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It started with a little voice before my first child even turned two. He’s always on the move! He sees things I don’t see; his mind is always going. He’s more interested in disassembling his toys than playing with them. He can name every type of construction heavy machinery and tell me what it does in such detail. He intricately explains the differences in every garbage truck and tells me how they work. And he asks about three zillion questions every single day. Other parents would say, “Oh, he’s two? They don’t call them ‘terrible twos for nothing.’” I didn’t know what they meant. My kid was awesome. He was just busy, and I was exhausted. But in the back of my head, the voice asked, Why does he seem so different from other kids?

Why does he seem so different from other kids?

By the time my son was three, he was explaining about precipitation and condensation from a little chemistry game he had on his LeapPad. A mom nearby said, “Did you hear that? He said precipitation! Such a big word. He probably doesn’t even know what it means.” I answered, “Actually, he does. He can explain the water cycle to you, too.” I couldn’t keep this child busy enough. He devoured every bit of knowledge that came his way and could explain or extrapolate concepts in very grown-up ways.

My older son had an obsession with books and the mechanics of heavy equipment from the time he could walk

My older son had an obsession with books and the mechanics of heavy equipment from the time he could walk.

Not long after, I registered him for preschool, and on the first day, the teacher called and said, “He wanted to do everything, but I couldn’t get him to put on his coat to go outside.” I explained, “He’s pretty stubborn and loves to explore and experiment at his pace, but you’ll meet with a brick wall when it comes to things like coats, hats, and shoes.” She came to know him really well and by the time he was ready for first grade, we had a frank conversation about elementary schools. The takeaway was — traditional school wouldn’t work for this child. “Have you heard of Mackintosh Academy?” she asked and then went on to explain that it was a school for gifted children.

I didn’t know at that point if my child fit the textbook definition of gifted, but with this conversation, she affirmed the little voice that had been chattering to me for years. The one that asked, Is my child normal? Why do other kids just sit there? Do other kids start every sentence with the words, ‘Actually Mom…?’ Where does he get this? And finally, There’s no way he’s going to sit in a classroom in a row of desks and turn to page 42 to calmly work his way through a worksheet, day after day and year after year. I took the teacher’s advice into account and added Mackintosh Academy to my list of schools to investigate.

There’s no way he’s going to sit in a classroom in a row of desks and turn to page 42 to calmly work his way through a worksheet, day after day and year after year.

When I finally visited, I was astounded. HERE were all these kids just like mine. Active. Inquisitive. Detailed. Engaged. The classrooms were stimulating, the learning hands-on, and the students were alive, delving more deeply into topics than any other school I had ever seen. One grade was even taking a field trip to Summit County to study the effect of pine beetles on the ecosystem. It was everything I wished I had had as a child, and it felt like home for my son.

Middle School students create greenhouse hangers from plastic bottles

Middle School students create greenhouse hangers from plastic bottles

Ten years later and my first son now attends an IB high school; my younger son is in 5th grade at Mack Littleton, and I also work at the school. I feel like I lucked out just happening upon Mackintosh and finding a tribe of families like mine. As it turns out, many of the parents I’ve met also had little voices telling them that their child needed something different. Their voices used to ask or say things like:

“Why is my child so alive and engaged at home and so bored at school?”

“My kid refuses to go to school. She says she doesn’t learn anything”

“She talks all the time and asks 100 questions before 7am. I’m exhausted before I’ve even had my first cup of coffee.”

“His teacher says he asks too many questions, and she can’t teach the rest of the class.”

“Her teachers say she talks all the time in class, and it’s very distracting.”

“My kid corrects the teacher, and she doesn’t like it.”

“She qualified for the gifted/talented program, but it seems to be just more busy work. She doesn’t need more work; she needs different work.”

“My child is sweet, but he has no friends at school and he doesn’t get invited to birthday parties. I don’t think he has found children to connect with.”

“She is surviving, but not thriving.”

“He’s pretty intense. His teachers can’t handle it.”

“She’s a perfectionist and she’s holding herself back because of it.”

In the end, parents know when something’s different about their child or when something needs to be changed to support their child. Finding the right school doesn’t come down to school ratings or student test scores. It comes down to something much simpler — listening to that little voice.

Do you have a little voice that won’t leave you alone? Won’t you come chat with us? We’d love to meet you — and it might help soothe that voice! Sign up for one of our many get-to-know you events.

In a hurry and need to meet sooner? Call us at 303-794-6222.
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