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B.C.'s only special education school for gifted students is accepting new admissions

Richmond’s Choice School For Gifted Children is the only gifted program to hold special designation in all of B.C.
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Choice School for Gifted Children

Inquisitive, curious, imaginative, sensitive, easily bored and in need of constant stimulus, intense with their interests, quick at critical thinking, excellent at problem solving, and always asking “what if?” questions. 

If these are attributes that you would use to describe your child, they may be what educators consider to be gifted!

Giftedness is defined as a pattern of development in which children’s cognitive abilities are developing at a faster rate than expected for their chronological age. 

“Intellectually, gifted children are ahead of their age, but at the same time, socially, emotionally, and physically, they still share the same traits as their peers,” explains Sukhbir Bolina, Principal of Choice School For Gifted Children.

Located in Richmond, Choice School For Gifted Children is a non-profit independent school that has been designated by The Ministry of Education as a Special Education School for the Gifted, the only such designation of its kind in B.C. 

As such, Choice provides an advanced learning environment tailored for high potential students in Grades K to 7 (soon to be expanded to Grades K to 8 in September 2022) who have been professionally designated as “gifted” through an education assessment conducted by a psychologist. 

Since gifted students understand differently from their peers, they thrive when offered opportunities to learn at a pace, depth, and breadth that matches their academic level and unique abilities and to develop their critical thinking, independent learning, and leadership skills. 

“At Choice, we invite students to stretch to the edge of their optimal learning, to embrace open-ended opportunities and to develop high personal standards and goals,” says Bolina.

Here’s how Choice School For Gifted Children prioritizes in-depth accelerated learning opportunities for students. 

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Photo: Choice School For Gifted Children.

Students who are gifted have varying individual needs, challenges, experiences, aptitudes, and interests, requiring instructional adaptation for each individual.

“In the classroom of 25 kids as seen in the regular public school system, the teacher may not be equipped to help gifted students who require constant stimulus and more challenging work to fulfill their special needs,” says Bolina.

At Choice School, classes have 11 or less students per class. This ensures that each child gets the one-on-one attention and customized and specialized support they need. To further meet the needs of frequent stimulus, there are even stationery exercising bikes set up in select classrooms so that students can study through movement.

Inquiry-based learning is encouraged so that lessons are directly applied to real life situations. For example, when learning about the challenges of travel in ancient China, students were led to consider the challenges of Chinese transport today and confront current issues by writing an imaginary letter to their Member of Parliament calling for more environmental transportation awareness.

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Photo: Choice School For Gifted Children.

Choice’s programs are designed for gifted children who are advanced thinkers and doers, and this requires a blend of opportunities both in the classroom and in the community.

Every term, the Choice Challenge allows students to explore their interests in activities and information that extends beyond the standard curriculum. The topics are wide ranging, including woodworking, embroidery, arts & crafts and international cuisine. They are grouped to work with other students from all grades who are similarly intrigued. 

Every term, Experiential Week involves the in-depth exploration of a topic — such as the media, criminology, and the movies and theatre — through a week-long program facilitated by external speakers, live demonstrations by experts, field trips, and hands-on workshops. Past presentations have been given by Olympians, Egyptologists, published authors, and other professionals, thus introducing students to a variety of career options. Previous field trips have been made to the B.C. Supreme Court, the Capilano Salmon Hatchery, and the Orpheum Theatre.

Throughout the academic year, Choice School offers a variety of programs, such as chess club (ranked as the #1 elementary school chess team in B.C.), student council, band, yoga, woodworking, community leadership, spelling bees, and coding and robotics, to encourage students to explore their keen interests and passions in-depth. 

After graduation, graduates of Choice School For Gifted Children have been accepted at independent schools (such as Crofton House School and St. George’s School), International Baccalaureate programs, and special ‘mini schools’ throughout the Lower Mainland.

“Our aim is to give our students the skills and techniques necessary so that they can make the transition back into regular schooling and navigate the educational system with their giftedness,” says Bolina. 

Choice School For Gifted Children is currently accepting enrollments for the 2022/2023 school year. Prospective students are invited to attend Choice School for 3 consecutive days to experience the gifted schooling environment for a small fee. Visit choiceschool.org for more information.