Joyfully gifted: Jonathan and Annabella’s Schools

- Jonathan has been accepted to the Davidson Young Scholars Program for Profoundly Gifted Children! We’re so hopeful and relieved that we’ll finally have the support and access to people who understand us and our children.

Because I did research on priming, social influence, and positive psychology, I strongly believe in surrounding yourself with positive energy rather than negative primes. People who think they send their kids to schools that have negative mindsets/attitudes/behaviors/bullies to toughen their children up are likely to end up with priming their kids for negative behaviors, stressful attitudes, and unhealthy long-term habits. It’s not because we’re weak or spoiled, but because it’s important for children this age to learn from good role models and be immersed in positive environments.

For Annabella, she has perfect schools. She seems to have a good sense of what she wants. When we visited many schools, there were some schools that she tried out and we thought were good, but she said she didn’t want to go to those schools. So she actually picked her own schools! Annabella goes to Stanford’s Bing Nursery School 3 days a week, and Young Life Christian Preschool 2 days a week. Bing is kids’ paradise. Annabella has such amazing teachers and friends that we’re grateful for the opportunity to be there. She definitely learns kindness, emotional intelligence, and positive social skills from Bing. Teachers Emma and Saleena are terrific. Annabella is very lucky to learn from a really nice and smart teacher who went to Menlo, Stanford, and Harvard. Also, since her teacher majored in human biology at Stanford, Annabella is very excited that they have a shared interest as she wants to be a doctor and thus has to know a lot about human bodies.

Young Life looks very modest, but when Annabella was there during the visit, she liked it instantly, more than schools with modern facilities. We also felt that the smaller group environment with 8 kids per teacher and the warm teachers were great for her. Ms. Gari, Ms. Dianne, and other teachers are also wonderful.

For Jonathan, we kind of decided that focusing on Jonathan’s emotional and social aspects over IQ at this point is crucial for him to be happy and succeed in the long run. Of course, IQ can decrease, but he has so much that he could lose a dozen points and still is highly intelligent. However, we felt we were losing our loving, joyous boy who approached life with a positive, enthusiastic attitude. The homeroom teacher at the previous Episcopal school crushed his spirit and changed his personality. He turned into an emotion-less boy. I could say a dozen things and give concrete examples to show why the teacher was so damaging to precocious, creative, enthusiastic children and families, but I think if some families in the Episcopal tradition find him a good fit (albeit a few said he was disorganized and kids were crying because they didn’t understand his lessons and hence couldn’t do their homework), then I’d rather not rock the boat. I’ll just say that the teacher was very uptight, while encouraging, both directly and indirectly, our son to be mean, inappropriate, and callous while saying insensitive things to us.

We lost $20K (2/3) of the annual tuition for attending only 2 months. They blatantly refused to prorate the tuition, saying that they never refund.

Anyhow, the good and the bad things are part of life. We accept the bad as a learning process, which we will surpass. Because of this agonizing experience with this Episcopal teacher (some other teachers are very warm and smart), we have come across other wonderful things in life. We have since learned about and been accepted to Davidson; we have learned that Jonathan is not just gifted but profoundly gifted; we have learned that he has big deviation in scores – he topped the ceilings in some categories while his memory and speed are just above average, not exceedingly high like other areas. We have learned about different brain structures of gifted children and how their prefrontal cortex develops much later than typical kids. We have also learned more about block scheduling and have met lovely, genuine people. Most importantly, we found Living Wisdom. Today is the second day Jonathan officially attends Living Wisdom School, a school with the Education for Life philosophy. Months ago, Jonathan didn’t want to join Living Wisdom because he said the name sounded like a discipline school for kids with behavioral problems. ==’ And yes, that very expensive Episcopal self-proclaimed egalitarian school made him feel like he was this smart kid with behavioral problems even though he didn’t.

One day, Jonathan watched Kung Fu Panda, and I said that perhaps Living Wisdom would help you have inner peace like Shi Fu. :) Jonathan agreed to go for a visit, and it turned out that he “loves” the teacher, Ms. Erica. Ms. Erica also said, “You have a wonderful child. He’s engaged, focused, and curious. When it’s time to transition, he also transitioned well.” Isn’t that heartening? :) The teachers thought that Jonathan was a great 6 year old boy who’s academically precocious.

