nectarine / 2964 posts
I struggled in a different way... please do not bash me as I am just sharing my experience...
DS was able to read very early on (like a year ahead of others) and we honestly did not do anything special with him. He's in K right now but he's reading borderline 2nd grade level. Our teacher said there is nothing to worry about. Knowing our school, I feel they don't pay much attention to kids who are more advanced. Last year DS and another very bright girl often got pulled out to do extra reading and such, and that girl has skipped K and now in 1st Grade. Now DS is kinda alone and may get even less attention because "he's all set already", which I understand because there are kids who are still not reading.
So in the teacher parent meeting, I asked our teacher to please continue to challenge him, as I didn't want him to be bored and just "wait until everyone catches up". The result is, we got extra reading of a chapter book a week and a work sheet, basically a simple book report. I don't feel there is anything special done for him at school. DS can read, but he is not quite articulate to tell the story's beginning, middle and end and such. I feel that if there were proper support, or say, if he was already in first grade, they might actually teach in class more clearly what is the beginning, middle, and end of the story, rather than just letting him go home with extra work and figure it out on our own. So it turns out to be quite stressful as we have to (1) read one chapter book a week (2) do the book report. I don't know how home schooling works, but I feel very much like I am part time home schooling him (and unfortunately I am really not the best teacher). I thought about asking them to cut back but I feel bad, as I was the one who asked for it. So we shall see....
Now I don't know if DS gets "recognized" for his "achievements" in front of others, as parents wasn't invited to the thanksgiving party.
Then DH and my fear is that DS may get bullied down the road -- the classic "smart kid effect".... I am keeping my fingers crossed...
cantaloupe / 6131 posts
@Mrs. Sketchbook: I'm rereading this thread because I'm still confused on what the problem is. It sounds like what you want is a self-contained educational experience where you as the parent don't need to do anything outside school hours. (Not to say that you're not involved in teaching your kid life skills and other things). You seem to want this for a lot of reasons, like because you don't agree with homework from a pedagogic standpoint, you want your kid to learn independently and on his own pace, and because you have things you'd rather be doing, like community activism. Which is all fine.
But I don't get where the rant end of this comes in.
You speak about being against a curriculum built around parental willpower, but I dunno. I agree parents shouldn't do their kids homework and turn in perfect work for their kids. But parental involvement and concern IS important to learning - you said so yourself with regards to not feeling like your parents supported your learning and need to be challenged. Parents need to be involved their kids' learning journey. But a lot of times we need to learn how to adjust for that in our lives. And thus, I really think homework is for us.
We joke about homework being extra work for parents, but I think it IS true and that honestly we need it. It's a lifestyle change and adjustment that requires a balancing of time and resources like every other stage of parenting. Homework helps us stay on top of what they are learning during the day, it forces us to identify what our kids need, and teaches the PARENT to build time into their lives to help their kid learn.
Do some parents spend more time doing this than others? Sure. Can it be taken to excess and abused for stupid reasons? Absolutely. But might we, as parents, need time to adjust to having a school age child just like the child needs time to adjust to school? And might learning activities and homework train us to do that?
Here's an example. My 3 year old got a paper scarecrow sent home from school with a note attached to it, instructing parents and kids to design and color in the scarecrow together and that the kids would share them in class during the week.
1. The paper was in his cubby where his typical coloring sheets and art projects are left to take home. We check it like once a week bc it's just finished art.
2. So I didn't even realize there was some homework waiting for us. And DH grabbed it at some point and left it in a pile of other crafts.
3. Several days go by and I finally sort through them for recycling, see (on Thursday night) that the assignment was due for show and tell during THIS WEEK.
4. I swear and grab the crayons and run upstairs, announcing to my husband we had homework. Messed up the whole evening routine we had and the 18 month old was running around breaking all the crayons and throwing them down the stairs.
5. Chaos ensued. Scarecrow got done. 18 month old grabs it and rips it and runs around the house.
6. Mommy consoles 3 year old and is taping said scarecrow back together at 1040pm. I tell all morning to remind DH to turn the scarecrow in. DH triumphantly turns homework in and DS1 shares his scarecrow the last day of the week. I'm sure some other kid turned in a spangled amazing scarecrow with hay hair and button eyes and whatever. My son turned in a scotched taped crayon squiggle.
DH and I were like holy hell, we need to handle that better next time. Not because the scarecrow matters at all, but because WE have to start getting in the habit of being more involved with this kind of crap. It was a drill for us as the parents. Do we want to? Eh. Do we need to? Definitely. Was our son pumped that we were doing a project together? Yep. Is this experience going to train us to pay more attention to his cubby and schedule quiet time without our baby to do some art projects with Mommy or Daddy in the future? Yes. And that's a good thing. Because I need to learn to do this crap in the future.
cantaloupe / 6751 posts
I'm trying to figure out why this post rubs me the wrong way.
