Why Reid Day School?

Written by Dr. Michael Postma, September 16, 2016

Reid Day School, located in Newport Beach, California, was specifically developed to address specialized needs of gifted/twice-exceptional students and thereby ‘fill in’ the yawning gap that exists within the pubic school system. Founder Dr. Lisa Reid, a former staff member at Bridges Academy, has an insatiable drive to ensure that 2e children, and their families, find a safe haven to learn, grow, and thrive. That passion fueled the creation of Reid Day School and its unique approach to holistic child development. In addition, the school is supported by the Summit Center, led by Dr. Dan Peters and his staff of specialists; a group who have a flawless reputation in the field of gifted and twice-exceptional child development. Dr. Peters was instrumental in assisting Dr. Reid with the creation of the school and continues to assist in ensuring the success of its students.

WHAT IS DIFFERENT?

Brain Based Learning: One might ask, what is this specialized approach…how do they ‘crack the code’ of gifted/twice-exceptional teaching? There are a number of ways that Reid Day School stands apart from the crowd in this particular field. In the first place, they use a brain-based approach to teaching and learning. The gifted/twice-exceptional brain is different from that of the typical student and therefore must be taught differently. The latest neurological research has shown that the gifted/2e brain is actually larger than that of the average brain and contains more ‘White Matter’. White Matter are the strands within the brain that allow it to communicate to all the different sections within the brain (over 120 sections have now been identified) that in turn communicate with the body. In a nutshell, the gifted/2e brain is able to learn quicker, make quicker connections, and store more information than the average learner and therefore the gifted/2e child must be taught with these characteristics in mind. However there is a catch. The twice-exceptional brain varies in that the White Matter is twisted in some areas resulting in intellectual deficits that need to be addressed all the while ensuring that one is addressing the ‘giftedness’ as well. Few educational institutions understand this fact, nor do they address it in the classroom. This is a fundamental basic that must be addressed when working with 2e children. The school must use the child’s strengths to remediate the weaknesses. The ‘deficit’ based approach taken in most schools is actually the worst strategy that one can employ with our students. It will only lead to building frustration, behavior issues, and social/emotional alienation. Reid Day School understands this and has specifically designed instruction around this fundamental truth through a specialized curriculum and personalized approach to instruction.

In addition, the twice-exceptional brain develops a larger Sensory Input capacity than that of the average child. This means that at a very early age, 2e children have the capacity to intake sensory experiences that are deeply felt and deeply experienced leading to Sensory Processing issues. At the same time there is a price to be paid for this incredible intake capacity. The Limbic System, that part of the brain responsible for self-regulation, takes longer to develop in 2e children producing a conundrum of opposites: A highly intelligent brain capable of thinking and learning at a rapid pace frustrated by some sort of disability and the inability to meta-cognate. For the majority of school staff, unfamiliar with the research and untrained in pedagogical methodology, the 2e child is an unknown quantity; an average learner at best; a intense behavioral problem at worst. In most cases, the twice-exceptional learner scuttles through school carrying any number of labels: lazy, problem child, un-teachable. Many languish in well-meaning special education environments stuck in remedial hades. Again, Reid Day School understands these children and provides them individualized support plans that ensure success in each and every student. This ‘hands on’ approach is exactly what is needed for the child to experience success and continual progress towards holistic development. In short, compared to the pubic system, this scenario could not be any different, nor, for that matter, the results.

Dr. Lisa Reid, founder and leader of Reid Day School, relates the story of a young boy who recently enrolled at Reid. As is typical across the country (I have worked with 2e families from a number of states and countries), this twice exceptional child came into the Program with a thick binder of both behavioral and academic reports composed in the short time he had attended a local public school. Similar to many cases of 2e students’ experiences in the system, this boy came with many labels: emotionally disturbed, ODD (Oppositional Defiant), and a behavior risk. After only one and a half months at Reid, further evaluation revealed a severe Auditory Processing issue, one that had apparently been ‘missed’ by the school. A brilliant, misunderstood child who could not comprehend or know how to communicate his needs is a child prone to Limbic meltdowns and behavioral compensations. Lisa reported that, after much therapy and trust building exercises over a three-month period, the child now is able to participate in class and has actually made friends. This case begs the question: Would your school take the time, resources, and energy to really understand and accept your child? Or, would they take the time to create a safe, nurturing environment of progressive learning? Given the preponderance of evidence to the contrary, the answer is almost assuredly no. Given the extreme nature of their individual make-ups and corresponding intensities, both the 2e and profoundly gifted child find themselves at odds with societal norms. A significant period of each child’s life is spent in schools that are not designed for these types of outliers. In hundreds, if not thousands, of documented case studies, the convergence of the two has yielded disastrous results: intense behavioral reactions, depression, psychological underachievement, severe mental fatigue even breakdowns, rising drop out rates, and perhaps the most important issue: the loss of extreme potential. Schools designed specifically to empower the gifted/2e student, like Reid Day School, can quite literally, save your child’s life.

