September 24, 2004
A plan

This morning Keegan's 1st grade teacher gave me a letter she had just received. The gist of the letter was that they were asking permission to place Keegan in 2nd grade as of Monday. She was taken aback by the letter as much as I was. The school had not put together any meetings on the matter and there was no formal plan of action.

I immediately went to the Principal and said that before any decisions were to be made and before Brie and I would ever permit him to skip, Brie and I would have to meet with all involved parties. So today at 2:00 we met with the Principal, Keegan's 1st grade teacher, his potential 2nd grade teacher, and the school's Lead Teacher. We discussed many things and at first all was not well. It was apparent that the 2nd grade teacher expected to just be able to treat Keegan like a normal 2nd grade student. She didn't seem to think she would be able to address any issues he might have individually as he tried to adjust to the new expectations.

Brie had concerns that Keegan would go from being a gifted 1st grader to a average (at best) 2nd grader and we needed to understand if Keegan's gift is tied to the knowledge he has or to his ability comprehend the world around him and turn that into knowledge. We were assured that his gift is his ability to process material. That means that chances are no matter what grade Keegan was placed into he would quickly rise to the top of the class. There is actually some concern that he is already beyond 2nd grade in math, vocabulary, and reading comprehension. Keegan is already doing Multiplication and has some basic understanding of fractions (, , Whole). The 2nd grade teacher said that they don't do any Multiplication in 2nd Grade.

It also was agreed that at this point Keegan would have some holes in his education. There are things he would be missing from 1st grade that could leave small gaps, mainly in Social Studies and Science. We aren't comfortable with that so we came up with a plan.

We are going to coordinate amongst all involved to simply excel Keegan through first grade over the next couple months. He will begin doing the same work as the 2nd graders in Reading, Vocabulary, and Math. At the same time we will be given the full year curriculum for 1st and 2nd grade, we will see what Keegan needs to get through and focus on that. His 1st grade teacher is going to start grading him more like a 2nd grade student in his writing making sure he starts capitalizing and using proper punctuation and grammar. He is going to start getting together with the advanced reading group for 2nd grade as well as going to the honors program. So that, at the latest, come 2nd semester he should be right on target with the 2nd grade class and make an easy transition. They are also going to have him tested some more. We really need to get his I.Q. assessed to see exactly what we are dealing with. There is some concerns that is he lives up to what seems to be his potential he could actually end up breezing through 2nd grade without any real challenges as well.

The general consensus seems to be that Keegan will master most anything he is exposed to quickly. As long as he is given encouragement and a strong sense of structure he has shown that he will typically meet a situation with a good enough amount of maturity to prevent him from getting in himself in trouble. Brie and I are going to have to start being a little more structured with him and give him a stronger sense of cause and effect when it comes to behaviour. In the end a great deal of his immaturity is probably stemming from how I treat him at home. I have never been one to demand focus or maturity out of my kids. Some of that has to do with the fact that it can't be expected out of Sebastian, though it typically doesn't need to be with him anyway and the pther part has to do with me being much more "laid back and groovy" so I don't mind as much.

Posted by John at 05:02 PM
September 22, 2004
a little further clarification

Thanks to everyone for the comments, I knew everyone would have some very valid points .. that's why I put it out there for everyone to read. Here is a few clarifications ..

One of the first things I asked about is if there was something equivelant to what we called G.A.T.E. in California. Her response was that there is, but Keegan isn't just a talented 1st grader. His amount of knowledge and skills already encompasses everything taught at a first grade level of any kind. Remember he passed all the tests with perfect scores until the 4th grade level. So something like putting him in GATE still wouldn't work for him because it would still be information he already knows and understands. It's hard to describe it because Keegan is Keegan to us. Today for no reason at all Keegan was asking me about shapes beyond your typical square, circle, triangle, oval etc. He wanted to know about Octagons, Pentagons, Hexagons (and he was asking me by there names).. etc .. I asked why and his reasoning was simple. He was bored with the other shapes and wanted to draw and label the more special ones. This was completely of his own accord. When I asked him about homework he said, I have a couple pages, but they are easy and boring. It took him only as long as it took to write it out.

As I mentioned I don't really know what he would face in second grade because Sebastian had such a unique experience. We do have some distinct advantages though. Namely our school is sooooo small there is only two classes at each grade level and those only have 17 kids in them tops and since we live in a city of 1,700 people everyone already knows us and Keegan. Keegan would not be facing a room full of strangers or a classroom full of unruly kids. That simply isn't the way things are out here. I walk Keegan to class every morning and it seems like almost every student and certainly every single teacher greets us and him by name. When I am out shopping it is not uncommon for kids to say to me "your Keegan's dad aren't you".

We absolutely do have the ability to put him in second grade and if he just hates it bring him back and find another solution. The teacher just honestly feels this is the best solution. She doesn't think Keegan will have any problems emotionaly with the change. She said today that his attitude has changed so much since the first week of school and that he is doing great. It's certainly possible that my view is clouded by the fact that he is my "K".

Of course, I appreciate everyone's opinions and you all know Brie and I are not going to make this decision lightly. We will look into every variable and available means to make sure Keegan has all of his needs met. The school will too. They were so amazing at addressing Sebastian's issues and supported us in so many ways.

We really won't know much more until he is fully tested next week. You can look for more on this subject then.

Posted by John at 11:08 PM
Each Child Is Unique

Monday I went to pick-up Keegan from school and his teacher asked me to come have a meeting with her. I thought, oh no, Keegan has been acting up again. When we get there I ask if he had got in trouble again and she says, no this is a good thing...

