Author Topic: Walkable kindergarten or drive to G&T?  (Read 1425 times)

FireLane

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Walkable kindergarten or drive to G&T?
« on: March 20, 2021, 07:56:48 PM »
I've got a parenting dilemma and I thought the Mustachians would have some advice.

My son (Little FL) will go to kindergarten in the fall. NYC allows parents to apply to the public school they want to attend.

There's a school a few blocks from my home, in easy walking distance, with perfectly good state scores. That was the obvious choice, until I found out that there's a separate application for gifted & talented programs. Not every public school offers those, and the nearest one that does is several miles. I'd have to drive him every day, with all the time and traffic and parking hassles that would entail.

Little FL is a bright kid, and I'm sure he'd do well in a G&T program. It seems like conventional wisdom that parents have a responsibility to give their kids every advantage. Admission this year is by lottery, not a test, so he might not get in - but what would it say if I didn't even apply? Does that mean I don't believe in my own kid's potential?

On the other hand, I hate the expectation of getting kids on a treadmill of achievement starting at 5 years old. I truly don't believe that the difference between a G&T program and the regular curriculum is that large, especially in kindergarten. If I did it, I'd be doing it just for his resume - and it galls me that kids that young should even have to have a resume.

Personally, I'd prefer to send him to the school in our neighborhood, where we can walk every day, and use the time we save to do more educational activities as a family. We've been walking him to pre-K this year, and I like that peaceful little interval and want it to continue.

Plus, I want him to have time to be a kid. I want to show that kids can thrive without Ivy League parents forcing them to always do the hardest thing.

But I don't know if my reasons are sound, or if I'm just being selfish and lazy. I'd appreciate an outside perspective!

Mrs. Fire Lane

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Re: Walkable kindergarten or drive to G&T?
« Reply #1 on: March 20, 2021, 08:04:47 PM »
Something I would add is that my husband and I both benefited from programs like that as children but they started at later ages (3rd grade for me) and neither required any effort from our parents aside from a permission slip.

It almost feels hypocritical to not want to do this but - I think adding a daily car commute to our lives would decrease it’s quality and impact our moods in a bad way.
« Last Edit: March 20, 2021, 08:06:18 PM by Mrs. Fire Lane »

charis

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Re: Walkable kindergarten or drive to G&T?
« Reply #2 on: March 20, 2021, 08:07:17 PM »
Parents have a responsibility to give their kids every advantage? I firmly disagree with this statement and feel that it promotes the hording of resources and benefits from systemic inequity, particularly in education.

reeshau

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Re: Walkable kindergarten or drive to G&T?
« Reply #3 on: March 20, 2021, 08:10:34 PM »
This seems like part 2 of Abe's thread:
https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/mini-money-mustaches/gifted-talented-testing-on-preschoolers/

Did you read through that already?

More specific to your case, do you have reason to believe your son won't do well in "regular" kindergarten?  Is he a precocious reader?  Is he mastering addition and subtraction, and moving on to multiplication, or multiple digits?  Does he like to draw for hours, perhaps ignoring you or other opportunities for play?

If you have seen behaviors that make you worry or want something else, that could be something to act on.  If you are just feeling guilty or worried about what the neighbors might think, then no need.  If your local school rates highly, then your son will probably have as many advantages from getting to walk with you to school, and spending extra time at home, instead of you having to hold back road rage or try to explain displays by others around you.  Make use of that time while you have It!

(In Dublin Irelnad, *everyone* walks to school.  One thing I miss is being able to walk with my son to kindergarten.  We could do it here, too--it's about 35 minutes with him one way, which isn't that big a deal there.  But here in Houston, he likes to ride the bus with the other neighborhood children)

nessness

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Re: Walkable kindergarten or drive to G&T?
« Reply #4 on: March 20, 2021, 08:14:06 PM »
They're not testing this year? If you get in by lottery, are you in for good, or do you have to test to stay in next year?

Anyway, I'd put him in the regular school for this year. If you feel it's not meeting his needs, then pursue gifted testing later.

Mrs. Fire Lane

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Re: Walkable kindergarten or drive to G&T?
« Reply #5 on: March 20, 2021, 08:54:26 PM »
More specific to your case, do you have reason to believe your son won't do well in "regular" kindergarten?  Is he a precocious reader?  Is he mastering addition and subtraction, and moving on to multiplication, or multiple digits?  Does he like to draw for hours, perhaps ignoring you or other opportunities for play?

