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Bright kids and helicopter parenting

  1. Andrea

    GOLD / wonderful coffee bean / 18478 posts

    I wouldn't stress. In my experience, the parents who do extra work feel it's necessary because their kids may not be natural academics so they need the extra push.

    When I chose our language immersion school, my friends were alarmed because I wouldn't be able to help the kids with their homework. It's their 3rd language and no one in our family speaks it. We are going into our 3rd school year and guess what? I don't need to help with homework at all. She gets perfect scores on her exams. I knew that my daughter was bright and could handle it on her own.

  2. 808love

    pomelo / 5866 posts

    Several points on various topics - I highly encourage involvement by parents and being present with your child’s academics without doing their work for them. There will be many school projects or activities in the future that the parents can help their child by giving time and breaking up the tasks.

    I don’t like the fact that if I wanted to send my child to an elite private school I would have to spend thousands on a tutoring program to be extremely competitive on the admissions test and interview. I prefer we all have access to quality public schools and teachers that meet needs of all learners, including the needs of gifted. Right now I see that in a limited capacity in my area.

    As for gifted admissions, I don’t think influencing the teachers to get your child into gifted or doing your child’s work is the way it works. The teachers observe what the kid can do and how quickly they grasp and/or display higher level thinking during class time. Almost all teachers I know don’t give homework grades because they assume the parents are giving varying support at home and want to see what the kid can do on their own.

    My kid catches on to things right away and doesn’t need to study so I get super excited when there is a project I can finally help her with. We have quarterly home lessons given by the school in which the parents are invited and expected to help. It is designed to reinforce curriculum but also to intentionally increase parent engagement with their child’s academics. It also helps everyone get on the page navigating long term and teamwork goals.

  3. Bluebonnet

    persimmon / 1427 posts

    @Mrs. Sketchbook: Another perspective for your consideration.

    You said "But now I see that being on track isn't really the goal for the other parents" because several students completed their sight words early.

    In my experience, kids come into kindergarten with a wide range of knowledge. Some kids are reading and other kids are learning the alphabet.

    Our daughter is also in Kindergarten and also learned all the sight words for the year - but she actually learned them all in pre-K and has been reading for months. We don't drill, but we do encourage her natural curiosity. We also got the side eye from several parents (although there was no big recognition, it was just obvious at parent-teacher night based on the sight word wall).

    Is it possible that the kids who completed the sight words in your son's class had more experience with sight words (or were already reading) before they started Kindergarten?
    There maybe some helicopter parents, but there may also be some kids who came into kindergarten with more experience with sight words and reading.

  4. MamaG

    pomelo / 5298 posts

    While my kiddo is in first grade I think several things still apply. We have finished our sight words through 2nd grade. I didn't drill her. I handed her the sheets and said read them to me. When she was tired we stopped. When she was ready we started again. We returned them to the teacher and she will never have to touch sight words again.

    My kiddo has natural talent that we cultivate. She was an early-ish reader. We encourage reading, we provide her materials to further her skills. We do what we are asked by the school in reading on a daily basis.

    We do a lot of our "teaching" at home in an organic manner. We don't "drill", but we talk a lot, we give examples, it's part of our dinner conversations.

    My child is being referred for our gifted program. I don't necessarily think she's gifted. But as @gingerbebe spoke about herself, my daughter is similar. She's ahead academically and things click for her easily. But she's socially awkward, is devastated at less than perfection and has big emotions. I don't know how we will navigate a gifted program if she's admitted as we have already selected an alternate education path for her. But we will cross that bridge when we get there. I never inquired about the gifted program.

    I do try to be involved with her academics as I really think it makes a difference to be her advocate and have a presence in the school. I also recognize this is a privilege that I have and not all families are able to do some of these things. But I'm also interested in setting up success to the extent I'm able.

    All of that to say that I don't consider myself a full blown helicopter parent, but an involved parent. And I would say that most of my daughter's classmates have similarly involved parents.

  5. Mrs. Sketchbook

    GOLD / nectarine / 2884 posts

    Saw this and thought it was helpful re: this conversation and gifted.


    I think of mindshift as a pretty good resource on this stuff! Public radio.

