About this time last year, my oldest daughter's teacher approached me about the possibility of participating in the school's MG (mentally gifted) program. To be honest, I hadn't even considered it before I was approached. Sadly, I don't think I expected to have that kind of opportunity in the public school system in Philly.
I agreed to the testing and the interviews and then, more or less, forgot about it. We didn't hear anything further and I kind of put it out of my mind.
This year, my husband and I were advised that my daughter had been accepted into the program. Apparently, she tested well, especially in reading, and her teacher's recommendations were very good.
The MG teacher scheduled an appointment to discuss the results of the tests and the interview, as well as to discuss our interest in the program. I voted an enthusiastic "yes" and signed the paperwork. And just like that, she's in.
In the beginning, she'll leave her regular classroom one day per week for a couple of hours to go to the MG classroom. At MG, they'll do special projects (and have extra homework) meant to get their creative juices going.
This couldn't have come at a better time for my daughter. She's been struggling in class when it comes to behavior and I think it's because she's a bit lost. Last year, she had the opportunity to play "teacher" with some of the younger kids in her class; her teacher realized that she loved helping others and gave her some extra responsibilities. She really rose to the challenge. School was something that she looked forward to every day; she loved it.
This year isn't going as well as the last. I think she feels boxed in. She isn't quite sure how to react to "down time" in class and has made up for it by getting into trouble. This is not a direction that I'm thrilled about. But the MG program - which I had completely forgotten about - came about at the perfect time. I suspect that this "something extra" will keep her excited about going to school. She's already heard about her first project and started work on it immediately - this is a very good sign.
I know that there's a lot of debate about whether MG programs and other IEP-related services has a place in education. I've also heard parents grumble about putting resources towards MG programs - the whole "smart kids don't need extra services." But they're wrong. I know they're wrong because I've been that kid, floundering in class. And it took a great MG teacher to keep me on the right path.
I'm hopeful that my daughter will have a similar experience. I have my fingers crossed!
I figure that we have a year to see what happens and how she responds to the new arrangement. Students are evaluated each year to see if they meet the criteria to continue in the program, so we'll make up our minds at about the same time as the school will.