This week all of the first graders have been pulled out of class to take the PALS tests for reading and vocabulary. This is the standard test given to figure out in which reading class each child needs to be placed. Keegan apparently took the test and received a 20 out of 20, so she gave him the second grade level and once again a 20 out of 20, so she gave him the third grade test, once again ... 20 out of 20 so she gave him the fourth grade test and he gets a 14 out of 20 and you need to get 15 to pass. She said the only reason he got 14 is because he told her he was tired of reading.

She advised me that she was going to have Keegan individually tested in Math as well, but it's pretty clear to her already. There isn't any first grade work that is going to stimulate or present any challenges to him. She wants Brie and I to think about having him skip a grade and putting him in a second grade class as soon as possible.

By the time those words came out of her mouth my head was spinning and I was on the edge of a panic attack. Was I proud of Keegan, without a doubt. Brie and I have known for a while that he is well, gifted to say the least (ok we say genius! but that's what parents do). But, I am completely unsure as to whether Keegan can face the emotional challnge that skipping a grade will present. Keegan is a six year old. He is in no way mature for his age. In fact there is some concern that he is a little immature.

I can kind of relate to the issues he will face. I was born in the middle of November and that meant that I was typically the youngest person in my class. That presented some challenges as I always felt I was weaker than everyone else and I constantly sought popularity. When I went off to college after graduating High School I was only 17. I don't think I was ready for what it meant to be away from home. Yesterday when I picked up Keegan from class he had hidden in the classroom after all the other students had already filed out. It turned out he had been seen picking his nose and then eating it by a couple of girls in class and they were teasing him. Keegan doesn't not respond well to being teased and it had made him emotionally on the verge of tears. I told him I was sorry it had happened, but that is exactly why I have warned him a hundred times not to do that. How will Keegan respond if kids start calling him a freak, or a brainiac, or even a baby? Is it something Brie and I can successfully guide him through so that he can be proud of who he is?

This is all a lot to handle, right as we finally seem to be getting a grip on Sebastian's challenges we are given another set to confront and Maddy is starting to show signs that she is going to be similar to Keegan, except she is definitely more mature.. as girls tend to be early on.

I've never met a person who skipped ahead and because Sebastian is anything but typical I have no idea what to even expect from second grade.

We should have the results from the individual testing by the end of next week.

I've opened this post up to comments...

Posted by John at 12:40 PM
September 20, 2004
so whatcha, whatcha, whatch you want!?!

You know I would have made an entry sooner, but Sean got all insistent and as usual I won't have any of that! LOL Not really, but it sounds more dramatic.

The truth be told my brain is filled with so much, but nothing I've been able to coalesce into a single coherent post? Que?? Where did that come from.

So here is some randomness:

Microsoft is an evil empire so go out and download the Mozilla Firefox browser. It has some great features that IE doesn't have like Tabbed windows. Of course, MS has made sure your MS Operating System will never fully function without IE so you have to use both.

Go out and buy the "Scissor Sisters" debut album. I celebrate the return of "Gay White Trash Disco". I LUV this album. It has it all; it's at one moment incredibly superficial and the next hauntingly beautiful.

The weather.. knock wood (over and over) outside of some rain we have been completely spared the effects of all the recent hurricanes. After going 2 weeks without power last year I am so grateful for that, but hurricane season isn't over for another month so we aren't celebrating yet.

Go 49ers' ... I know, I know .. those are obviously the words of a fan and not a realist, they aren't playing very well. Brie's Seahawks are though so we always have something to drink to! oh yeah and BTW .. NFL Sunday Ticket in conjunction with Tivo ROCKS!

The Durango is in need of two new tires, not four, just two .. apparently when we had all the front-end trouble we had fixed in January it had already caused two of the tires to wear unusually and now they are nearing bald ..

Less random, more concentrated:

Sebastian: this is going to be an extremely challenging school year. He is actually going out of SECEP and back into the standard classrooms for certain subjects. Among them Music, Art, Math, and I think Social Studies. He seems very happy and enjoying the new experience.

Keegan: has started off his year very similar to how he began Kindergarten. He was throwing himself on the floor, falling out of his chair, and was not listening in general until his teacher and I double teamed him. He had a pretty good second week and it seems to finally be sinking in that he controls his own actions therefore he will be held responsible for the choices he makes in regards to his behaviour. We are keeping a close eye on him to see if it might be do to the lack of challenge. He has received 100% on every single thing he has done already and the teacher has already noted that he is incredibly smart. We need to make sure he stays challenged. This is exactly where the education system failed me as a child. By second grade I had learned to put very little effort into school because it was easier to goof around and just skate through. No one ever made an effort to focus me.

Madeline: still in Gymnastics, she is absolutely thrilled to have Grandma living here.

Grandma: She moved in just in time to go to California for a month :) She is there for both of my niece's birthdays. She gets home the day Brie is off to California again.

Brie: well, I would hope she would make her own damn post .. she has much more to share than I do. She has been to California and seen friends, she has gone to Alaska and been in her sister's wedding, and, of course, she is married to me and I'm always interesting to talk about .... hmmm my ears are burning.

As for me on a personal level, I'm ok. I really would love Brie and I to take a trip to Vegas or just get out and cut-loose a little more often. I need to be a grown-up and do grown-up things. Brie is my favourite person to do that stuff with. I could make another solo trip to Vegas, but it's not the same.

Lastly, in previous posts you may have heard me mention Darren, he was extremely close to me from 1982-86 and is who actually introduced me to Brie. I lived with him briefly after graduating high school. Well, life (or the internet, if there is a difference) has brought him back into contact with us. We've only exchanged one email and IM'd for about an hour so not much to report on right now. But, for me it's great to have made contact with a person that really mattered to me when I was a teenager.

Posted by John at 01:30 PM