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Our Learners

“Mom, these are my people…” At Baywood Learning Center we believe all children are special. However we, proclaim the truth, "Not all Children are 'Gifted'!"  Not all children are talented in the same way. We serve children who are intellectually talented or cognitively advanced.

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What is Gifted?
How is it defined, who is gifted
and what does that mean??

A new definition of giftedness that highlights the complexity of raising gifted children was developed by The Columbus Group in 1991. The Columbus Group , a group of psychologists specializing in the population of gifted asserts that the contemporary tendency to define giftedness as behaviors, achievement, products or school placements, external to the individual, necessarily misses the essence of giftedness – how it alters the meaning of life experience for the gifted individual. Consequently, the Group offers the following preliminary attempt at a phenomenological definition, which at this point, may apply best to the highly gifted:

Giftedness is ‘asynchronous development’ in which advanced cognitive abilities and heightened intensity combine to create inner experiences and awareness that are qualitatively different from the norm. This asynchrony increases with higher intellectual capacity. The uniqueness of the gifted renders them particularly vulnerable and requires modifications in parenting, teaching and counseling in order for them to develop optimally.
(The Columbus Group, 1991, in Morelock, 1992)

Asynchrony means being out of sync, both internally and externally. "Asynchronous development" means that gifted children develop cognitively at a much faster rate than they develop physically and emotionally, posing some interesting problems. For example, ideas forged by 8-year-old minds may be difficult to produce with 5-year-old hands. Further, advanced cognition often makes gifted children aware of information that they are not yet emotionally ready to handle. They tend to experience all of life with greater intensity, rendering them emotionally complex. These children usually do not fit the developmental norms for their age; they have more advanced play interests and often are academically far ahead of their age peers. The brighter the child, the greater the asynchrony and potential vulnerability. Therefore, parents who are aware of the inherent developmental differences of their children can prepare themselves to act as their advocates. (Silverman)




For more information about the gifted children we are committed to serve click here: Our Gifted children

This poem by Pearl S Buck aptly describes a gifted person:

The truly creative mind in any field is no more than this,

 

A human creature born abnormally, inhumanely sensitive.

To them... a touch is a blow, a sound is a noise,

a misfortune is a tragedy, a joy is an ecstasy,

a friend is a lover, a lover is a god,

 

 

and failure is death.


Sometimes described as “A Box without the lid”, our program is a unique educational model that puts the typical hierarchical educational model on its ear and assumes a horizontal democratic posture that allows each learner to participate as an equal participant in the architectural design of their own curriculum.  In so doing, learners participate directly in making decisions that affect their own daily lives.  Because they are invested in the curriculum plan, they are more motivated to participate fully in its daily progress.  Of course, this is tempered with loving guidance and oversight from parents, mentors and Baywood staff.  Communication is the key.  Each learner is an equal team member of the Learning Team.  The Learning Team is responsible for developing the curriculum and learning goals for the learner.  We find that when given the benefit of full and complete information, our learners can be trusted to make choices that are wise and sound and serve well their own best long-term interest.  After-all, since our learners have advanced intellectual abilities, why shouldn't they participate in their lives as fully as possible?  We believe it is appropriate for our learners to become accustomed to using their great minds in the capacity of decision making and problem solving as a real life way to learn how to make good choices for their lives.

 

At Baywood Learning Center the focus is NOT to create a “well-rounded” student.  Rather, we support and protect the natural unique gifts, strengths and interests of each learner.  In other words we will not hold a child back from his or her trajectory of acceleration in a specific field of study, interest or gift in order to bring up and re-mediate areas of lesser skill to achieve a flat or “well rounded” academic profile.  We will not pressure our learners into conformity or mediocrity.  We will support the unique talents, strengths, passions and interests as far as the learner is interested in growing in the field or interest, even if this results in an uneven academic profile.  We believe it is this uniqueness that is important to protect.  The learner needs the freedom to learn what they love and love what they learn.  According an exhaustive study to define “Gifted”, the Columbus Group came up with this description:

 

"Giftedness is asynchronous development in which advanced cognitive abilities and heightened intensity combine to create inner experiences and awareness that are qualitatively different from the norm. This asynchronism increases with higher intellectual capacity.  The uniqueness of the gifted renders them particularly vulnerable and requires modifications in parenting, teaching and counseling in order for them to develop optimally."

 

Asynchronous development is not a flaw to be fixed; it is an integral characteristic of the gifted nature of the child. So we will NOT be teaching with an intention to "fix" your child into something even and plain, "normal".  Your child is different, special, and not broken.  Of course, we also work with the learners to ensure they stay within the bench marks of academic standards to be at or above grade level in all the required subjects.  Academic testing is required if you chose an academic track over an enrichment track for your learner.  For more details on how this would work for your learner, meet with the Director.  You, as the parent, are not kept away from the intimate details of your learner's curriculum.  The Learning Team will plan meetings, in which you would be a participant go over these considerations in great detail.

 

While advanced academics are offered at Baywood, we allow Learners to advance at any pace that is natural, comfortable and desired by them.  By using child driven and paced curriculum, we can minimize learners' vulnerability to the crippling effects of maladjusted perfectionism.  In our High School program, learners attend some college classes with a Mentor, Study Buddy/Learning partner.  In this way, learners can continue to have their advanced learning needs met while still having a community of peers in a safe environment.  See High School program.

 

Although the academic profile may look uneven, forcing a learner to become well-rounded at the expense of holding down the gift or ignoring the true interest and calling of the learner, does not support authentic development towards self actualization. Coercing the learner to conform to flat social archetypes in an effort to remediate weaker skills is not the Baywood philosophy. To Baywood each learner has unique gifts and qualities that need to be protected and valued as one of the building blocks towards self actualization.  With self actualization each learner is encouraged to be the best expression of their true self.  Click here for a definition of What is self actualization?

 

The Baywood Learning Center Program is designed to allow space for the learner’s need for autonomy that gifted children often express, while at the same time building academic skill sets important to parents and society at large.  In the furtherance of reaching the mutual goals of college entry, learners are challenged to stretch their abilities to the fullest  Baywood mentors seek to help their mentees connect with real world learning opportunities in their areas of strength and abilities while exploring various modalities of learning.  At Baywood, each Baywood learner aged 7 and up is paired with a learning partner or mentor to facilitate academic growth and enrichment opportunities.

 

Our Program’s Structure:

Our program has a structure that allows for some flexibility and fluidity throughout the day, yet some consistency and continuity for the students.  Our schedule generally includes learners working on academic targets and goals in language arts and math every morning and enrichment classes in the afternoon.  To allow us opportunities to take advantage of learning opportunities and follow learners’ interests, our trajectory may deviate from the original objective from time to time.  Our structure allows for learners to anticipate and internalize the rhythm of the day, with a start time, snack time, recess and lunch break occurring at regular times daily.  See a sample schedule on the right.



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