technically qualify, as it could easily be argued that his ‘disability’ might have had a negative impact on his score. I was assured that their focus was on the best interests of the child. She and I agreed to see how things went the first few weeks and if he wasn’t challenged, he would be evaluated for the language arts and math gifted classes. I figured that was better than what we had at the charter school (nothing), but really expected I would have to push for it if he needed it. I spoke with Mr. C for a little while after classes started about how Tyler’s ADHD affects him both academically and socially and was really heartened by the conversation and the interest he had expressed in helping Tyler grow. I was sitting at my desk counting down the minutes till school released at 2:30 so I could call and see how the kids’ days went, and at 2:21 Mr. C calls to let me know how Tyler’s first day went.  Said Tyler had a pretty good day, they did the reading evaluation and since he had scored at an eighth grade reading level they placed him in the gifted reading group.  I almost fell out of my chair… a) I knew he read above grade level but didn’t think he read that far above grade level and b) I was fully expecting that I would have to push in order for him to get into either the gifted language arts or math classes.  Mr. C said that Tyler seemed to be at the higher end of the students in his class math wise, but hasn’t been introduced to a couple concepts (i.e., double digit multiplication).  He said he’d worked one on one with Tyler and got the impression that it would not take him long to catch on and be ready to move on with the class.  This was a little disappointing, not for the new school, but that the eight weeks Tyler spent reviewing addition at the charter school did cause him to fall behind.  But the positive note is that I am really confident that this teacher will get him caught up and that if Tyler shows indication he’s ready to move on, it’s not going to take a massive fight for me to get him into the gifted math class.  Mr. C goes on to talk about how Tyler works in a group; I had indicated he has had trouble working in groups because he is always sure he’s right and has a hard time accepting otherwise.  He noticed this while he and Tyler were working one on one, and that he was observing Tyler while he was working in a foursome during science.  He said Tyler definitely seemed to be a take charge kind of guy and that he’d needed to step in a couple times and remind Tyler to let the others participate.  He sounded a little hesitant, as if concerned I might take offense, and asked if I’d be interested in Tyler participating in a group that would begin meeting after break that focuses on working together and getting along.  Now that Tyler is no longer struggling academically, my next biggest concern are his social skills – his tendency to butt in or try to take over definitely impacts how his peers feel about him and he just doesn’t understand that what he considers being helpful, they consider bossy – I think I said yes before he got done asking the question!  That night I made sure to ask Tyler about what he’d done in science, and I have never seen him so animated about an experiment.  Since he struggles with following sequential directions, science isn’t exactly his favorite subject.  I could definitely see how his excitement would lead him to try and just take the whole project over.  I’m not sure how he’s doing socially in his class; however, several students stopped to say hello to him at the assembly tonight.  I’m just not sure if they are kids he knows from his grade/class, or other kids from this area who bus over from this neighborhood.

 I can never remember what I’ve told who; so if you’re wondering what led to the kids leaving our home district in the first place and/or them switching schools two months into the school year on top of that, here’s a brief recap of the sitch:
Tyler, having finished third grade at a K-3 school, would have transferred over to the gifted magnate at a 4-8th grade school. I had some concerns from the outset about the quality of their math program, and was pretty mortified by a conversation I had with the 4th grade gifted teacher.  Y’all know Tyler has plans to work for NASA, and those plans include getting into an Aerospace Magnate program that’s offered at our local high school in addition to taking honors math classes.  I had no confidence in the quality of instruction he’d be getting, and started investigating other options.  I had planned to leave Halle at MLK; I was so pleased with the 2nd/3rd grade gifted classes there and she had just qualified for the program.  But then the district implemented a universal literacy program that was (IMO) basically an intervention program targeting very low level students.  I just could not see Halle being challenged by it at all, and decided to leave the district all together.  I was considering a neighboring district with a good reputation that offered bus service to this area, or a new charter school a few miles from my work that had a campus in Tucson that was ranked as an excelling school by the AZ Dept of Ed.  There were some challenges at the time with the bus drop offs in the afternoon in addition to my concerns about gifted services, so I went with the charter school because they committed to me that their smaller class sizes would enable my children to accelerate without being held back.  That turned out to be the complete opposite of what actually happened during the eight weeks were there, and that’s putting it mildly.  Just when I had reached the breaking point with the charter school, I was able to make arrangements for after school care that would allow the kids to attend the school started Monday.
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