Are you against parental involvement in a child's education? Do you think education should be contained to just the 8am-3pm that kids are in school? Once 3pm hits and the kid is at home, does learning end?
I feel like you're shaming parents who make it a priority to work with their kids. There's a huge difference between a parent doing / correcting a child's homework, and a parent who reads to their child, helps them sound out words, gives them time to practice the skills they have learned in school.
I think we all have limited hours we spend with our children. How we choose to spends those hours is up to us. My husband works long days. I work from home and have a toddler who requires a ton of attention. We have to be purposeful about how we spend our time. I don't think I'm a "helicopter parent" because I read w/my kid and prioritize learning.
GOLD / nectarine / 2884 posts
@pinkcupcake: Is there any way I could hold my opinion without triggering your anger? I tried to concede that you are a better time manager than me, I never claimed to be a wonderful time manager (I suppose if I were I wouldn't have this problem), but that seems to have made you angrier. I'm working through this. It isn't "either or." My original post was to express dismay that my values about how my kid spends his free time might have a negative impact on his schooling, and I feel a little attacked by the people who want this to be a black and white debatable issue when in fact I'm just expressing human doubts and insecurities. I dunno. I regret writing this because frankly it makes me feel ashamed, which is not helping me to manage the internal debate I'm having right now. I think writing here was not a good idea.
@yoursilverlining: I don't assume my child is gifted...In fact I actually wrote that directly, so sorry if I miscommunicated that. Let me be absolutely clear. Both my husband and I were identified as gifted at various points in our childhood. So in the back of my head, I try to remain open to the idea that my kid would be gifted, and I want to set him up for success if that ends up being the case. I try to put him in the way of activities, etc., that could help him flourish if he is indeed gifted. I try to make the most generous assumptions possible about his intelligence. I know that sounds like what all parents do, but I know many parents who are quick to say, "my kid isn't ready for that, etc." I try consciously to push aside those thoughts and put him in the way of things. In a rural area that's actually quite hard because we don't have all the resources that you might have in a bigger area.
You know, this conversation is frustrating me. I suppose I shouldn't have expected random internet folks to give me the benefit of the doubt, but nevertheless I did and now I have lots of egg on my face. I stupidly wrote that on my phone at the gym without much second thought. I shared my experience about being in the gifted program and then getting out of the system and my parents not advocating for me when I was a kid to try to express how I am worried that if I do not directly advocate for my kids, he would slip through the cracks. AT THE SAME TIME, my desire not to over-parent my kid and force him to buy into every single thing that happens at his school means that I feel a lot of tension and guilt. I dunno. I dunno if that clarifies at all.
@gingerbebe: I have to say, one thing that is really frustrating me about this debate is the number of people who are willing to assume that I don't do all the stuff....like your scarecrow example. If I were cool with not doing the scarecrow, I suppose I wouldn't have this internal debate? I would just not do it, and be fine with it. The internal conflict comes in for me where I'm trying to keep up with all of this stuff, and the stakes get higher and higher, and the way it affects the fabric of our family life is more and more intense to the point where you have to draw the line. But it is hard to know WHERE, and it causes worry that other parents who don't ever say no, even at the expense of their own mental health, are setting their kids up for success. How to balance family mental health and anxiety level vs. a sense that my kid needs to do this stuff in order to be set up for success. My kiddo got a good report card, so he's not behind academically, but I don't want his teachers to think he lacks initiative just because I personally don't prioritize the reading log, or getting all of the SWs memorized, instead of just this week's sight words. I feel like I've written some version of that every way I can, but apparently I'm not communicating it adequately. My experience is that pre-k stuff is fine and all, and yes we missed some projects, which was frustrating and we had to up our game. But it becomes truly scary when you realize that your kid will be in the same school for 7 years, and that the slow buildup of parental mistakes/priorities could have a truly negative impact on how your child is perceived by teachers, etc. It makes me anxious, and I don't want to be an anxious person around my kids if I can help it. I honestly am amazed that so few people on this thread do not struggle with this...I thought it was basically a common gripe....
I’m not angry, but I feel defensive because I feel like your tone / choice of words with me is very patronizing and condescending.
And not saying this in a snarky way, but maybe this is something you need to work through with a professional. Having this much anxiety over a kindergarten reading log doesn’t seem normal.
