We moved to Auckland about 2 1/2 years ago. My daughter was nearly 6 when we moved here and she had about 3 terms at Churton Park school.
I don't know anything about their gifted programs, however I do remember that they were very onto children's reading abilities. They would frequently test the children and if necessary change children into different reading groups. At the beginning they needed to test every couple of weeks because the children were going up a level every couple of weeks.
They also have maths withdrawal programs, and I would expect other extension type programs. I also know of a young boy who was a June baby and was put forward a year (so they're open to this). However I have no idea what his abilities are.
Obviously you would need to approach the school and ask specifics, however it has got a good reputation, and our experiences were positive.
Wadestown School and West Park school in Johnsonville are also supposed to be good, but I'm not sure in regards to gifted children.
Hopefully this at least gives you somewhere to start. Good luck with your move, I hope it all goes well.
Moriah College may be worth a look for you. It is an integrated school for Years 1-8 with a Jewish special character. Its a small school (around 40-45 students), combined classes, nurturing environment and scope for students to progress at their own pace irrespective of year. Its located in central wellington and utilises many of the central city resources.
There is also the Thomas Kennedy Junior Academy, a private school up to Yr 8 which caters particularly for gifted and talented children. However, its on the Kapiti Coast, 22 kms north of Wellington.
Pinehaven school in Upper Hutt, has an excellent understanding of the needs of gifted children. Unfortunately we are currently undergoing an area network review process, which basically means that the ministry is trying to close some of the schools in our area.
In my daughters class there are at least 6 children who are gifted in at least one area. The year 6 class has 7 gifted children according to the deputy principal. These are obviously not the usual numbers one would expect - so the school must be doing something right to attract these kids.
So while I can't guarantee that the school will survive the network review - it is a great school at the moment.
I agree with Viv that Moriah College is worth a look. Their teacher pupil ratio is apparently very high. I remember reading that they aim for 1:10.
I do not have a lot of information about the Wellington schools. We have written to some schools in Wellington asking what they do for gifted children. We have not had responses yet. The only primary school that I know of that caters for gifted children is Thomas Kennedy Junior Academy at Raumati South and the new One Day School in Porirua. If you like I can email some of our Wellington members and gauge a response through them.
Queen Margaret College and Chilton St James, and I believe Samuel Marsden do strive to cater for gifted children but these are all private schools.
New Zealand Asssociation for Gifted Children-Kapiti Branch
I too am looking at schools in Wellington/Hutt Valley as my son's school is not working out well. My wonderful psychologist has reluctantly recommended looking elsewhere. The school we are currently at said great things at the beginning of the year, including that they would have a gifted programme, but this has not happened. They have not followed through on an IEP and the teacher has said she has other gifted children in her class - which is not true - and therefore does not need to give my son any special attention. In fact they seem irritated by his presence (he is 5!). The school is small which seems to accentuate his "differences" so I'm not convinced small is good.
I will be going through asking various schools their programmes for gifted children too and will keep you informed. The only problem can be zoning issues if you find a suitable school, especially if you are looking at central Wellington.
I will certainly ask them about this. I think anything that gets him away from them will have their full support (sorry - just feeling a bit fragile about their attitude lately). I am surprised no-one has mentioned this to me before. My son's behaviour has not been easy this year and I wonder if this is because he is frustrated. The school seems to knock back any suggestions because of his behaviour, but perhaps his behaviour is because they aren't trying to meet his needs??
Alison said "My son's behaviour has not been easy this year and I wonder if this is because he is frustrated. The school seems to knock back any suggestions because of his behaviour, but perhaps his behaviour is because they aren't trying to meet his needs?"
ALison, it took me a long while to realise this was the problem with my son. His major explosive outbursts were at home, but he was uncooperative at school, antisocial, had no friends, and often refused to participate in class activities. He had major temper tantrums and once had a fit of anger and tried to climb out of the car while I was driving on the motorway! I had him assessed by SEs because of his 'behavioural problems'. I dont know what test they used - I was extremely naive - and they didnt identify any difficulties. He was functioning at a superior level -whatever that means. But all the school focussed on was his behaviour and his sloppy writing and poor written output. They never bothered to talk to him or listen to his explanations of his drawings or maths or whatever.
