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  1. #1
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    Default How to choose a school?

    We;re in QLD and my daughter is due to start prep in 2014. She's a July baby so will be one of the oldest in the class. I don't know if she is actually gifted, but she does fit a lot of the characteristics. She can also read to some extent (can sound out cvc words, knows lots of sightwords, can understand the story as she reads), she can do basic adding and subtracting, and has a huge vocabularly. She can also write most letters but has trouble writing words using phonics. She just turned 4.

    She goes to an awesome preschool and they have told me they believe she will be advanced enough to apply for early entry to year 1. At her preschool they do a lot of structured learning - they don't believe in the play-based interest-based philosophy of teaching that seems to be so widespread. I don't want to see her go into a school where prep is mostly play.

    The preschool has recommended 2 schools. I've visited one and like it. The other is a bit far away but we will consider it. however, the local schools also say they also work with each child's individual needs ("differentiation" seems to be the new buzz word) and they have a gifted and talented teacher, but our preschool teachers say in reality they don't extend the children. I also know of a boy who is in year 3 and is soooooo clever and is learning year 10 science stuff at home from books but is not in the so called gifted program at this local school.

    So how do I choose a school???? I haven't visited them all yet but I have a feeling they are all going to tell me the same thing. I guess I need to know is it worth it to travel the extra distance to the schools the preschool have recommended.

    sorry for the long post. Feeling very confused!

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    Default How to choose a school?

    Hi,
    My son is very similar. He is due to start school at the same time, but is 5 months younger. He can read early reader books, has an amazing recall for stories in that he can recite 20 page children's books after having them read to him for a few nights, is into geography and can pin point 40 countries on a map and identify their flags...not because I am stressing he learn this but because he is genuinely interested. He does basic addition and can count really well. He taught himself to write his own name at three and loves practicing writing...to the point where he prefers to write rather than draw which concerns me a little.

    Anyway, I don't mention this to brag but just to give a background/comparison. I am stressing about choosing a school too, but I feel the opposite about play based learning, I fact most of what me son learns is brought playing rather than anyone sitting him at a desk doing lessons. My concern was more that schools divide children according to age rather than ability and was concerned that he would be bored starting back at the alphabet when he has been able to read since three. So I have started to look a Montessori...just because it gives kids freedom to learn at their own pace. Have only just started investigating. There doesn't seem to be a perfect schooling option which is very hard.

    I looked a skipping him, but I really think that it would be a mistake for my son. The other kids are a year older in social/physical maturity and have had a Year to get used to school and make friends. I don't want him to feel left out and am concerned that social development is just as important as academic learning. interested to hear the experiences I others as I can't giv any solutions unfortunately!

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  4. #3
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    All schools are not the same and will not tell you the same thing. I've gone around to 4 schools to choose one for my ds and they were very different.

    One said individual learning was what they focused on, but that I shouldn't be teaching him to read before school and just cause he could read didn't mean he understood ... um, hello, how on earth was I meant to stop him reading and actually he does understand the words too !!!

    One school said extension work was the responsibility of the classroom teacher. They said it was important and they could do it, but the reality was there was little co-ordination, so it would be hit & miss depending on each teacher at each year level.

    The other 2 schools both had gifted education co-ordinators who are not the child's classroom teacher, but a teacher that just oversees the education/extension plans for the gifted kids. They run a number of programs that cross year levels and help the kids who need that extra stimulation.

    The school we chose offers acceleration in specific subjects as required (eg. going into year 4 maths, when child is year 2) and it's not a rare thing, so the child won't feel completely out of place. They also have a big activity each term for the gifted kids (eg. excursion to scienceworks) and that's based on the interests of the group of kids needing that extra stimulation so it may be maths based or literacy based, etc. It was funny cause I just asked what the gifted programs were and the Junior School Principal just kept talking and talking and told me much more information than I really needed, so clearly it's an area of interest for him and the school.

    On a different note, what the problem with play based learning? It is LEARNING and it's super important in my opinion. It teaches SO much. I'm a huge fan of play based learning and 'free play' and I think it is essential for creativity, lateral thinking and most of all socialisation. At the age of 4 - 5 if the child can count to 100 doesn't matter, but if they cannot work as part of a group to do something (eg. build a tower of blocks) then they will really struggle with school. Play based learning follows the childrens interests (for my ds he gets to do heaps of stuff like building robots from boxes, volcanoes in the sandpit, jumping over hurdles made from wooden boxes, etc).

    My ds was the youngest in his Kindergarten (Vic) group last year and socially he struggled. He couldn't work easily in a group, he had trouble choosing activities for himself and he needed lots of help to do simple tasks like put his coat on before going outside. He had a 2nd year of Kinder this year, so that he'd be one of the oldest instead of the one of the youngest when he starts school next year (Prep in Victoria). He has thrived in the play based learning environment. He plays well in groups, often directing the activities now. He also gets the physical benefit of heaps of outside play time, burning off his energy and yet learning at the same time. Last year he could read & write and yet he was struggling with confidence and social skills so he never did any reading or writing at Kinder, even with lots of teacher encouragement. This year, the teacher doesn't need to even prompt him. He writes words all over his 'experiments' that he makes from boxes, he draws proper clock faces on his drawings of things like Big Ben, he writes notes to his friends (eventhough most of them can't read them).