@Mama Bird: I'm starting to believe that all incentives like that are ultimately useless. My son is not motivated by incentives so we've started moving to just "this is the standard in our home" for things like chores. It is frustrating to see the schools fall into the habit of destroying natural motivation and replacing that with external reward-seeking.
@pinkcupcake: I also feel defensive! I came here to talk about a tension I feel WRT to school/life balance and have been backed into defending a whole parenting philosophy. Your first words to me were: "I’m not sure what your point is." The thing is....I dunno...I didn't come into this conversation with a fully fleshed out "point" to make, but a tension in my life that I was exploring. I dunno! This feels pretty awful. I'll end it here. Well, except to say that I do see a therapist already
nectarine / 2085 posts
I think I get the main point of your post, but I think the reaction you're getting is because of the title and the bit about other parents. I don't think the problem is the other parents, I think it's the stuff you're being asked to do by the school. You think that stuff is silly or worse (and when it comes to reading logs, incentive programs, and sight word lists, I agree!). The idea that my child's school needs to 'train' me to do something a certain way is an idea I... don't love. You're allowed to think for yourself! But I didn't really feel like that was the message I got from our school experience. The thing is, it's hard to have it both ways. It's sort of you play the school game by the school rules...or you don't. But I'm fairly sure it's not going to be much fun to stay in the school system and be unhappy about it. Maybe that's another way to look at the issue?
grapefruit / 4455 posts
Tracking does start in K, whether we like it or not. But I don't think it starts to the extent that a kid not getting an award will do nothing for years.
I think parents' roles should be clarifying and practicing with their kids but not teaching them beyond where the class is. If other parents want to do that fine but unless my kid/s ask me to I won't be going there.
I don't think learning sight words early, or even being at the top of the class is a replacement for having other interests, free play, learning household responsibilities, etc. So I'm totally fine with my kid/s not getting an award (and if they want to work on whatever the award was given for I'm sure they will ask for help) if it means that they are developing in other areas.
But ultimately they will have their strengths and interests and I think as a parent it's my job to support those and support them becoming their best selves (as cheesy as that sounds) rather than worry about what other kids and parents are doing. I think parenting the child you have is important.
Lastly I don't think it's just school. In sports and other extracurriculars, the more involved parents- the parent who did the same sport, for example- tends to put their child at an advantage. It sucks that it is that way in public schools though.
All that to say I think if your LO is at grade level and enjoying learning and retaining the information then that's fine and I don't think you need to worry quite this much!
pomelo / 5866 posts
I was horrible at filling out the reading log too. Did almost everything else though. Some of it, pretty well!! I feel ok about it but I expect I will make more mistakes in the future and therefore I don’t get a big head about things! I don’t need or want a judge to tell me what is right or good. I think I already know, based on what I learned in my limited lifetime. My main advice is you can’t control the perceptions of the teachers or other parents, even if you try in vain, and we just move forward from mistakes. We learn and give lessons about we are not perfect and we still take responsibility and do our best. Comparing ourselves and keeping up with others will always end you up in a bad place. Embrace your choices even if it goes against what others are doing and saying. There may be others that feel as you do but you just don’t know it. If it doesn’t work, shift gears and go down a different road. Your choice yesterday is not always the same choice tomorrow. That said, I give a lot of credit and gratitude for those who are actively growing in their journey as a parent and not throwing in the towel or throwing it in another’s face. Respect yourself and others is the motto when differences arise.
kiwi / 524 posts
It sounds like to me that you're worried your child might not be recommended for testing into the gifted program because other kids are being drilled on sight words, thereby making them seem more advanced than they might naturally be.
I would just tell the teacher that you want him tested. There's lots of evidence that play and exercise are extremely important. I wouldn't sacrifice them for more academic training in kindergarten.
I would also complain about the rewards and competitions. There's a lot of evidence that rewarding kids to read makes them less likely to enjoy it. Plus, what's with the product placement/pushing unhealthy foods?
@Woolly Mammoth: I live in a pretty small town in a state that doesn't prioritize education. My husband graduated with a class of 104. There aren't a lot of resources for kids who are deemed "regular." By the time they are in middle school, the regular kids are starting to be tracked more toward vocational classes/careers. There's a big push in my state for kids to be "career ready." And having been in the schools I personally saw how there's so much positive reinforcement for the gifted/honors kids, but so much negative reinforcement for the non-gifted kids. Even discipline of the non-gifted kids was so much more punitive. The level of respect, kindness, freedom that the gifted kids are granted....it is just worlds apart. The activities for the gifted kids are so much better, hands-on-learning, etc. In fact, in my school system you can't even be special needs and gifted because our district can't afford to have a special education certified teacher in a gifted class. So parents are told to choose between gifted designation and their IEP. It scares me because my younger son is in early intervention and I'm afraid that he'll never be able to qualify for gifted based on that alone. It is scary. If my kid was tested and came back not gifted I would accept that as the final word about my kid and be fine with that. But I would have to think about whether or not to stay in my school system, and that would be a massive financial/professional sacrifice. Would we move? I know at least one person in my town who is going to do that because she's afraid her son who is on the spectrum won't be able to take gifted classes. Right now he's in parochial school but that ends in 8th grade. So she's going to commute him 45 minutes away, or move.