  6. Mrs. Sketchbook

    GOLD / nectarine / 2884 posts

    @Bluebonnet: I wonder about this...my question is, how did the kids get access to all the words if the parents didn't give them the words? The teacher gave us all the words at the beginning of the year and I dutifully made cards, but she also broke them down into 9 week long units and she sends an updated list every week, but it is just for the unit they're on. We had just been doing unit 3 because that's what she's been sending home for him. I never thought to go ahead of the unit she sends home.

    I decided to test it out and we got out the 4th 9 weeks words this week when he's on break. Much to my amazement he knew almost all of them but I guess since he hadn't gotten all the 3rd 9 weeks words his teacher didn't pull out the 4th 9 weeks sheet for him yet. I'm kicking myself because he's been hanging out in unit 3 for like a month now with me stupidly not drilling and frankly coasting on how far ahead he already was from where I thought the class was. Anyway I asked him if he wants to be tested on it when he gets back to school next week and he said yes. I may specifically ask his teacher to do it. He clearly doesn't get that there's a competition going on to do this. Clearly I did not either....!

  7. Mrs. Sketchbook

    GOLD / nectarine / 2884 posts

    @Anagram: I want to dig into your response some more but definitely agree about giftedness vs. over achievers. I saw that a lot at the HS level. Bright but not gifted kids wearing a zillion hats and sort of muddling through. Taking all the APs but not necessarily doing all that well on the AP
    exams. What scares me is the low expectations on "regular" kids. They really weren't even writing essays regularly by 11th grade, which scared me. Now I finally understand why my college freshmen freak out about even simple writing assignments.

  8. Mama Bird

    pomegranate / 3127 posts

    This comment has been deleted by the original poster.

  9. honeybear

    nectarine / 2085 posts

    @Mrs. Sketchbook: A lot of words that are taught as 'sight words' are actually phonetic. So, if you know the rule, you can decode the word. I only taught my son a handful of sight words, but we did phonics and he reads well. He'd breeze through any K/1st sight word list, despite not having memorized any of them as sight words per se. That's possibly part of what's going on. Some kids do pick up the phonics rules without being taught. Probably not many, but I'm sure some do.

  10. ElbieKay

    pomegranate / 3231 posts

    @Mrs. Sketchbook: Thank you for starting this thread. I have mixed feelings about this issue. I don't think I will I will worry about it in K because it is still so early. (I hope I am able to maintain perspective!)

    I went to a very competitive public school system that lacked economic diversity. Something like 90 or 95% of my graduating class went to college.

    My parents were clear that they wanted me to go to an Ivy League school. I loaded up on AP courses -- I think I took like 9-10 AP courses? In the mid-90s when they were less ubiquitous -- and met their goal.

    It was a miserable experience, and my parents are still very achievement-oriented and easily impressed my academic and financial success. As a 40yo, I find them really tedious most of the time because our relationship lives in that shadow.

    So now with a 3yo I feel lost about how to strike the right balance. And I am going to have a hard time not rolling my eyes at things that I perceive to be silly. For instance, if his school has an award for perfect attendance I will have a hard time not telling my kid that it's ridiculous for the school to encourage children to go to school when they are sick.

    My fifth grade teacher made this big deal about her reading log program. She called it the "Bookworm Club". Everyone had a bookworm on the bulletin board and got a new segment for every 100 pages they read. But to get credit you had to write up a synopsis of the book. I found that really tedious. So I did not write up every book I read. (I loved reading fiction books as a child!)

    The teacher clearly favored the kids who excelled at the Bookworm Club. (She also really liked the kids with the best cursive handwriting. Eye roll.) I did not connect with the teacher and found her methods really de-motivating and was thrilled to be done with her at the end of fifth grade.

    If my son is in a situation like that, I don't know what I will do. If there were no long term stakes like having more opportunities (like a gifted program), then I would not worry too much. If there are long term stakes then that sucks and would make me bitter about having to choose.

    I am the parent who blows off the PreK-3 homework. We were supposed to fill out a flag to depict our son's culture. He is 1/4 Hungarian, 1/4 German and 1/2 Jewish from a mix of Eastern European countries. I had no idea where to start, and he is 3 and not that into arts and crafts. The work week went by and I just did not manage to deal with it. Our family is juggling two full time jobs and a preschooler and honestly at this age Mommy's work deadlines and ability to eat dinner trump a school project in our family.

