What is happening with my gifted child in the classroom?

The school year is underway.  Supplies bought and sent off. The nerves of meeting your child’s new teacher have melted away.  New clothes for the first day and class photos worn out already. The buzz and excitement of the new school year has faded.  

And now what?

Each day your child comes home with the same attitude.  The conversation is redundant, day after day.

How was school today?

Mumble, mumble…fine.  

Tell me about what you are reading?  

Charlotte’s Web but I read that when I was five.  

Tell me about Science.  

OH YEAH!  We made catapults today!  I told the other kids about the trajectory of the projectile is influenced by the push force of the catapult, the angle of the release, the weight of the projectile, air resistance and gravity.… but they were no longer listening and only said that what I was saying was weird and they had no idea what I was talking about.  

Emotions such as these are ones encountered daily by our students.  They are excited with anticipation of a new school year and deflated pretty quickly if their needs are not being met.  Gifted students can become impatient and bored if the classroom isn’t flowing quickly enough. They can get frustrated if the material isn’t challenging them on multiple levels.  They crave being understood and finding a group of intellectual peers or a “tribe of their own.” A lack of challenges can cause gifted students to take shortcuts in their work, doing the minimal amount or taking the easy way out.  Gifted students, if not challenged from the start of their academics, will not show their true potential and their chance of ever loving school will be lost.

Your child finishes all the work in five minutes.  Your child is the one that raises his/her hand with the correct answer before the teacher even finishes posing the problem. He/she is the student that never stops asking why. So, what do you do?

Create a partnership with your child’s teacher

Start by meeting with your child’s teacher.  Approach the conference as a partnership. Share your child’s interest, strengths, and areas of challenge.  This could even be goals for your child’s social and emotional growth.

Ideas on how to approach differentiated work

It is important that gifted and talented students pass state standards in each grade level so to avoid assuming your child knows everything, ask the teacher to give your child a pre-test for units of study.  Some schools approach this by using the end of the unit assessment as not to create more work for the teacher. Just like a spelling test, children are given the test on a Monday and if they pass the test (90% or above) they can be given a choice board of things to do during the unit.  

Bring ideas to the table such as supplementing work that your child already knows with things that would expand his/her knowledge in that area.  

Ask for ways that technology could be brought in during different units of study.  For instance IXL, Kahn Academy, and Beast Academy have online activities and lessons that a student could engage in to learn materials rapidly and then engage in a activity that is meaningful and challenging.  

Although I don’t advocate for a gifted child to become the assistant teacher in the classroom for his/her own learning, there are benefits to having children become the “teacher” for a lesson or two on occasion.  As an educator, I found that when I was taught to teach others there was a deeper understanding of a topic became real to me instead of a passive way of learning the material.  By preparing lessons and having materials/visual aids, a student can gain a deeper insight into a topic and work on presentation skills – oral speaking, making eye contact, and engaging others.  Some students would not love this option so it might push them out of their comfort zone to try something new and work on a new skill too.

Connections

Find ways to connect your child with other people that think like him/her.  By looking at  activities outside of school to help engage your child, he/she will  be sure to find a community of learners that are passionate and eager to learn more.   Check out your local universities and online tools as well for enrichment activities.  

By creating the partnership with your child’s teacher and having ways that you can help support your student, you will be off to a great start to the school year.

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