Back in November I got a call from one of the special education teachers at the school — Delphine's teacher this year and her grade two teacher had both flagged her to be assessed for the gifted program.
There's no gifted program at the girls' school — the program for gifted kids is hosted at another school, so attending would require a daily bus ride. The special ed teacher said that Delphine was eligible for the gifted assessment, but that if we wouldn't consider sending her to the gifted program we shouldn't have her assessed, since the assessment is "resource-intensive".
We really like our neighbourhood school, Delphine loves her friends, and she gets carsick, so I declined the assessment.
I had heard from a friend who works for the school board that if your child is assessed as gifted you can get an IEP (individual education plan), which seemed to be the best solution. An IEP provides specific guidance to the classroom teacher, so Delphine could stay at her school while still getting the extra enrichment she needs to thrive.
I've been talking with Delphine's teacher about this all year, and a few weeks ago she finally arranged a team meeting to discuss Delphine's case. The team meeting was supposed to involve us, Delphine's teacher, the principal and vice-principal, the special ed teacher, and a psychologist from the school board. That seemed like a bit of overkill to me, and apparently everyone else agreed because only the vice principal, a special ed teacher and Delphine's classroom teacher ended up attending.
I wasn't sure what would come of this meeting; I wanted to get the lay of the land, see what our options were, and talk about an IEP.
The IEP idea was shot down immediately. Apparently gifted students used to be eligible for IEPs, but no longer. That leaves the bus-in gifted program, or, as the special ed teacher said, we can "cross our fingers" and "hope" that next year Delphine gets a teacher who understands the needs of gifted children.
I don't know how parents of other kids with special needs would feel if their team meeting included the words "cross our fingers" and "hope", but I'm not particularly happy about it. It's as irresponsible to neglect gifted kids as it is to neglect kids with other special needs.
I'm not sure what our next move is. I'm reading up on gifted children because I'm woefully uneducated in this matter, so hopefully next time I meet with the "team" I'll be able to advocate more intelligently for my girl. We might consider the bus-in program, since Delphine's very best friend is thinking about going to another school for Extended French, which releases one of her ties to the neighbourhood school. (At least we can visit the gifted program so Delphine has an idea of the possibilities.) We're contemplating other specialised programs, like the TDSB Vocal Academy; that would be valuable and enriching in some ways but still wouldn't directly address Delphine's needs as a gifted learner.
This isn't one of those satisfying blog posts with a useful conclusion. I have no idea where we're going from here, I just know I'm not satisfied with the path we're on.