Monday, April 5, 2010

Jacob




My friend Megan asked me to update her on Jacob's gifted panel results via my blog. So here it goes.

He's a smart kiddo. We already knew that. So I'll start from the beginning of Jacob's story.

The day our son was born, his father picked him up out of the clear cradle that the nurses wheel into the room after birth. Dad puts his son up to his shoulder. Our little baby then proceeds to amaze the nurse and look around. She says she has never seen a baby at 1 hour do that. He then proceeds to stay awake for his first twelve hours of life, apparently another first for these ladies. He has never gone back to sleep. Jacob's never required much sleep and loves to "look around". His Aunt Jean Yowpa, who has two VERY smart sons of her own, told me early on that non-sleeping can be a sign of intelligence. Not much comfort to an exhausted law school widow far from home.

At 18 months I started counting his words because What to Expect the First Year told me too. He was suppose to have 50, he had a 100. Then sign and word recognition began at 22 months, though not true reading, still ahead of the curve. By 26 months he was asking to follow our finger and repeat our words as we held family scripture study at night. While a solid 2 year old he could put together puzzles all by himself up to 50 pieces without looking at the box. He just recognized how the shapes should fit.

We knew he was smart. We knew he was smart when he started reading Harry Potter and the Book of Mormon by himself, half way through his second pre-school year. And when he went into kindergarten testing (one month shy of his 5th birthday) and tested into the 2nd grade. So why didn't the school know it?

They did. In pre-school the principal would come in and work with him one-on-one because the teacher wasn't "allowed" to teach reading. In kindergarten his teacher told us he was the smartest child she had taught in 30 years. But the principal was tried of stealing drugs from the nurses office this past summer and the teacher spoke to the principal who told her gifted programs weren't available until the 4th grade. And every year he was asked to be an "aid" to a special needs child. Which of course I said yes, so as to continue his emotional education.

Last summer I spent a lot of time on this issue, and talked to most of you about what to do. My biggest sounding board being Kristen, who is HIGHLY gifted, hard working and ambitious. As well as having grown up in rural Ohio until sixteen. But after much prayer and meditation last May I thought I found my solution... they can't make him stupid.

I felt that the lessons he was suppose to learn by attending our local public school would be respect for all people, kindness, compassion, humility. He's not the best artist in his class nor is he the most athletic, these too have a place in a child's education. And then we would support his academic interests at home.

For crying out loud, the child read the dictionary and encyclopedias of focused topics for fun! At 5! We spend a lot of time at the library and conducting science experiments at home. As well as a zoo pass and science institute pass.

I was good with this solution, while trying to manage a third child, Phil being gone so much building his business and Church calling, and finishing college, and my returning to work.

Then I learned he was being physically bullied by 4th graders during lunch. Now mom's mad!!!

I went straight to the office and sat down with the principal and vented my anger at what I feel has been a completely wasted year with a nasty old worn out teacher who loves the Jacob sits quietly and completes homework while the other 23 children run amok. AND now his isolation is furthered by these fourth grade punks.

"Isolation?" she asks. YES! He reads at a 5th grade level and doesn't want to play the same games as the other children in his class. "I didn't realize". Well of course she didn't, she's young and new. So she hasd the gifted coordinator call me and he kind of poo-poos me that all moms think their child is gifted and if he was, why isn't he on our radar until the 4th quarter. Good question. Why don't you ask his lazy , sour-puss teacher? Who by the way lives three doors down from us and I have had social run ins with. Even though I thought we were both playing nice while Jacob was in her class.

So they test him.

And the results are in.

Two weeks after the first talk, a panel of five very smiley adults, and one blank face stare, look across from Phil and I. Each take their turn. The gifted coordinator gushes about how much fun he had the couple of days he tested Jacob and what a pleasure he is to talk with. Oh and I'm retiring on Friday but am running a kiddie kollege at the local community college this summer and you should sign him up.

The woman who tested his reading had to stop after the 6th grade levels, but feels confident that he would've passed into 7th easily. The literacy specialist swooned with pleasure at having this conversation with us because usually she's discussing IEP's, instead of how to advance a 5t wearing 6 year old. His teacher? Oh well he does finish his assignments on time.

GAH!!!!!!!

She was of course, a waste of space. The asst. principal relayed how she regularly eats lunch with him because he's so much fun to talk too. And the school psychologist then proceeded to share how his cognitive testing went. She had to score his as average because he didn't complete enough to be bumped into the gifted area. Why? Because he finished each with such precision that the quantity of completed activities were low. He would have scored much higher if he had done more even if they were wrong. So she HAD to score him low even against her personal judgment just to fit the parameters of the test. That's cool, I was ok with that. But she was very apologetic.

They talked, we talked, for two hours. For now, he'll be attending a 3rd grade class for reading, so as to have more advanced conversation than he's getting in the 1st grade while still not being too far ahead socially. He also will be visiting with the school counselor, and two other "gifted" 2nd graders, once a week for smart games. It's something. They can't do a whole bunch because the state of Ohio doesn't provide funding or services to schools until the 3rd grade. In fact he's still not technically "identified" because the tests aren't suppose to be given until the 2nd grade. So he'll have to do them all again next year. Which he's good with because he thought they were lots of fun and of course, he enjoyed the adult conversation during his day.

It was nice to sit and hear how wonderful your son is not only because of his intelligence but because they each enjoyed their time with him on a social level. And again the inspiration came very clearly to my mind, he will always be smart. That is his God given gift to him. But it is my responsibly as his mother to teach him to be a productive member of society who is gives back, who is loving and thoughtful and hard working.

Plenty of smart people end up in the gutter. It's not the numbers, it's the package that contains them.

I love that kid. He drives me crazy. He makes me work too hard as he follows me from room to room with his incessant questions and thoughts. But I'm working to live up to him. Not bring him down to make things easier on my ears. Though a new conversation in our home is....

Jacob please pay attention to non-verbal clues for when others are just not available to listen.

3 comments:

kt moxie said...

I'm glad you're making progress! Go Amy!

meganconser said...

I am glad you got this all down-- what an amazing kid. But we already knew that-- its just nice to hear the experts say so! Love you!

Adrianne said...

Amy - What a challenge! but a wonderful one. And you are so right that while you need to help him find opportunities to keep growing and learning, you also have to teach him to love and contribute. You will be great at that. Me, I'm glad my child sleeps - A LOT. I'm willing to exchange that for gifted!

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Ohio, United States
Just a mom, doing mom things, thinkin' mom thoughts and wishin' I could look like the models in the Lands End catalog. Except without dieting, exercising, or giving up 3 hour naps.