  11. erinpye

    pomegranate / 3706 posts

    @Mrs. Sketchbook: both of my kids have tested gifted, and sight words/ reading have nothing to do with the testing. Many schools confound truly gifted with high-achieving (they can be both, but not always), and if you ever feel your kids isn’t being identified and should be, have him privately tested by a licensed professional. My Kindergartener knew the list of 300 first sight words well before she started this year, because she can fluently read, not because we did any pushing at home. The truth of the matter is simply this: you cannot force a young kid to learn and retain something they aren’t ready for. Be happy for the kids who were recognized for their achievements, and be comfortable with your own child’s speed of progression. Every child is a different learner, and that’s ok.

  12. Mrs. Sketchbook

    GOLD / nectarine / 2884 posts

    For some reason I felt oddly compelled to give an update about this saga given how popular and controversial this thread was! Last time I wrote he was still in the middle of his kindergarten sight words and I was freaked out because some kids were done with them altogether. After writing this thread and seeing all the responses I decided to go ahead and start working with him on them. Unsurprisingly he was super resistant to flash cards and games; at one point he started sort of making up this song that was like "I don't want to do this anymore!" So then I decided to give up! But by that point he was almost done with his kindergarten words and when he got his little prize he suddenly got very clued into the whole thing. He also had a big reading jump this winter. Fast forward to May and he is now on third grade sight words.
    And I don't really keep up with his progress at all. between his natural desire to learn them and the reading jump he has managed it all on his own. I do think that his teacher is more conscientious about testing ahead of the rest of the class now that she sees that he is advancing more quickly.
    As for gifted... In my state we have a MAP test that the schools use to determine giftedness. Well it is not the only test they use but it is the first set of test results that they see for a kindergartener so it sort of becomes the gatekeeper test. Students can also be nominated by their teachers if they seem especially bright in class but if you get a good MAP score you are automatically flagged. My son was not nominated for gifted by his teachers by the deadline which was in February. He also did not qualify for gifted based off of his scores at the end of last semester. But this spring he got his scores up to a qualifying level. We got in contact with the school today and they said they would have him tested in the fall when he starts first grade. In this thread I said a lot about how I didn't really care if he was gifted but I wanted him to have the opportunity to test. I think some people were alarmed by my assumption that my son is gifted. That really wasn't the case but again I just wanted him to have the opportunity to test. So I am pretty happy with this result. It matches my intuition that he was not advanced enough at the beginning of the year to get his teachers' attention. Even if he doesn't ultimately get into the program I'm glad he has the chance to try and we will probably benefit from seeing the results of the other tests anyway. I feel like my intuition was correct that he would not get nominated for gifted based off of his classroom behavior. He is a full year behind most of the students because he was born in August. So there are some maturity issues there that we sort of knew were going to be a problem for him but did not feel it was necessary to hold him back a year so that he could be more competitive. I think the people who responded to my thread saying that I did not need to rush his learning process were definitely correct. At the same time, now that my kiddo has been nominated for gifted based off of test scores alone I do feel a little more confirmed in my original argument that teacher opinion of a student can have a lot of impact on tracking. I guess what I mean to say is.... If his test scores are high enough to make him eligible to be tested, then why didn't his teacher see that potential in him and nominate him this year? I really think it has to do with maturity which of course is very subjective. And I am sure that some teachers are more susceptible to applying the gifted label to hard workers just based on their back ground preferences fatigue level Etc.

  13. gestalt

    cherry / 150 posts

    @Mrs. Sketchbook: I have not read through the entire thread, but I will say this about teachers' opinions of children. There are a lot of misconceptions about what a gifted child looks like, and unless teachers have had training in gifted education they can miss out on quite a few kids. If your son is in a class where the kids are generally bright, it will be a lot harder for teachers to really pick up on his abilities. I have a friend who had her daughter tested privately - moderately gifted, and even though that puts her in the top 2%, teachers pretty much shrugged and said, "so what, she is no more special than the other kids. quite ordinary of a child."

    Keep in mind that MAP is an achievement test, and doesn't necessarily correlate with giftedness. It is, however, a good indicator of how ready he is for more advanced curriculum. I'm guessing he will still have to go through some kind of cognitive testing. Some kids are late bloomers, so it may be difficult for teachers to really see their potential earlier in the year.


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