Then we went to the US and W got into a gifted class in a local school. He was between 6 and 18 mths younger than the rest of the class. All his 'behavioural problems' disappeared overnight. He was 9. The class studied Latin, music, US history, science, astronomy etc and he loved it. It was only then that we realised what his problem was. Acceleration by 3 years at high school worked for about 2 years but has recently fallen apart.
I still don't really understand what it is about my son that makes him sooooo intolerant of boredom. But it isnt just boredom he is intolerant of. He gets really upset when teachers make mistakes. He gets upset when the class is noisy or when classmates don't want to learn. He gets upset and frustrated and angry if the work moves too slowly. He gets frustrated if teachers try and bullshit and pretend they know things. He gets upset if things are not explained properly. He gets upset if given snippets of info to rote learn. And I dont know why he gets so bothered by all these things. He is now 13 and he still can't articulate all his frustrations and upsets to me. Unfortunately my nephew in Wgtn is showing identical symptoms at school. He is 6.
My son is now homeschooled, having been chucked out of school, and a lot of his belligerence, anger and frustration has gone (with a minor exception last night!!). Since he left school 8.5 weeks ago we have worked him quite hard and expected a lot of him. He has thrived. His last 6th form exam (physics) is right now and I will then breathe an enormous sigh of relief and start planning next year.
1. Keep my son at the school and be more pro-active (although we have been pretty pro-active so far and it hasn't made much difference)
2. Move schools - there is a school nearby which seems to employ 2 part-time teachers for LDs and special abilities. I will investigate as at least I now have the 'proof' that my son is gifted.
3. Home school. This is a problem in that I work full-time (normally) but will have a new baby (hopefully this coming week.....). The impact will be cost and time - perhaps not the best for the coming year.
At least I have found out who his teacher will be for the next year if I keep him at the school - and I am a little concerned by this. My husband was taught by the same teacher 30 years ago!!
I have also heard a story about another bright little boy at the school whose parents are convinced he is naughty. He is not - my view is that he is a "live-wire" who is not being given a chance by the school. It concerns me that these boys are being given up on when they obviously are bright and capable, but their behaviour does not fit in with the norm. These five year olds are being put at the back of the class and ignored (although my son refuses to be ignored!!). I thought schools had moved away from this attitude.
From our experience, Churton Park School would be fine for 99% of the population, that is if you had a child who fitted nicely in the middle or lower end of the bell-curve - ie not gifted kids.
As at 2004 the principal and the staff my child had encountered hadn't the faintest idea about giftedness - eg.identification, for starters they are into PERFORMANCE & curriculum differentiation is not a part of the daily curriculum within the classroom.
If your child is a traditional performer in academic areas he would be fine. If you have a sensitive, perfectionistic gifted child I'd steer clear!
We moved our child to a nearby school, Johnsonville, which has a good program and staff are well informed. I know of a couple of other people who have moved their children for similar reasons.
Has anyone had experience with Wa Ora Montessori School in Naenae? (Or other Montessori schools in Wellington?) We went along to have a look the other day and are still unsure about what would be best for our 3 1/2 year-old boy. Wellesley College in Days Bay sounds very impressive academically for primary school-age boys with emphasis on thinking skills etc but don't know about their policies on giftedness...
Would Montessori be good for a gifted (we think!) pre-schooler? Mika already loves getting deeply into a subject (eg Titanic, Vikings, anything to do with animals, space...) He knows all his letters but isn't interested in sounding out words.
He's just started at the local kindy but I don't think that's going to be the best option for him.
We had the same problem at Churton Park School. Our dd (aged 6) went from a vivacious, enthusiastic, confident person to a tearful, reticent learner, with a battered self-esteem and who avoided attendance at school.
She has now transferred to Samuel Mardsen Collegiate where giftedness is acknowledged and appropriate learning experiences are provided. Teachers actively support student strengths and interests and find opportunities to promote positive social and emotional development. She is lucky enough to be in a class with several other girls of similarly high ability which has assisted the turn around back to our delightfully "over- excitable" creative, confident and very happy girl.
I'd recommend Marsden as a great school for Wellington's gifted girls.
My daughter started at Wa ora, but it didn't really suit her creative learning.
