Dealing with Schools
For most kids school is where they start to really develop their own personalities away from their families; interacting with others from different backgrounds without parents' interference. School forms a large part of a child's life and whether a child is considered exceptionally able or not, a good experience of school can set the tone for both good work practices and general self esteem issues for many years to come. The role of the School in any child's life is, to put it bluntly, very important.
The role of the school for a gifted child should be to create a learning environment which will identify those children who are exceptionally able early on, recognise the value of the child's ability and help him or her to realise their fullest potential. Early indentification by the school of a child's abiltiy is paramount to a good outcome as it enables appropriate educational strategies to be implemented for as long as possible. The sad fact is that Irish Schools are way behind when it comes to identifying gifted children. In fairness to the schools there is no training or policy directive that allows this to happen, although that is changing with the pubilcation of the Exceptionally Able Students, Draft Guidelines for Teachers. But guidelines are just that guidelines, our children need a more concrete commitment from the Department of Education & Science. For instance every school should have a policy in place regarding gifted education; it's much too important an issue to be left to the whim of a School's Principal. That said, it is sometimes too easy to point the finger at individual schools. We, as parents, need to lobby the Department of Education & Science around this area if we are to see real change. There are lots of good schools out there and great teachers who are trying their best in a difficult environment, where lack of resources at the most basic level often hinders their support of differentiated education.
Some families with gifted children have found the whole state school system so inadequate that they have opted out. Understandably Home Schooling has become the preferred option for quite a few parents due in no small part to that fact that home education by definition can provide a differentiated curriculum. The Home Education Network have a great website where you can find lots of information and resources on home schooling if you are considering this option.
Some Suggestions for Dealing with Your Child's School
"It's a tricky one, talking to the teacher. I'm so desperate not to appear to be perceived as a pushy mum. Yet he's miserable and we need to get him some support before he completely withdraws. "
"Her teacher has been fantastic, very supportive. I guess we've been lucky but it's made such a difference."
Disclaimer: This is not an expert site, it is run on a voluntary basis and as such is based on opinion and experience but we hope that it acts as a signpost for educational resources and other support services for Irish families with exceptionally able children. By using this website you accept that any dependence by you on such information, opinion or advice is at your own risk.