Then Jonathan had 2 shadow days in Ms. Erica’s and Ms. Daniele’s class. He loved them both, and he thought that he could join Ms. Daniele’s class this year so that next year he can be in Ms. Erica’s class – that way he will have 2 years of great teachers! The positive effect from the school was immediate, and we believe it would help undo the damage caused by the previous school. Jonathan also likes Allie, the assistant from Assisi, Italy (she was nice too, Jonathan said.) When we went in to get the contract, Jonathan had a great chat with Ms. Erica. She called him “sweetheart” and Jonathan blushed – he said ทำเป็นแม่ไปได้ she acted like a mom. *^^* She also explains to him that LWS is such a special school – they can individualize instruction, letting him accelerate in certain subjects like Math and Reading, while he doesn’t have to pretend to be 8 years old. Jonathan asked if 2nd graders have to be 8, and Ms. Erica said that they’re 7 turning 8. Then we walked past Ms. Daniele’s class. Jonathan was quite tired and wanted to go back to the car, but Ms. Daniele waved, smiled, and walked out to greet him (and of course gave him a loving hug!) The friends were so happy that Jonathan was joining. So it really looked like a very positive and happy school of heartwarming people.

During the winter camp with Kabir, we thought Kabir was very kind and positive too. Jonathan got hurt at Shoop park in a bush, but Kabir chose to focus on the positive – he said Jonathan was resilient and strong. He said Jonathan didn’t let that bother him too much. Overall, Kabir said that Jonathan was articulate and had no issues at all. :D When we mentioned that Jonathan was learning to be patient with his sister, Ms. Mahita suggested Conscious Discipline program as she said it was very useful to all. We’re glad we can talk about issues with the teachers and get their help without fearing that they’ll judge us or our children like before.

At home, Jonathan was more relaxed and slowly getting back to being his happy, loving self. He said that students at LWS were even nicer than himself, while at the previous school, he said that they’re all self-centered like it’s normal to be like that.

To be honest, I was reluctant at first because we were overindulged by spanking new, top-notch facilities. It felt a bit uncomfortable to have that kind of first-world school in Thailand and then down-to-earth, humble buildings and facilities in the Silicon Valley, just opposite Stanford, the birthplace of innovations. Anyhow, we thought the genuine, loving atmosphere which emphasized inner joy, personalized academics without addictive apps, and Mudita (a term in buddhism) trumps it all. We’re impressed with the inner qualities of the teachers who embody the kind of character we want our children to learn from. They also have top scorers in the AMC 8 math competition.

1st Day: Mommy dropped him off. Jonathan was shy. Friends rushed in to give him a hug. Teachers gave him a hug too. They celebrated Jonathan’s first day and Louis’ finishing his 1st grade math with lemonade and a round of applause. Jonathan is quite proud that he’s reviewing 2nd grade math and is about to go up to 3rd grade math. He said they celebrated with lemonade and it was a good day. He played with Louis and all friends were nice. โดน Ms. Daniele ดุ 2 ที แต่จำไม่ได้แล้วว่าเพราะอะไร

กลับมาบ้าน JJ โกรธมากแค่หนึ่งครั้งที่น้องถามซ้ำๆว่า What is this? กับสิ่งประดิษฐ์

โกรธมากกกกกก โกรธทุกคน … นาน แต่ในที่สุดก็ calm down ได้ และเข้าใจว่าตัว anger มันใหญ่อยู่ ต้องพยายามให้ joy กลับมาใหญ่กว่า

พี่ชายรู้ว่า โกรธด้วย frequency ที่น้อยลงมาก … แค่หนึ่งครั้ง “แต่แรงมากเลย”

Daddy suggested that usually we learn the behaviors from something… like the uptight teacher or the negative Nobita? Let’s not read Nobita’s small episodes for a while. Jonathan said he knew it’s not from Living Wisdom.