We shifted her to Pinehaven Playcentre and then to Pinehaven School, which is doing very well with gifted kids and is still going strong, having survived the network review. They do neat things like running a gifted writing program, which draws kids from year one through to year 6. They also allow kids to shift between year levels for their strong subjects. This is facilitated by core subjects being taught in all years at the same time of day.
Hi Terry I am really interested in what you had to say to say about how Pinehaven school have structured their day becuase I thought about that a few days ago - as a thing that schools could do - which is certainly getting closer to being able to cater for children's individual needs. Great to hear one school is actually doing it - wonder if there are any more schools around the country doing that. E.
Hi Terry, thanks for that. I'd love to hear more about your experiences at Montessori. Some things about it would suit our son well (the calm, orderly atmosphere, respect for each child...) but other aspects I'm not so sure about (opportunities for imaginative play...) Did your daughter get bored? I know they say each child can choose what they want to do and decide what they're ready for, but does that get them to their full potential? Why didn't it work for your daughter? Pinehaven sounds really good - what age did she start there?
M has been to 3 sessions of Kindy so far (with me right by his side). We came home today and he said, "I don't like Kindy". I don't either - we were both bored today! (What turned me off was Mat Time - especially seeing books snatched off children who were in the middle of "reading" them. As for the "Music" session...!)
Maybe we will go back to Playcentre... (which M enjoyed before we moved).
Hi I have a 5.8 boy who has just been througth the assessment process (spured on mostly by his behaviour at school) but thats something I might start another thread to talk about cos I definitely need some advice!! (I have just been reading a lot of the posts on this sight and am blown away by the similarities my boy has with sooo many of your kids! Whats got me actualy writing is that I would like to say how amazing my experience with the montessori philosophy has been. We live in ChCh and after scouring the city and visiting/trying out sooo many preschool options that just didn't have that 'spark' that x factor I was looking for. I found the most amazing exciting nurturing stimulating environment at a montessori preschool ( Casa De Bambini Foundation School) The teachers there are exceptional, its not a job for them, its a calling! I know that sounds rediculously cheesy but its true. Everyday my children would discover something new & fascinating.. an egg in a jar of water..showing how our brains are protected in our heads!! I could go on and on!! Anyway our montessori experience was great especialy for my boy and we all cried in April this year when he turned 5! I know though, that not all montessoris are the same. I notice that when $ making is a factor lots of preschools (whatever the style) seem to turn into a farm. Anyway its worth a look for your wee guy! :)
I must say that we were at Wa Ora some years back with a teacher who took a very purist approach. I don't think she is there anymore. My daughter did start out enjoying it, but when she tried to use the equipment creatively (eg Pink tower upside down) she was not allowed to use it. She was supposed to try and do it properly or not at all. She spent a lot of her time using a puzzle doll to play fantasy games and enjoyed pouring, but wasn't really moving onto other equipment because she wanted to use it in ways that it wasn't intended. She also refused to do sandpaper letters so couldn't move onto writing although she had been writing far ages at home. She did like the quieter atmosphere at Montessori, but lost her confidence and became very withdrawn. She regained her confidence at Playcentre where exploring the world in her own way was no longer being naughty. She spent 6 months at Playcentre before starting school at 5.
Pinehaven is a state school so kids have to be 5 years old to start. I now have 2 children there. The School haven't always been onto the gifted issues (apart from one or two teachers), but have made unbelievable progress in the last 3 years. A change of Principal and some serious professional development throughout the staff has made a huge impact on the programs.
The idea of coordinating the timetable across classes, is not unique. A famous example is Naumea Primary in Australia that is making unbelievable differences to education of children in one of the most deprived areas. They have gone a step further of doing away with age based class grouping. All class placements are made on the basis of social and learning needs. Children are able to move between classes for different subjects if their strengths are not even in all areas.
I'm still looking! ANY advice about schools in Wellington or the Hutt Valley would be gratefully appreciated. Our child psychologist has recommended that my son does NOT go back to his previous school as it has damaged him.
I'm going to need a rather special school/teacher to handle this one!
Well the DS is enrolled for next year at Wa Ora. Hopefully it will work out! He too enjoys "fantasy games", but also loves to sit and focus on something so who knows...(I did ask about creative use of the materials and was told it would only be discouraged if it looked like the equipment would be damaged or cause injuries - hope this is true).