ETA: I'm not against vocational school BTW....I actually would be glad for my kids to choose that route, but I absolutely want them to have the choice and if that means drilling sight words to give them that edge....I dunno. Still figuring that out.
nectarine / 2400 posts
@Mrs. Sketchbook: I’ve been following this thread and I’ve found it very interesting but I think you got down to the crux of it in your last post “it might take drilling sight words to give him that edge” so yah I think you just have to figure out how you feel about that, how you can fit it into your day if you decide it’s important. So maybe you ease your tablet preference and let him do sight words on there in the car or instead of tv time or whatever. Maybe you do sight words about the kitchen or food while you make dinner etc. or maybe you decide it’s not worth t right now and that’s fine too. But I think it’s good to be thinking about how you want to handle this and then see how you can make it work for your family
In that case I would figure out exactly what your child needs to do to get into the gifted program and do whatever you need to do to support that. Do they just need a certain score on a test? A teacher recommendation? Who has to initiate the testing? What does the test look like?
We live in a big urban district, but I know that here either the teacher or the parent can ask for testing. Plus I think there is universal testing in first grade. You can have your child tested every year. Once they test in they never need to retest.
wonderful pear / 26210 posts
@gingerbebe: I am dying laughing about your scarecrow experience, because the same thing happened to us in preschool. By the time kindergarten rolled around, I had changed my approach and basically stockpiled supplies. Now, the idea is that my husband and I teach my son how to do projects and homework, not that we do it FOR him. My son used to just sit down and start the project, but now, he plans it out, determines what materials he needs, takes inventory of what we have, makes his list, does the shopping and then finally makes the project. I guide him along the way, because he doesn't know what materials are available to him yet, or even what to do with them. Eventually, he will know and my involvement will be limited to going to the store with him. I really looked at it as laying the foundation for him to be able to do these projects later on.
Same with homework (we don't have it any longer). I didn't look at it as the material, I looked at the process to complete it...gathering your materials, sitting in a location that is conducive to completing it, reading the instructions. I never corrected it and sent it in as he completed it. It was all about establishing the routine.
@looch: this is great info
@Mrs. Sketchbook: I just don't know how to respond. Your thoughts on this issue are all over the place so I can't seem to focus my response on any one thing. Here's what I'm seeing:
You don't know if your kid is gifted.
You frankly don't care if your kid IS gifted.
You want him to be an independent learner.
But you want your kid IN gifted.
But you don't think you should have to play the system to get your kid into gifted.
But you think other kids who really aren't gifted may get advantages that your kid won't get because their parents played the system.
Meanwhile we still don't know if your kid really is gifted.
And you don't want to play the system because it adversely affects your mental health and you want to do other things in the community instead.
You resent other parents who can and are playing the system.
But if you don't play the system you might ruin your kid's life.
But you don't want to move or find another school that might have a system that works better for your family.
I'm not saying I don't have sympathy for the tension and internal struggle you're dealing with - every parent weighs this - but I just dont know how to help constructively. Perhaps what you just wanted was someone to join in and commiserate say parenting is complicated and hard and I don't know what the answer is. If so, I apologize - I never meant to imply you weren't being active or helping or whatever. I am just extremely logical in nature and was trying to figure out what exactly the problem was and see if I could offer some kind of solution.
pomegranate / 3127 posts
@gingerbebe: I think there's a bit of an internal thought process spilling out here. I can relate to a lot of this because lately, I've been going in circles about this too. Like: looks like DS is gifted and should be in G&T, but G&T is not right for him for many reasons, he'll be in regular school and I'll work with him at home, but I don't have time to work with him that much, so maybe G&T is the way to go, but I don't want to push him, but if I just sit back some doors will close to him for good. I don't want to compete with the other parents at the school. I just know what this one kid needs, and can't find a way to do any of it. It all comes up against a stone wall of work + commute.
coconut / 8472 posts
If you hate your town and the school system so much, why stay there? Also, I think you have to come to terms with the parenting choices you make and know that you can’t have your cake and eat it too. You can’t both spend your evenings involved in the community and whatever else and then get mad that other parents are choosing to do extra learning with their kids. You can’t be fine with your kid learning at their own pace and also mad that other kids are getting pushed at a faster pace.
