Saturday, January 31, 2015

Testing: How?

One of the first things you learn about giftedness is that it comes with A Number. Usually, also with a designation - HG, EG, PG - as well. Mercifully, there are groups of people who will talk with you without those numbers, but many of them require The Number for admission, and that presents a problem.

When you're sitting well below "middle class," testing becomes a big issue. In looking for anywhere to do the testing we'd need, we found that we were, quite neatly, excluded from any sort of testing. Not only are there no practitioners within 100 miles of us that are familiar with gifted children, the only practitioners we could find in the local-ish area were those who either seemed to purport all children having some fashion of LD (be it ADHD, ODD, or something else) or who believe that there are not such things as ADHD or childhood anxiety. Needless to say, neither of these are suitable for testing for giftedness, given the intensity of OE's we have. However, going farther afield doesn't help much either.

Looking outward from our home, we find testing - and recommended testers! It's wonderful!  Right up until the point we get to the cost. The testing itself would need to be done over several days, requiring hotel stays. That also means meals, gas, and traveling time. On top of that, though, the average cost of these tests is over $1500. Adding those things all together, you find that one round of testing would work out to well over $2500, plus the days Skeeve would need to take off work for us all to be present for this testing.

There is exactly one time per year we can afford this sort of expense - at tax return time.  Unfortunately, that would eat up the entirety of our tax return, and leave us with no money to even try to save, much less to purchase curricula for Mad Natter's next school year, or enroll him in any of the various classes he enjoys, or to take trips to visit our family in the US. Where does this leave us? We're able to use Deborah Ruf's parental survey to get an idea of Mad Natter's level of giftedness, and we're able to use our anecdotes to try to sort out where he seems to struggle or sees nigh immediate success. We don't get to do the "real" testing, once again because poor people aren't gifted.

We have been on our local children's hospital's waiting list for a psychoeducational assessment for almost two years. We've been "next" on that list since September. We still have no testing, no hope of getting any testing, and most of the programs that would challenge a boy like Mad Natter as he gets older all require that testing just for membership... and more money still to enroll in the programming.  The world of the gifted, as the testing conundrum implies, is rather hostile toward the economically disadvantaged, and much as we might wish it were not the case, there is little sympathy from anyone anywhere for that problem. The outside world assumes we're only poor because we won't work, or because we're not really gifted. The inside world has their own problems, and they've already had to pay those same fees.

What I wish, I really wish, there was? Some sort of scholarship fund - somewhere we could apply for a means to defray the costs attached to the testing so we had a hope of someday being able to have the testing run. It's hard to know where strengths and weaknesses are, if there are comorbid issues, or what The Number is when the very thing designed to tell you these things is, by nature of the level of specialization needed, is prohibitively expensive.  And so I read a great many posts on testing, the whys, the logistics, the benefits and risks, and I wonder: testing? How?

This post has been part of Hoagies' Gifted Education's February blog hop: Testing - Why? How?

Friday, January 30, 2015

Magic School Bus Science Kits

This post contains affiliate links to materials discussed. Purchases via these links help support our family at no additional cost to you. Thank you for choosing to support my little blog. Read my full disclosure statement here.

This year, science has been what seems like entirely too easy. Mad Natter received several Magic School Bus kits for his birthday, and so we've been working through them one experiment at a time. As a result, I'm in the position to pass along what we've learned about these kits, having gone through three bus-style kits already, with two box-kits to go.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Winter Blahs

Oh, winter. It's beautiful... for the first month or so. It's a lovely change from the heat of summer, an entirely different feel from any other time of the year. There's anticipation, the old year is dying, the new one waiting to be born, it's a time of renewal.

Unfortunately for school, it's also a time of pent up energy and restlessness. All the things that were so fun and engaging in September are boring. And useless. And ugh. Getting our days underway was so easy at the beginning of the year. Everything went smoothly, easily, school was something fun.  Then the winter came, and the days look gloomy, and school isn't new anymore, and the things that were so much fun before are just dragging now.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Silent Reading

Spend a day in a public school, and I'm fairly sure that at least one thing hasn't changed - though what it's called might. When I was in, it was "SSR" - Sustained Silent Reading. In other places, it was "DEAR" - Drop Everything And Read. No matter what it's called, the intent is the same. Mad Natter, no matter how well he actually reads, has no real ability to do so without constant redirection. Some of this will be taken up with his doctor in six months (when people will finally stop condescending to us and help us!), but in the meantime, I'm trying to set the stage.

Friday, January 23, 2015

We are a Nintendo Family...

This post contains affiliate links to materials discussed. Purchases via these links help support our family at no additional cost to you. Thank you for choosing to support my little blog. Read my full disclosure statement here.

My first game system was an Atari 2600. Sure, it's still my favorite, but after a few years on the Atari, we moved to Nintendo - just in time for Super Mario Bros. 3 to come out.  Complete with the Tanooki suit, we were SO excited. We stuck with that Nintendo for ages, got our own GameBoys, and I bought a Nintendo 64 to take to university with me. We got a Wii not long before Mad Natter was born, and a WiiU this past spring, starting the fine tradition of a childhood of Nintendo all over again for Mad Natter.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Notebooks and Independent Work

Wow, take a hiatus for the winter holidays, and suddenly it's like you've forgotten how to blog and how to get work done on a timetable.  Sheesh.

Anyway, today's late entry is one that surprised me. About a week and change ago, I was reading a post by Cait at My Little Poppies.  In it, she discusses the (not unusual) loss of every single pencil around, and also links over to Amongst Lovely Things with an interesting organizational idea.  The idea? Incredibly simple, but completely practical: spiral notebooks.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Gifted in "Reel" Life!

When I was small, before I knew - and long before I understood - words like "undiagnosed" and "gifted" and how they applied to me, I loved to read.  I still do.  Back then, I was reading Encyclopedia Brown, The Boxcar Children, Nancy Drew, A Wrinkle in Time, and my favorite, so much so that I'm suddenly astounded I neither own, nor have read these books in ages, was a series called "The Great Brain." The first book of the series being published in 1967, there are the usual issues with stereotyping, but when you're looking back at something you loved, you don't really realize how awful it was - kind of like the Hunt For Tiger Lily scene from Peter Pan.

Friday, January 16, 2015

To Test, or Not to Test?

We hear, over and over, about how valuable a resource standardized tests are. We're to believe that they are the end all and be all of public education, that they are able to pinpoint how well the students are learning - as well as how well the teachers are teaching. But if you listen, even for a moment, to the people on the ground - the teachers, students, and parents - you hear quite another story.  And what seems far too prosaic to be considered is that perhaps the people who deal with education daily are the ones in the best position to determine the efficacy of that testing, and also the impact that testing makes in any given classroom.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Thinking Serious Thoughts

So, I've been missing for a while.  Kind of accidental, kind of on purpose.  There are so many things to do during the winter holidays that I just can't keep up with everything, and if I want to stay sane, sometimes things need to be let go.  Hopefully, I'll remember this for next year and plan accordingly.  

In the meantime, though, I've been prompted back into blogging by Mrs Warde at Sceleratus Classical Academy, who has called for some reflection after being tagged for the same reflection by Imp over at Not A Stepford Life, and I suddenly wonder just how wide my bloggy-world is... It'll be interesting to find out, particularly if everyone keeps tagging the person before/after them so we can follow the trail.