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More Challenge, Please

If your child is not adequately challenged at school, summer is an ideal time to figure out how to make the next academic year better than the last. Then keep at it!

Scott is working on the best technique to scrunch up paper in order to send it directly into the garbage can in the back corner of the classroom. He’s investigating the number and nature of folds, and whether a big compact wad is more flight-efficient than a small one. So far, he’s thrown several such missiles. Problem is, he can only do this when his teacher’s back is turned because he’s supposed to be working on a series of algebra problems (that he already knows the answers to and could do in his head last year). And, his experiment is bothering his classmates, four of whom have narrowly missed being hit—today.

Scott is often teased because he typically acts out in some way when things get tedious—which seems to be often. He’s bright, capable, and bored. He’s just one of countless children who are not suitably challenged.

Now What?

Parents can talk candidly with their children, ask them what they’re feeling and why, and listen carefully to their responses. They can discuss any behavioral concerns, and encourage their children to take some responsibility for finding solutions to underlying or overarching problems. Children’s confidence increases when they feel their ideas matter, and their views are valued by others. Parents can demonstrate support for children by advocating for and alongside them.

When advocating for more challenging programs at school, the driving principle is to find or create an optimal match between the individual child and the schooling situation. (See Being Smart About Gifted Learning, 3rd Edition for more on an Optimal Match approach.)

Here are ten steps for parents to keep in mind. (They’re all important, and they’re in no specific order.)

1. Prioritize. Think carefully about focus and relevance. What are the child’s specific strengths and needs?
Stay calm. Be practical and realistic about what can be coordinated or altered.

2. Be explicit. When offering ideas to people at your child’s school be respectful and concise. Keep requests reasonable.

3. Communicate. A school community is a complex and interdependent workplace, so strive to nurture collaboration, a climate of trust, and mutual respect. Productive working relationships are characterized by open communication channels and free-flowing dialogue.

4. Maintain resolve. Remember that problem-solving can be …

Dr. Joanne Foster

Dr. Joanne Foster, an acclaimed author and educator, has dedicated over 35 years to gifted education and child development. With expertise in psychology and special education, her work empowers parents and educators, fostering creativity and high-level learning in children and teens. Dr. Foster has written countless articles, and several books—the most recent being Ignite Your Ideas: Creativity for Kids.

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Summer Learning Lapses? Relax!

Summer Learning Lapses? Relax!

During the summer, parents are often concerned whether their kids will retain the knowledge they’ve acquired over the past school year, or whether they’ll experience a learning lapse. Here are some considerations and suggestions for parents.