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    Joined: Apr 2017
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    My 10yo DD has been increasingly complaining about school for a few years. There's never been any question she's gifted, but I wasn't familiar with all of these resources so I've spent the last two grades trying to teach her the different strategies I figured out on my own as a teenager and adult to deal with boredom in school and challenging her at home in her writing and with higher level reading. After the last couple of months researching how to help her I now regret not addressing this earlier because I can see the lack of challenge in school has contributed to some of the emotional issues she's struggling with. There is not a gifted program at her school, but it is the most academically rigorous in the area, although this has decreased recently as core knowledge has been implemented and there is much more teaching to the test. Classes are said to be differentiated, but aside from reading groups and math they really aren't. And reading groups is a bad example even with leveled groups she complains about having to wait for everyone to finish the chapter to work on the discussion questions.

    Recently her complaints about math have especially increased, to the point where I'm almost embarrassed to bring them up with the school because she sounds so entitled and dismissive of the math program. She reports that she is bored in math, she understand the concept after the first instruction from the teacher and is miserable sitting through an additional 15 minutes of instruction time. The instruction is designed to be teacher led so she can't work ahead. When it is time to start independent work she finishes right away with 20 minutes left of class time. She and a friend (I strongly suspect he is also gifted) spend the rest of the class time writing parodies and drawing sarcastic cartoons together. Her testing is above grade level but there are holes in her learning (due to the changes in math programs to meet the new requirements with the implementation of core knowledge curriculum) and I don't believe she'd do better in a higher grade math class anyway. I sat her down with higher grade math material and she figures out a lot of it on her own but if she sees something that doesn't provide clues she gives up immediately and refuses to ask for help. She skipped second grade math and it wasn't until the end of 3rd that I realized she never learned two digit multiplication - she just figured out on her own she could multiply two digit numbers as two completely separate problems and then add the answers together, and she had used that method for the whole school year. I think she needs independent and/or accelerated learning at her own grade level, although I believe with this she will advance quickly. However, this is less concerning to me; the real issue is her refusal to ask for help and how quickly she gives up when she has to push through a problem.

    This has come up in other areas, too. She is an exceptional writer and creative thinker and this is most definitely her strength. She finishes her writing assignments quickly in class and is admired as the "best" writer in her class. Her teacher is making efforts to keep her engaged and has assigned her own "teacher" desk and pairs her up with students who need more help and encouragement. At first this was helpful and both her editing and communication skills improved, but it quickly lost it's impact and she complains that she wants to write more. She especially complains about formatting, such as recently when they had to write an opinion essay based on a piece of text and she drew her own, more complex conclusions (still based on the text IMO but she didn't want to get into "trouble" for doing it wrong) but she thought she couldn't include them. At home my husband and I have tried to challenge her, and it has not gone well. She starts out excited about the assignment, but even with tons of praise, she's so used to being the "best" she can't handle any kind of constructive criticism. If I tell her things like, "describe the excitement instead of using all of these exclamation points," she acts like it is a huge hassle and will wander off and avoid it until she gets bored with whatever distraction she has found. She eventually implements the feedback, usually better than I asked her to (i'm not competitive so it took me a while to realize that this is her way of "showing me up") and often she leaves some kind of passive-aggressive or sarcastic hint of opposition in what she's writing, so I am very careful in how I respond to this.

    To sum up, she doesn't handle obstacles well, she can't accept feedback, she won't ask for help, and forget admitting mistakes. I remembering feeling uncomfortable the first time school became a challenge for me, but it wasn't until high school, and I was a pleaser so my approach to avoiding was much less confrontational. However, there is no question DD is far brighter than I was at her age, and these are not things that are especially hard - it's like any obstacle to finishing something in 5 minutes becomes a mountain.

    I know this can be a problem from my own experience, and I have read this is common, but everything I find on how to address this is really vague about pushing them gently and helping them feel success. I get a better feel for these things if I have more specific examples and strategies and what kind of progress to expect from a 10yo. There must be some reading out there on this subject? Or advice?

    I should add that DD is very socially inclined, so I don't think this is really about socially being unable to discuss these things. I think it's more about her perfectionism and not being able to handle or face anything she might not be able to do "perfectly" the first time. She tends to say she doesn't care and won't try if she is faced with something she isn't awesome at immediately. Like kickball, which I'm gathering is a problem because it sounds to me like she's the ringleader of a class wide attitude problem when the teacher assigns kickball for PE. On the other hand, I heard that she singlehandedly organized earning back class dodgeball by somehow taming a couple of boys who were being borderline aggressive and teaming up with a girl who was dramatizing her victim status.

    Suggestions?

    I know this is a long post, but lastly, how much do you teach your kids to be self sufficient in dealing with some of this? Yes, it is the responsibility of the school to challenge kids academically, but the constant complaining is getting to me. At some point shouldn't there must be some personal responsibility in finding ways to engage or use critical thinking skills in a book or concept that seems easy?

