My younger child is taking medication and is excelling in math and reading. His teacher also will not move him up from his reading group and will not offer him advanced math work. He complains of being bored while my daughter is thrilled that the work is so easy at school.
I've been told by the school that neither child qualifies for an IEP and that only my older child may qualify for a 504 plan. My first question is: Should their eligibility be based on their performance vs. their abilities, or is the school only required to look at whether or not they are meeting general benchmarks?
Also, my older child is withdrawing socially and has told me she hasn't liked herself for a long time. She is very aware of how different she is from her peers. She likes to play imaginary games and run around, while the "popular" girls want to stand around and talk. Is this enough to bring up the question of a regular classroom not being an appropriate setting for her? I envision a private school of gifted children where her intellectual needs are met and her ADHD can be addressed. There is a school of this sort in our city, but we are unable to afford the tuition and they don't offer financial aid. Would it be reasonable to pursue funding from the school district to place her in this type of setting?
The fact that your nine-year-old daughter is having some peer issues is not enough to question the appropriateness of her classroom setting under general education guidelines. In all honesty, mismatched emotional and intellectual development is a common issue for gifted children. Your daughter may need some short-term counseling around the issue of her self esteem and peer skills. I am sorry to say that little girls in your daughter's age range can be very mean if they sense that someone is different. Is there a school guidance counselor who can work with the class as a group on how they treat each other? I have seen this response work on several occasions.
I recommend that you meet with the person in charge of gifted education in your district and discuss this issue again. I doubt that the district would fund the tuition for the gifted school if your daughter's education is meeting stated guidelines. It's worth discussing though. It is more likely that a gifted advisor could work with the classroom teacher on challenging your child more effectively and improving her writing skills.
You state that your child is unable to take medication for her ADHD. I recommend the book Beyond Ritalin by Stephen W. Garber for additional strategies for you, and The Gifted Kids Survival Guide (for kids ages ten and under) by Judy Galbraith for your daughter. It offers some great peer tips. I hope this response has been informative. Good luck.