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    #247271 - 06/23/20 04:30 AM Re: How to advocate for child who tries to blend in? [Re: slmw]
    MumOfThree Offline
    Member

    Registered: 04/07/11
    Posts: 1678
    Loc: Australia
    Hi Indigo, you've certainly summarized thoroughly!

    I have definitely known kids that were very advanced in math, very self driven in their math pursuits at home and anywhere they went, and thus generally very recognised for their math gift. If they weren't offered extension and support at school it was never for lack of recognition of how advanced they were.

    But I do think, with any area of giftedness, it is incredibly difficult to advocate for a child that doesn't "bring it" themselves for the teacher to see. And I think it's getting harder. At least where I am the attitude of schools towards parents is increasingly dismissive or even antagonistic. Very much an assumption that all parents have blinkered views of their snowflakes and if the school didn't raise the issue the issue doesn't exist.

    I didn't reply initially because I really have no tips, I have had no success advocating for my children when they have (deliberately or not) hidden their talents, or had talents which are not valued by the school. I was drawn in by other replies and may have helped things veer off topic...

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    #247274 - 06/23/20 03:07 PM Re: How to advocate for child who tries to blend in? [Re: MumOfThree]
    indigo Offline
    Member

    Registered: 04/27/13
    Posts: 4519
    Another great summary, MumOfThree, and I agree with you.

    My main point was to share that when advocating, one typically needs or benefits from having some type of documentation of the child's interest/motivation/success in the subject matter... to illustrate, prove, or back up what the parent is seeing in the child, that the school may have thus far overlooked.

    Yes, advocating for academic acceleration is more difficult in today's educational climate of equal outcomes for all students, as the focus in on closing achievement/performance/excellence gaps.

    While I'm not personally a fan of "differentiation," especially in an inclusive classroom with a very broad range of abilities, the article at this link may be of interest to the OP, as it describes the current mode of teaching, in many schools:
    - Article: Differentiating Math Instruction Through Tiered Lessons
    - Link: https://www.davidsongifted.org/search-database/entry/a10965

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    #247276 - 06/23/20 07:40 PM Re: How to advocate for child who tries to blend in? [Re: indigo]
    aeh Offline
    Member

    Registered: 04/26/14
    Posts: 3803
    I agree, documentation and objective data are extremely helpful for advocacy. I think it is also critical to have:
    1. a clear idea of your child's needs;
    2. a range of possible solutions that you believe based on your knowledge of your child and whatever research you may have done might be appropriate to meeting your child's educational needs; and
    3. as much information as you can get regarding the options the school has offered or might consider agreeing to--or failing that (or in amplification of it), a list of thoughtful, solution-focused questions to clarify what the options might be.

    It can be helpful to come prepared (in the sense both of suggesting them and of accepting them) with objective measures that you would be willing to have them use to acquire their own documentation and data. Preferably data that they understand and are accustomed to interpreting. For example, programmatic achievement testing (e.g., MAP or state-wide testing), curriculum-based placement or summative testing (e.g., end-of-course, unit testing, chapter tests, standards-based testing).
    _________________________
    ...pronounced like the long vowel and first letter of the alphabet...

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    #247278 - 06/23/20 09:12 PM Re: How to advocate for child who tries to blend in? [Re: aeh]
    indigo Offline
    Member

    Registered: 04/27/13
    Posts: 4519
    Great tips, in a concise list. smile
    For more detail, I believe these are covered in the crowd-sourced roundup of advocacy links, posted upthread.

    Unfortunately, for a child who is hiding their intellect and ability, in an attempt to blend in with other students in the school learning environment, the in-school performance and achievement test results may not show the child's true aptitude/potential. If the teachers already have access to this data, and it has not alerted them to the student's need for advanced curriculum, then possibly an advocacy effort may not benefit from citing this data, alone. When a family may be facing these circumstances, possibly outside documentation may be helpful.

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    #247279 - 06/25/20 08:37 AM Re: How to advocate for child who tries to blend in? [Re: slmw]
    knute974 Offline
    Member

    Registered: 09/22/09
    Posts: 683
    Loc: controlled chaos
    I agree with the other posts. I just want to point out that gender may also be an issue. Others have alluded to kids who want to blend in. Linda Silverman wrote an article specifically about gifted girls "blending in" because they don't want to appear different from their peers. It's at least 20 years old by now. There are probably more current articles on the topic.

