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GATE Academy was formerly know as Dunham Academy.
Re: Which private elementary for highly gifted child?
I would encourage you to consider GATE Academy in San Rafael (formerly Dunham Academy),www.gateacademy.org. It's a very small school for highly gifted kids (about 35 students in K-8), and they follow best practices in gifted education. My kids started there this past fall after spending their first few years at a private school in Berkeley, and we've been really impressed and happy with GATE. Being in a school designed to meet the needs of gifted kids is very different than trying to adapt a traditional education for a gifted student, especially if you have a kid who is several grade levels advanced in one or more subjects. The classes at GATE are mixed-age and limited to ten students, and most of the work is self-paced. When my second grader started, his teacher did a number of assessments in math and figured out what level was appropriate for him, as well as what gaps in his knowledge he would need to fill in order to work at that level (topics that he hadn't been taught yet in his old school). She then created a workbook for him that had the exact materials he needed, instead of just giving him a second grade book and ''challenge sheets.'' My fourth grader, who had gotten used to working alone on a computer for math while the teacher taught the rest of his class, now collaborates with older students on math challenges.
In addition to allowing each student to proceed in traditional subjects at his or her own pace, GATE also provides specialized gifted instruction. The school runs year-round and is organized into six ''inquiry'' periods. In each inquiry, the entire school studies a topic in depth. Right now they are learning about physics, chemistry and energy; in the November-December inquiry, they studied the rise of civilization. During each inquiry, each child selects a particular area of interest to research and then prepares a final project and presents it to the whole school. The students not only learn a ton about a topic of their choosing, but they really learn how to learn -- how to gather, organize, and present information to a group, six times a year, starting in kindergarten. Both of my kids love this part of the program.
Finally, the teachers at GATE really *get* highly gifted kids and the challenges that they often face -- perfectionism, sensitivity, etc. The school has mindfulness and ethics classes, as well as daily P.E., and it provides a very safe and supportive environment where it's ok to be different. And even though everyone is working at a high level, we've found it to be very non-competitive; the kids love learning for its own sake.
I know San Rafael sounds far from the other schools you're considering, but we've been commuting from Oakland, and it really hasn't been bad (about 30-40 minutes). There are several other families that come from the East Bay, and others that come from the city. It's also been entirely worth the drive to find a place where my kids can truly be themselves and can learn without limits. Happy GATE Academy mom
Re: Elementary Schools for ''gifted'' children
If you're not sure about whether your daughter is ''gifted'', the first step is to have her assessed. This can be done by a wide range of professionals. You might consider contacting Dunham Academy (www.dunhamacademy.com) and talking to the folks there about the process they recommend. In case you're not aware, Dunham is an amazing school just FOR gifted kids. Even better, the people there are incredibly warm and helpful, and they can help make sure you're on the right track to take care of your daughter's special needs. mom of another gifted kid
I found that school, Dunham Academy, for my two gifted sons ages 9 and 12 after years of trying to work with the public school system in Orinda and after looking at nine other schools. Dunham Academy is a small private K-8 school for gifted children located in San Rafael. The co-founder Jennifer Dunham has a Master's Degree in Gifted Education from Johns Hopkins University, one of only two such masters programs in the US.
Dunham Academy offers individual attention as well as a secure, fun, social and stimulating environment. They have a self-paced math program that allows study up to high school level and beyond. Their exceptional science education is showcased at the yearly science fair. Dunham has an advanced language arts program plus all students study French or Spanish. Art, music and physical education are integrated daily into the curriculum.
Applications for admission are accepted year round and students can start anytime of the year. Sheila
I was wondering if anyone has experience or knows others with kids at Dunham Academy, a private school for gifted children in San Rafael. I am starting to look at kindergarten options for my son. Any information is appreciated. Thanks!
The school is not for everyone, nor do not accept everyone. The school's directors deeply understand the unique needs of gifted children, and are very compassionate to those special needs. The school was founded in order to meet the oft-neglected needs of intellectually gifted kids. They do marvelous job of keeping the children challenged, and disciplined, within a creative and supportive environment. Children are encouraged to go as far as they want to in any subject, and study in multi- age settings. The program is highly individualized.
There is no homework! The school feels that since the kids do meaningful hard work at school all day, the kids need down time to explore the world on their own, and just have fun. They also discourage the perfectionistic tendencies that often go hand-in-hand with being gifted.
Outside enrichment instructors handle foreign language and poetry. The poetry instructor is truly outstanding; there is no condescension, at all, to the children - poems are reviewed anonymously and honestly.
The school is a year round school, that has 6-week "programs of inquiry" centered on a specific subject (e.g. History of the Arts), and then the school closes for one week off. Writing, Math, Vocabulary, are taught every day. Weekly report cards are issued for all children; and each child has their own computer (in middle school).
The school has recently moved to a new, outstanding location, at St. Vincent's in northern San Rafael. The 150-year-old mission provides an extremely scenic environment in which to study. Dunham Academy is the only school in three counties' that addresses the needs of gifted children. The school draws children from the East Bay, San Francisco and Marin. Nueva School in Hillsborough on the Peninsula is the next closest school for gifted.
Dunham has an intimacy that can only be found in a small setting. Which has pluses and minuses - highly personalized attention, but lack of resources for things that would help the school be more organized, etc. That should change with the new location, which is able to accommodate more children, and thus more revenues. (Ironically, the school does a great job of teaching organizational skills and personal responsibility to the children). -Anon
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