Gifted School Chicago

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Science & Arts Academy 1825 Miner Street Des Plaines, Illinois 60016 (847) 827-7880 http://www.scienceandartsacademy.org Science & Arts Academy is an independent, non-denominational, co-educational, not-for-profit day school for gifted students in Junior Kindergarten through eighth grade.

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4 Ways Your Gifted Learner Can Benefit From Studying TheArts It’s important that well-rounded educational programs are provided for gifted students so that they don’t dwell on one or two subject areas especially when the choice is theirs. This is the primary reason why gifted learner programs in Chicago include acceleration and enrichment programs in their curriculum. These programs focus on teaching their students the elements and key aspects of the creative arts during the regular school year and during summer courses. Since these gifted learning classes were designed and developed to spark a child’s creativity they offer a number of benefits for the gifted learner that in turn will enhance an already rigorous academic curriculum. Therefore they are able to expand on what is learned in the more traditional programs. The following are the 4 ways that your gifted learner can benefit from introducing them to the creative arts: Creative arts courses promote relaxation and relieve stress – gifted learners have a greater chance of going into stress overload in addition to feeling socially isolated. This can quickly lead to symptoms of anxiety disorders and depression. Scattering some creative arts classes throughout their daily routine allows them to take a break between their more rigorous courses. It enables them to uncover hidden talents – the truth of the matter is that children cannot fully discover their talents if they are never asked to explore and use them. Students in gifted learner programs in Chicago learn new skills very quick. So they may reveal a talent for performing a difficult dance routine or playing an instrument in the symphony. The discovery of new talents also enhances their self-confidence. This is especially true in children who doubt their abilities are set their standards too high. Provides safe environments where students can master their social skills – since gifted learner students in Chicago stand out in the traditional classroom they are at a much greater risk of struggling in social arenas. In some cases they are focused so rigidly on their academic studies that they neglect or overlook social opportunities such as starting up a conversation with one or more of their friends. Since creative arts courses promote group involvement it provides the child with the opportunity engage and interact with their fellow students. Reinforce their learning capabilities and habits in other subjects – it goes without saying that academic learning cannot stimulate the brain in the same way that creative arts courses can. However studies have shown how the neural connections increase the gifted learner’s successes in all subjects. For instance learning rhythm and timing skills by playing a musical instrument or singing in the choir can help to enhance their language and math skills.

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Is the forgoing of Acceleration in Public Education leaving the Gifted Student at a Loss It has long been contended that far too many school districts in the US public education system have foregone acceleration where the gifted student is concerned. Research has clearly shown that higher-ability children benefit from acceleration. Furthermore it helps administrators and teachers address the needs of the gifted student. Basically numerous research studies have revealed that acceleration works. Unfortunately and despite the benefits that these studies have revealed acceleration policies are made on a local basis rather than statewide. So how does this impact the gifted education landscapein Chicago In arecent Jack Kent Cooke Foundation report it was revealed that only 9 states have implemented acceleration policies or have allowed the different state school districts to determine if they want to implement them or not. The Illinois Case Study In a recently published report authored by the Untapped Potential Project in conjunction with the Illinois Association for Gifted Children these groups tried to determine whether Illinois school districts established acceleration policies. These policies would support high academic achievers within gifted education programs in Chicago in the absence of the normal state requirements. Unfortunately the findings of this case study were very disappointing and revealed that large percentages of Illinois school districts lacked those policies that would enable high achieving students to:  Skip a grade level – 90  Enroll in kindergarten early – 56  Enter 1 st grade early – 55  Enroll in classes above their grade level – 46 percent  Graduate early – 41 Needless to say these are some extremely troubling statistics. In fact the following statistics compounded the problem even more:  31 of all students were already proficient or scored higher on the state exam in math  33 of all students were already exceeding or at least meeting all state exam proficiencies for their grade level

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 36 of all students were already proficient or scored higher on the state exam in English language arts The study revealed that states had failed to make provisions for gifted students in their education systems. Additionally it was also discovered that attention and resources were to those students that were classified as average or under-achievers. The result was the dismantling of the enrichment and gifted education programs in Chicago in certain Illinois school districts. With the end of state funding for these Illinois gifted education programs and the passage of the “No Child Left Behind” legislation in 2003 the number of school districts that provide these types of programs dropped drastically from over 80 to a mere 27 last year 2016. Here is the startling reality: 22 states don’t have acceleration policies while 19 states including Illinois only allow these policies to be implemented locally. If you live in one of those states it’s very likely that your child is not getting the education they are deserving of.

