Ideally school is where kids go to learn and be challenged, but what if your child is breezing through school and isn’t being pushed enough? Gifted children are cognitively different from most of their same-age peers. Divergent and creative thinking, learning and mastering new concepts more quickly, and an unquenchable determination to dive deeper into subjects they are passionate about are all common traits of gifted learners.
These characteristics can make learning in a regular classroom frustratingly tedious for them. Here are some things you can do if your child says those dreaded words “I don’t want to go to school. It’s too easy, and I’m bored.”
Top signs to look for
There are some signs to look for that could indicate your child isn’t being challenged in the classroom, says Kimberly Kulp, who has over ten years experience teaching in the public, private, and home schooling community.
See if your child exhibits any of the following:
Expresses a decreased desire to go to school
Acts out behaviourally
Kulp, says that if your child is struggling to be challenged, this may be a sign that she is gifted. “Gifted students often don’t look like what you may expect, [like] over-achievers who are always raising their hands and know the answers,” she says.
Prepare for the meeting
Before having an honest conversation with the teacher, “it is important to remember that there is nothing more frustrating for a teacher than a parent who refuses to acknowledge [her] child’s struggles,” says Kulp. “Many parents often express aggravation with understanding the root of their child’s problems.”
To avoid this impasse, Kulp says to:
Consider each aspect of your child’s school day and academic experience.
Identify your child’s learning and personality style.
Address how your child specifically learns with the teacher.
Write down what (if any) accommodations can be made to meet her needs.
Have your child write down what she loves about school.
List what your child finds easy.
Assemble a portfolio of your child’s work.
Schedule an appointment.
Kulp cautions that it could be that your child is bored and needs to be better challenged, but she may also need to develop better communication and coping skills in the classroom.
Meet with the teacher
When speaking with a teacher, try not to use the words “bored” and “gifted,” recommends Carol Bainbridge, an expert on gifted children. Most teachers don’t create dull lessons on purpose, and “the word ‘gifted’ makes some teachers feel they are talking with another pushy parent,” says Bainbridge. Talk about learning styles instead, and keep the focus on your child. Be willing to listen, and work with your child’s teacher to develop a plan of action. Many schools offer enrichment opportunities in the classroom; your child may benefit from one of these programs. If you think your child might be gifted, ask for him to be tested.
If the situation can’t or won’t change, go up the chain of command. If necessary, you can look into alternative options like magnet schools, dual enrollment, and home schooling. Home schooling has proven to be an exceptional education option for gifted students because it provides a learning environment easily tailored to meet the needs of these learners. Anecdotal evidence has shown that the families of gifted children are the single largest population turning to home schooling. Moreover, home schooled gifted learners are not only thriving, but excelling in their educational endeavours.
Challenge at home
You can do your part at home to help challenge your child. During homework time, employ methods that best help her learn. Online learning is another way to encourage in-depth study. Take advantage of fun online activities and games. Remember, learning takes place inside and out of the classroom.
Additionally, create custom “Busy Boxes,” which Kulp says are a great way to keep children entertained and busy while reinforcing lessons. Flash cards, Wikki Sticks, craft projects, and journals are some things to put inside.