Our Founders and Mentors have extensive experience running Residential Summer Programs for Gifted and Talented Children in India. All of these programs have been targeted at Grades 7, 8 and 9. For good reason.
Any older, and children get on to the Grade X and college applications high-speed conveyor belt. Any younger, they could start feeling homesick. And the relatively large delta with respect to the ninth graders. And then there is also the issue of the degree of comfort of our Mentors to be able to interact with younger kids... or so we thought!
We ran a few weekend programs in Bangalore late last year, which included children from Grade 6 - at Inventure Academy, and at The Workbench Projects - and all notions about our Mentors not being able to connect well with younger kids were quickly dispelled. The participation levels from the 6th Graders were significantly different from what we were expecting, to boot.
And then we ran into these requests from parents who are signing up for our Summer Program in May 2018 (Bangalore), who have other children in Grade 6, to expand the coverage to Grade 6 students as well... anecdotally, we also ran into a pulmonologist parent who came to meet us personally, with her Grade 6 child in tow, asking the child in front of us whether she would be uncomfortable in such a Residential Program. Very comfortable, was the pat response! They did not want to wait another year to experience our Summer School!
There was also supporting evidence that younger children were managing just fine at Residential Programs - in fact, in the wilderness, in tents, surrounded by wild animals, washing their own clothes and plates - though these were typically week-long. Try INME or Youreka. This is also true of other world-class programs such as the ones conducted by Johns Hopkins or Northwestern.
All of which made us go back to the drawing board and see if we could put something together for this group of children at our Summer Program this May. And when we were done with our first draft, we wanted to be participants ourselves!
Essentially, we have decided to prioritise breadth over depth for the younger children, and cover it at a level that will enable them to get a feel for the different disciplines, and the interconnections. Which will stand them in good stead when they are in Grade 7, and would like to explore one of the topics in some depth at GenWise Summer Program 2019!