Things at school are better.
I hear about the games that he plays with friends at recess and the visiting that distracts him from his lunch in the cafeteria. I hear about the read alouds in class and the projects in computer lab. I hear about the art projects and the “secret” family gifts that are being created. I got an email from the teacher sharing that school days are filled with participation and cooperative learning. We celebrate this growth and hold our breath hoping that it continues. I’m not saying that we don’t have our own doubts about his needs (both social and academic) being met at his current school. But the improvements are significant… mostly.
Earlier this week, he suddenly became quite sheepish when I was taking his lunchbox and papers out of his backpack. It wasn’t long before I noticed his spelling test that was covered with scribbles and words all spelled incorrectly. It was clear that much effort was used to purposely spell them in absurd ways.
“What happened here?”
“I decided that I didn’t want to do the white list words and wanted it to look like they were too hard.” “I want to do the words that most kids do.” “I know the pink list words right away and then I wouldn’t have to practice at home.”
“Interesting strategy…but I’m afraid that it could backfire. If you bring assignments home in this condition, it makes me think that we should spend MORE time on spelling and that will put a strain on your afternoon computer time.”
My son is an excellent speller and that is why he has been given more challenging words. Even the “challenge words” are mastered early in the week, which is why this test was so surprising. After our conversation, I believe that he understood that his plan was flawed. But this spelling issue confirmed one of my biggest concerns…
If a highly gifted child skates through school with little effort, how will he develop the work ethics necessary for more challenging activities and learning? How will he be motivated to try higher-level work and see the benefits of more sophisticated learning opportunities? Will he be able to take risks and succeed in an environment that does challenge his thinking in the future?
Afterschool, my son works with me on thinking and problem solving skills. We also read and discuss books that are at (or above) his skill level. Most days, he enjoys the time together and we do this “homework” with little complaints. Other days, he resents the extra work and assures me that he doesn’t have homework. “I have already done a full day of work and I wish that you would see how tired I am at the end of the day!” “Is it too much to ask for a bit of free time after a long day’s work?!”
I smile a bit to myself because he sounds like a 45-year-old man who is disenchanted with his 40+ hour a week job and then the other part of me completely understands. He should be doing challenging work during the day…when he is rested and already spending time on math or other subjects.
It seems that this “problem” is common with gifted children. I want my precious TBP to see the value in education and learning. At this point, homeschooling is not an option, but I believe that an alternative schedule is in our near future.
Readers…what have your experiences been with your gifted and talented children? Advice? Suggestions?