Gifted Education in Westchester County NY
In Westchester County New York, when it comes to educating our brightest children from preschool through prepping them for college, there are very few choices… and not all good. First, New York State does not mandate gifted and talented programs for local school districts. A good summary of the poor state of gifted eduction in Westchester County can be found on the National Association for Gifted Children’s website at: NY State Policies Regarding Gifted Education. While not required by state law, some school districts have created some gifted “programs” that attempt to augment regular school teaching. However, at best they offer exceptions to ordinary standards. Bottom line, there is no law in New York requiring the creation of schools for gifted children.
Gifted Children Learn Differently
Children with a high cognitive ability learn differently than the rest. They don’t need (and are bored by) repetition. They often get a concept “the first time.” They are not only advanced, they can continue to learn at an accelerated rate. If not properly challenged, gifted children often become discouraged and disengaged over school. Negative and dysfunctional behaviors often emerge. This is why leaving them in a regular school program usually does not work well. To this point; however, there are not many choices for parents of extremely bright children. Below are some of the choices from which the parents in Westchester County have to choose.
Augmentation Programs and Home Schooling
The failure of most New York school systems is why most parents of gifted children have resorted to after-school, weekend, and summer programs to compensate for what they are not being provided in school. Others, in total frustration, have resorted to home schooling to counteract the inadequate teaching of their profoundly bright child. While home schooling gifted children can provide the student individualized education, most parents are not ready to become multi-subject teaching experts nor have the time do to so.
Ability Based Schools in Westchester County
One alternative for parents of gifted children is to send them to a school which offers an individualized education plan or an ability based school. These schools offer students of all abilities the opportunity for self-paced curriculum. The problem with these schools is that they are still a mixed ability environment and not optimum for teaching profoundly bright children. While the curriculum may be self-paced, it may not be specifically developed for gifted learners. Gifted children may be a minority in these “ability schools” and taught along with regular or even Special Ed kids (each taught at their own ability and pace).
Gifted Schools for Children in Westchester County
Unfortunately, there are no schools in Westchester County that are exclusively for gifted children. However, in nearby Westwood, New Jersey, there is Primoris Academy which was founded in 2012 as a non-profit school solely for educating very bright children. Getting to Primoris Academy from Westchester is easy with a “reverse commute” across the Tapanzee Bridge. Northern Westchester can take the Bear Mountain Bridge and take the PIP down to New Jersey. Everyone who attends Primoris Academy is naturally smart and must go through an admissions process which screens out “high performers” (smarter than average kids that have been pushed to achieve higher grades, but are not naturally gifted).
Optimum Learning Environment for Gifted Learners
Primoris Academy is the only school in the Westchester County area that creates an optimum environment for gifted learners. Starting at age four, students are placed into classes based upon their ability, not their age. But more importantly, everyone at the school is just like them – naturally smart. There is no need to feel different and labeled as “that smart kid” or be bullied over their grades. The students at Primoris Academy feel comfortable with their giftedness because everyone else in the school is very smart too, even if in different ways.
The Best Education Choice for Parents of Gifted Children
Until other elementary schools in Westchester County area open up expressly for gifted and talented children or State legislatures mandate adequate standards for our State’s brightest children, Primoris Academy in nearby Westwood, NJ is the only choice for parents of gifted children to ensure the best possible education. To learn more, visit: http://PrimorisAcademy.org/about-us