Good luck Alison, I hope you find a school that works for your little man. We are in Petone if you want to meet up (our boy is 3 1/2 - maybe your boy prefers being with older kids, but anyway...)
Well after lots of questioning we have decided to send our nearly 5 year old to Island bay school. Tey have had experience with GT kids in the past, have encouraged these kids to sit Australasian exams, have an aide that takes extension maths from new entrants, have set time when the junior school do reading, maths etc so GT kids can work at a higher level, and have experience with 1 child already at George Parkyn one day school. Hopefully it isn't too good to be true!!
We looked into Montessori for school but was told he had to go to preschool first, and we didn't want to move him from Playcentre where all his needs were being met and he has been extended amazingly, not to mention the cost of preschools! We we told by an ED-Psych that no matter what school he went to he would need extension so decided to put our money into other activities, like Ballet lessons (he loves it), a Spanish tutor and T-Ball (great for team skills).
His Spanish tutor played chess with him for the first time today, her rules are to say the words in Spanish. He loved it and luckily IB school has a chess club that runs during lunch times, I'm sure he'll really get into it.
Good luck to anyone else looking at schools in the Wgtn area.
Alison, have you been to see the Steiner School in Tirohange? And although Wa-Ora (in Naenae) didn't work out for us at preschool level, I have several friends who's children now go to the primary school and rave about it. All classes are mixed ages. Usually 6-8 year olds and the 9-11 year olds. It is definitely worth a look at and only about a 20 minute drive from the Western Hills and Lower Hutt. I think they run an after school program as well for working parents. There is also a Montessori College in town that is apparently great for the older gifted children if the philisophy suits them.
The other advantage is that if it does work out, it may suit your younger child when they get to the preschool age. It does no harm to have a look.
I sympathise with other parents looking for a school that in some way fulfills the needs of their gifted children. After much searching we have enrolled our 11 year old daughter at Rudolf Steiner starting 2005 and so hope she will be happier, that she will meet children she can be herself with and her true abilities will be recognised and developed. I hope it's not too much to ask for but of all the schools this is the one she chose after just reading about it and she has an uncanny ability of knowing what is best for her. We go with that wish and think their approach will suit her.
Playcentre was ideal for our daughter in several ways. To name a few, she was able to focus on one task of her choice through to completion (for hours, days or weeks - as long as it took), her creativity was absolutely encouraged, questions where answered, she was allowed to withdraw when she wanted and I was fully involved. School was an immense contrast and we have watched our bouncy, happy girl go through a lot of grief. She has been determined to finish her primary years at the same school but it is a great relief to look towards change.
Such big decisions we all face as parents but it seems even more so when our children don't seem to fit. It feels like a big responsibility and yet we can only do what we can with the resources available to us and hope.
I would be interested in hearing how things work out at Island Bay School as my boys go to St Francis de Sales (just down the road). Last year was certainly challenging for us but the principal is keen to get a program set up for g&t kids. Our oldest son also goes to the One Day School in Porirua which is great. We have considered moving to Ridgeway School as they have an extension program for gifted kids and go up to year 8. As our son will be in year 6 this year, our big decision is whether to keep him where he is (as it goes to yr 8) or to send him to an Intermediate school in the hope that he will make some friends and have his educational needs met.
In response to your question regarding Montessori, my son has been at Montessori in Otaki for the past year and a half and they catered very well to his giftedness in terms of extending him as much as possible and not expecting him to conform to 'age appropriate' activities, however there is only so much they can do since they still have to cater for all the other children in his class. He has just started with TKJA in Raumati which he just loves, even though at 4 years 4 months he is very young to be going to school we couldn't keep him in preschool any longer as he was starting to act out because he was bored.
M has been at Montessori for a week so far. It's hard to tell how he will go at this stage. Some of the activities he has been enjoying, but I know how much more he could do... I haven't said anything at this stage to the teacher about him being "advanced" (we haven't had him tested yet) - I guess I'm hoping that she will work out where he is at without me having to say anything. I did mention the other day that he was interested in the maths beads, and was disappointed to hear they're just for the 5-year-olds. He enjoyed the little boxes of animals, but just naming them was way too basic. I know I should probably say something about the things he can do, but I do hold out hope that Montessori can provide the "right" learning environment for each child, including mine... and the idea that the child will self-direct his learning in that setting.
