Nadine Kohler is the Director of Institutional Advancement at Seabury School. Seabury is the only independent school in the South Puget Sound area with programs designed for intellectually advanced children in pre-k - 8th grade. Nadine sat down with us to chat about what it means to have a gifted child, how they approach education at Seabury School, and how to determine if it's time to seek a new approach to learning with your kiddo. We are huge fans of the mission at Seabury School and we are thrilled that they have planted their roots and flourished in the South Sound.
We all want our children to have the best possible opportunities to learn and succeed in life.
Finding a school that fits each child's unique needs plays a crucial part in that long-term success and happiness.
Traditional schools do their very best to accommodate the educational needs of each child, but oftentimes end up offering a “one size fits most” curriculum due to large class sizes and limited resources. This can leave gifted children feeling lost and unfulfilled.
This is because teachers typically do not have the training or expertise in the unique needs of gifted students or a full understanding of how best to motivate and support a gifted child.
Enter Seabury School.
Seabury School is the only independent school in the South Sound with programs specifically designed for gifted students from Pre-K-8th grade.
So, what does “gifted” really mean?
Seabury’s favorite definition of giftedness is “a greater awareness, a greater sensitivity, and a greater ability to understand and to transform perceptions into intellectual and emotional experiences.”
Nadine Kohler, the director of institutional advancement at Seabury, explained that the term gifted can feel elitist and awkward for some parents, but it shouldn’t be taken that way at all.
Gifted children are not better or more special than other children. The students at Seabury simply learn differently and need a school that allows them to learn something new every day.
In fact, giftedness doesn’t mean that they are developmentally advanced across the board. “They may have an area of strength that they just excel in, because their brain is wired in a way to understand that concept better. But then they may also have some actual struggles.”
One of the most common questions asked at Seabury School is: “How do I know if my child is gifted/intellectually advanced?”
Every gifted child will have their own unique experience and circumstances for seeking out a new learning environment, and the common signs of giftedness differ depending on the age of the child. Nadine laid out a few examples she has seen from Seabury students prior to enrollment.
For Seabury’s youngest students: “They'll oftentimes have complicated conversations with adults that are more relaxed than most kids. They'll be able to answer questions with adults in a way that sometimes is surprising and at that age, it's often humorous, and sometimes they can, they can understand the humor. When your two or three-year-old that is verbal starts to do those sorts of things, that's an indicator for sure that they may need a program that's for kids who can excel.”
For older students who have attended a traditional school: “A child may have started to have some anxiety about going to school or feel like their questions don't get answered. Those are some indicators of that older student that is maybe feeling frustrated at school. That's not getting what they need.”
The students at Seabury are bright, enthusiastic, and eager to learn, but likely in a different way than most kids their age. They may have a fascination with anatomy and can name every bone in the body, or breeze through an 8 and up puzzle at the age of 3. Gifted children want to feel understood and accepted by their peers, but they don’t always communicate and interact with other students in the traditional way. Leaving them on the outside looking in at a typical school.
At Seabury, they go out of their way to challenge typical. Everything at Seabury is centered around the belief in whole child education– intellectual, social, emotional and developmental, which sets Seabury apart from all of the other schools in the region.
The elementary program maxes at 15 students per class. The smaller class sizes paired with institutional aides to assist their teachers and a little bit of extra time in the school day (about a half-hour longer than a traditional school day) creates more opportunities for breaking up into smaller groups and doing individualized work with students.
The curriculum at Seabury nurtures children’s curiosity, helps them pursue their passions, lets their readiness and interests guide the pace and depth of learning, and supports highly capable kids in a community that “gets” them.
All of which are made possible through their integrated curriculum approach. This allows for in depth study of complex topics on top of the core curriculum. So a student who is fascinated by mechanical engineering gets an opportunity to explore that further. While another who is passionate about marine mammals can dive deeper into studying the ocean.
In addition to the core curriculum, all Seabury students participate in specialized programming including Spanish, performing arts, physical education, library/literacy, and art. Preparing students for success in our ever-evolving world also means educating them in and around technology. The technology curriculum at Seabury includes computer labs, coding, SmartBoards, iPads, cameras, and a laptop program for middle school students.
Education at Seabury is an immersive experience. Students get out in the community and truly learn through a hands-on approach. This approach includes frequent curriculum-related field trips, taking full advantage of the abundant natural and urban resources in Tacoma, the Puget Sound area, the state – and beyond. The middle school's downtown campus means Seabury uses the city of Tacoma as its classroom. Middle school students do their physical education at the Downtown YMCA, use the Tacoma Public Library, and even meet with local officials.
There is a thoughtfulness and passion around education at Seabury that is unmatched. The faculty and staff believe in the school’s mission and want all of its students to succeed. We are thrilled that Seabury has planted its roots and flourished in the South Sound.
If you have a child in your life that you feel may benefit from a non-traditional approach to learning, you can find all of the information you need at www.seabury.org There is even a built-in chat feature so you can send a message with your questions directly to current Seabury parents!
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