His vocabulary is quite large (we’ve been told that by nursery and preK teachers) and he has a penchant for science and his verbal reasoning is very advanced. He’s memorized the names and pictures of I would say 100-200 animals including facts like their habitats and what they eat etc.

For example today we were playing 20 questions and he was thinking of a shark. I asked if it was an animal and he said yes, I asked if it was a mammal and he said no, I asked if it was a vertebrate and he said “it’s made of what your ears are made of.” (Cartilage!)

Another time we were looking at a children’s book about elephants and it explained how to tell African elephants vs Asian ones (ear shape and size, tusks). I pointed to a picture and asked which kind it was and he said African. I said how do you know and he said “there’s a zebra in the background and zebras live in Africa.”

For math and reading he’s probably average.

FireLane

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Re: Walkable kindergarten or drive to G&T?
« Reply #6 on: March 21, 2021, 07:17:58 PM »
This seems like part 2 of Abe's thread:
https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/mini-money-mustaches/gifted-talented-testing-on-preschoolers/

Did you read through that already?

Thanks for the pointer, I did read that thread. It's a similar dilemma to mine, except that Abe was contemplating whether to submit his son for the gifted test, whereas I'd just have to put his name into the lottery.

In a way, a test would make it easier. I feel as though if I had a test result, I'd have an "objective" basis for this decision. As it is, the application process is a pure shot in the dark. With no outside evidence to guide the decision either way, it feels like it's been reduced to the raw question of "do you believe in your own son's potential?", if that makes sense.

Quote
More specific to your case, do you have reason to believe your son won't do well in "regular" kindergarten?  Is he a precocious reader?  Is he mastering addition and subtraction, and moving on to multiplication, or multiple digits?  Does he like to draw for hours, perhaps ignoring you or other opportunities for play?

Mrs. FL gave some details on this in her post, but my quick summary is that his verbal and reasoning skills are excellent for his age. He likes books but isn't reading yet, although he can sight-read a fair number of words. His motor skills could use some practice, if I'm being honest.

It's hard for me to judge whether he'd do well in "regular" kindergarten. He's in public pre-K right now and seems to be doing well.

Quote
If you have seen behaviors that make you worry or want something else, that could be something to act on.  If you are just feeling guilty or worried about what the neighbors might think, then no need.  If your local school rates highly, then your son will probably have as many advantages from getting to walk with you to school, and spending extra time at home, instead of you having to hold back road rage or try to explain displays by others around you.  Make use of that time while you have It!

Thanks, I appreciate hearing that. I'm not worried about what the neighbors would think, but I do feel guilty at the thought of depriving him of a possible advantage in life. Then again, as @charis said, maybe that's a bad mindset to have. (The reason that admission is by lottery this year is because of those concerns over systemic inequity.)

They're not testing this year? If you get in by lottery, are you in for good, or do you have to test to stay in next year?

Anyway, I'd put him in the regular school for this year. If you feel it's not meeting his needs, then pursue gifted testing later.

I believe that once you're in, you're in, but there may also be an opportunity to test into the G&T program later on by taking a test. But until this year, that was also the process for kindergarten, and now it's not.

There's no telling what else might change in the future, which is making me more hesitant, not less. What if we go to the trouble of sending him to the distant school and then the G&T program gets abolished entirely, or moved somewhere else?

Sailor Sam

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Re: Walkable kindergarten or drive to G&T?
« Reply #7 on: March 21, 2021, 07:27:09 PM »
But, wait. I’m...confused, maybe?

If admission is by lottery, then the classes will be populated 100% by pupils who’s parents decided to enter then into the lottery. There’s no actual selection for above average performance.

And, it will still hold an element of inequality, because the classes will also be comprised of kids who’s parents had the interest/brain cycles/free time/freedom/speak the language of the fliers.

Seems totally bizarre of the school system. Then again, the usual caveat that I don’t have kids, and think many rituals surrounding them are generally benign, but very bizarre.

MaybeBabyMustache

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Re: Walkable kindergarten or drive to G&T?
« Reply #8 on: March 21, 2021, 08:00:36 PM »
They're not testing this year? If you get in by lottery, are you in for good, or do you have to test to stay in next year?

Anyway, I'd put him in the regular school for this year. If you feel it's not meeting his needs, then pursue gifted testing later.