Accept the choices you’ve made or make different ones.
wonderful cherry / 21504 posts
@Mrs. Sketchbook: I feel like you have two internal struggles here.
1) you don’t know but hope your child tests into gifted, because the gifted program is way way better than the regular program in your school system. You don’t want to pressure your kid to get into it, or game the system, but you are afraid if you don’t, he will suffer because of your moral belief that parents shouldn’t be gaming the system. I can understand that.
2) kids are being rewarded for doing seemingly nonsensical extra things like finishing all the site words for the year when you are making sure your kid keeps up with what he is supposed to be doing. This would irritate me too. I can remember in high school I would often finish the book we were reading really early, then I would forget what part we were supposed to be discussing on a certain day. Kind of the same thing. If a kid wants to keep moving on his sight words, great! But a Pizza Hut pizza hardly seems like the right response.
My kid isn’t even in kindergarten yet so I haven’t experienced this, but from what I am reading, in your situation I think I would figure it what I need to do to make sure he is ready for the gifted testing, grit my teeth and prepare him for that to give him the best chance of getting in, and then try to go back a bit to my ideals.
@ShootingStar: @gingerbebe: You know, I've had to make a few decisions about my kids and school that, at the time, felt a little like flying blind, and they were scary. I wrote blog posts about some of them....like pulling my kid out of a montessori school after they felt he needed (at three) to be evaluated for ADHD, but me feeling like I wasn't ready for that. After a great pre-K year and so-far great kinder year, I feel so much better about not putting him through the evaluation process at the behest of one daycare director.
Also choosing not to redshirt felt a lot like making a risky choice. I swear I spent the whole summer between Pre-K and kinder wondering if I had done the right thing. My husband also had an opportunity to move us to a metro area and after careful thought, we decided that wasn't for us, mostly because our family is here and my husband has really good work/life balance at a small business vs. the more corporate type environment that we would have had to move into. As you may be able to tell from my other posts I had a pretty chaotic childhood so giving my kid the sort of small town experience that my husband had growing up holds some appeal to me. I also recently had to decide to pull away from some EI programs for my 2nd son because, again, I felt like there were too many labels, too many tracks, too overwhelming for a 2 year old to be in three hours of therapy a week. But that meant talking to a social worker, making a case against the therapist, etc. It was daunting, and I doubted myself a lot. For me all of those decisions were emotional and the sense that I was responsible for guiding my kids through what felt like an impossibly complex set of options was hard for me to manage. Now that we are in kinder, there are new decisions to be made that pit my gut instincts against the wider culture. It is really hard to make these decisions and it frustrates me when the schools exacerbate these problems by incentivizing one narrow set of behaviors. My intention with this post was not really to slam those parents who meet the expectations, but to really ask-- what are some strategies for managing the expectations of the school while also maintaining my own integrity/values? If I don't want to become a "helicopter parent," how do I get started on that ethic as early as possible and not let that sort of thing creep into my parenting as a reaction to the wider culture? I think it is shameful the way schools make parents jump through hoops on this stuff. I have a lot of compassion for people who find themselves jumping hoops, or who decide to stop jumping and go on to private, or homeschool, or whatever. I am lucky that my small town has some affordable private schools but I really believe in the public school system which is why I'm trying to hang with this.
This afternoon I ran into a dear cousin's daughter, who is 18. She just got accepted to college, is doing dual enrollment, has a job, etc. Her parents have tried public school, parochial school, unschooling, online public school, dual enrollment....the gamut. Now she's this fantastic 18 year old who is super independent and ready for college. Made me think that if I am really worried about the trajectory of my kids, I should be talking to my cousin who has fabulous grown kids, and not internet people who have kids the same age as me. I mean no insult when I say this, but it is hard to maintain perspective about big choices when you're talking to people who are all making those choices along with you.
It is easy to become territorial about your choices, etc.
I should probably seek out some examples of people who hit this sweet spot and ask them how they learned to be brave on this stuff. I think it really does take a certain measure of bravery to, as many posters pointed out, take the marathon view of this stuff and not spend your whole life in a never-ending sprint toward a moving goalpost. I dunno.
I appreciate all the input on this! I'm sorry I ruffled so many feathers, but I think that is the role I play on these boards at times....I will accept that task I guess...