Personal Pedagogy: Another distinction that separates Reid Day School from the crowd is its ability to personalize the educational approach to fit the needs of each of its students. Often, twice-exceptional students are traumatized by their regular school experiences and require a specialized methodology for rebuilding trust. The children need to evolve from being the ‘bad’ kid to being a productive child. In a sense it is a process of ‘re-dignifying’ or feeling human again. This process, as seen in the case above, can take months and requires a delicate balance of structure, balance, freedom and flexibility, and finally, realistic expectations of growth and productivity. In addition to offering this unique approach to teaching and learning, Reid Day School also encourages self-advocacy through the systematic teaching of meta-cognitive skills through expressive language development, role-playing and situational simulation, and the extensive use of accommodative technology. What all of this translates to is an incredible and powerful, research based, personalized pedagogy for each and every student, an asset that cannot be found in any public education institution.

Empathetic Staff: I have hired many teachers over the years for a variety of gifted programs and the one singular quality that I seek in prospective staff above all others is empathy. If you do not understand or relate to the gifted/2e student, you will not be able to teach them effectively. At Reid Day School, all staff are experts in working with this specialized population of children and have proven that they both empathetic and experienced in the field. Very few Programs can replicate this model, and quite simply, most do not.

Other Advantages: The Reid School also provides extraordinary opportunities for students that are rarely found elsewhere. Each student is afforded time each week to meet with counselors well versed in the issues surrounding gifted/2e children. This time is used to address personal issues as well as plan for personal growth targets. These types of ‘trusted’ connections are very important to both gifted and 2e children as it is rare for them to be able to ‘unburden’ themselves with a caring adult that is not an immediate relative. In addition, the Reid School employs a curriculum designed with flexibility, choice, complexity, depth and breadth using 21st Learning Fluencies and personal interests while maintaining adherence to state standards should a child need to reintegrate into the public school system. Other benefits include participation in ‘Passion Project Fridays’ where each student is given the opportunity to probe deeply into an area of interest or passion. Finally, the school’s ‘no homework’ policy reduces the stress and anxiety most 2e, and even gifted, children feel towards homework that in most cases consists of unnecessary ‘busy work’.

CONCLUSION

If you are looking for an appropriate educational environment for your gifted/twice-exceptional child due to continued issues with your local school, look no further than Reid Day School. Carefully crafted for the specific purpose of meeting the social, emotional, and academic needs of gifted/2e children and their families, Reid Day School can become your educational haven; a place where you need not worry about your children reaching their true potential; a place where you will feel like family. If you have any doubts, give them a call, schedule a visit, or attend an open house. It will be a life-changing event that you will never regret.

5c774862478ba62f3bca5b428b055a6b

Dr. Michael Postma is a consultant, speaker, and author dedicated to the holistic development of twice-exceptional children and other non-typical learners through his company Agility Educational Solutions. 

Feeling Thankful

We have had a very fun and exciting couple of months with new students, guest speakers, music class, karate, our Compassion Experience field trip and more! We continue to be so proud of our students and are very grateful to our teachers and our parent group for their incredible dedication and involvement. Thank you! We are looking forward to more good times and growth in our community this spring

Great Amounts of Gratitude

thank-you-hands

At the end of 2015, we started a Crowdfunding campaign to raise important funds which help keep our school’s operating budget on an even keel. All nonprofits face the need to fundraise even when many of us would rather focus our time on what we do–help twice-exceptional kids find a safe and supportive educational haven that helps them grow at their optimum! We are so humbled by the show of support that has come in thus far. We really appreciate our donors from the bottom of our heart.