นอกนั้นทำตัวดี ช่วยน้องอาบน้ำ น้องภูมิใจมาก เอาหน้ามาให้มามี้ดม บอกว่า ดมสิ หอมมั้ย (อันนี้ตลก วันที่ pooh bear หาย ฟ้าใสคิดว่า คงต้องแพงมากเลยนะ เพราะเค้าต้องใส่ของหอมๆไปด้วย แล้วเอา Google Bear มาให้มามี้ดม: “ดมสิ…หอมมั้ย” แล้วก็พาน้องกลับไปนอนกอดต่อ)

น้องอยากกินน้ำจาก water bottle สีชมพู พี่ชายก็ช่วยผลักให้

เสียสละหลอดให้น้อง

ชวนน้องออกมาเอากระเป๋าหนังสือ เพื่ออ่านหนังสือที่ยืมมาจากโรงเรียน

บอกน้องว่าใส่ diaper แล้วเดี๋ยวจะแขวนผ้าเช็ดตัวให้ <3

2nd Day: JJ wanted to go and say good morning to Ms. Daniele. Good Morning, Ms. Lilavati. He’s still too shy to hug. (He used to be a loving, cuddly person, but the previous school’s teacher was so tense and emotion-less that he turned to be emotion-less too.) I’m really looking forward to helping him be our loving boy again. Played in the mud& sand box : excited to show mommy the ponds & free water from the rain. He also got books level 9 and 7 to read enthusiastically. :)
Mommy taught the Art of Problem Solving – associative and commutative properties. Annabella also started to want to do math.
Annabella cried so much at night because she didn’t take a nap at school.

3rd Day: Jonathan hugged Ms. Daniele in the morning. In the afternoon, he was sad that Ms. Daniele said shhhh… he felt like he didn’t hear she told the kids to be quiet when she was about to talk to the class.
He learned that earth spins around itself and the sun while the moon spins around the earth.
We went to Shoup park. Jonathan got hurt several times.
He was nice and kind, also didn’t ask for iPad tonight. We had some phonics homework for 10 minutes and Jonathan felt he didn’t learn anything new.

4th Day: In the morning, Jonathan woke up crying that he didn’t want to go to school. He said the school hours and the education part were too long. Other schools had more activities. It was really a struggle to get him to go. Mommy was worried that there wasn’t learning, just individualized worksheets. Also, would the teachers understand Jonathan’s sensitivity?
We attended the whole school circle together. Jonathan participated and liked Om. Annabella was like a model student. ;)
In the afternoon, Jonathan was happy. He said it was super fun and joyful. He had PE at Peers Park and he sang with Paola. He didn’t know that Ms. Daniele tried to make him feel better. He thought she didn’t say she was sorry, and mommy said teachers didn’t have to say that but she cared enough to try to make him not feel bad about himself regarding the Shhh. Jonathan said that Ms. Daniele told him that she did that to everyone.
The emotion was good this evening. No big angry episodes – when he slipped, he was easily brought back to kindness. Overall much better than when he was at his previous school!!!

5th Day: It’s Monday and the children went on a field trip to the Academy of Science in San Francisco. Jonathan came home happy. He talked about how Ms. Daniele bumped into another car. She wasn’t sure if she broke the mirror, and so she went back to check and write a note to the other car. Luckily the car owner came back and said it was ok. Ms. Daniele modeled responsibility. :) Jonathan told us about going into the earthquake house as well.

6th – 8th Day: Jonathan hugged the teachers in the morning and during pick-up. :D  On Tuesday, Jonathan had science. He then had science Snack Attack at the Jr. Museum & Zoo. He finished his Hawaii story, I think. Jonathan said proudly that he wrote 4 full pages without pictures! :D On Wednesday, Jonathan didn’t want to wake up because he was so tired. He asked if he could be picked up early as he wan’t feeling well (also it had been raining and cloudy for over a week.) Anyhow, he said the Spanish class was fun, and he wrote a new story – a fiction called Robot Town! He also had a great time with a new friend, Paro. Ms. Daniele asked him to put a kindness rock in the class’ basket because he rewrote his essay in a neater way so that Ms. Daniele could read it easier. Ms. Daniele said that he didn’t complain while some other kids did. (Jonathan said he complained inside but didn’t want Ms. Daniele to feel sad.) On Thursday, he was very busy swimming in the mud :p. Actually, he had a very heavy block (like 5 pounds), and he hid it under the sand with treasure. A big kid from 2nd grade helped dig. He also did a self-portrait during art. Jonathan picked all positive emotions to show how he felt about his day! :D

For many days, he said that they did some uplifting chants like I’m positive, I’m energetic, I’m enthusiastic! and others during the end of the day circle time.