I'd do this

joe189man

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Re: Walkable kindergarten or drive to G&T?
« Reply #9 on: March 21, 2021, 09:06:17 PM »
the school that you would drive to, does it have a more robust GT program, or just a program, compared to your neighborhood school? or is it private? Usually there is some sort of testing required to qualify, i would be surprised or suspicious of the schools GT program if admission was just a lottery or open enrollment.

we open enrolled into a school for this fall that we felt would be a better fit from a curriculum/programming standpoint. If our School district offered a GT specific school (2 other metro area school districts do) we would have applied.

FINate

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Re: Walkable kindergarten or drive to G&T?
« Reply #10 on: March 21, 2021, 09:21:12 PM »
I'm gonna venture a guess that, like the rest of the world, Little FL has been stuck at home during the pandemic and feels socially isolated. I would focus on making Kindergarten the best possible experience for him: Enjoy it, savor the small moments, walk to/from school, process the day with him, plenty of downtime after school, lots of play dates. The importance of in-person play (not screens) is often overlooked, yet it is critical for the development and well being of a child. Don't be afraid of boredom, it spurs creativity. IMO, adding in a G&T program detracts from these things. Sometimes less is more. If he ends up bored out of his mind then consider getting him tested for the next academic year.

Something else to consider: Don't confuse being great parents with having a gifted child. Not saying Little FL isn't gifted, but it's difficult to know without getting him professionally evaluated. It's entirely possible that you're both spending a lot of quality time educating and reading to him, which is a wonderful thing and something to be proud of. The brain of a young child is incredibly malleable and adaptable, specifically w.r.t. language and memorization. It's amazing what they can absorb. My oldest daughter had somewhere around 200 sign language signs memorized by the time she was ~2, with which she could communicate more-or-less fluently. She is now a voracious reader, as is her sister. While smart, I don't believe either are exceptionally gifted or talented. Instead, we simply created a home environment where learning and reading are normal whereas passive activities like TV and video games are rare.
« Last Edit: March 21, 2021, 09:25:16 PM by FINate »

Tinker

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Re: Walkable kindergarten or drive to G&T?
« Reply #11 on: March 22, 2021, 03:48:41 AM »
Admission this year is by lottery, not a test
The main point of consideration should be what the curriculum and teaching model involves. And compare that to the walkable kindergarten.
If it's just more of the same, no point exposing your child to a group of other children who most likely got in there based on their parents ambition and are being stressed out. If there's an actual program, individual adjustment, more time and/or more people per child - sounds like a good opportunity.

Lottery based is a very loose pre-selection, so there's likely a reasonably large social overlap in admissions with regard of childrens' backgrounds between the walkable and GT, but an overrepresentation on the side of more obnoxious parents exerting influence on the latter.

Mrs. Fire Lane

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Re: Walkable kindergarten or drive to G&T?
« Reply #12 on: March 22, 2021, 06:31:34 AM »
the school that you would drive to, does it have a more robust GT program, or just a program, compared to your neighborhood school? or is it private? Usually there is some sort of testing required to qualify, i would be surprised or suspicious of the schools GT program if admission was just a lottery or open enrollment.

It’s the same G&T curriculum as NYC public school has always had but the lottery is to make it more equitable. There is an interview component but many people suspect, probably correctly that many preschool teachers will give the recommendations their parents want. https://gothamist.com/news/nyc-will-use-teacher-interviews-4-year-olds-gifted-talented-program-admissions

StarBright

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Re: Walkable kindergarten or drive to G&T?
« Reply #13 on: March 22, 2021, 07:19:29 AM »

Little FL is a bright kid, and I'm sure he'd do well in a G&T program. It seems like conventional wisdom that parents have a responsibility to give their kids every advantage. Admission this year is by lottery, not a test, so he might not get in - but what would it say if I didn't even apply? Does that mean I don't believe in my own kid's potential?


If it makes you feel better, there was a paper on school choice in the early 2000s that showed the actual school a child went to generally didn't matter, what mattered was whether the parents had had the conversation about putting the child into the better school and cared enough to discuss whether or not to enter the lottery. So you are all good!

If I recall, that paper was comparing sending kids to failing schools vs. "good" schools, so a GT school vs. a good school shouldn't effect much in the future (unless you are interested in the Ivy pipeline, but it doesn't sound like you are.)

