By Dr. Lisa White, Licensed Psychologist, Summit Center
Jonah was miserable at his highly-regarded public school. He had a hard time finding friends, and for years he had been bullied, both physically and emotionally, by other boys in his grade. He was twice-exceptional, or 2e, and his school could neither provide support for his ADHD and writing difficulties nor provide him with enough challenge in his strength areas. He felt like everything was either too easy or too hard, and he stopped caring about school or his grades. He played games on his computer during class instead of paying attention to the teacher, and his parents were contacted numerous times to come in for “brainstorming” meetings about how he could learn to stay on task. He became depressed, withdrawn, and lost his sense of humor and spark for life.
Jonah’s parents finally decided to pull him out of this school district, and sent him to a small private school instead. The change in him was miraculous. Within the first week he was excited about going to school, and he felt like there were other boys like him there. Over time he became engaged in his schoolwork, made friends, joined the frisbee team, and matured into a thoughtful, caring, sensitive young man. His parents felt like they got their son back, and they all agreed that changing schools had been one of the best decisions they had ever made.
Jonah’s story is not unique. Within the gifted and 2e community, lots of kids find that the schools they are in just don’t fit right. Sometimes they need more support, more challenge, a different peer group, more engaging activities, smaller classes, or teachers who have more time for them. The schools they are in may be great schools for more typical children, but they don’t work as well for kids who are neurodivergent or don’t fit the usual mold.
Luckily, there are lots of options for schools out there. Charter schools, independent/ private schools, virtual schools, forest schools, homeschooling, schools that follow an unschooling model…most kids and families can find a choice that works better for them.
Kids spend many of their waking hours in school, and a school environment that fits them can boost their mental health, their learning progress, and their social development. For kids who have been having a rough go of it in their current school, switching to a new school can give them a fresh start. Having new teachers, new classmates, and new administrators can go a long way. Sometimes a change of environment can be the key to changing a child’s attitude and feelings about school.
If you’re thinking about whether a change in schools is the right option for your child, or you’re looking for the best fit for kindergarten, Summit Center can help families based in the SF Bay Area. School consultation services can help you to think through school options, decide where to apply, and talk through application strategies. This is the perfect time to begin, as the application season for the 2022-2023 school year has started. To make an appointment, please complete this interest form, email email@example.com or call (925) 939-7500.
Dr. Lisa White is a licensed psychologist who has worked with gifted and twice-exceptional children for over 15 years. She provides strengths-based, comprehensive psychoeducational and neuropsychological evaluations for children and adolescents, as well as school consultation and other services for parents and teachers. Her clinical interests include the social and emotional development of gifted and twice-exceptional children, gifted girls, dating and relationships among 2e people, and children with learning disabilities and ADHD.