Frequently Asked Questions:
Q: What is your allergy policy?
A: As parents of children with extensive, rare food allergies, we plan to work with FARE and Rush Pediatric Allergy and Immunology to develop a comprehensive, inclusive, proactive food allergy plan. Our number one priority is safety.
Q: Why no homework? My child likes homework and worksheets. I like it because it allows me to see what they are learning.
A: We use the 7+ hours wisely while students are with us and we make sure the student has a chance to work hard and apply themselves, there is no need for more work after school. There will be work completed in school, with feedback from teacher that has been reviewed with the student, coming home weekly, and lots of different ways in which you will have full visibility of the learning that is happening. For many families, homework is a struggle, and a source of conflict. Some children and parents like homework and look forward to that time to connect. We can help you find other ways in which you can support your student and find other ways to connect that could be more enriching and meaningful. We want our students to pursue their passions, to play, to interact with friends and family, and to have time to relax after school so they can be ready to do it all again the next day. If this is a concern, you can reach out to us and we can discuss options. We want the parents to have as much control as possible because they know their child the best.
Q: Why do you admit siblings if they are not gifted?
A: The first thing to keep in mind is that not all gifted students are academically gifted across all subjects, nor do they all learn at the same speed in all subjects. Plenty of gifted students of the same age will be at different grade levels. Therefore, we group not by age, but by ability. Therefore, a student will be matched academically to be with students that best fit their attained achievement and learning speed, not just their IQ. Our teaches are skilled in differentiation and there is a great amount of individualization in our school.
Our sibling admission policy has been applauded by every gifted mental health professional and teacher we have spoken with. We admit siblings because we want the gifted learner and their family to feel accepted in a single community. When families are spending time in the car delivering children to multiple schools, with multiple conflicting school-wide events, then they lose quality time as a family and we lose their participation in our community. Our goal is to provide, long term, a place where a family with gifted learners can send all of their students for their entire primary education because this doesn't exist today. To that end, we will eventually add early education options, and will build out our Middle and High School into regular options.
Sibling IQ in gifted families has been studied and the current evidence is that biological siblings within a family are usually within 5% of IQ of each other. It should also be noted that at 130 IQ our entrance criteria are higher by 5 IQ points than many other gifted schools and many CPS SEES. Many gifted children do not test well or do not cooperate with the testing, especially in the early years.
When it comes to siblings, we will look, as is in the case of all applicants, at all the various areas of their development and at what they will bring to our community as individuals and at how well we can meet their needs as a school, and many other admissions criteria besides just giftedness.
Q: I thought all kids evened out by 3rd grade?
A: Absolutely, if a gifted child is not taught past what they can pick up by themselves, the other kids might catch up. Unless a child is extremely lucky and was matched with a teacher that is willing to go beyond what is required for each child by their school and not entirely focused on remediation for the bottom of the class, the other kids might catch up. Many teachers say oh, that kid already knows the material, I don’t have to worry about them. Our average students are 3 or more years ahead of age peers in all subjects. Absolutely, if they are not taught any longer, differentiated to and presented with novel material, the other kids might eventually catch up to the gifted. Just not on our watch. We meet each child where they are and allow them the joy of learning in a nurturing, safe, creative environment. Not pushed. Just given opportunity and teaching relevant for them.
Q: Our family situation results in frequent prolonged non-medical absences from school. What is your policy?
A: Our policy for unexcused per the State of Illinois absences, are that if this will be the family situation, we simply consider you as a homeschool customer of the school for record keeping instead of a full-time student, because of state law.
Q: What tests will the students take and will mine have to participate? How will the tests be used?
A: There are certain tests that are tied to state regulations that we will opt out of as much as possible as a school. If we find any that are required, there is a loophole. If you do not want testing for your child for whatever reason, you can opt out. If you opt out of certain tests, you will be considered a homeschool customer of the school instead of a student, and we show that relationship in our records - that will be the only difference for your child.
There are other types of assessments that we may give, that are optional for full time students, and if testing is a tough area for your student, we can discuss them and have you opt out. We don't offer opt-out forms in our enrollment package because it will be for a minority of students. Our tests may include benchmark testing to help us determine the ballpark for where to start the detailed assessment to inform future instruction. We will also assess to measure overall attainment or progress. There are pre and post instruction assessments: some of these may be sitting with a teacher and showing the teacher how they would solve a problem, or working on a group or individual project or even be a game where the student doesn't know the teacher is checking their understanding. Not all of this is worksheet based. An example of what happens after a post-assessment would be that the students may be given the answers and asked to check their work against the answers, and invited to figure out what caused the mismatch and to ask for help if needed. The student won't see a grade on the assessment. The student might meet with the teacher to discuss any challenges encountered and strategies that may help next time just as they would for any project. Our student feedback is strength-based. We want to help the students learn about what they do well and about their strengths.