A number of parents have been asking about how to work with their school to get their gifted children through the rest of the school year. Their children have experienced any number of difficulties in the classroom or school and are starting to mentally check out. Many children have been bullied by peers and teachers, have been told they are not smart and must do all the homework that is well below their ability level, have had their contributions to class discussions and activities belittled in front of the class, and have been told to ‘handle it’ on their own. Spring break is a month and a half away, and it seems like forever until June. The parents are seeking any type of help for their children so they can be engaged in a positive school environment until June. They feel alone and helpless because oftentimes the school is not willing to talk about options such as teacher differentiation or gifted programming. There is more concern with staying on the curricular schedule than meeting children’s needs.
Sadly, this is all too common. One of the best ways to work through these difficulties is for parents to talk with other parents of gifted children so they learn they are not alone. My conversations with parents are often periodic, lengthy, and worthwhile. Aside from suggestions gleaned from other parents who have walked the same path, the knowledge that their child and family are not abnormal, and the support from others who truly understand is life changing both for the parents and child. Often, during the conversations the parents share their story and simply by talking about it with someone who understands they figure out a few things they can do and a path forward-at least as a place to start again to take action to help their children.
I encourage parents and gifted children and youth to find someone who knows your situation and who has walked that path; perhaps another parent of a gifted child, or a fellow student you think or know is gifted-even if they are in a different grade. Initiate a conversation by introducing yourself and simply asking a question or for help dealing with a situation. I know it is difficult to talk to others who do not understand gifted children; even family members oftentimes don’t understand. In fact, they and others may ridicule you for being concerned because of the myth that gifted children don’t have to worry about working hard in school because everything comes easy to them. If you don’t know where to begin or who to contact the folks at WATG are a good place to start. From there they can help locate someone in your area and/or who has experienced your situation and connect the two of you. If you wish to ask a question or seek someone to talk with feel free to email: email@example.com. Your message will be sent to the appropriate person and a connection will be made. It’s a starting point to help your gifted child and your family. You are not alone!
Each February in the state of Wisconsin the period of Open Enrollment begins. This year it opens February 6, and closes 4:00 p.m. on April 28, 2017.
Open enrollment provides an opportunity for parents to explore school districts outside of the district in which they live. The option of going to another school district that provides resources and programs for gifted students not found in their home district often helps meet the needs of the student.
It is often a difficult decision for a family to decide to pursue open enrollment because they must confront the fact that their child’s needs are not being met. However, it may be one of the best decisions a parent can make. My family utilized open enrollment for several years in middle school and it was one of the best decisions we made for our child.
I highly recommend if you are considering open enrolling your student that you take the time to do your homework. Go visit the school(s) in which you wish to enroll your child. Talk to the principal, teachers, GT teacher, students, parents and anyone else you can find. Walk around, look, and listen. How is it different from your current district? What can they offer that your school cannot or will not? What is the atmosphere when you walk in and go through the school? Is everyone welcoming and smiling? Go to meetings or an open house at the school if they have some. Go back as many times as you wish-that is what these public times are so parents can learn about the district, services, and classrooms. Talk to other parents with children in the program. As the teacher or principal for references whom you may contact. If you are considering a virtual school (online school) attend the open house and meet and greet sessions they hold. Meet the teachers, students, and parents. Look at the curriculum. Ask questions. Go to another meeting and continue the process. Learn as much as you can.
There are procedures and deadlines with the open enrollment process. Be sure to check the DPI Open Enrollment website listed below. Information, application, and links for further information may be found on that website.
You may apply for open enrollment but if your child is accepted, you do not have to confirm attendance right away. There is a June deadline for a decision. If you are considering a change for your student, the application period is only from February through April, so do not miss the deadline for the application. The decision to attend or not may be made later to give you and your family an opportunity to consider the ramifications of open enrollment.
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