School is boring!” how often have I heard these words from kids or parents talking about how their kids are going at school. Nothing is worse than having to sit for hours, days, months on end listening to information we already know. Yet for kids, who are highly intelligent - gifted kids – this is exactly how the vast majority of their time is spent at school. If you are a parent of a gifted or ‘smart’ kid then you know exactly how frustrating this can be for your child.
One really interesting fact is that the more we educate young parents about talking to, getting great sleep, playing with their babies, their toddlers, their children – add in good genetics and we have lots of ‘smart’ kids that are way ahead of the curriculum at school when they start. Usually two years ahead. But then what does our education system, public or private then ‘do’ for them? Not much. Not very much at all. Very few schools have self contained programs. If we are lucky they may have a pull out / enrichment program for a few hours a week.
But what about the rest of the time? Gifted children are gifted ALL the time. Just ask their parents. They don't stop being gifted when they go back to their classroom or when they go home. This is who they are, it's not something that they turn on or off.
So if you are a parent of a gifted child, what do you do? Relying on a school that has an enrichment program should not be your one and only. As gifted kids need way more than our current education system offers, it constantly amazes me the number of gifted kids that are around us everyday and their awesome potential is just sitting there. Our schools should be identifying these kids and offering them the stimulating learning that they thrive on. Instead they sit there and just listen to what they already know, year after year. If you’re lucky and a teacher does identify your child as ‘smart’ then usually they add in more of the same work to keep them busy. With gifted kids there lies the first problem – it’s not more work that your child needs, it’s ‘different, more interesting, more detailed work’. Teachers need to be trained in how to ‘differientate the cirriculum’. You as a parent need to advocate for that more interesting work, not just more work.
Having a teacher trained in understanding giftedness is essential to compacting curriculum which is so often done in other states of Australia, such as Victoria and South Australia and this is in public schools, not private. Most teachers have little or no training in how a gifted brain learns. So they are really unprepared for the uniqueness of a gifted child. Studies have shown that gifted kids need only one to three repetitions, while children in mainstream education require at least five to seven repetitions. It’s often said that Monday is new material, repeated on Tuesday and by Wednesday gifted kids are ready for the next lot of new information – however in their classroom it is repeated again Wednesday, again on Thursday and then tested on Friday. No wonder gifted kids stare out the window, drop out of school or disrupt the other kids in the class!
Gifted kids love opportunities for challenging, creative thinking. As a parent be sure to keep the books up to them, always have new material for your child to read. Get them involved in other activities outside of school that are creative and challenging, music, drama, art, chess. During school time be sure to approach the teacher if your child starts the ‘schools boring’ and see what type of extension and detailed learning they can do, not more worksheets of the same.