ETA - one of the reasons we bought our house was because it was walkable to both the elementary and Jr. High. We are big believers in walkability and gifted education. If my child had been doing okay in a non-GT classroom I might choose walking over GT.
« Last Edit: March 22, 2021, 07:31:34 AM by StarBright »

FireLane

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Re: Walkable kindergarten or drive to G&T?
« Reply #14 on: March 22, 2021, 07:45:05 PM »
But, wait. I’m...confused, maybe?

If admission is by lottery, then the classes will be populated 100% by pupils who’s parents decided to enter then into the lottery. There’s no actual selection for above average performance.

And, it will still hold an element of inequality, because the classes will also be comprised of kids who’s parents had the interest/brain cycles/free time/freedom/speak the language of the fliers.

I agree, it doesn't make a lot of sense. As Mrs. FL mentioned, there's another component - a recommendation from a preschool teacher - but that's easy to game and will still be skewed toward parents who are the most invested in their kid's education. I respect that the city is trying to reduce inequity, but I doubt if this is an improvement over standardized testing.

the school that you would drive to, does it have a more robust GT program, or just a program, compared to your neighborhood school? or is it private? Usually there is some sort of testing required to qualify, i would be surprised or suspicious of the schools GT program if admission was just a lottery or open enrollment.

They're both public schools, but not every public school offers a G&T program. The walkable one doesn't, the driveable one does. And yes, it's purely by lottery this year.

I'm gonna venture a guess that, like the rest of the world, Little FL has been stuck at home during the pandemic and feels socially isolated. I would focus on making Kindergarten the best possible experience for him: Enjoy it, savor the small moments, walk to/from school, process the day with him, plenty of downtime after school, lots of play dates. The importance of in-person play (not screens) is often overlooked, yet it is critical for the development and well being of a child. Don't be afraid of boredom, it spurs creativity. IMO, adding in a G&T program detracts from these things. Sometimes less is more. If he ends up bored out of his mind then consider getting him tested for the next academic year.

Thanks very much for this! This is the way I'm leaning as well.

He's actually been attending in-person pre-K for a few months. The program in our neighborhood is at a community center that was open at the height of the pandemic to provide emergency child care for children of essential workers, and they pulled it off without a single case. With that record, Mrs. FL and I trust them to take precautions, and we decided that the crucial benefit of in-person socialization at his age was worth the risk.

If it makes you feel better, there was a paper on school choice in the early 2000s that showed the actual school a child went to generally didn't matter, what mattered was whether the parents had had the conversation about putting the child into the better school and cared enough to discuss whether or not to enter the lottery. So you are all good!

Yes, that does make me feel better. :) I can definitely see that having parents who are involved would matter more than the exact funding level or curriculum of the school, especially in kindergarten where it's not as if they're teaching highly specialized knowledge.

Sibley

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Re: Walkable kindergarten or drive to G&T?
« Reply #15 on: March 22, 2021, 09:58:51 PM »
Based on what my friends who are teachers say.... the school is less important than the parents. Put him in the local school. He'll be fine, and you'll be less stressed, which means he'll be even more fine.

kanga1622

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Re: Walkable kindergarten or drive to G&T?
« Reply #16 on: March 24, 2021, 07:50:41 AM »
I'd give your local school a chance and see how it works for your child.
  • My oldest is advanced and I wish that we had a G&T option for him. But he taught himself to read when he was 4 so everything in kindergarten was really boring for him. He's since been diagnosed with ASD and may need testing for ADHD next which explains some of his incredible math/science love.
  • My youngest is a smart little dude but a G&T option would probably not work well for him. He catches on fairly easily but isn't necessarily able to teach himself and use the complex thinking that I would expect for a G&T student. He's ahead of his classmates but not so obvious that it is an issue.


With both my kids, we really didn't know how they compared to their peers until they had been in the classroom and had some assessments and observations by their teachers. I'd say try out your local school for a year and then decide which option is better long term for your individual child.

ToTheMoon

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Re: Walkable kindergarten or drive to G&T?
« Reply #17 on: March 24, 2021, 08:04:39 AM »
Based on what my friends who are teachers say.... the school is less important than the parents. Put him in the local school. He'll be fine, and you'll be less stressed, which means he'll be even more fine.

This 100%. Plus, parents who have the opportunity to walk their kids to school naturally end up being more involved in the school environment, and I have heard (sorry, no official link) that kids who see their parents involved with the school tend to settle in/do better also. (Caveat - the schools may have also planted this idea to get more volunteer help! :D)

erutio

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Re: Walkable kindergarten or drive to G&T?
« Reply #18 on: March 24, 2021, 01:30:24 PM »
We were in kind of a similar situation, except our local school was the one with the gifted program.  My wife and I had to decide, prior to starting K, whether to have our oldest test for the gifted class or join the other classes as a local area student.
Either way, he would be going to the same school.

