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Author: rehowes Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 1948  
Subject: Re: Where to start? Date: 8/9/2001 9:40 PM
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Any information or guidance y'all have that can help me make the best educational decisions for my daughters would be appreciated beyond words.

It's probably too early to start pushing the schools to do anything. But I would become familiar with the schools in your area. What programs do they have? How about transportation? Will you consider moving so your children be closer to the school they will attend?

Start preparing financially now.

I would not make any judgements about public or private schools at this point. Check with you local school district. Some districts have magnet schools and I have seen some very good public magnet schools for the gifted. If your district does not have a magnet school check if another district has one that your local district uses (if you are not willing to move).

Ask an educational psychologist (your district probably has one or more on staff) at what age they recommend testing very young gifted students. Don't be discouraged at the initial response you get. I common one I heard was that "every parent thinks their child is gifted," and to an extent they are correct. Don't get offended, ask how to arrange testing and if the local school can't/won't do it ask for the names of people in private practice who can administer a test.

My best advice is to be a dad. Spend time with the children. Make sure that they see you read at home. One of the best things that we did was to read each child a bedtime story every night. It's a pain, especially when you're tired and there are four stories yet to read but it is worth it. The children will grow up loving books and they will want to read so when they are ready they will start reading. It also makes for a good parent-child relationship since your are spending time together and you have a natural time and place to talk about whatever happens to be important that day.

Teasing is important. Not mean teasing but "daddy teasing." When you are reading a picture book and you see a cat, bark (if the child knows what a cat says). The child will correct you and you can act confused or whatever. If you see three balls say there are five (if the child knows the difference between three and five) and have some fun. Tell them to get in the red car. "Daddy we don't have a red car." "We don't, I thought we had a red car, what color is it?" Children learn from this type of teasing if you do it so that they don't get confused.

Make stupid puns. Play word games.

There is a temptation to "make a project" of raising a gifted child. Avoid this at all costs. Raising small children cannot be confined withing the bounds of a checklist or certain procedures. It is pretty free-form. We made sure that there were grundles of books in the house and creative toys, you can not have too many Legos (or Duplos for the little ones). I used to go to a printing plant and buy stub ends (the last part of a roll of paper that feeds large printing presses) in different colors and in heavy weights. We would roll out 15 or 20 feet and dump the crayons on it and trace our hands & feet or just let them draw.

Help them plant some peas & carrots in the spring, help them water and weed, then you all can harvest, prepare and eat them. When they are young don't make it a chore, just let them enjoy -- the chores come when you feel they are ready. When you weed look for bugs and watch them for a while.

Tray puzzles are great for kids. MarbleWorks are great when they get a little older. Buy as many educational and creative toys as you can get away with. If the kids don't like some put them away for later or donate them to a worthwhile charity. If a toy is a hit observe how they play with it and build on what they learn. It is a messy process, don't freak out at a little mess, just have them clean up as they are able and then finish cleaning after they go to bed.

Play differnt kinds of music. Bach, Chopin, Coltraine, Waylon & Willie, Fleetwood Mac, anything and everything that doesn't go against your family values.

If you must have a TV keep it turned off except as a special treat or for educational programs.

Don't stress too much now about school, enjoy these wonderful years and help your children enjoy them and learn at the same time. Remember that the little ones learn a lot through play. Don't fight it, play! Everyone will enjoy it.

Sorry about the ramble.

Randall
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