Private School with Individualized Instruction for Advanced Student

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Jan 2007

I don't mean this query to renew debate about public vs. private schools, I recognize the pro's and con's of both. My question has to do with private schools and which ones you all find particularly good at handling gifted kids, especially for upper elementary and middle school. I'm curious to hear about schools that look at each child's level and work with them individually to help them advance further in a meaningful way, rather than the ''fast finisher'' work my child is currently getting. Do any of them do that or is the only option schools that have a strong academic focus, like Bentley? Didn't think I'd ever consider Private School

The Academy in Berkeley has a fair number of academically gifted children. They teach to the child and, because of the small class size, can work with each child's level of skill. Your child would be hard pressed to be academically bored. The program includes Latin and French so an older child coming from a less rigorous program would have to work to catch up. Our child has attended for two years and we have been quite happy. She's not one of the astoundingly advanced kids but she is working well above grade level and, best of all, she's having a lot of fun. The parents and kids are a warm and welcoming community as well. Best of luck in your search. - Academy Parent

My daughter attends an Oakland Public School, and no it is not one of the top 5 test score wise. My daughter is in first grade and is reading at the second grade level, writing at third grade level, speaks three languages and has a solid grasp of the globe as well as political discourse (at about the 3rd or 4th grade level).

In her Kindergarten year, her teacher differentiated two levels below par and two levels above par. There were children who were 4 years 10 months old in September as well as children over 6 years 6 months. My daughter did have to do some math worksheets below her level, they were given once per week and took her an average of 7 minutes to do - that's 7 minutes per week. Small price to pay. She was given an opportunity to paint in the style of Georgia O'Keefe and learn about New Mexico and Arizona in the process. She painted in the styles of Monet and Van Gogh and learned where Europe was on the globe, the Euro, surrounding oceans and cultural differences from the United States.

I honestly thought it was a fluke. Then came the first grade teacher. She differentiates one level down from par and two levels up from par. They're learning social studies through breads from countries around the world, from that they are studying the geography, political climate, education system, culture, flag, population, etc. The teacher uses Open Court as required and some of the kids need it. Others don't.

The majority of my daughter's preschool friends go to private schools - these are the schools that I know a child attending: Redwood Day School, St. Pauls, Archway and Aroura. Each of these schools teaches a particular curriculum and students have a lot of free time to work on other projects once their required work is done, however, the curriculum is differentiated only one level up and no levels down. If students need additional one on one help, they get it, but the assignments, classroom work and ability levels are not 4 or 5 levels but a maximum of 2 or 3. Please ask at the individual schools. Please reconsider public education, I think you will be VERY surprised by what you find. Oakland Public School Mom

Our academically gifted child has thrived at Aurora School . Aurora designs the curriculum to challenge kids of different abilities. Check it out. Aurora parent

I do not know of a private school in the Berkeley area which is willing to set up an individualized curriculum for an exceptionally bright child. (Hopefully, someone can post one that does!) Most, even the ''academic'' schools like Bentley, have a set curriculum, and they don't like children who don't fit that curriculum, whether too fast or too slow. I have talked with many parents about it, and the consensus seems to be that public schools tend to be more flexible on curriculum, and are more willing to do grade skips if necessary. I know of several parents of highly intelligent children, one who left Prospect Sierra and two who left Black Pine Circle, due to both schools' refusal to accelerate their math curriculum. (I also have heard of, although I don't know her personally, a young girl who left Bentley because it was too slow for her.) My impression is that these schools are excellent if your child is somewhere in the middle of the range and can fit in with the pace of the school. If your child has a wild talent in math, or is really struggling, you may very well do better in public school. looking for flexibility

My child is at the Academy and seems to be getting quite individualized instruction: His teacher is fantastically warm, attentive and encouraging. It appears to me that all the kids are working at different levels but getting the same wonderful treatment. He is in the kindergarten. We wanted him in a private school because he tended to avoid things that weren't easy for him when he was in preschool. I do not know if the math would be at a high enough level for your child (I think that's the issue, I didn't see the original posting) but he's getting challenged and encouraged and is thriving, excelling even in some things where we had no idea he would catch fire. anon