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Rationale and Justification of Gifted School Programs The proponents of gifted school programs contend that their students are prepared for the challenges that aren’t offered in the public education system in three different ways namely intellectually motivationally and perceptually. Therefore these gifted school programs in Chicago suburbs find it appropriate to pursue a more aggressive learning pace by encouraging them to enroll in:  advanced placement classes  honors classes or programs  international baccalaureate courses  other educational sources of acceleration and enrichment Further claims by educators indicate that there is still too many gifted students who needs are still being neglected. In these situations schools tend to focus on improving the quality of education for average students. Furthermore one school of thought contends that far too many resources are being diverted to the direct opposite end of the spectrum namely the special education of disabled students. The Marland Report In 1972 S.P. Marland published the “Marland Report” for the US Congress. In these documents it was concluded that gifted children are at risk when they are not provided the resources required to enhance their education. In the report Marland contended that gifted students are oftentimes: “ . . . deprived and can suffer psychological damage and permanent impairment of their abilities to function well which is equal to or greater than the similar deprivation suffered by any other population with special needs served by the Office of Education.” Ironically practitioners and researchers in the field literally said the same thing – over 30 years later.

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Multiple Definitions Unfortunately there is no global definition of “giftedness” nor is there a standardized description of what a gifted student is. Not surprisingly you even see differences on the state and national level here in the US. For instance gifted school programs in Chicago suburbs may have a definition of gifted or giftedness that differs from schools in other Illinois cities or perhaps other states. Definitions are oftentimes based on a selection of students that are skilled or talented in a certain area such as those individuals who exhibits the most skill or talent in language logical reasoning math or music. Consequently if all gifted school programs in Chicago suburbs as well programs throughout the state and nationally defined “gifted” students as only those individuals that are in the top 5 of their class a great deal more than amount would be classified as being gifted. The reality is that gifted and talented students need outside developmental opportunities and instruction if they have any hope of expanding their minds and becoming useful in our society as well as to themselves. Not only is it important to challenge them to become beneficial members of society it’s important to understand that they have very unique minds and require a more specialized form of teaching.

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4 Strategies Gifted Schools use to Motivate an Unmotivated Student Like adults gifted children are motivated to do those things that have a purpose and that interest them. If you suspect that your child lacks motivation ask yourself if this is something you expect them to do on a regular basis. Beyond setting goals for the gifted child at home gifted school programs in Chicago employ 4 strategies to motivate the unmotivated student. These 4 strategies include: Analyzing external motivation – talk to the student about specific elements or factors that motivate them and work with them to ensure that these are put into place. For instance answering the following questions can be extremely helpful:  What obstacles has the student encountered in the classroom  Are these obstacles hindering their engagement and motivation  Does the student actually enjoy learning and working Educators in gifted school programs in Chicago typically start by identifying those specific characteristics and structures that were originally put into place in prior situations where the student was engaged with them. The next step is to try and replicate them. Eliminating internal motivation obstacles – in most cases a student’s motivation is internal in nature. The problem then is to eliminate any internal obstacles that obstruct their motivation. It helps to answer a range of questions including:  Is the obstacle based on a learning problem that is hindering their development  Is there some type of personal obstacle that is keeping them from pursuing new areas of learning e.g. the fear of taking risks or perfectionism  Does a family member have a particular disdain for the area of interest that the child prefers and could this be deterring the child’s motivation towards their interests Establishing zones of proximal development – parents should work with the gifted school teachers in Chicago to ensure that their child is working at a level that has the right challenges and degree of difficulty. If it’s too easy they will get bored and lack any motivation to learn. However that it demotivates them and discourages them from attempting to learn. Providing opportunities for enrichment – it’s important for any gifted school program in Chicago to give the child opportunities to explore those subject areas that interest them. If those are not readily available you can:

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 check out “interest inventories” that are available online  explore “beyond school” and online enrichment programs  gather ideas by reading a broad range of genres and topics  poll family members and friends about their interests and share them Naturally there are other ways that can be employed to motivate an unmotivated gifted student. The choice is usually determined by what is unique to the individual. If you want to know what makes them tick take the time for analyzing introspection and engaging in problem solving with them.

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