@Foodnerd81: Yes, you put my scattered thoughts into some sort of order! Thank you!
nectarine / 2180 posts
@Mrs. Sketchbook: I've been reading this discussion with interest, and I'll just throw my thoughts in.
Re: your original post, is it possible that some of these kids already knew all the sight words going into K (early readers) and it's not actually that their parents are coaching them or drilling them to make sure they get ahead?
My other thought is that it might be productive to have a thoughtful discussion with the school administration about the homework policy and incentives. My kid's school has a no-homework policy in general, but it's up to the teacher as to how to implement that. In first grade we have a reading log, but we don't record minutes read. There are usually 1-3 math problems that get sent home during the week, and the kids are also encouraged to practice spelling words. None of it is for a grade. It's very appropriate and we often squeeze in 5 minutes of spelling or 1 math problem in the morning before school. I really appreciate that our principal understands the research behind the no homework policy, and perhaps your principal would be open to a discussion that could ultimately change the culture of your son's school.
Also, for the gifted thing...at least for my child, the gifted program is very different now from when my husband and I were in school. There are about 4-5 children in each grade who are identified as gifted. It's an extremely thorough identification process involving multiple standardized assessments, a parent and teacher survey of gifted behaviors, and writing and creativity are also evaluated. It would be very difficult for a parent to "coach" their child into being identified as gifted...and in our case, the parents were not notified of the screening and evaluation process until it was over. If it's a concern, I would talk with the gifted teacher about what the identification process entails in your district. But I would suggest that allow yourself to relax a little bit, in that regard, because whether he is gifted is probably out of your control
@Mrs. Sketchbook: " I should be talking to my cousin who has fabulous grown kids, and not internet people who have kids the same age as me."
I have this same problem too, even in real life. Most of my friends that I talk to about this stuff have kids the same age, maybe a year or two older. So we are all doing our best but don't know what the heck we are doing or if the choices we are making are going to work out. It's definitely nice to talk to someone who's been through it all and can say what the important decisions were and what turned out to be not as big a deal as it seemed at the time.
@Pancakes: That's really interesting! When I was in the high school last year I think I had about 40 gifted kids out of a junior class of 200 kids total. But those kids were identified as gifted ten years ago. Maybe in the last ten years the requirements have firmed up and by the time my son is in middle/HS it won't feel so absolutely necessary for him to have that distinction. Let's hope that education has reformed to the point that we don't treat the "regular" kids like they are not worth the investment that we lavish upon the gifted ones. A rising tides lifts all boats, etc.
Just wanted to add in reference to your 18yo cousin I listened to a podcast of a lady who has 5 kids and they have done everything for school from homeschool to private, public, Montessori and she said you know it really doesn’t matter, so whatever is the easiest and I try to keep that in mind too. Our kids will be fine!
Call me crazy, but this is why I am glad there is no gifted program in my son's school. He's bright, but is he gifted? I don't really think so, but I also think the majority of kids are not gifted that test into those programs. When I think of gifted, it's not about what you can teach them, it's that they grasp concepts that are well above their level without being taught. That's a very small subset of the students out there.
I also seek out the advice of the more experienced parents, those with older kids. It's a valuable resource, but it's also important to balance it with the system as it is set up today. Things change and I think the best investment you make in your child is understanding the current environment and how to work within it.
@looch: Well said about working within the environment.
I wish we had all day gifted classes where I lived. Then there is not as much of a comparison problem. They had this where I lived in two different states and the few gifted kids from each school combine into a single similar aged classroom in a district school. That was wonderful. The pace was appropriately fast and creative because of the reading ability and the time it took to grasp a concept was quick. The type of exposure really pushes the top level kids and the teachers were highly trained in their area. I am thinking of proposing something like this for our area but I have to find the right people and strategy.
grapefruit / 4800 posts
I think parental support is super important and we’re hands on with our kids. But..... I have gotten annoyed sometimes with the way extras are handled - and taking time to check when I could go in and read (a couple hrs from when the email was sent) meant some parents had already signed up 2-3x before I have a date to go in. I hadn’t had her use the school computer program at home but I guess a lot of parents do, and then they read the same book at school and it appears skewed on whose already read the story. Overall it’s minor annoyances for me, I can see how you can play the system but since we still work with her on other things I’m not sure that gaming the system is always in the child’s interest. Right now we’re just worried about foundation and not bothering with gifted testing until at least 3rd grade. And lots of kids are more gifted in some areas and not others so it’s always going to be a tricky balance of nurturing their particular curiosity. But that’s also why parental support is important bc no one will see you kid as much of an individual as you will.