    Bottom line is that basically by sending him to Kinder last year we were trying to accelerate him and it was not worth it at all. If I were to give him a workbook with tasks to do regarding reading, writing or maths he would sit there for hours, but I don't see that as justification for sending him to school. I want him to thrive at school socially as well as academically.

    Hope this makes sense and doesn't offend.

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    Default Re: How to choose a school?

    I have been going through this for a few months and thought I had found the best school. Wrong.
    Don't just interview them ask for school visits before your child starts. You need to see what they do with your child and how they get your child to engage.
    DS is at what I thought was the right school. The teacher can't get him to do anything and so let's him play on the computer all day.
    He is to advanced and she it's at a loss but won't take input.
    I'm going to push for him to go up.it's the only option apart from a new school.



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    Last edited by Sookie Stackedhouse; 17-08-2012 at 09:19.

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    Choose a school with an accelerated or gifted program. Ask the school how each child's individual needs are met. DD goes to a public school where she is in the gifted program and is given her own reading, spelling and maths separate to the other kids (but it is handled very professionally and the other kids aren't made aware). Her school treats every child as an individual and works on both the strengths and deficits.

    Please don't think private always means better.

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    I'd go for a school with an extension program/gifted childrens program, then look at the program, it's frequency and what it entails.

    My kids are going to a school based on Steiner philosophy, partially because I want them to be treated as individuals, for their teachers to really know them and because they do individual learning programs within a classroom setting.

    I got very bored at school and extension classes were the highlight of my week, our school was ******ed which helped, but I still found day to day class frustrating and my behaviour was appalling as a result.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mim1 View Post
    On a different note, what the problem with play based learning? It is LEARNING and it's super important in my opinion. It teaches SO much. I'm a huge fan of play based learning and 'free play' and I think it is essential for creativity, lateral thinking and most of all socialisation. At the age of 4 - 5 if the child can count to 100 doesn't matter, but if they cannot work as part of a group to do something (eg. build a tower of blocks) then they will really struggle with school. Play based learning follows the childrens interests (for my ds he gets to do heaps of stuff like building robots from boxes, volcanoes in the sandpit, jumping over hurdles made from wooden boxes, etc).
    Thanks for all the replies. There is nothing wrong with play-based learning as long as it doesn't mean the children only do what they want to do, which it what it means at the majority of kindy/childcare programs that I have investigated (even C&K - I was horrified!). The girls were doing girly things all day and the boy doing boy things. My view is if they only do what they are interested in, how are they going to broaden their knowledge and interests? They might discovered they are interested in things they never would have thought they would be.



    Quote Originally Posted by delirium View Post
    Choose a school with an accelerated or gifted program. Ask the school how each child's individual needs are met. DD goes to a public school where she is in the gifted program and is given her own reading, spelling and maths separate to the other kids (but it is handled very professionally and the other kids aren't made aware). Her school treats every child as an individual and works on both the strengths and deficits.

    Please don't think private always means better.
    Your school sounds awesome!

    I'm thinking if the schools tell me that yes my child can be accelerated for a particular subject, that I need to follow that up with the question "how many kids are doing that at the school at the moment.", Might give me some idea of the reality.

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    Quote Originally Posted by fludo View Post
    Thanks for all the replies. There is nothing wrong with play-based learning as long as it doesn't mean the children only do what they want to do, which it what it means at the majority of kindy/childcare programs that I have investigated (even C&K - I was horrified!). The girls were doing girly things all day and the boy doing boy things. My view is if they only do what they are interested in, how are they going to broaden their knowledge and interests? They might discovered they are interested in things they never would have thought they would be.
    Yeah, I don't consider that play based learning. You don't learn anything if you're not being introduced to new things.

    If you want to see REAL play based learning, check out Steiner early childhood theories and methods.

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    the definition of play-based learning has really been pulled out of shape! Apparently at most kindy programs they observe what the children are doing and then provide them more opportunities to do the same thing. I agree if the child likes dinosaurs you can teach them to count using dinosaur figures - that makes sense and will keep them interested rather than using pencil and paper for a more active child. I didn't think prep was like but I'm hearing conflicting reports.

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    DD has 2 year levels and around 3-4 kids are picked from the 2 classes. So 3-4 each year level. They then run a different area each semester. Creative writing, maths, computers.

    I would be asking them what opportunities they provide for your child to be challenged beyond a gifted group. They have moved my DD up to the next class for her maths, so everyday she shifts classrooms, she loves it.

    and finally try to pick a smaller school so under 300. When the school is a little bit smaller there is the ability for teachers to have more time to individualise your child's needs.


 

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