    My DDs are 20 and 18 now so my experience is from several years ago. They are both quantitatively gifted. I noticed when they were in elementary school, there was a very strong stereotype that if the kids are gifted, the boys are gifted in math and the girls are gifted in language. When I attended our school district's gt department's parent seminars, I would hear some version of that "wisdom" in almost every presentation. These same presenters usually did a gt teacher training during the day and then the parent version in the evening. So, I have to assume that the teachers were getting training that constantly used examples about how to challenge boys who were gifted in math but never mentioned girls. I am guessing that if your DD is not showing any of her abilities at school, there is a strong bias that she is a typical math student even if you have testing to the contrary.

    Also, particularly in elementary school, there seems to be high value placed on speed and competition. Someone who gets the right answer in 2 seconds is "obviously smarter" than the kid whose brain processes more slowly and spits out the same answer in 6 seconds. I don't know how your daughter presents but if she is not a speed demon she also is unlikely to be recognized as needing something different. My DD was not a speed demon, she was a deep thinker. Her abilities were not recognized until we moved her to a dedicated gt classroom and even then, they didn't want her to get too far ahead of the rest of the class.

    If and when she does start to show her abilities, it may not go as you expect. At the end of 6th grade, the students in my DD's gt class took a math placement test for middle school. My daughter came home upset and embarrassed because she was still working on the exam long after the other students were done. Later, her teacher told me that DD got the highest score on the test by a wide margin over her gt classmates and that most of the kids didn't even attempt the last portion of the exam. My DD had interpreted the length of time that she took on the exam as a sign of failure when it really was an indication of her greater understanding of the material.

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    #247280 - 06/25/20 10:30 AM Re: How to advocate for child who tries to blend in? [Re: slmw]
    cricket3 Offline
    Member

    Registered: 11/02/09
    Posts: 686
    This is a great post!!
    Knute describes very well what my two kids experienced (though one of mine is a boy, he is gentle and sensitive, and avoided competition even more than my girl did- so while I think gender certainly plays a role, so does temperament and personality). I think the description of deep thinkers is spot on- this is what I was so clumsily trying to describe in our frustrating math journey. I believe there are long-standing, systematic attitudes and policies in many schools which are enormous obstacles to educating this kind of student.

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    #247282 - 06/25/20 04:41 PM Re: How to advocate for child who tries to blend in? [Re: knute974]
    MumOfThree Offline
    Member

    Registered: 04/07/11
    Posts: 1678
    Loc: Australia
    Originally Posted By: knute974
    Also, particularly in elementary school, there seems to be high value placed on speed and competition. Someone who gets the right answer in 2 seconds is "obviously smarter" than the kid whose brain processes more slowly and spits out the same answer in 6 seconds. I don't know how your daughter presents but if she is not a speed demon she also is unlikely to be recognized as needing something different. My DD was not a speed demon, she was a deep thinker. Her abilities were not recognized until we moved her to a dedicated gt classroom and even then, they didn't want her to get too far ahead of the rest of the class.


    Bingo! I have one who is a particularly slow deep thinker, and this is a big issue for them. The tendency to notice and celebrate the fast kids (and the kids with great memories) seems most pronounced in primary school, and most pronounced in math, but it comes out in other domains. I distinctly remember being told by the yr2 teacher: "I know that if they put their hand up and I wait long enough they'll have something really interesting or useful to add to the discussion.... But they take so long to form their thoughts and say something that I don't call on them because everyone else needs a chance to talk and I don't have time".

    I have another child who is EG/PG in the verbal domain (both IQ and achievement DYS level scores) but also no scores below the 94% on the last WIAT, so relative weaknesses but no academic problems. Compared to my child mentioned above they are not nearly so pronounced about being "slow thinking" and yet they feel stupid, and bad at math (it's true math was the lowest score on the WIAT). The main thing they talk about is being slower than the smart kids who are "so good" at math. And it's fairly clear that the kids who are good at math ARE the only "smart kids" and also that "good at math" = "fast at math"... Primary school is so much about basic skills and rote learning. Certain kids of gifted kids do not ace this at all.


    Originally Posted By: knute974
    If and when she does start to show her abilities, it may not go as you expect. At the end of 6th grade, the students in my DD's gt class took a math placement test for middle school. My daughter came home upset and embarrassed because she was still working on the exam long after the other students were done. Later, her teacher told me that DD got the highest score on the test by a wide margin over her gt classmates and that most of the kids didn't even attempt the last portion of the exam. My DD had interpreted the length of time that she took on the exam as a sign of failure when it really was an indication of her greater understanding of the material.