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    I would really like to hear feedback about this as well. My kid is a boy, and only three, but otherwise it's like you described him exactly.

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    I can relate to this so much! My DS10 struggled with this when he was in public school. The solution for him was to accelerate aggressively in subjects he has the motivation to stick to it.

    I think she's too young and too stuck to advocate for herself. She doesn't know what the solutions are, and what could she do? You already said there's no gifted program, negligible differentiation, and you're not interested in acceleration.

    Children do the best that they can. Trust her. It's not entitlement. It's desperation.

    For a comparison, my son's FSIQ is 132, so within this forum he's on the low end. He is 10, 4th grade by age. Continuous progress acceleration starting in 2nd grade has him in Algebra 2 now.

    If you imagine your daughter equally as capable as my son of understanding higher maths, now look at her plight in 4th grade math again. 4th grade is possibly the worst year for Common Core math because it's the 4th YEAR of memorizing math facts and learning increasingly longer calculations. There has been negligible new material presented for years. The trajectory from here is next year they learn fractions, 6th grade they learn proportion and ratio, then 7th and 8th are prealgebra and pregeometry. When you have a child who learns on the first repetition, this slow pace is painful. Like if you were strapped into a chair and forced to watch Barney all day, every day. You would lose your mind.

    Academic match is the single most important factor for determining adult outcomes and mental health outcomes for intelligent children. I did not have academic match, in fact, my parents put me in a school that actively crushed me telling me that I couldn't be myself because "it would make the other kids feel bad." About 4th grade I still wanted to learn and as desperate for more. My teachers wrote it as "superiority" as a problem behavior on my report card. By 5th grade I was depressed and remained suicidal from then through high school graduation. It's a miracle I survived my education.

    Your daughter's social integration may also contribute to her problems with perfectionism. She has been labeled as "smart". And what does "smart" mean? It means getting the right answers. Getting wrong answers triggers panic of losing her identity and social standing. My son went through this severely in 1st grade. It took time out of public school before he could begin to see himself as something other than "smart", which is to say "gets the answers right." Without this in place, he was emotionally unable to handle acceleration. If he's getting all the answers right, it's too easy. But he couldn't handle that emotional and identity risk while he was engrained in public school.

    Fight for your daughter. Before it's too late! Many (((hugs))) to you.

    Last edited by sanne; 04/10/17 09:28 AM.
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    Welcome!

    You've received great advice and compelling personal experiences. I'll just add a few links and resources in the event you may not have already come across them.

    Originally Posted by E1izabethEva
    My 10yo DD has been increasingly complaining about school for a few years.
    Good thing she has you as her mom; You can relate to what she is describing, based on your own school experiences. smile

    Originally Posted by E1izabethEva
    I now regret not addressing this earlier
    Don't be harsh toward yourself, many parents learn about the difficulties which gifted kids face in school, only when their child is mired in distress. You are not alone, and you have found a good place here for information and support.

    Originally Posted by E1izabethEve
    ... academically rigorous... differentiated
    Buzzwords

    Originally Posted by E1izabethEva
    Recently her complaints about math have especially increased, to the point where I'm almost embarrassed to bring them up with the school because she sounds so entitled and dismissive of the math program...
    In speaking with the school, a parent does not repeat the child's complaints. Instead, a parent does a bit of prep work and record keeping, and follows advocacy tips and advice which have been known to be generally effective, while always remaining focused on the child's needs.

    Originally Posted by E1izabethEva
    I think she needs independent and/or accelerated learning at her own grade level
    Curriculum placement, pacing, and instruction in her zone of proximal development (ZPD)... in the company of academic/intellectual peers. Check your State Laws and School Policies (often online, at the school's website). Look for any statement of support for all students learning, growing, achieving, etc... anything which may be used to back a potential request for meeting your daughter's educational needs.

    Originally Posted by E1izabethEva
    gives up immediately and refuses to ask for help
    This may be the result of not having appropriate academic/intellectual challenge.

    Originally Posted by E1izabethEva
    Her teacher is making efforts to keep her engaged and has assigned her own "teacher" desk and pairs her up with students who need more help and encouragement. At first this was helpful and both her editing and communication skills improved, but it quickly lost it's impact and she complains that she wants to write more.
    Exactly. Your child's school time should be spent primarily on her instruction and growth... not on her tutoring other children.

    Originally Posted by E1izabethEva
    so used to being the "best" she can't handle any kind of constructive criticism
    The book mindset by Carol Dweck may be of interest. You also mentioned praise; Praising effort, struggle, persistence, perseverance, learning from mistakes, etc, is believed to be most effective. Somewhat related, there are books by Angela Duckworth about developing "grit".

    Originally Posted by E1izbethEva
    will wander off and avoid it until she gets bored with whatever distraction she has found. She eventually implements the feedback, usually better than I asked her to
    Possibly she is a person who incorporates feedback by putting an idea "on the back burner" to think it through and make it her own? On the other hand, if there is no academic/intellectual competitor at school, she may need and benefit from a bit of friendly competition at home?