On Friday, Jonathan found a surprise heart-shaped card at this bag hanger. When we read it, it was from Ms. Daniele. So sweet! (Picture here). Jonathan went into the classroom to give her a hug. We then attended the morning circle together for the second time. I love it! It’s so uplifting, calm, and beautiful. Annabella went up stage with Jonathan and the 1st graders. Then yoga, songs, and meditation. Jonathan and Annabella loved Om and Namaste at the end. :-) Miss Mahita and all the teachers were very kind towards Annabella.


During pick up, Jonathan found out that he left his jacket at Peers Park. So we walked back to the park – it was Jonathan’s 4th round of the day! So strong. :) We found the jacket. Also, mommy had a chance to look at Jonathan’s writings and was surprised that he really wrote many pages. We’re so glad that he has overcome the problem of productivity and expressiveness as the previous teacher said he could write only 3 words at the previous Episcopal school. Ms. Daniele was quite surprised (as I had been all along) that it was the teacher’s job to help kids, not just to test, evaluate, and gave them a label. Ms. Daniele said that Jonathan had so great stories to tell. He had big imagination! She’s so positive and encouraging. :) Oh, there was a spelling test, and Jonathan said, “Lucky me, I got the group with the difficult words – brought and through.” That’s a growth mindset!

This evening, we read Ms. Daniele’s card again. Jonathan, with his recent emotionally hardened attitude, said that teachers just say that to make parents happy. Well, at least he’s gradually appreciating little things and other people’s sincere love and warmth again.

https://youtu.be/FmHGs0xUTDI

2nd week: It all went very well except the incident with Rose. It has been raining for over a week.

3rd week: great. Annabella told Jonathan: Have a good day! listen to your teacher and be good: Jonathan patted her head and said you too.
Jonathan had a bad flu on Friday. He watched angry bird in the bedroom and had vertigo. Sick the whole weekend.

Annabella went into the game room with Huda the researcher with psych prof. She did blocks and could do it, she said. :D

Jonathan is a totally transformed boy. He’s much calmer and more in control. He’s happy and joyous and patient.
When he realized he did something inappropriate, he was able to refocus, look in the eyes and listen calmly. (Krub)
4th week: Monday:
Ms. Erica sent him to the car. Jonathan waved goodbye happily and said I wish you well! Cheerfully. So cute and funny. We all laughed. Jonathan imitated the phrase from his teachers. :) )

He’s super excited about all the rocks in the basket. Pajama day and kids can decide what to do that day.

The first thing he gAve me were the 2 wood pieces he thought were rocks or plastic. He was happy they were real wood. Love rocks.

He also told us excitedly about the Spanish games that he translated all the words into English because he didn’t remember Spanish words ==’.

He’s a little sad that they didn’t celebrate him finishing 2nd grade math.

Jonathan spent the whole recess helping Arbinav looking/digging for his white police car. Did good deed with kindness but didn’t get to play. Should celebrate. ;)

Also, one day Jonathan was very happy that he was very kind to his friends. He made lots of paper arts for them and they waited to get one.

When asked why it’s a great school, Jonathan said the teachers are very kind, the friends are kind, and the learning is great!

Annabella had a very bad day. Jonathan and mommy found her walking out of the music room. She cried not to go back into the classroom. JJ was patient and thought she should go to LWS.

JJ was happy to play launcher dash & dot. Dreambox made us stressed out with doubling and half. :( I’m sorry, Jonathan.

We found out on February 2nd that Annabella is highly gifted. Not only is she very smart as repeatedly commented by the psychologist, she’s well-rounded and has high EQ!
The signs were that she used big words like furious, peer (means look), empathy. Also rhyme : rip & script (JJ’s play script) , awkward Edward. Fraction : 2 to make whole … oh we need 2 more. Counting turtles & pretzels. Hypotheses& theories : big turtle stays on dry land, little ones can’t.
Bill says boys don’t know how to play nice with girls.

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