Thank you:

Tracy and Augie Meier

The Labonty Family

Gary Schechner

Insight Vision Center Optometry

The Garrett Family

Paulette Fragoso

Bill Fusco

Bill Sibert

Lara Hamdan

Richard Beale and Taylor Obre

Ellen and Marty Rosen

Christine Spitzer

Dan and Liz Peters

Tisha Lancaster

Gary Lancaster

Ronda Lancaster

Sherry Lancaster

Corie and Jorge Wong

Carol Reid

Genevieve Rangel

Stanley and Janice Rosenstock

Peter Holt

We couldn’t do it without you. You are helping us mold more bright stars for our future!

 

New Year’s Resolutions!

2011-year-resolution-400x400

We recently talked to our students about New Year’s Resolutions.

Here’s a few they came up with…

  • Eat more
  • Eat healthier
  • Learn to cook
  • Help Scarlett get better at Minecraft!!!
  • Be more joyful
Here are there wishes for the world, a couple are super silly!
  • Instead of cars, there would be horse drawn carriages
  • Pandas could be pets
  • Our next president would be a girl
  • Obama would be nicer
  • No more wars
  • Every kid (rich or poor) would have a family
  • More gifted school

Have you talked to your kids about New Year’s Resolutions? It can be a fun way to encourage excellence on mental and physical fronts.

Help Reid Day School Shape a Better Future!

Please consider making a donation to help us today!

Ever heard of being too smart for your own good? RDS students are children who have learning disabilities and/or a neuropsychological makeup that predisposes them to emotional challenges such as anxiety, depression, OCD, inability to focus and more. Their high intellect often masks their challenges and leaves them undetected, misdiagnosed or misunderstood as behavior problems. Further, it leaves them ineligible for the services they need to be supported and set on a positive path in life.

The challenges that twice-exceptional students face are such that they are at high risk for developing negative coping strategies as they deal with their intense emotions and find themselves continually misunderstood, underestimated and pegged as difficult. This results in a negative life trajectory for these children who hold vast positive potential. Often, our very able students have been “in trouble” and asked to leave school programs and classrooms as young as four years old. Some have been to several school programs by the time their families reach us. At RDS, we know that we can make a difference and that with the right understanding and support, the life path for twice-exceptional children can be very bright. We know that, because we have seen it.

At RDS, we meet with families and children and we team together to put gifts, strengths and talents at the forefront while we investigate underlying factors that may be causing learning or emotional difficulties. We provide a nurturing environment where the inner dignity and true potential of children is recognized and we provide the support necessary for them to develop the self-awareness, self-regulation and self-confidence necessary to become fully realized independent children with a re-established love of learning.

The complex needs of gifted children who learn differently require the involvement of educators and other professionals who have the expertise needed to identify needs and tailor the instruction and social/emotional support necessary to meet them. Presently, there are no resources provided for students who have advanced intellectual ability alongside a special need in Orange County. We are the only program in Orange County that provides this type of support, and one of only a few that exist in the country.

Our goal is to increase awareness so that understanding and support for the needs of twice-exceptional children will eventually be availed through local schools and through government support of programs like RDS. In the meantime, we are making change happen on our own, and we need your help.

Families arrive to us feeling frustrated, overwhelmed and misunderstood. Amazing parents who have worked tremendously hard with teachers, psychologists, doctors, therapists and other professionals to do right by their child and get their needs met but have been unable to do so because their complex children require a more involved, team approach and expertise toward the specific needs of gifted children who learn differently. They are exhausted and often financially tapped out from all that they have been through by the time they reach us. We work hard to make it possible to provide support for every family through need based reduced tuition but we cannot do that without your help.

As a new 501c3 non-profit organization we have already worked with over 350 families and allied professionals providing continuing education, consulting, educational therapy, advocacy and school programs. We are well on our way toward making a strong positive impact in the realm of twice-exceptional education in our community and we are looking forward to continued success with our students.

We are in great need of support from the community so that we can continue to grow in our ability to make a difference in the lives of families and children and so that we can sustain the wonderful momentum we have achieved during this first year of operation.

The funds raised from this campaign go directly to counseling, curriculum, enrichment, advocacy and learning support resources for our students.

Please consider making a donation to help us today!

 

What Do We Mean When We Talk About “Gifted”

32deaf9720478854b9a01a0f4ac2923f

Our Day School program focuses on the learning needs of twice-exceptional elementary school students. Twice exceptional students are students who have demonstrated intellectual giftedness alongside a learning challenge such as ADHD, Dyslexia, Dysgraphia, Depression, Anxiety, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Mild Autism Spectrum Disorders, etc. Overall, these children fall underneath the umbrella term of “gifted,” a word that is often maligned, confused, or debated within our community as well as society at large.