Maybe I should wait till he's settled in? He said today that he didn't know what to do today, which is very unusual for him, but he is still getting used to things. I hate the thought of him "losing confidence"... I think I just need to give it more time, don't I?
Our three children all went to a wonderful Montessori pre-school in Johnsonville and then the two eldest went to a Montessori primary classroom in Wilton for a couple of years and later to the Montessori primary school in Masterton. Pre-school was a fabulous experience for all of them and they derived huge benefit from it. However our primary experiences were not so good for my son and we ended up in the state system. It turns out that he is a visual-spatial learner and I am having him assessed (tomorrow actually) to determine exact areas of strength and need. He is now 12 and knowing what I now know I realise that many of the Montessori activities focus on sequence and auditory-sequential activities seem to be precisely his weakness. Thus while he loved things like the Roman Arch (building) he was not keen on anything that required him to work through a process and do step by step stuff - sandpaper letters - yuck! not interested, nor did he want to repeat and repeat activities, something else which can be a part of some activities if the child wants it. My eldest daughter who is largely an auditory-sequential learner loved it and used to recite her phonograms to herself at home. She read at 3 1/2 because she was offered the opportunity by her pre-school. It would not have happened at kindergarten. The woman who ran the pre-school my children went to is a gifted teacher herself and very open to adapting learning from all sorts of areas to fit the needs of the children. It was at pre-school that my son was allowed the space to build himself a whole suit of armour out of paper and staples despite the fact that he wasn't terribly interested in using the red rods for working out the decimal system - he'd have preferred to build something 3 D with them.
As some people have said there is a huge range of Montessori education available. I have found that the most important thing is not having "purist" or "traditional" Montessori teachers who will stick rigidly to the method, but having teachers who are well educated, have up to date professional development and who understand at a deep, deep level that Montessori's essential philosophy was about "follow the child". For some children that isn't about sequential learning. I have struggled for so many years to help my child fit into a sequential style of schooling and it is only in the last few weeks of investigating visual-spatial giftedness and finding out what exactly makes his brain tick, that I have seen a turnaround from what was an increasing spiral of low self-esteem, depression, anger and frustration once he hit primary school. Education should be adaptive to a child's needs, not the other way around. I am now a trained teacher and I think I can see benefits in all kinds of different ways of teaching and learning. My training reinforced for me that the needs of the learner are paramount and the starting point for any teaching that occurs. Unfortunately I don't often see teachers who do this. It's often more about fitting the children into a learning plan which is pre-determined. I know that professional development for schools and teachers is trying to overcome this but it's sometimes an uphill battle.
If anyone is thinking about Montessori for their child I'd recommend that you thoroughly investigate it (as you would any school) and request to spend lots of time observing their classrooms in action. So long as you are respectful and realise that observation means just that - sitting quietly and as unobtrusively as possible so that you don't disturb the children's work space (because it is THEIR space) there shouldn't be a problem.
Starting at Steiner has had it's challenges but changing to any new school would be difficult for my daughter. It has been rather like moving in with an established family where the ways are similar but the unwritten rules, codes of behaviour and some of the language is different. She is trying her best to fit in. It saddens me to hear her still say with a sigh "I just think differently from other girls Mum" but she is fairly resolved to this by now and hopefully this will ease as she gets older. There are things we are uncertain about and will watch, such as making sure she is extended enough. Yet, there has been no bullying as far as I know - a big relief. Everyone has been friendly and welcoming. She loves the strong emphasis on art and crafts (making things), the physical environment and the caring philosophy. I see her starting to get a sense of belonging or at least wanting to. We have a spark of hope.
Much luck your way
Have just got onto this website and your letter caught my eye. It is quite a few years ago so hope you are still on this email address.
We have a boy who will be 4 in July and we believe him to be gifted. He is an only child and goes to afternoon Kindy in Waikanae at present but they are just allowed to do what they want without any structure etc. He enjoys this but is always very happy not to have to go.
At what age did you approach TKJA and is it too soon for us to contact them. Do they assess your child to see if he is gifted?