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Kid too smart?

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sisoon posted 10/4/2018 12:38 PM

4th grade GS is advanced beyond grade level in one area. Parents got school to test him. The test results seemed to say he tested at the 12th grade level overall.

School says they've never had to deal with a kid who can perform this far above grade level. They're going to start him with a higher level text book, and he will work on that while the rest of the class is doing the 4th grade stuff.

No mentor, no peers.

Has anybody had to deal with this? What did you do?

Finances don't allow moving him to a private school, although some good ones are available. Besides, his parents and both sets of GPs are big supporters of public schools.

I don't think my aim here is to complain about the school administration. I appreciate their honesty, and I understand not having a way to handle a situation that is this unusual. I'm looking for ideas, because the school and our GS needs them.

sewardak posted 10/4/2018 12:50 PM

what is the area?

LilBlackCat posted 10/4/2018 13:28 PM

I had a friend who's daughter was gifted, the school will likely just pull in resources from other (high school) schools to help keep him challenged.

Just beware of burnout... that ended up happening to this friend's daughter.. The mom got caught up in the hype of learning more and more accelerated to the point where her daughter basically had an emotional meltdown and the "gifted accelerated" learning strength was then gone.

Warning signs of burnout were headaches, but the mom ignored them and thought it was just BS and that the girl looked for excuses to go outside and play versus studying.

[This message edited by LilBlackCat at 1:31 PM, October 4th (Thursday)]

Lionne posted 10/4/2018 13:34 PM

I have a Masters degree in education of gifted kids, 37 years in public education and two somewhat advanced-in-school sons. Some states, such as Pennsylvania, mandate appropriate accommodations for gifted kids, under the Special Ed laws but I believe that's been gutted. I'd check whether he qualifies for an IEP, which then becomes a legal document. It's not meant as a criticism of public schools, but man, these kids are too often appeased by an advanced text book with a teacher who had little time to truly instruct him. Then they wind up being the laziest kid in high school. Ask me how I know. Of course, things have changed in that computer instruction is available, that may be an option, but the school may have to be compelled to provide access to him.
That said, I don't believe kids always need advanced work. The prevailing attitude is to give them a WIDER education not just an advanced education. And that falls heavily on the parents and, bless you, grandparents. He should be encouraged to try different sports, music and art lessons. Take him to missing, space camp, find an out of school mentor in a field in which he may be interested.
These kids are often good at many things. In high school/college the challenge is to get them to commit to one field where they can Excell and enjoy. Providing him with a variety of experiences when he's young, is key.
Of course, these are good things to do for all kids...
Enjoy him (I know you do) These kids are a challenge but such fun.

Lionne posted 10/4/2018 13:39 PM

I agree, burnout, depression, over emphasis on perfection, can be huge problems.

KatyaCA posted 10/4/2018 13:40 PM

Sisoon my youngest child in second grade was reading at an 11th grade level and doing 5th grade math. I had him tested privately by someone who specializes in this in my area. Through those results to his testing I was able to get back with the school. He tested just below genius all across the board (including emotional intelligence).

Here is what we did. He skipped a grade and then at the higher grade was put into a pull out gifted program for even higher level work in some areas.

I too could not afford to put him in the private school they requested which was $25K per year for elementary, middle and high school. Um? How are we supposed to afford college?

He remains in advanced math and sciences, his other teachers work with him on deeper or advanced special projects and still he struggles with boredom. He just started his freshman year at age 13 and we are working to find a solution for a way for him to complete high school earlier and/or do a college/high school mix for a couple of years. We don't want to push him to far or too fast as I am worried about burnout. I also think that he struggles in certain areas that make being with other students who are relatively close in age is something he needs. He is very introverted and needs the social interaction with his peers. It's critical or he will become a hermit. Also, despite his ability to do very advanced work he struggles with organization and deadlines and work ethic. We are working harder with him in those areas as they are just as critical in my eyes as the straight academic work. Until he gets into a better place in those areas, I don't want to push too hard for even more advanced work. He can do it but I think he will miss out on other things he needs.

I also work with him in our daily life and on our travels to teach him myself about things he won't get in class. We have the coolest and most amazing conversations.

It is a challenge but one I am grateful for.

My oldest tested in 1st grade as extremely advanced in only one area. We got him placed in advanced work for that area and otherwise he has handled the rest of school like a champ. He is currently a junior and taking 4 AP classes. He already has 4 universities picked out he wishes to apply to for the two areas of degree he is considering. He is doing very well and is the easier of my two children to handle from a learning/educational perspective. He's also very disciplined and a hard worker when it comes to school.

[This message edited by KatyaCA at 1:53 PM, October 4th (Thursday)]

hcsv posted 10/4/2018 13:41 PM

Supplement school with incredible experiences.

Chances are the school is just going to give him more challenging worksheets. UGHHH.