Because of a prevalent misunderstanding about what giftedness is some people do not see the need for increased attention or support of these children. Recently, Dr. Joanna Haase and Sharon Duncan, two experts in the field, gave an excellent presentation at our school that helped define the term as well as unravel its many mysteries. Below, I offer a recap of the information gleaned from their talk in hopes to help others understand the term so that we can continue to provide these children the support they need to become fully functioning and self-realized people.

Duncan and Haase mentioned that giftedness is not the same as “eminent, achieving or successful.” There are gifted students who fall in what they call the “sweet spot” gifted range who are every teacher’s delight with their enthusiasm, motivation and desire to learn but this is not the majority. Giftedness is not what one does or achieves. In fact, giftedness involves a neuropsychological makeup that often causes children to experience the world in an entirely different way than their classmates.

Duncan and Haase pointed out that if you look at the “normal” scale of human development, you can see that gifted children fall just as far away from the “norm” as a child with an intellectual disability. Their physical, emotional, social and intellectual experiences with the world are very different and can create intense difficulties that are misdiagnosed, overlooked, misunderstood or hidden. This is a population that needs to be approached with the same thought, care and sensitivity as their peers on the opposite side of the bell curve.

Some examples of what it can feel like to be gifted are as follows:

  • Imagine your most anxious moment and magnify that by 10. Now feel that way most of the time and focus on your school day expectations.
  • Imagine you are called “smart” because you have shown you know a lot of information. Now imagine being unable to communicate what you know fast enough in writing or verbally to keep pace with teachers and classmates. Now imagine being called lazy or defiant because of it.
  • Imagine if all of the lights and sounds around you were highly increased in volume and you needed to focus on a single person lecturing four hours a day.
  • Imagine someone playfully swatting you at recess and having it feel as though they punched you full force. Imagine reacting to the pain and being called a baby or a troublemaker.
  • Imagine if you had to move in order to learn. Now imagine sitting still for five hours a day to comply with the rules.
  • Imagine having the intellectual capacity of a 25-year-old with the maturity of an 8 year old. Now go find a friend to play with at recess.
  • Imagine having so many people call you “smart” that you think that is all there is to you. Now imagine not knowing the answer to a question or how to do something. Now you are nothing. Our children live in fear of failure.
  • Imagine if you had any of these things going on and you were labeled instantly as autistic, lazy, oppositional defiant, ADHD, emotionally disturbed, behavior problem – and you were in trouble all of the time. Sometimes these labels do apply – but very often, they do not.

Frequently we see a gifted child who is either intense, has another underlying challenge, or both. Regardless of the label and the information that these children are able to hold in their minds, they are special needs children who need their intellectual, physical, social and emotional needs met in different ways and they absolutely need to be in learning environments where they are not misunderstood or worse yet punished for behaviors that are beyond their control, that are related to their neuropsychological makeup and that they themselves don’t yet understand.

Many people do not realize that the likelihood of the existence of learning and social/emotional challenges increases with higher intellectual capacity (IQ). In fact, there are a tremendous amount of very gifted children with vast potential who experience difficulties that get in the way of their ability to effectively progress due to intensities associated with their neuropsychological makeup.

A special focus on this group of students is important because during these crucial developmental years when they are expected to become more independent and take greater responsibility for managing multiple facets of their daily academic and personal life, they will often experience excessive disproportionate stress and exhibit resulting declines in their motivation, self-perception, self-esteem, self-directness and intrinsic desire to engage in learning. Further, the ability of twice exceptional students to often “mask” their learning disabilities through compensation can cause them to fall farther behind each year in their reading and writing skill sets. This results in underachievement and, often, unhealthy coping strategies that lead to a negative life trajectory for these youth who hold vast positive potential.

That is meaningful for each student’s personal potential and because this population of students has a tremendous amount to offer if they are understood, supported and provided the opportunity to shape a better future. The complex needs of these students require the involvement of educators and other professionals who have the expertise needed to identify needs and tailor the instruction and social/emotional support necessary to meet them. Presently, all educational support resources are designed to meet the needs of students who require either full remediation, or are high achieving. There are no resources provided for students who have advanced intellectual ability alongside a special need. We are the only program in Orange County that provides this type of support, and one of only a few that exist in the country.

The conversation about the needs of gifted and twice exceptional children needs to change.