    This reminds me of two things a psychologist said to me some years ago "I can often spot a gifted child is by how long they think before answering" and also, directly from one of the children's reports: "A need for precision in thinking and expression - A student who answers questions with ‘that depends’... is a first clue of extreme intelligence."

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    #247284 - 06/25/20 05:38 PM Re: How to advocate for child who tries to blend in? [Re: slmw]
    aeh Offline
    Member

    Registered: 04/26/14
    Posts: 3803
    Great point, knute! And cricket, I agree, it's not only gender, but temperament in general. And, I'd add, cognitive style.

    I had a student who took 45 minutes to complete a WISC quantitative reasoning subtest that normally is done in about 5-7 minutes, but got nearly all of them correct. (Unfortunately, that task is timed, so many of these correct responses were obtained for their clinical interpretative value only, and not for the formal scores.) One of the factors was that even after identifying the correct response, they went back to confirm that all other options on the multiple-choice items were definitely not correct. Extremely high mathematical ability, headed to engineering school now, and likely to be very successful in that field.

    Along the same lines, my SO was described as an eminently average student in every way all the way up to just before middle school, but ended up high school valedictorian, and went on to graduate from a premier STEM post-secondary institution. I would say the description of slow, deep thinker still applies.
    _________________________
    ...pronounced like the long vowel and first letter of the alphabet...

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    #248085 - 02/26/21 04:09 PM Re: How to advocate for child who tries to blend in? [Re: slmw]
    twallace Offline
    Junior Member

    Registered: 03/31/17
    Posts: 38
    I can empathize entirely with your situation! My DD9 is exactly the same way. She will shut down entirely if she outperforms others, specifically with math, and becomes highly anxious. However times in her life when she was grade skipped and her skills were middle-of-the-road, she excelled. It has been so frustrating because she will say she's bored and ask to be challenged, but then does not perform to show her teachers her skill level.
    My only ideas (take it for what it is because I haven't found any great solutions either) include:
    1. Subject acceleration if she prefers to learn with a classroom rather than differentiated work.
    2. Allow her to perform as she is comfortable in school, and work with her on skills at her actual level at home.
    3. Try to brainstorm with the classroom or gifted teacher to find a solution.
    4. Work with her on building confidence to be different and stand out. Personally, my shy daughter has succeeded with this in sports (playing point guard for basketball and pitching for softball where attention is on her) which has had some crossover with academics.

    Good luck, I feel for you. It's hard to find a solution.

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    #248089 - 02/26/21 09:09 PM Re: How to advocate for child who tries to blend in? [Re: slmw]
    aquinas Offline
    Member

    Registered: 11/02/12
    Posts: 2415
    I would take the analysis a step further and say some children are not only deeper/slower thinkers, but also decidedly non-performative thinkers. The joy, for them, is in the exploration, not the accolades. This is particularly challenging for children who are temperamentally perfectionistic, or who are quite socially attuned and are being raised in families, or placed in classes, which place outsized weight on performative academics or fitting in.

    In the case of my DS, a well honed sense of cost benefit analysis often stops well-intentioned educators in their tracks. He assesses what he sees as the likely range of options that will be offered to him and, if the perceived ceiling is too low, will not invest the effort to “prove” himself because the reward isn’t sufficient. My guess is that, for many of our children, conventional settings offer too little in the way of incentive to reach, or too much discouragement for attempting to do so.

    In your shoes? I’d play at math at home for a couple of weeks and see where it leads. Cover a sprinkling of topics and map them to your local curriculum norms. Keep track of dates the topics are covered, or measure your child with a timer (on the QT, if they devour content in one sitting). Then, have a candid conversation with the school about options. I’ve found placing emphasis on the student’s sense of identity as a learner, emotional well being, and self-efficacy is the lens that pays with the educational zeitgeist here, not boredom or poor academic fit.

    And re: math gifted children invariably seeking out challenges, no. Learned helplessness is a real phenomenon, as is a gulf between ability and access to opportunity, and both are mediated by a host of environmental, temperamental, cultural, and socio-demographic factors. Also, stereotype threat is a real source of academic derailment, particularly in STEM, and especially among females, racial or linguistic minority students, and students coming from families with limited means.
    _________________________
    What is to give light must endure burning.

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