    You asked what a year of academic growth would be. If your school uses tests such as NWEA MAP (Northwest Evaluation Association's Measures of Academic Progress), these could provide beginning points, goals, and information as to a child's rate of academic growth.

    Originally Posted by E1izabethEva
    At some point shouldn't there must be some personal responsibility in finding ways to engage or use critical thinking skills in a book or concept that seems easy?
    She may be a bit young for student self-advocacy, especially if she has not seen a parent role-model successful advocacy.

    Unfortunately none of this is "easy" because under common core the goal of the US public schools is to close achievement gaps and excellence gaps and have equal outcomes among all students.

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    This has been so helpful! I can't remember the last time I have been able to reflect on DD with a clear idea of where to go from here. I have a couple of questions I'll ask later, but in light of the reading recommendations, do you think any of these might be good reads for an older kid? I plan to read them myself but we always do books for Easter so it's great timing to include something for her. I haven't had time to actually look inside them, but based on the overviews a couple of them looked like they could possibly be interesting to her as well. I don't want to give her a bunch of books about how smart she is but it just occurred to me when I was looking for something nonfiction for her Easter basket that she would probably appreciate directly reading, or for us to read something together, that is sort of provides insight or encouragement about some of these issues.

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    At that age, my DD devoured 101 Success Secrets for Gifted Kids. I think it would make a great Easter gift.

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    She should not be tutoring kids (helping the person sitting next to you is OK). She is not employed to teach - she is there to learn.It also draws attention to differences between her and them and could lead to ill feeling.

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    This is such a difficult issue. There are a few things I would recommend trying:

    I would ask the teachers to do the following: For math, having her practice logic instead of mastering level-based skills. For reading/writing, making her write about/answer questions using advanced critical thought.

    At home, it sounds like you guys are doing a great job focusing on developing her core self instead of academic progress. I like the parenting skill by Tina Payne Bryson of "Connect then redirect". When she gets upset about your direction, connecting with her emotions and validating how hard it is for her, then working on helping her practice coping skills to deal with those emotions (embarrassment, confusion, anger, shame, etc.).

    Talk to her about the importance of failure, and mastering the skill of failure. Make it a game or goal. Have her play board games/card games using luck, and practice losing. Engage her in a new activity that she has to learn and fail at (knitting, a new sport, piano, etc.) and work on accepting failure as part of the learning process. Focus the activity more about learning how to fail than succeeding at the activity.

    Ask her everyday to identify a strength of someone else that is not about success, such as kindness, helpful, brave, empathetic, etc. so she learns that intelligence and success are smaller than she is giving them credit.

    Just some ideas, good luck!

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    Originally Posted by twallace
    I would ask the teachers to do the following: For math, having her practice logic instead of mastering level-based skills.
    Prior to speaking to the teacher about this, E1izabethEva... at home, you might want to try some of the logic puzzles recommended in this thread, to see how this type of work suits your child.

    Originally Posted by twallace
    For reading/writing, making her write about/answer questions using advanced critical thought.
    As a counterpoint to this, not all students/parents find value in "differentiated task demands"; Some find them punitive, and a means of knocking down the grades of top students, to help create the illusion of "equal outcomes" in the classroom, closing achievement gaps, closing excellence gaps, etc.

    Originally Posted by twallace
    Talk to her about the importance of failure, and mastering the skill of failure. Make it a game or goal. Have her play board games/card games using luck, and practice losing. Engage her in a new activity that she has to learn and fail at (knitting, a new sport, piano, etc.) and work on accepting failure as part of the learning process. Focus the activity more about learning how to fail than succeeding at the activity.
    It is my understanding that it is not failure which is important to master... anyone can fail... but rather it is important to master the skill of resilience, the ability to learn from mistakes and from trial-and-error processes, to sustain interest in a game or a goal after a setback, to understand that much of life is a reiterative process, and to have the perseverance to get up again one more time than you fell down. The old adage comes to mind: "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again."

    IMO, a child could be encouraged that most "setbacks" are temporary. By contrast, "failure" is synonymous with defeat... rather fixed and permanent. A funny thing about the word "failure"... grammatically it can be applied to a person; This is injurious and not a message most parents want to impart to their offspring. Interestingly, the word "setback" applies only to a situation, never a person; Setbacks do not diminish a person.

    I would suggest great caution in using the word "failure".

    Originally Posted by twallace
    ...intelligence and success are smaller than she is giving them credit
    This may depend upon how one defines success. Here's a recent thread: "What is successful?"

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    Originally Posted by sanne
    Academic match is the single most important factor for determining adult outcomes and mental health outcomes for intelligent children.

    Sanne - do you have any articles/studies to support this? I'd love to read them; it might help me advocate.

    ElizabethEva -- I could have written 99% of that post. Same age and grade daughters, too. This has been an exhausting year.

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