@looch: I actually read an article about getting rid of gifted only programs and I see the benefit. I recently read Grit and Duckworth talks a lot about how the people around you can influence your grit. My experience with schools is the gifted kids form their own separate school almost. Some people in my town have said it is like two high schools operating within the same building. I was the kind of kid who took both honors/AP and regular courses and the culture in the classes was night and day different. As someone who has done both, it aggrieves me to no end that regular kids get teachers with less training and experience. Makes no sense. Our culture reifies intelligence to the point of insanity. I may have taken the grit thing too far... I also agree about older parents vs current ones. The culture changes so quickly. Even though my siblings are in college I feel like I could not ask my mother for advice on these issues... she's too far away from the current atmosphere. It takes a mix.
@Maysprout: completely agree. This is the first time I've felt like what looked good on "paper" doesn't actually benefit my kid. Usually extra effort= good experiences for my kid but now it just feels like unnecessary extra stuff.
Also on that subject...when I was a high schooler APs were basically like the gifted track and required nominations and in some cases tests. When I was back in the schools the educators told me that the barriers to AP had become a social justice issue and AP had decided that anyone should be able to take the classes. We did have some clearly not ready kids fail and drop down to less rigorous courses but in theory I really like that idea. Puts the power in the hands of the student.
I think the problem is that many see gifted, normies, and special ed kids as "best, average, worse" and that's not what any of that means.
Gifted children need special support as much as kids who have special ed needs. In essence, gifted IS special ed. It's not just giving them challenging material - it's often that these children are so advanced in some areas, that other areas lag and they need extra support.
Both my husband and I were in gifted and we both fit that mold. I was gifted but terribly awkward socially, had obsessive behaviors, had a really hard time with big emotions, got really upset at perceived failures, and was bullied a lot as a result. Having a program and teachers trained in not only the academic side, but how to encourage growth in those other areas was incredibly useful to me. I had a gifted teacher flat tell our class that the reality was we were going to have a harder time in life because we would see, and feel, and analyze, and scrutinize things much more deeply than others and while that's good in many ways, it's also really hard to deal with when you want your brain to just stop and let you have fun without THINKING all the time. But he also said it's not a bad thing, nothing is wrong with us, it's not our fault, it just IS and we have to figure out our individual ways of coping. I mean, even now, I appreciate that speech so much. My husband, in his case, became challenging, destructive, and mischievous until he was engaged in the right kind of programming. We not only got stimulated academically, we got tools to help us manage the shortcomings and burdens that being gifted created. At every step of my education, it was educators and parents and schools that understood my unique set of challenges that made the difference, and I imagine kids with IEPs probably feel the same way.
I think that's why I don't mind having gifted tracks or even parents who make it their job to be hyper involved because essentially, most of us are trying to get our kids whatever supports they need in the context they are in. Parents who try to game the system (i.e. try to push a kid who isn't actually gifted into those programs) OR don't support their gifted child beyond academics are going to see a lot of things backfire down the line. Many of those kinds of kids in my high school were enormously unhappy and depressed and one of them even committed suicide at Yale.
Education is about providing your kids with the tools they need to be a functioning whole person and only you as a parent can decide what that will require for each kid. Unfortunately, I don't think it's feasible to expect public schools to provide that to each individual child and so certain norms and systems have to be put in place and parents have to pick and choose what matters most.
Its why before we had kids DH and I structured our finances and careers around flexibility around our future kids' educational needs. We did not buy in the best (super expensive) school district bc it's geared towards those super gifted kids with tiger parents and frankly they do a bad job in special education. (Ironically. we do have access to those schools bc of there not being enough school age kids to fill the classrooms in that town). Instead we bought in a more affordable area with average schools in the county seat where all the special ed options are fully available. We intend right now to send our kids to a small reasonably priced private school that does a great job with both normal kids and gifted children and provides support for homeschooling parents and one off classes in specific subjects for homeschooled kids. DH built a business working from home and I have a job that allows flexible schedules. All this because we didn't know what our kids would need at which point in time and we wanted to preserve as many options as we could.
Perhaps we overthought it, but having experienced what we did, DH and I weren't willing to play catch up later with regards to our kids' development. DH didn't feel properly engaged and supported until high school and I didn't until middle school. That's a long time to feel out of sorts for a kid.
eggplant / 11692 posts
@Mrs. Sketchbook: my two cents to your original post: it does seem like you have some multi pronged worries going on here. But before I get into that, I'm just curious about the site word issue specifically-- do you know that these parents are actually spending a lot of extra time at home "drilling"? Is there a chance some of these kids just have a natural ability/affinity for reading and have just picked it up more quickly than other kids in class? Or are your friends with the parents and have inside intel?
