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Gifted Children K-6/Gifted child & current school

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Hi,

My daughter has just turned 7 years old (today), she's gifted and excels academically.

However, she is currently not challenged at school in the least and does get very bored. My daughter is already familiar with 100% of the math material that the class will be covering this year, and yet the teacher refuses to give her any additional work at her level.  Due to her strong personality, I get the feeling that my daughter has been pushing a lot of her teacher's buttons. Since her teacher is a huge believer in strong discipline, she has labeled my daughter a disruptive child and contacts me to complain about her or sends a note home pretty often.  The notes are usually about her not listening and everything having to be repeated several times before she listens and acts, and once about pushing someone's snowman at recess (which destroyed it).

It has to be said that my daughter has a difficult time listening and showing empathy.  It's not like she has absolutely no regard for other's feelings, but one has to push her hard to try and understand how someone might be feeling or how her actions might impact someone else.  Once she gets it tough, she can be empathetic.  She's actually very loving with her little brother who's 3 years old.  But there are certainly occasions when she can come across as quite rude, and not only do we have to call her on it, but we also have to explain to her exactly why she was rude.  Otherwise she just doesn't seem to understand why what she did isn't acceptable.  For example I have to specifically tell her that if she's waiting to use the water fountain she can't just cut in line in front of everyone because she's thirsty.  And then I have to remind her constantly. This is the part that worries me, and it seems to have gotten a lot worse recently.

I don't know whether all of this is the result of the bad relationship that she has with her teacher this year, or whether it's something that we're doing wrong.  But she has been in daycare since she was a baby, and before she started kindergarten she went to a wonderful child development center where no one had any complaints about her.  In fact, they told me that they wished that they had a whole class full of children like her.  

So is it that she has behavioral/social challenges that are only just showing up now, or could it be that her environment at school is affecting her behavior on all fronts?

Any insight into the mind of a gifted and strong willed 7 year old would be greatly appreciated!

We are strongly considering changing her to another school, but we want to make sure that we also understand her behavior, which has been fairly challenging for us recently.

Thanks!

Teresa

Answer
Dear Theresa,

First, congratulations to your daughter on her birthday.  Being gifted and strong-minded are traits that often go together.

I'm going to ask some questions for you to think about and discuss at home, and I'm going to make some recommendations.

I'm assuming she's in second grade. You referred to a time before kindergarten without complaints.  Did teacher complaints begin in kindergarten or first grade or are they totally new this year?  Was she in the same school for first grade and how was that teacher/child relationship?


I'm going to make two recommendations.  The first is to a group called SENG - it's for families of gifted children and is all about the social and emotional needs of the gifted.  You can easily look them up on the Internet.  They have several resources that may be of help to you as your daughter grows.  I can speak for them from first hand knowledge, as I went to an excellent seminar within the past few months.  You may be able to attend a group near you.  

The second recommendation is for a book called "Mind in the Making" by Ellen Galinsky.  It's about seven important life skills.  One of them is called perspective taking.  There are several suggestions that you can use within the family to help not only your daughter, but your son as well, to develop this area.  It seems that this is a skill your daughter truly needs.

Before considering switching schools, think of the big picture, and of years to come.  Do you know the school board's philosophy about gifted students?  The school's?  Many a parent of a gifted child has been moved to be active the PTA or even serve on the school board.

As far as the daughter/teacher "war", have you discussed this with the principal of the school? If not, that is the next step.  You can request an appointment and ask for advice.  I suggest saying your request is not a complaint, but that you seek guidance and advice on helping your daughter to have a more successful school year.  Don't make suggestions.  If the principal comes up with the idea to give her enriched academic work, hooray!  Accept any reasonable suggestion and see what happens.  The principal may or may not be empathetic to your concerns.  If the principal is close-minded, that may be a clue to seeking another school.

I hope my input has been helpful to you. If it was, please leave feedback for me.  Thanks in advance, and wishing you and your daughter the best,
EJ  

Gifted Children K-6

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Ellen Jaffe

Expertise

I can answer questions about gifted children in nearly any setting, at home, at school, in social settings. My main expertise is early childhood, and I can also answer questions throughout elementary school.

Experience

I teach child development on the university level - undergrad and graduate. I am a parent of four gifted children who have all earned college degrees, although not all being used at this time. My children have all either been in classes for the gifted and/or been in special programs for the gifted, including special high schools.

Education/Credentials
MS.Ed. City University of NY

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