Find a scientist who will take him into the lab and teach him cool stuff.
Find someone who will show him how to take an engine apart and put it back together.
Find someone who will teach him how to build a canoe.
Take him to a weather station at the top of a mountain.
Get him on a marine research ship.
Find a doctor that will let him shadow in the hospital.
Travel to cool museums.
Cut the plugs off small appliances and let him take them apart.
Astronaut camp.

tushnurse posted 10/4/2018 13:59 PM

Then they wind up being the laziest kid in high school. Ask me how I know.

This happened with my kiddo. He is brilliant, and capable of learning and doing any level of math or science, IF he wants to.

He lost his drive in middle school, and truly struggled in HS, and for a few years. Now he is in EMT then Paramedic school, and is killing it with the his performance.

So he is on the spectrum, super bright, very aspergersish. He did not do well with change, ever. He had 4 different schools in 4 years d/t our district opening a new school in middle school. I do believe this is where he started to go off the rails academically, but it was out of my hands by the time he hit HS.

Having an IEP is important, also if the public school has a program for the gifted kids he needs to be in it. This helped, because he would attend that one day a week all day and then have to make up the stuff he missed in class while at the gifted program.

You say the test results show him at 12 grade, is this just reading, or is this math, and sciences? This is an important distinction that a lot of people and educators miss. Many gifted kids learn to read early and read a lot and comprehend a lot early on because they have this drive to learn and understand, and reading helps with this. However very few kids are truly gifted when it comes to Math and science, having the innate ability to higher math, and understand doing chemical equations.

I would also encourage your kids to ask some private schools if they have scholarship opportunities or mentor programs that they can hook your GS up with.

Chrysalis123 posted 10/4/2018 16:21 PM

I am a public school educator.

Ask for an evaluation in writing to trigger the testing and process for an IEP. Each state has a procedure for requesting the evaluation so look it up.

I have a daughter that taught herself to read at age 3. Long story short we had her evaluated at age six and she had an IQ of 140...average is 100.

Highly gifted is just as outside the norm as a kid on the other end of the bell curve. Look up characteristics of highly gifted's daunting and not "easy street" like many people think.

School can be brutal on these types of kids. Keep asking questions and you know SI--we have all sorts of people with experience to help.

[This message edited by Chrysalis123 at 7:31 PM, October 4th (Thursday)]

inconnu posted 10/4/2018 18:54 PM

google Hoagie's Gifted. It's an excellent resource for all things related to gifted kids.

sewardak posted 10/4/2018 20:40 PM

Also a public school educator., IEP is a must!!!

wincing_at_light posted 10/4/2018 22:11 PM

Our experience with a gifted son echoes that of tushnurse and Lionne. He skipped a grade in school and then lost momentum about his freshman year in high school. For the most part, he just skimmed by doing the minimum because that was good enough. He's 24 at this point and just now beginning to really engage in things that interest him.

My school history was similar, but the crucial difference was that I was academically competitive. My kids did not inherit that trait.

The biggest piece of advice I'd offer is to help him find (at least) one thing, one area of exploration and interest that really fires him up and support the hell out of it. It might not end up being a "forever" interest, but if he can learn to translate that interest into goal setting and personally directed achievement, that'll translate into other areas of his life.

(My personal experience with getting bumped up selectively into higher classes was that it was awful. The work wasn't the problem, but getting dumped in with an older peer group with whom the competition was hostile was a challenge I wasn't ready for emotionally in elementary school.)

sisoon posted 10/5/2018 16:13 PM

Thanks for the thoughts. Let's call the area 'math'.

I've seen the plan. Some of it is laughable - like 'watch all Khan Academy videos' on a subject. If this kid gets a concept half way through the first video, he won't watch the rest. At least I wouldn't. Why should anyone?

The list of skills he's expected to develop looks very useful.

His spoken language is pretty sophisticated, but he doesn't show it, because he doesn't write. He reads a lot, but not much above grade level. He used to read way above grade level, but his unhappiness about his parents D and his lack of math education has turned him off school, so he does what he has to, and not much more in school. He engages his intellect after school, though, but mainly using screens.

For us, burnout is definitely an issue. We all want him to engage with subjects he's interested in (while performing at a high level where he's not super-interested). That means showing him stuff and letting him run with the stuff that moves him. So far, math, science, football, some games, and problem solving engage him.

He has an IEP that calls for focus on writing, but the school has weaseled out of doing much. Since 'math' has been GS's biggest complaint, that's the first area of focus.

The law is one thing. If the funding doesn't support what the law mandates, the mandate goes by the wayside.

Fortunately son and almost-XDIL have finally moved to respond to GS's complaints, and they've started pushing the school to deliver.

With some luck, now GS will find some joy in the new work he'll have to do, and his parents will have the energy to keep pushing the school.

Thanks a lot for the responses. You've given me some ideas on how to find some mentoring, and I've forwarded Hoagie's Gifted and the ideas to our son.

sisoon posted 10/5/2018 16:13 PM


[This message edited by sisoon at 1:26 PM, October 6th (Saturday)]

Lionne posted 10/5/2018 18:02 PM

The law is one thing. If the funding doesn't support what the law mandates, the mandate goes by the wayside.

This is when you become a helicopter parent.