To address your larger concerns: the reality is that there are some Tiger parents out there who may be doing everything they can to help their children succeed. There are also going to be students who just naturally excel. Sometimes those two categories intertwine and sometimes they don't--it's definitely not always a direct link.
I used to teach only gifted students--it was a large program and the kids were completely seperated from "regular" students for all core classes. This was in middle school. The thing is, at some point, usually right around middle school, it starts to become clear that all the parental pressure in the world does not make a gifted student. I had plenty of students who were on a spectrum--some weren't gifted at all and were just early readers, tested well in K or 1st and then turned out to be average once all the other kids caught up around 2-3rd grade. By the time I had them in middle school, they tended to be very demotivated in school because they'd had several years under their belt if being the worst (worst grades, last to learn a new concept) in the gifted class. That's a crappy place for a kid who could be thriving in an honors class to be in. I also had not-gifted-but-highly-motivated kids who could keep up and sometimes even be at the top of the class, but it came at a price of extremely long hours of schoolwork and a lot of anxiety and obsessiveness over grades. And then I had the truly gifted kids who basically could just coast. One of the best students I ever had--brilliant guy even as an 8th grader--is now an actual rocket scientist with a PHD from the top school in what he does-- told me once that his parent gave him a strict bed time of 9pm. That was unheard of for our program, where kids were often complaining of staying up till midnight to study or do homework. 9 pm! And he did a lot of extracurriculars. He didn't need all the time the other kids needed, he just turned in his first draft and raced through his math homework (he was working two grade levels above and doing high school coursework) and get them all right on the first try; he was mastering a third language (he grew up speaking two). I guess my point is--there's no faking real giftedness. But probably 70% of the kids in a public school gifted program aren't gifted anyway, they are high achievers.
So there's sort of a few things a parent might do---do nothing and let your kids natural pace determine their placement. Make the best out of wherever that might be. 2) Tiger parent strategy. Stay on top of the kiddo, always ask for extra work, note every test and project and keep tabs on progress. I've seen this strategy both succeed wildly and totally backfire with kids 3) be uninvolved (as you pointed out with your examples of your own upbringing, this one probsbly isn't the most recommended). You may find a balance that's good for your son and also works for you.
My older sister also lives in a smaller city in your state (I think) and her strategy was Tiger parent strategy and so far it seems to be paying off. My niece is a junior in HS and my nephew is an 8th grader and while they are both August birthdays in a district where school starts in early August (so they are a full year younger than some classmates), they are high achieving kids. Straight As, my niece is gunning for one of the top 3 spots in her class, she takes all AP classes and scored a 5 on 2 of her AP exams this year. My sister insisted they be tested for GT in elementary because neither of them were ever nominated by their teachers. They got in, it's worked fine for them. I'm not sure if they are gifted, but they are really bright and they work hard and it works. But it's definitely been calculated and there haven't been any 9pm bedtimes!
clementine / 927 posts
@Mrs. Sketchbook: I didn't make it through this entire thread, but I wanted to jump in and say that I think your concerns are completely valid. In fact, your concerns are some of the reasons I am weary of the educational methods being used in schools and why we are leaning toward homeschooling.
The demands that schools are placing on young children are just not developmentally appropriate. There is absolutely no reason why a 5 year old child should be bribed with pizza to read. This absolutely frames reading as work and not a pleasurable activity to be done for the inherent joy that should attend reading. Rewards for academic performance and learning teach children early on that learning is a drudgery that they have to endure.
Your five year old can get a superior education from playing and from being with you and your family in the context of daily life and your community involvement. It's a shame that valuable time has to be spent on worksheets!!
http://www.bookitprogram.com/About/ourprogram.asp About those pizza certificates....it is pretty much the only tangible incentive kids get in school these days. At a young age, concrete gifts often go farther than praise at times of perseverance. Pizza Hut is amazing and has given every school in my area free pizza certificates for each month of the year for each student for around the past 30 years.Teachers give them out monthly with the only requirement being they have to be used to promote literacy. Teachers want an easy give away so what better way than to have parents read books and give them away for 'free.'
@808love: we had these in grade school and loved it
@Anagram: You wrote "I guess my point is--there's no faking real giftedness. But probably 70% of the kids in a public school gifted program aren't gifted anyway, they are high achievers."
This, exactly. If a child is truly gifted, they do not need to be coached to get into the program. Once parents start talking about needing to do that, it tells me that the kid isn't really gifted.
@gingerbebe: agreed, truly gifted kids are sped kids in my home district. The label helps them get the services that they need in order to achieve.
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