The First Day

This morning, Rusty took Alex to Hansei for his first day of school. (Going forward, he will ride a “bus,” really a van, that will come to our house to pick him up, but they asked us to bring him ourselves this first day.) He was sooooo excited. He was up at 6:30 — he got dressed and made his bed without being asked and without waking his brother up, then came downstairs and got his own bowl of cereal. I could get used to this — wonder how long it will continue?

When they got to school, the director wanted to do a basic evaluation of Alex to verify that they were placing him in the correct grade level. We had told them yesterday that he should be in “segundo de basico,” which is the equivalent of 1st grade in the Sates, and they agreed that based on his age, that is where he should be. However, after the evaluation, they informed Rusty that they were going to put him in “tercero de basico,” (2nd grade)!

Honestly, I was a bit perturbed when Rusty called later in the day and told me about it. Of course, every mother thinks her child is smart and gifted, and it’s nice to have your opinions verified by an objective professional… but really? 2nd grade? He’s only turning 7 next week! Age-wise, he’s a year or more younger than most of the other kids in his class. Because he’s so tall, he looks like he belongs, but is he ready academically for 2nd-grade level stuff? Especially in another language?

The director assured Rusty that Alex will be fine, but I really think their decision had more to do with the fact that the first grade class was already very full, whereas the second grade class has only 6 other students (all boys). So, in some ways, I can see the wisdom of the decision — Alex will be much more likely to receive personal attention and individualized instruction in a class with fewer students.

However, I’ve always been of the opinion that it’s better to hold kids (especially boys) back in the beginning rather than push them ahead. Then again, Alex is not really at Hansei so much for the academics as he is to learn Spanish. I do wonder what the results would be if we had him tested in the States. Would he test at a 2nd-grade level? I’m not a professional teacher, but I’m pretty sure he’s not yet reading at a 2nd-grade level, although he is improving rapidly.

We’ll give it a few weeks and see how it goes. In the meantime, is it safe for me to say I’m the mother of a gifted child?

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