Many of the highest achievers in my district never made it into the "gifted" program although they took full advantage of every AP class they could. Several of our students are taking college level classes as juniors and have graduated with an AA or AS before getting their HS diploma. But these kids have ear direction, at least for now, of what they want to study.

My youngest used to fixate on things, first trains, then catfish and ultimately physics. His HS physics class was the only one he'd do homework for. His reasoning: if I get 110% on the tests, why should I do homework? Lots of reasons, actually, but he bought none of them, played three instruments, Chorus, orchestra, swam competitively, and had lots of interesting friends. Physics is his passion, and he's in a job he adores, paid very well and his global company relies on him. He never graduated college, left needing 6 credits.
Kids can find their niche, but do need to learn to fail, or at least flounder, and this is a perfect time to expand his knowledge in a wide way.

[This message edited by Lionne at 8:17 PM, October 6th (Saturday)]

josiep posted 10/6/2018 11:20 AM

I edited this out cuz it was just a bunch of meandering thoughts and totally uncohesive and frankly, didn't add to the conversation.

[This message edited by josiep at 1:04 PM, October 6th (Saturday)]

HFSSC posted 10/7/2018 06:42 AM

I was that kid. Thereís so much good advice from educators and parents already. And it sounds like your GS is a little bit older/further along in the process than I was. But I just wanted to tell you and any others who might be parenting/grand parenting a gifted child how NOT to handle it.

I was discovered reading at age 3. By 4 I was reading chapter books and completing math worksheets sent home for my older brother and sister. So at age 5 I was sent to a private school for first grade. Once my teacher recognized my abilities, I was placed in second grade reading and math classes. But my parents couldnít afford the tuition, and once Iíd completed first grade the public school age cutoff didnít apply and they had to enroll me in second grade. But the public school curriculum was not nearly as difficult as the private schoolís. Iíd already essentially completed third or fourth grade work. The teachers were ill-prepared for a kid like me. My first day of second grade, as the teacher was calling the roll she must have noticed my birthday. She stopped and asked me, ďWhat are you doing in second grade when youíre only six years old?Ē I said, ďIím not six! Iím six and three quarters!Ē So she sent me to the principalís office for talking back to her.

I spent a LOT of time in prinicipalís offices over the next 11 years. It was very difficult for me. I never felt like I belonged on this planet, let alone in that school system with those kids and teachers.

Itís so important to balance the intellectual challenge and development with social interaction and emotional support. I had a couple of teachers along the way who understood that and who probably saved my life more than once.

Bobbi_sue posted 10/7/2018 08:59 AM

That said, I don't believe kids always need advanced work. The prevailing attitude is to give them a WIDER education not just an advanced education. And that falls heavily on the parents and, bless you, grandparents.

I have been a Gifted teacher in the past, and I wrote my doctoral dissertation on a Gifted Education Topic.

My 3 children were all tested as gifted. My DDs thrived but only one of them chose to accelerate by skipping a year of school (it was totally her idea and her choice but I supported it).

My DS struggled through school and to this day I do not have answers regarding what would have been better for my DS. He had the ability but WOULD NOT apply himself, did the absolute minimum and barely graduated from HS (but he did graduate). DDs were both valedictorians, both accepted at Ivy League Colleges, and both now have Ph.D.s

DS did not go to college but does have reasonably good job as a diesel mechanic. In spite of my own research and experience, I am here to say that nobody has all the answers. Many would tell me that my DS was "bored" in school and that he needed more challenge. That sounds good but I think it is rarely true. Yes he was bored in school, but when given more challenge, he was even more bored, and less interested. The challenge has to be directly related to something they are HIGHLY interested in learning and applying, at least in cases like my DS. My DDS were motivated by academic competition and probably more actual interest in the typical academic subjects.

Even my DD who skipped a year had this to report, later as an adult, when asked if she was glad she did that.

She has no real regrets but now sees it as mostly starting adulthood and making a full living on her own a year earlier than she would have otherwise. And as a typical youth who liked that period of not yet being considered quite an adult, well, there was not a huge benefit to getting there a year earlier.

[This message edited by Bobbi_sue at 9:01 AM, October 7th (Sunday)]

barcher144 posted 10/7/2018 10:19 AM

I agree, burnout, depression, over emphasis on perfection, can be huge problems.

I should just erase 'my story' on my profile and just replace it with this.

My advice would be to not focus so much on his talent but on his development as a whole. So he is a wiz at math... How are his social skills? Can he kick a soccer ball? Can he sing? Write poetry?

I was very advanced in math as a kid too. I essentially was put in the corner and told to learn it on my own. I had to take Algebra for four consecutive years (6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th grades) because they didn't know what else to do with me.

I eventually got bored with math and stopped doing well in it.

sisoon posted 10/7/2018 16:36 PM

I have no doubt that my GS needs higher level work in math. His mom and dad sure did.

He's behind in composition, though part of that is because he hates the topics he has to write about. That may be because he hates thinking about being a kid while his parents' M was falling apart.

Socially, he's been handicapped by his extreme frustration in school. With that and his home sitch, he has acted out a lot, though he got much better last year. Clearly, though, that's a critical part of his growth.

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