My wife and I thought about this for quite a long time, and in the end opted to NOT have our oldest, then 5 years old, sit for the test.
This turned out to be a great decision.  The gifted children are bussed or driven in and out everyday. There is less chance for them to play with other kids before or after school.  I was talking to the mother of a child in one of the gifted classes and she said there was just not quite the same feeling of community.   She said the kids are from far reaches of the city, and there aren't the get-togethers on the weekends or otherwise (pre-covid).  My son always says he doesn't know those other kids very well. 

There are numerous benefits to having your child's friends and peers all live within a few block radius of the school. You will get to know other parents of the other kids.  Other opportunities will arise just from the networking, that will add to the breadth of experience for your children.  These benefits will only grow as your child becomes older and more independent.

The daily morning walk your children to school will also be one of your most cherished rituals and memories.  And it will be gone in a flash.  In a few years, they will be wanting to walk to school by themselves, and by the time they are in 4th to 6th grade (depending on the child), they will actively not want you to walk with them. 

Another cherished memory is the ability to pick up your child after school on a beautiful Friday afternoon and just letting your mood decide where you all want to walk to, whether it's to get some ice cream, wander to the park, or just see what the friends are doing that day.  Basically not have to get immediately into an idling car and drive away.

Edited to add:  I just wanted to say this was just our experience.  Education is a very personal topic, so you two obviously know your child and family the best.  Just wanted to give your our perspective from having to recently have to make that choice.
« Last Edit: March 24, 2021, 01:32:15 PM by erutio »

robartsd

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Re: Walkable kindergarten or drive to G&T?
« Reply #19 on: March 24, 2021, 02:53:51 PM »
Most likely I would choose to start at the neighborhood school. You might want to check other programs available to see if it is a particularly good fit for your child, but in my opinion this matters the least at the beginning if your child is anything close to normal. As your child learns and expresses different interests, it may benefit them quite a bit to seek out a program that suits them particularly well.

There are many interpretations of what gifted and talented means, as far as I can tell every G&T classroom will be different. I attended three elementary schools. I started with kindergarten at the neighborhood school. Starting in first grade, I attended a magnet school several miles away (this school had no kindergarten at the time). In fourth grade I struggled with a teacher that assigned mountains of homework that felt like busy work to me. In parent teacher conference the teacher said she thought I should be held back a year because I wasn't ready for high school. My parents didn't think that made sense; why should I repeat fourth grade simply because I was not ready for high school. I think the teacher suggested trying the G&T program when my parent balked at repeating the grade. I transferred to a new school mid-fourth grade and thrived in a fourth-fifth grade G&T classroom that had an emphasis in music. The school's fifth-sixth grade G&T classroom had an emphasis in language arts (not my strength) so I returned to my former school for sixth grade and did fine (I even had a one hour a week class with the teacher who threatened to hold me back in fourth grade).

mm1970

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Re: Walkable kindergarten or drive to G&T?
« Reply #20 on: March 24, 2021, 03:30:26 PM »
Neighborhood school.  When our kid got into GATE (we test in 2nd grade, he got in 2 yrs later in 4th), we didn't even try to go to the GATE program at the other school. 

I've got friends with twins at our school.  When they got in (2nd), she put them into the lottery for kicks, figuring that if one got in and the other didn't, it would be an easy choice.  They got picked #1 and #2.  So, she actually declined the transfer anyway.

lutorm

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Re: Walkable kindergarten or drive to G&T?
« Reply #21 on: March 24, 2021, 04:48:22 PM »
This seems ridiculous. If you want to promote equity, get rid of the "gifted" programs altogether and just make school better. Making a program for "gifted" kids and then populating it based on lottery just seems to reinforce the idea that a special program is inequitable.

charis

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Re: Walkable kindergarten or drive to G&T?
« Reply #22 on: March 24, 2021, 09:36:54 PM »
This seems ridiculous. If you want to promote equity, get rid of the "gifted" programs altogether and just make school better. Making a program for "gifted" kids and then populating it based on lottery just seems to reinforce the idea that a special program is inequitable.

Even if it's not lottery-based, it's likely inequitable if you examine the situation a little bit.  Our district phased out G&T programing a few years ago for this reason.